Final Oral Examination
Secure a form from the Administrative Assistant to the Music Graduate Studies program that members of the committee will sign in order to indicate their willingness to serve on the committee.
Every candidate for a Master's degree is required to pass a final comprehensive examination in music during the term or semester of intended graduation. The student should consult the chairperson of the advisory committee to arrange for the time and place of the examination. It should be scheduled in accordance with Graduate School deadlines for submission of final reports. The chairperson of the committee will report the results to the School of Music's Associate Director for Graduate Studies immediately after the examination. Students must be enrolled for at least 3 hours at the time the final examination is taken.
The examination committees are constituted as follows:
- For students in Performance (including Conducting), the committee will be constituted of the committee chair, a representative from the Musicology faculty, and a representative from the Music Theory faculty.
- For non-thesis Music Education students, the committee will be constituted of the chair and two faculty committee members. Typically all committee members are Music Education faculty members, but they may also be (at the discretion of the chair) from Musicology, Music Theory, or Performance.
- For thesis students: the thesis committee (refer to the Thesis section of this handbook) serves as the final examination committee and the defense of the thesis serves as the final examination.
The final examination is a synthesis and application of knowledge acquired during the course of study leading to the Master's degree; consequently, satisfactory performance in coursework does not necessarily guarantee successful performance on the final examination. A student who fails the final examination may repeat it once after an interval of four months or more.
At the discretion of the School of Music, a student who passes the examination but does not graduate within 12 months may be required to repeat the examination.
Guidelines for the Final Oral Examination
The examination will cover:
- General information about music history and music theory of all eras
- Specific information about the student's major area, the thesis (if one was written), and the graduate recitals (if applicable)
In preparing for the examination, the student should:
- Interview the members of the examination committee for guidance on the content of the examination
- Review all undergraduate Music History and Music Theory courses
- Review notes from all graduate courses taken
Questions asked during the examination may include:
- History, literature and pedagogy of the major area, notable teachers and performers, trends in performance, teaching and research in the major area, and discussion of specific pedagogical issues
- Identification of musical scores for genre, possible composer, approximate date of work, form, medium, harmonic analysis, and terminology
- Bibliography, including periodical literature in the major field
A final public oral examination over the student's general field of study is required of every candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts. It is scheduled at a suitable time after all the doctoral performance projects have been completed and the research paper is ready for final presentation. The examination may not be administered until at least three weeks have elapsed following the candidate's submission to the Doctoral Advisory Committee of the final copy of the doctoral paper. The advisory committee conducts the examination. All members of the committee participate fully in the examination and cast a vote. Professors other than members of the committee may participate in the examination but have no vote in determining the outcome.
The chairperson of the advisory committee should convene the examination by introducing the candidate, giving his or her background, and indicating the general procedures to be followed. Although there will likely be some variation from department to department and from committee to committee, the following general procedures are appropriate. Initially, the candidate should be given a short period of time (from 15 to 20 minutes) for an overview of the research project for the benefit of those in attendance who have not read the paper. After this presentation, the candidate is to be questioned by members of the committee in a way that will require a genuine defense of both the research paper and the content of the doctoral performance projects, and demonstrate knowledge of the specific field of study. All members of the committee should have read and thoroughly familiarized themselves with the research paper, and copies of the document (not necessarily in final form) should be available for reference during the examination.
After committee members have examined the candidate, others in attendance should be permitted to raise questions or make comments. As indicated earlier, the examination is a public affair and the candidate should be able to defend his or her work before anyone who cares to question it. When ample opportunity has been given for questions from the audience, those not on the doctoral committee should be excused while the committee asks any final questions it chooses. When the committee is satisfied, the candidate should be dismissed from the room while the committee deliberates and comes to a decision concerning the adequacy of the candidate's performance. When a decision is reached, the candidate should be informed and the committee chairperson should forward to the Graduate School both a report of the outcome of the examination and a recommendation that the student be approved for graduation.
If corrections are needed, they are to be made by the student and the final paper submitted to the Graduate School for inclusion in the ETD collection.
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