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Graduate Curriculum

AnchorUC San Diego offers the PhD with areas of emphasis in composition, computer music, and integrative studies, and the doctor of musical arts (DMA) in contemporary music performance. All applicants admitted to the graduate program will be officially entering the PhD or DMA program, with the prospect of completing a doctoral degree. Concurrent PhD or PhD and DMA degrees are not allowed. Applicants who have not previously earned a master’s degree in a music-related field from another institution will earn the MA while completing doctoral requirements. Students wishing to pursue a master’s degree only are encouraged to speak with the graduate adviser.



Core Graduate Curriculum

Methods: All students are required to complete both courses during their first quarter at UC San Diego.

  •  MUS 291: Introduction to Research Methods
  •  MUS 501: Introduction to Teaching Methods 

Performance: All students must complete at least eight units.

  • MUS 200, MUS 201, MUS 202

Depth: All students must complete at least 32 units from among these options.

  • MUS 206
  • MUS 207
  • MUS 210
  • MUS 272
  • MUS 271 A-B-C 
  • MUS 215 A-B-C (IS Area requirement; see “NOTE” below) 
  • MUS 267
  • MUS 270 A-B-C (Computer Music Area requirement; see “NOTE” below) 
  • MUS 170-177 (no more than one course from this series can count towards this requirement)

NOTE: Courses may not be used to satisfy both area requirements and Methods/Depths units unless specifically stated.

All courses in the "Methods" and "Depth" series above must be taken for a letter grade to count towards a student's degree progress.


Breadth: All students are encouraged to take at least one graduate-level or upper-division undergraduate course outside of the department, which, by petition and on a case-by-case basis, may count toward the depth requirement.

Focus: All students (except for computer music) are required to enroll in the appropriate area focus course (S/U grading option only) every quarter in residence (for PhD students), or until advanced to candidacy (for DMA students).

  • MUS 204, MUS 205, MUS 245

Research: All students must complete at least six units of MUS 299 and are encouraged to pursue independent research on a continuing basis. Students must also complete at least six units of MUS 298 enrolled with members of the student’s doctoral committee in preparation for the qualifying exam.

  • MUS 298, MUS 299

Teaching: Participation in the undergraduate teaching program is required of all graduate students at the equivalent of 50  percent time for three quarters =(six units total).

  •  MUS 500

Engagement: All students are encouraged to explore outreach and service opportunities during their graduate study and to engage in sustained and substantive ways with our diverse local communities as an integral part of their creative and scholarly research.


Area Requirements

In addition to the core graduate and PhD or DMA curriculum, students (according to their area of emphasis) must complete the following courses prior to the qualifying examination:


  •  MUS 203A-B-C—successful completion of the jury process is necessary to obtain a passing grade in the corresponding seminar.
  •  MUS 203D—every quarter in residence with committee chair after successful completion of 203C.
  •  MUS 210—must be taken twice (one time can count toward the depth core requirement).
  •  MUS 228
  •  MUS 229
  •  MUS 271A-B—both courses can count toward “depth” requirement.

Courses may not be used to satisfy both Area requirements and Methods/Depths units unless specifically stated.

Computer Music

  •  MUS 270A-B-C—must be taken within the first year of the program.
  •  MUS 270D—required to be taken a total of three times.

Courses may not be used to satisfy both Area requirements and Methods/Depths units unless specifically stated.

Integrative Studies

  •  MUS 215A-B-C
  •  MUS 215D—must be taken twice after successful completion of 215C prior to qualification.

Courses may not be used to satisfy both Area requirements and Methods/Depths units unless specifically stated.


  •  MUS 200, 201, or 202—every quarter in residence.
  •  MUS 232—every quarter in residence.

Courses may not be used to satisfy both Area requirements and Methods/Depths units unless specifically stated.

Preliminary Examination

Each graduate program has area-specific requirements that function as a “preliminary exam” that takes place during fall of the student’s second year. The purpose of the preliminary examination is to evaluate a student’s potential to succeed in the program and their command of content presented in the first year of course work. If the participating professors unanimously agree that the student has not passed the exam, then the student will be allowed to finish the second year and to submit MA completion requirements but will not be allowed to continue with the doctoral program. The overriding purpose of the exam, however, is constructive rather than punitive. 

  1.  Composition—The student’s second jury piece will be evaluated.
  2.  Computer Music—Students submit one research paper for evaluation.
  3.  Integrative Studies—Students complete an exam consisting of written responses to questions provided by the professors who taught in the core MUS 215 A-B-C sequence.
  4.  Performance—Students are asked to give a presentation showcasing and/or discussing portions of the material planned for their first recital.

Specialization in Critical Gender Studies

Students in the doctoral (PhD) program in music may apply for a specialization in critical gender studies to complement their course work and research in music.

The Critical Gender Studies Program is built on the intellectual foundations of intersectional feminist thought and queer studies, and incorporates the interdisciplinary methodologies, intersectional frameworks, and transformational epistemologies central to contemporary gender and sexuality studies. The graduate specialization in critical gender studies provides specialized training in gender and sexuality for students currently enrolled in a UC San Diego doctoral (PhD) program. Through advanced course work in critical gender studies and its affiliated departments, graduate students in the specialization develop an understanding of gender as necessarily linked to other social formations, including sexuality, race, nation, religion, (dis)ability, and structures of capital. At the same time, doctoral (PhD) students engaging gender and sexuality studies have the opportunity to develop their work among peers who take up similar questions in their scholarship.

Admitted students are required to complete five courses in addition to their home department’s core requirements, consisting of two core courses and three electives. The core courses are Advanced Studies in Critical Gender Studies (CGS 200), to be taken shortly after admission to the specialization, and Practicum in Critical Gender Studies (CGS 299), to be taken in the student’s final two years of dissertation writing. Electives may be chosen from a list of preapproved seminars in participating departments (students may petition other courses with significant gender/sexuality studies content) and may be taken at any time during the student’s tenure at UC San Diego. Admitted students must also include at least one member of their dissertation committee from the list of CGS core or affiliate faculty.

For more information about the graduate specialization in critical gender studies, please visit