Doctoral Exams

Near the completion of course work, all doctoral students in the Ball State School of Music must take comprehensive written and oral examinations administered by their committee.
Required Knowledge/Skills
At the time of the comprehensive exams, doctoral students are expected to demonstrate the following:

  • Intellectual awareness and curiosity sufficient to predict continued growth and contribution to the discipline.
  • Knowledge of the techniques of music theory sufficient to perform advanced analysis.
  • Knowledge of representative literature and composers of each major period of music history.
  • Knowledge of general bibliographical resources in music.
  • Knowledge of the roles of music in college and university education.
  • Depth of knowledge in the primary field of study and generalized knowledge in the secondary field.
  • Sufficient writing and speaking skills to communicate clearly and effectively to members of the scholarly community and to the wider community.
  • Ability to use technology to enhance personal productivity in music; an understanding of the computer's use in such areas as performance, notation, education, research, and composition.

Preliminary Exams
The preliminary written exams are divided into four parts--each about 4-5 hours in length--and cover the required doctoral courses and the areas of primary and secondary emphasis. If the written exams are passed, an oral exam is taken within three weeks that covers subject matter appropriate to a student's primary and secondary areas of study. At the end of the oral exam, the committee votes on the comprehensive exams in their entirety.

The committee decision on the comprehensive exams may be any of the following: pass, partial pass, or fail. Students may pass the exams with one dissenting vote. A single portion of the exams may be repeated at the committee's discretion. If two or more members are dissatisfied with the results, the entire exam must be repeated. Students who fail the second exam are ineligible to continue the doctoral program.

Final Exam\Dissertation Defense 
Doctoral candidates must take a final oral exam in which they are expected to defend their dissertation. All deficiencies from the first exams must be cleared before scheduling the dissertation defense. Should the dissertation need substantial revision, the student will not pass the final exam. This exam is open to members of the graduate faculty.

More Information
For complete information on program requirements, please consult the Graduate Music Handbook 2016-2017 and the Ball State University Graduate Catalog, or contact the graduate coordinator secretary at