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Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy

 All students are expected to advance to candidacy (i.e., qualify) by the end of the student’s third year of graduate study. 

  • Departmental qualifying exam checklist is available here for reference. (Note: This was updated January 2021, and refers to quarters impacted by Covid-19/remote requirements. Students are approved for remote/Zoom qualifying exams through the end of Summer 2022.)

Requirements prior to taking the qualifying examination:

  •  Successful completion of the core curriculum and all curricular requirements of the student’s area of emphasis for the PhD or DMA degree. Students should enroll in MUS 298 and/or MUS 299 with the committee members who will be providing qualifying questions for the exam.
  •  Appointment of the doctoral committee per UC San Diego Senate regulations.
  •  All PhD students must submit one research paper (not previously submitted for any other degree) that is judged by the student’s committee to be of publishable quality. The topic and scope of the publishable paper will be developed with, and approved by, the student’s PhD committee chair.
  •  Composition students must submit a folio of not fewer than three compositions 
  •  DMA students must give at least one recital.

The qualifying examination for all doctoral students will consist of the following:

  • A written and oral defense of three questions provided by the doctoral committee pertaining to appropriate areas of specialization. Qualifying exams must be well supported with appropriate and proper citations and are most often in the range of twenty-five pages of written text for each question. Students have a twelve-day period in which to write the qualifying exam and must deliver copies of their responses to each committee member and to the graduate staff adviser within that twelve-day period. Final deliveries must be made on a regular UC San Diego workday, followed by a normative period of at least five workdays before the exam defense can be held, so please schedule accordingly. Students are advised to schedule an agreeable date and time for the exam with their committee members and then work backwards to arrive at an acceptable date for receiving their questions. For integrative studies students, one question will involve a defense of the student’s dissertation prospectus. This prospectus is a document that presents the research topic of the dissertation, places it in the context of relevant literature and/or in the context of recent artistic developments, discusses its significance, specifies and justifies the research methods, theoretical orientation and/or artistic approach, and indicates the anticipated steps leading to completion.
  •  Students are expected to advance to doctoral candidacy within their first three years. If final approval is not obtained, students will either not be allowed to continue in the program or will be placed in a one-quarter probationary period and asked to redo aspects of the qualifying process. If a student fails to gain final approval during this period, they will not be allowed to continue in the program and will receive no further funding or support.
  • Successful completion of the qualifying exam marks the student’s advancement to doctoral candidacy.