Application Information

The Graduate Group in Music offers flexible, five-year Ph.D. programs for Music Studies (ethnomusicology, historical musicology, music theory)  and an intensive four-year Ph.D. program for composition. All programs offer broad coverage within music studies, with concentrations shaped by student interests.  All Ph.D. students accepted to the program receive the Benjamin Franklin Fellowship, which covers tuition, general fees, and health insurance for either 4 (Composition) or 5 years (Music Studies:  ethnomusicology, historical musicology, music theory).


Elements of the Application

  • A personal statement of approximately 1,000 words.
    The statement should: 1) tell us about your reasons for applying and your relevant prior experience; 2) describe the area(s) of study and debate in which you are interested; and 3) address your particular interest in our program.

  • A critical writing sample of approximately 20-30 double-spaced pages.
    For Musicologists, Ethnomusicologist, and Theorists: The writing sample must match your interest/concentration. Two papers adding up to 30+ pages or, if you prefer, a single, 25-30 page paper. Font size and style do not matter. Please make sure your name is on each page.

    Composers should submit a shorter paper of approximately 15 pages as part of their application in addition to scores and (if possible) recordings of recent compositions.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
    Letters should be written by professors who know your work and can attest to your academic ability. Please do not submit more than four recommendation letters.
  • The GRE General Test.
    Applicants should take the GRE early enough so that the scores can be sent to Penn by December 15. We do not have a minimum  GRE score requirement, nor do we publicize the average GRE scores of past admittees. The GRE School Code for the University of Pennsylvania is 2926. Although we do not have a department code, your GRE scores will be sent directly to us if you use the University code. (GRE scores will not be required for Fall 2022 applicants due to COVID-19).
  • Electronic versions of your academic transcripts.
    You can scan an unofficial copy of your transcript to the application. If accepted, you will then need to provide a final, official paper copy of your transcript before you matriculate.

There is no foreign language requirement for admission. Once accepted to the program, students must pass two or three language translation exams (depending on program specialization), before graduating.

Application materials may be uploaded online via CollegeNet. Supplemental materials for the composition program should be submitted by email to
See the Graduate Division for more information about the application process.


Additional Information

Campus Visits

Faculty interviews and a visit to the campus are not necessary for application. After all applications have been received and reviewed, a select group of applications are invited to visit the campus for an opportunity to meet the faculty and current students and sit in on seminars. Campus visits are usually arranged in late February or early March.


English language skills

TOEFL, IELTS, or TSE (Test of Spoken English) scores are required for all applicants whose native language is not English. There is no minimum score requirement. The results of these examinations must be sent to the department by December 15.

Test scores are not required if an applicant has completed a degree in an institution where English is the primary language.


Applying for Admission to the Graduate Program in Music


Applicants who wish to be considered for funding must ensure that their application and all supporting materials have arrived at the Department of Music no later than December 15.


Supplementary Application Material

Supplementary materials should be submitted online as part of the application. If you are unable to upload your writing samples to the online system, you may send them as an attachment via email to the Graduate Coordinator:

If neither of these options are available, please direct supplemental materials to:

Graduate Coordinator
Department of Music
University of Pennsylvania
201 South 34th Street, Room 129 
Philadelphia PA 19104-6313