Program Details

Earning your MA in Musicology gives you the opportunity to investigate music’s role and meaning in various social and historical contexts, through text-based analysis informed by cultural studies.

The small size of our program guarantees a great deal of specialized attention and the possibility of tailoring courses of study to suit your interests.

The MA is a thesis-based program, in which you take two required seminar courses and choose three other seminars before embarking on a thesis prospectus and then thesis research. Though the program is designed so that it can be completed in 12 months, students generally complete it over two academic years.  

Once in the program, you are eligible for Dalhousie graduate scholarships and teaching assistantships in the Fountain School of Performing Arts.

See the MA Musicology Handbook below for more details.


Master of Arts in Musicology

Program Structure

You are required to take 5 courses (2 core required courses MUSC 5000 & 5001, plus 3 seminars), as well as MUSC 8000, a pass/fail independent study in which you develop your thesis proposal.

Normally you will do all of your course work in the first year and write your thesis during the summer, possibly carrying over into a second year.

Most of the seminars are cross-listed with senior undergraduate courses, but include readings and assignments over and above those expected of the undergraduates, and might involve extra meetings.

Further information:

Program Timeline

The following overview provides the rough shape of the MA Musicology program. 


Students register for courses through DalOnline. They must also register for REGN 9999, an act which confirms that you are registering in the program. REGN 9999 is listed in the Academic Timetable Subject Listings as "Registration Course--Graduate." Students must register for REGN 9999 each semester they are enrolled in a graduate program at Dalhousie.

Annual Progress Report: Graduate students returning after their first year are required to submit an annual progress report to the Faculty of Graduate Studies through Dal Online. This report is due August 1, one month prior to the anniversary of the student's admission date. Faulure to submit this report may result in delays in registration and funding. For more information, see the online instructions for completing progress reports.


Students who wish to take the Language Exam should contact the Associate Director, Graduate Studies & Research: Language exams are usually held during the first week of classes, but can also be taken in the second term if arrangements are made.

Students should be in touch with their supervisor and the Associate Director, Graduate Studies & Research in the first week of classes to make final decisions about their course registration and the overall shape of their program.  

Students with scholarships and/or TAships will complete a direct deposit form during the first week of September, including information for a Canadian bank account (void cheque). Completed forms will be submitted to Administrative Officer Tatjana Vukoja.

Classes begin on the first Tuesday after Labour Day. Students are encouraged to attend the Faculty of Graduate Studies orientation.

October Students prepare applications for next year's scholarship applications. Canadian students in the first year of the MA program who do not already hold external funding must apply for SSHRC MA scholarships for the second year or for SSHRC doctoral fellowships if they are intending to finish the program in one year. Please consult this tutorial by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
December Classes end early in December. In MA courses, B- is considered a passing grade.

Students complete their MA Thesis Prospectus (proposal), MUSC 8000, with the close support of their thesis supervisor. The MA prospectus is circulated to the Musicology faculty, who meet with the candidates in April and either approve the prospectus or return it for revision.

Students should consider applying for a Summer Program Award through the Fountain School. The deadline to apply is March 1.

May onward Students who plan to complete their program in one year will spend the summer in thesis research and writing. Students completing their program over two years may spend the summer in foreign language learning, research, conference attendance, or completing their thesis prospectus.

Language Requirement

You are required to have one foreign language, satisfied either through completion of an intermediate-level language course taken at Dalhousie with a minimum grade of B- or by written exam.

If you wish to satisfy the language requirement by exam, you can write your exam in the first week of September (before the beginning of classes) or at the end of April. Contact the Associate Director, Graduate Studies & Research, to schedule your exam: Be sure to specify the language in which you wish to be tested. 

Thesis Prospectus

The MA Musicology thesis prospectus should be roughly 1,500-2,000 words in length, which is typically between 6 and 8 pages, double-spaced, excluding bibliography and music examples. Proposals can vary in style and format, depending on your research field, but they tend to follow a common eight-part template:

  1. Title page, with an appropriate working title for your thesis;
  2. An introductory paragraph(s), or "hook," that lays out your research topic;
  3. A discussion of the relevant historiography and its relationship to your thesis;
  4. An explanation of your research problem, which can include your working hypothesis and/or theoretical framework;
  5. A discussion of the primary sources you intend to study, which can include published, online, and archival documents;
  6. A research plan, which includes a working schedule for the completion of your thesis;
  7. A formal annotated bibliography, divided into sections for primary and secondary sources;
  8. A working table of contents. Theses vary in structure, but they are commonly divided into five chapters: three substantive, research-based chapters, plus an introduction and conclusion.

The actual writing of the prospectus does not take very long, and a month is sufficient time to budget for its completion. It is important to keep in mind that the prospectus is a means to an end, not an end in itself: it is designed to be a road map to guide your research -- or, to use a different metaphor, a basic blueprint for building your thesis -- and it is common for theses to evolve as your research evolves.

The MA thesis prospectus should meet three basic criteria:

  1. present a viable historical problem and research question;
  2. identify and discuss relevant secondary and primary sources; and
  3. outline a suitable research methodology and schedule for completion.

When developing your thesis proposal, keep in mind this five-point checklist, which the Graduate Committee uses in its assessments:

  1. Does the proposal show a good understanding of the secondary literature?
  2. Does the proposal identify a significant and testable thesis, or a specific, concrete research question?
  3. Is the method of testing the thesis well-conceived and logical?
  4. Are there adequate primary sources and are they accessible within the timeframe proposed for the project?
  5. Are the sources and methodology manageable within the timeframe proposed for the project?

You will present your prospectus to the musicology faculty and other musicology students in the M.A. and the undergraduate program and respond to questions. You must submit your proposal to the Associate Director, Graduate Studies and Research, at least one week ahead of your scheduled presentation.

Prospectus Defence
The defence is normally scheduled in late March to mid-April. It is structured very similarly to a thesis defence. The committee and the candidate assemble and the Chair of the meeting outlines the agenda. The candidate leaves the room and the committee determines what questions will be asked. The candidate returns and there is one round of questioning and a lively discussion. The candidate leaves the room again while the committee deliberates. The candidate returns and the Chair communicates the results and any suggestions or requirements for the thesis.

Thesis Research and Writing

The thesis itself should be 15,000-20,000 words in length, including footnotes, but excluding your bibliography.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies has explicit regulations regarding the roles and responsibilities of the student and of the supervisor (or the supervisory committee), and also sets out explicit regulations for the formatting and submission of the thesis and exam procedures. For specific information, see FGS Regulations. In particular see sections VIII: Thesis Supervisors and Supervisory Committees and section IX: Thesis Regulations.

The MA Musicology program follows the ‘Oral Defense’ rather than the written defense model of examination.

Procedures for Organizing MA Defences
The completion, defence and final submission of the thesis involves a complex set of details, individuals, and deadlines, usually converging within a short timeframe. To ensure the smooth completion of their program for our MA Candidates, the following procedures should be observed:

  1. When the supervisor agrees that the candidate’s thesis is ready for submission to the defence committee, the student will alert the Associate Director, Graduate Studies & Research (cc’ing the supervisor) with the following information: a) a firm deadline for the submission of the thesis for the defence committee; b) an ideal week(s) for the defence; c) the specifics of any A/V requirements (i.e. Zoom, PowerPoint, etc.).

  2. Upon receipt of this email from the student, the Associate Director will confirm the make-up of the defence committee, sending an invitation to the external examiner or second reader. All such confirmations will be copied to the Academic Program Assistant.

  3. The Academic Program Assistant will then advise the student via email that the process is underway, reminding them of the firm deadline for the initial submission; find a suitable room for the defence; establish the specific date and time for the defence and communicate it to all involved.

The FGS website contains details on thesis submission, and thesis formatting. The student should consult with FGS on final submission formatting prior to the defence.

Thesis Defence Procedure
The Committee meets briefly to decide how to arrange rounds of questions. The Candidate is invited into the room and offers a brief presentation (5-10 mins) outlining the question and essential findings of the thesis. The Candidate fields questions (typically two rounds) and then leaves the room while the outcome is decided. The Moderator informs the candidate of the outcome and records the results on the relevant form (this is copied to the student’s file and to the Associate Director, Graduate Studies and Research).

There are four possible outcomes for an MA thesis:

  1. Pass without any revisions;
  2. Pass with minor revisions (not requiring resubmission to the committee);
  3. Conditional pass with major revisions (requiring resubmission to the committee); and
  4. Fail.

An Important Note on Timing
Examiners typically have many obligations and should have adequate time to read and fully consider the thesis. Additionally, FGS posts separate deadlines for those wishing to finish in April and convocate in May, and those wishing to finish in April and convocate in October (thereby avoiding summer fees). Thus, students should expect at least three to four weeks    between submitting the thesis for examination and the defence. Also, sufficient time should be  allotted for revisions following the defence.

Example Schedule of a Student Who Wishes to Convocate in May:
Mid February
: submit thesis to committee; submit thesis to FGS to check formatting
Mid March
: defence
End of March/Early April
(FGS deadlines vary; students check): submit final thesis to FGS

Example Schedule of a Student Who Wishes to Finish by April, Convocating in October:
End of February
: submit thesis to committee; submit thesis to FGS to check formatting
End of March
: defence
End of April
: (FGS deadlines vary; students check): submit final thesis to FGS

Example Schedule of A Student Who Wishes to Finish During Summer Term, Convocating in October:
Mid / End of June
: submit thesis to committee; submit thesis to FGS to check formatting
Mid / End of July
: defence
Mid/ Late August
(FGS deadlines vary; students check): submit final thesis to FGS

Important Note on Convocation Ceremonies - To have your name considered by Senate for awarding of your degree and to be included in Convocation ceremonies, you must Apply to Graduate through DalOnline. This application is located in the Student Records menu under Web for Students. It is the responsibility of the student to register on time, by December 1 for May convocation and by July 1 for October convocation. Information, dates and forms are available at:




If you receive a Teaching Assistantship (TA) or Research Assistantship (RA) during your MA Musicology program, it is important that you contact the professor you will be working with the week before the semester begins to discuss expectations and to determine the exact nature of the work you will be doing.

If you are assigned a TA position, you and the course instructor are required to complete a TA Duties form. The form outlines how many hours per week you are expected to work as a TA and approximates how those hours will be spent. TAs are also responsible to provide direct deposit information no later than the first week of September to ensure timely payment. Contact Tatjana Vukoja regarding the duties form and direct deposit information:

Remuneration for TA duties is governed by the CUPE-3912 Collective Agreement. RAship remuneration depends on grant amounts received by individual professors.

The Centre for Teaching and Learning offers support to TAs through their annual Teaching Assistant Professional Development Days, this year held August 30-September 3.

Research Forum & Schroeder Series

The Performing Arts Research Forum is a series of meetings scheduled throughout the year on Thursdays from 12:00 to 1:00 pm, which allow for professional development and service to each other as students and professors engage in each other’s work. All graduate students are required to attend.

The David Schroeder Music and Culture Lecture Series offers graduate students access to a broader range of scholars, and is named in honor of Dr. David Schroeder, a distinguished musicologist who is a Professor Emeritus here at Dalhousie University. The series includes three lectures a year and is scheduled on Thursdays from 12:00 to 1:00 pm. All graduate students are required to attend these lectures.

Fees & Funding

Tuition fees are set and administered by the university and the Faculty of Graduate Studies, not the School. MA students should know, however, that after three consecutive terms of full-time status (one full academic year) they are only required to pay continuing fees, which are a fraction of the program fees. Please visit Dalhousie’s Money Matters site for up-to-date information regarding tuition and fees.

For students in financial need, particularly after the first academic year, the Faculty of Graduate Studies can offer some aid in the form of bursaries.

Conference/Research Travel Funding

Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) Conference Travel Grant
Once the School has approved an MA student’s thesis prospectus, that student is eligible to apply for financial support for research trips to archives. Application forms may be obtained from the Academic Program Assistant or the Faculty of Graduate Studies website ( There are no deadlines, and success is not guaranteed. FGS offers a maximum of $500.00 in travel, accommodation and living expenses. Legitimate expenses include: airfare, ground transportation, accommodation, meals, photocopying, etc. Any expenses incurred before the award is granted will not be covered. The Fountain School also offers a Dalhousie Musicology Research Travel Award and Summer Travel Awards (see C. below). A cheque requisition form must be filled out and submitted at the same time as the actual application form.

Fountain School of Performing Arts Summer Program Award
The FSPA Summer Program Awards provide financial assistance toward summer programs, including foreign language courses, conference travel, and research travel. The program must take place during summer of 2022 (May-August). To be eligible, you must be a current student registered in the MA Musicology with a GPA of 3.7 or above. Financial need may be a factor in decision-making. Priority will be given to programs that relate directly to students’ thesis research. The application deadline for 2022 summer program funding is January 31, 2022. To apply:

  1. Complete the Summer Program Award application form
  2. Complete the Details of Financial Need form
  3. Submit forms 1 and 2 above to the FSPA Student Affairs Committee, c/o the FSPA Office (Room 514, Dal Arts Centre;
  4. Give a copy of the Summer Program Award Faculty Recommendation Form to a faculty member who has agreed to act as your referee. The faculty member will submit the form directly to the Committee.

All forms are available online or in hard copy from the Fountain School office. These awards are made possible by the generous donation made by the Fountain family to the performing arts at Dalhousie.

Fountain Endowment Grants
The mandate of the Fountain Endowment Grants program is to support initiatives and opportunities that elevate the activities of the School and impact the student experience. Eligible projects must meet the criteria of one of the following four funding categories: 1) Artist-in-residence, 2) Outreach & Recruitment, 3) Mentorship & Apprenticeship, 4) Cutting-edge Equipment. For details on these categories and application details, click here. FSPA students or student groups are eligible to apply if the funding proposal is sponsored by a current FSPA faculty member.


Award Payment Schedules

The following chart outlines the payment schedule for the awards / assistantships that our students receive. If your award isn't showing up as indicated below, please contact

Name of Award Payment Schedule Is Tuition Deducted?
Fountain Graduate Fellowship (FGF) 3 payments in equal installments:
September, January, April
Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) Fellowship 3 payments in equal installments:
September, January, April
CGS-M Bombardier (SSHRC) 3 payments in equal installments:
September, January, April
SSHRC MA Stipend funded by Faculty Research Grant 3 payments in equal installments via direct deposit:
September, January, April
SSHRC RA-ship funded by Faculty Research Grant Regular payments via direct deposit every two weeks

16 weeks per term
5 hours / week - fall & winter terms
20 hours / week - summer term
Killam Predoctoral Scholarship 3 payments in equal installments:
September, January, April
Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship 3 payments in equal installments:
September, January, April
TA-ship/RA-ship Bi-weekly stipend of equal payments over one term No

Arts Centre Facilities

The Fountain School is housed in the Dalhousie Arts Centre. The Arts Centre is also home to the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, the Sir James Dunn Theatre, and the Dalhousie Art Gallery.

Practice Areas: Practice rooms are located on the 2nd floor of the Arts Centre. Entrance to the Practice Room area requires a combination code, to be obtained from the FSPA Office. This code is changed every month. Practice time for Music students is available on a first come, first serve basis. Non-music students and community members must purchase a practice room pass to use this area. Classrooms and rehearsal rooms, the Practice Ensemble Room, Rooms 111, 121, 409 and 406 must be booked through the School Secretary by emailing No instruction or coaching for remuneration is permitted by students, graduates, or professional musicians without the written consent of the Director. The lobby, hallways, stairwells and Sculpture Court are all under the jurisdiction of the Arts Centre Office. These areas are not to be used for any activity without the permission of that office.

Room Bookings/Key Deposits: Any use of rooms outside of the weekly class timetable must be booked in advance by email request to School Secretary at A $60.00 key deposit is required and students must sign a Key Loan Agreement Form. Studio keys will only be supplied with written permission from the instructor. Keys are not to be loaned or shared by students. Students using rooms must close and cover piano, turn off lights and stereo, remove garbage, lock doors, and close windows when leaving.

Student Study Carrels: Student study carrels are located on the 4th and 5th Floors of the Arts Centre. These areas are for quiet study. Students are not permitted to practice music, rehearse theatre scenes/monologues or gather noisily. Chairs and extension cords are not to be removed from this area. Carrel lights are to be turned off when leaving.

Click here for more information on Facilities for Graduate Students..

Campus Resources

Dal ID Card - Dalhousie student ID cards can be obtained at the DalCard office located at 6230 Coburg Road and online at: DalCards serve as a library card and give access to facilities such as the Dalplex (the university sports complex) and the graduate student lounge in the Killam Library. To acquire your card, upload your photo and government issued photo ID online via the Online Photo Submission. Those living near campus this fall will be given instructions for pickup. Those who will not be near campus this fall will be able to access their full DalCard account online. There is a $15 replacement fee for lost cards.

Student E-mail Addresses - The University issues an e-mail address to all students once they are registered. This is the official e-mail address and the only e-mail address that the   University and the Fountain School of Performing Arts will use for communication with students. Visit for detailed instructions on how to activate your Dal email address.

Health & WellnessThe Dalhousie Student Health & Wellness Centre provides health care and services for students. Students are able to book same-day appointments online or by phone 902-494-2171 for counsellors, psychiatrists, doctors, nurses, and our social worker. During COVID-19, all appointments will be conducted over the telephone unless an in-person appointment is required (i.e. immunizations). The Dalhousie Dental Clinic is an educational facility that offers services to students and community members. The clinic is located         at 5981 University Avenue, 902-494-2101.

Registering for Emergency Text Messaging (Dal SAFE and Campus Alert) - All students should download the DalSAFE mobile app and subscribe to text alerts as soon as they receive their Net ID (Dal e-mail address). DalSAFE allows you to receive important information regarding emergencies and university closures quickly, via text. The app also provides quick and easy access to Security Services, Tiger Patrol, interactive maps, parking info, and other resources. To subscribe and for more information:

BookstoreThe Dal Bookstore is in the basement of the Student Union Building (6136   University Avenue). New and used texts are available. Students should check with their instructors before purchasing any textbooks.

Career & Leadership Development Centre - The Career & Leadership Development Centre is in Room 426 of the Student Union Building (6136 University Avenue). Full-time students are permitted to hold a job only if the job involves no more than 16 hours of work per week, including a maximum of 10 hours as a teaching assistant.

Transportation & Parking - Parking passes must be obtained from Dal Security in the       parkade of the Marion McCain Building. For information on bus passes, visit the Bookstore.