University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of Music at Berkeley is one of the oldest and most prominent in the country, bringing together a renowned group of composers, scholars, and performers. The graduate program is ranked among the top in the nation. The department offers the MA/PhD and the PhD degrees (for those who have previously completed the master’s degree) in composition and scholarship, the latter with options in musicology and in ethnomusicology. The Music Department does not offer a terminal MA degree. The program provides graduate students with a solid mastery of their discipline while cultivating a sense of intellectual and creative independence. Students are free to explore related fields of study both within the music program itself and in the larger university. Graduates of the Music Department play prominent roles in distinguished musical institutions across the nation and abroad.

Students are supported by both fellowships and teaching opportunities. A typical funding package consists of tuition plus an income of at least $30,000 per year guaranteed for five years (MA/PhD) or four years (PhD), as well as funding for one summer. Additional support for summers and research travel is available by application.

Concentration Areas


Students in composition are encouraged to create music that is personal both in style and content while building a firm technical foundation. Composition is taught through seminars and independent studies by all composers on the faculty. Opportunities exist for public performances of student compositions, including chamber, vocal, and orchestral works. Facilities are available for work in electronic and computer music. 


Students in ethnomusicology prepare for ethnographic research, through the study of cultural theory and methodology from various disciplines. Each student’s program is individually designed in consultation with an adviser, including opportunities for drawing on Berkeley’s considerable resources in related disciplines and area studies. 


Students in the musicology program gain skills for historical research while developing a sense of critical inquiry and intellectual independence. The MA program introduces students to musicological methods and techniques and at the same time seeks to broaden their horizons through a variety of courses, including analysis and ethnomusicology. The PhD involves more detailed work in research seminars and special studies. Dissertation topics at Berkeley have run the gamut of scholarly approaches and subjects, from source studies to theoretical or critical works, and from early medieval chant to the music of the present day. 

The Master of Arts Degree

The period of study in all areas of specialization is from three to (more typically) four semesters ending with the MA comprehensive examination. The general course requirement for the MA is 24 units, at least 12 of which must be in the graduate series in music.

The Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Since the PhD degree is awarded for original, creative achievement, not for the mere completion of a course of study, course and unit requirements are not rigidly prescribed. There is an academic residence requirement of two years. The amount of time needed to complete the PhD varies considerably from one student to another, but students are encouraged to proceed as fast as they can and as the nature of their doctoral project allows. It is expected that the typical student (having obtained an MA degree) will have pursued sufficient course work, fulfilled all the supplementary requirements, and taken the qualifying examination, advanced to candidacy, and completed a prospectus for the doctoral project by the end of two years. After this time the only requirement is that the student satisfactorily completes the doctoral project.

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Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Program

Applicants for the combined MA/PhD or PhD programs are required to specify the concentration they wish to apply: Composition, Ethnomusicology, or Musicology. Applicants are encouraged to name at least two faculty with whom they wish to work as part of their application.

All applicants are required to submit supplemental materials as part of their application to our program. Applicants in Ethnomusicology or Musicology will submit examples of scholarship, and Composition applicants will submit scores and recordings of their compositions as part of their respective applications.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Normative Time Requirements

Normative Time to Advancement

Normative to advancement for all concentrations is eight semesters.

Normative Time in Candidacy

Normative time in candidacy for the Composition and Musicology concentrations is four semesters. Normative time in candidacy for the Ethnomusicology concentration is six semesters.

Total Normative Time

Total normative time for the Composition and Musicology concentrations is twelve semesters. Total normative time for the Ethnomusicology concentration is fourteen semesters.

Time to Advancement


Composition Concentration

Students are generally expected to take a minimum of two graduate-level seminars in the department per semester until the MA degree has been completed (end of fourth semester).

MUSIC 157BOrchestration3
MUSIC 156Studies in Musical Analysis3
MUSIC 201AProseminar in Computer Music4
MUSIC 203Seminar in Composition (must be taken every semester until student passes the MA exam)4
MUSIC 290Colloquium (must be taken every semester until the student passes the PhD QE)1
MUSIC 300Professional Preparation for Teaching Assistants in Music2-4
Ethnomusicology Concentration

Students are expected to take a minimum of one graduate-level seminar in the department each semester until the MA degree has been completed. In addition, they are expected to attend events in the colloquium series and to participate actively in the discussion.

MUSIC 200BIntroduction to Music Scholarship II4
MUSIC 200CIntroduction to Music Scholarship III4
MUSIC 243Transcription and Analysis in Ethnomusicology4
MUSIC 244ATools of Ethnomusicological Research4
Two courses from the MUSIC 130 series
One elective course in the student's area of specialization
MUSICOLOGY Concentration

Although courses in musicology at the graduate level will constitute the core of any program of study at the MA level, students may supplement those courses with a graduate course in another department that might be relevant to eventual dissertation work, with language courses (graduate or undergraduate), or with undergraduate courses in music that help to meet the proficiencies required for the entrance exam’s various subjects (harmony, counterpoint, sight singing, score reading, and dictation). In general, courses at the graduate level are more appropriate for music graduate students to enroll in than undergraduate courses. It is expected that students take a minimum of two seminars in the department each semester until the MA is completed. Students should take courses with as many professors in the Musicology program as possible. Students are also expected to attend the events in the colloquium series regularly, and to participate as respondents to papers and ask questions.

MUSIC 200BIntroduction to Music Scholarship II4
MUSIC 200CIntroduction to Music Scholarship III4
Workshop series in research methods (Fall semester of first year)
Research seminars:
Students entering at MA level: At least five courses numbered between MUSIC 210-220, before entering PhD program
Students entering at PhD level: Four courses numbered between MUSIC 210-220



Faculty and Instructors

* Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Jeanne Bamberger, Adjunct Professor. Music cognition and child development.

Edmund Campion, Professor. Music, composition, musical application of computer technologies.
Research Profile

Delia Casadei, Assistant Professor. Voice and politics in Italian 20th-century music .

Carmine Cella, Assistant Professor. Music and Technology.

Cindy Cox, Professor. Composition, music analysis and theory, post-tonal music, piano, music and live electronics, text-setting.
Research Profile

James Davies, Associate Professor. Musics and bodies, cultural performance, romanticisms, nineteenth-century music, histories of science, pianists and pianos, singers and voice, music pedagogy and training, South Africa, colonial melodrama, township opera.
Research Profile

Jocelyne Guilbault, Professor. Cultural politics, Caribbean, popular and traditional musics, nation, diaspora, cultural entrepreneurship.
Research Profile

Matthew Hough, Assistant Teaching Professor. Instrumental and vocal composition, theory and analysis of popular music, theory and ear training pedagogy.

Lester Hu, Assistant Professor, Musicology. Early Modern period (Renaissance/Baroque/late-imperial), global music history, songs and opera, music and empire-building, notation and grammatology, tuning.
Research Profile

Nicholas Mathew, Associate Professor. Beethoven, Haydn, music in Vienna, music and politics, music and urban culture, aesthetics, piano performance, historical performance practices.
Research Profile

Myra Melford, Professor. Jazz composition and improvisational practices.

David Milnes, Professor. Music, directing, orchestral conducting technique, music ensemble.
Research Profile

Mary Ann Smart, Professor. Staging of opera, 19th-century music, opera, opera and politics, 19th-century Italy, music and gender, singers and voices, Verdi, Wagner, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini.
Research Profile

Ken Ueno, Associate Professor. Music composition, noise, electronic music, Asian music, music of Japan, extended vocal techniques, overtone singing, musical culture of Japan, experimental improvisation.
Research Profile

Emily Zazulia, Assistant Professor. Medieval and Renaissance Music, the intersection of musical style, complex notation, and intellectual history .
Research Profile


Jean Ahn, Lecturer.
Research Profile

Christine Brandes, Lecturer.
Research Profile

Carla Brunet, Lecturer.

Lisa Gold, Lecturer.

Benjamin Goldberg, Lecturer.

Rama J. Gottfried, Lecturer.

Candace Johnson, Lecturer.

C. K. Ladzekpo, Senior Lecturer.

Midiyanto Midiyanto, Lecturer.

Michael Orland, Lecturer.

David Pereira, Lecturer.

Carla Shapreau, Lecturer.
Research Profile

Jeremy Wagner, Lecturer.
Research Profile

Doniel Mark Wilson, Lecturer.

Robert Yamasato, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Benjamin Brinner, Professor Emeritus. Indonesia, Java, Bali, Israel, musical memory, situated musical cognition, musical interaction, improvisation, gamelan, music and oral narrative.
Research Profile

Richard L. Crocker, Professor Emeritus.

Christy Dana, Senior Lecturer Emeritus.

Mary Kay Duggan, Professor Emeritus.

Richard Felciano, Professor Emeritus.

Marika Kuzma, Professor Emeritus.

Davitt Moroney, Professor Emeritus. Music, musicology, music performance, Italian Music.
Research Profile

John H. Roberts, Professor Emeritus. Music, music bibliography, Handel, French nineteenth-century opera.
Research Profile

Karen Rosenak, Senior Lecturer Emeritus.

* Michael C. Senturia, Professor Emeritus.

Richard Taruskin, Professor Emeritus. Nationalism, music, musicology, theory of performance, Russian music, twentieth-century music, theory of modernism, analysis.
Research Profile

Bonnie C. Wade, Professor Emeritus.

Contact Information

Department of Music

104 Morrison Hall

Phone: 510-642-2678

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Department Chair

David Milnes

104 Morrison Hall

Head Graduate Advisor

James Davies

104 Morrison Hall

Phone: 510-642-2678

Graduate Student Services Advisor

Zoe Xu

104 Morrison Hall

Phone: 510-642-8724

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