A music Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the most advanced music degree a person can earn from a higher education institution. Depending on the schools that interest you, you may pursue a PhD in music theory, music education, or composition; many schools also offer doctoral degrees in music performance. The requirements you’ll likely have to meet for a PhD in music may depend on the school at which you choose to pursue your credential. Typically, however, you’ll need to finish secondary school or obtain a general educational development (GED) diploma to get started. Then you’ll likely have to complete a bachelor’s degree in a music-related field, and some PhD programs require applicants to earn master’s degrees as well.
Most colleges and universities require applicants to earn secondary school diplomas before applying for admission to their undergraduate programs. While in high school, or even prior to that, you may benefit from taking music classes and studying subjects such as music history. You may also prepare by learning to read music. Earning a high grade point average and participating in extracurricular activities may also help you get into the college of your choice. If you don't finish secondary school, you’ll likely have to obtain a GED or similar credential before applying for college.
It’s also important to do well in college if your goal is earning a PhD in music. You’ll typically need a high grade point average, official transcripts, exam scores, and letters of recommendation to be accepted into a music PhD program. Some programs may require you to complete a master's level program in a music major before you apply for the PhD program. As such, you may benefit by researching requirements for music PhD programs that interest you while you are still in undergraduate school. This way, you can determine whether you’ll need to apply for a master’s program before applying to a music PhD program.
Many music PhD programs will ask for additional documents or evidence of your ability to succeed in a music doctoral program. You may be asked to write a paper or two that has a music theme, for example. You may even have to audition for some programs. Once you are accepted, you will typically complete a selection of required courses and electives. You may also be required to take exams and prepare a doctoral dissertation or complete another type of major project to earn a music PhD.