Guidelines for the Doctoral Final Project
- Step 1: Topic Proposal
- Step 2: Conduct research and prepare written component
- Step 3: Approval by research director
- Step 4: Submit copies for research committee approval
- Step 5: Schedule the public presentation
- Step 6: Make the public presentation
- Step 7: Submit final copies
- Style guidelines
Purpose, level and focus of the DM final project
The capstone for a doctoral degree in music is a substantial research project or composition. For students in most DM programs, the capstone project is the Doctoral Final Project. There are different guidelines for Dissertation in Composition, the Doctoral Piano Essay, and the PhD/DME Dissertation.
The final project ("document") for the DM degree should be carried out at the highest level. It should build on the work a student has done in the major field and be relevant to that field's repertory, pedagogy, history, or practice.
The expectations for the size of the project are not related to the number of MUS-M 620 Doctoral Final Project credits, which vary from degree to degree.
Note: students must submit an application for graduation by the start of the semester in which they plan to graduate. Click here for dates and information
Components of the DM final project
The final project has three components:
- Research. This may include library research, archival work, collection of repertory, source study, musical analysis, questionnaires or surveys, or observation. By this work you demonstrate that you can conduct original and well-focused research from a clear plan.
- Final product with a written component. This may be an essay, lecture text, or substantial critical essay. The written material might be a self-contained written document (like a short dissertation) but might also be part of a web site, critical edition, method book, composition, or other appropriate medium. The text must be supported by appropriate documentation like a bibliography, work list, discography, or critical notes. In the written component, you should demonstrate that you can organize and present your findings in clear prose.
- Public presentation. This may take the form of a public defense, a lecture, or a lecture-recital with a substantial prepared text. In the public presentation, you demonstrate that you can communicate what you have learned to the Jacobs School of Music community and answer questions about your research.
Guidance of the DM final project
The final project is guided by a committee of four permanent faculty members, three from the major field and one from outside. The outside member may be from the Jacobs School of Music or a faculty member elsewhere on the IUB campus. These committee members ensure that the project is relevant to the field and that it speaks to its scholars and practitioners. One major-field member of the committee (typically your teacher) serves as chair, and one member of the committee serves as research director. Especially for the role of research director, you are encouraged to enlist a faculty member with expertise in the subject and experience in research. The same faculty member may serve as both chair and research director, but this is not required.
The Writing Stage
You must propose a topic for your final project in which you outline your research, final product, and public presentation for approval by a proposed research committee.
- Students are encouraged to begin this process before completing coursework.
- The final project topic must be approved before a date for the major field written qualifying exam can be scheduled.
- The approval time for the topic proposal is typcially up to two weeks, not counting breaks.
Working closely and regularly with the research director, conduct research and prepare the project. The project can take different forms depending on the nature of the final product.
- If the final product is an 80- to 100-page document, that document is the written component.
- If the public presentation is a lecture-recital, the written component consists of a document of 50-80 pages. The script (and optionally program notes) for a 60-minute lecture recital with at least 30 minutes of lecture are drawn from the written component.
- If the final product is an edition of a composition, the written component consists of a substantial prose introduction and critical materials of 30 to 50 pages.
- If the final product is an original composition, the written component is a substantial prose essay of at least 20 pages.
- If the final product is an instructional or other multimedia product, the written component is equivalent in length to that found in an 80- to 100-page document.
Whatever the form of the final product, the written component must include complete formal documentation like a bibliography, work list, and discography, as appropriate to the project.
At the outset of your study, you should discuss the working relationship with your research director. This might involve regular meetings or phone calls, an agreement on how often you will send updates, and so on. Ordinarily, only the research director is closely involved during the writing stage. Other committee members typically wait until the research director has approved the final project for distribution before reading it, but you should ask them how they would like to be involved in the writing stage of the final project.
- You are encouraged to set up your document according to these style guidelines for final projects from the start.
- You should ensure that the prose is edited for correct grammar, usage, and style before submitting drafts to your research director. While research directors can be expected to make editorial suggestions, correct occasional typographical errors, and so on, they should not be expected to work with poorly written or non-idiomatic English. Documents with extensive problems may be returned by the research director at step 3, or by the committee at step 6. This will delay completion of the degree.
- Some students begin the writing process while still completing coursework. Many get a lot done in parallel with preparing for qualifying exams. Most students do the bulk of the work after passing the oral qualifying exam.
The Review Stage
When the research director is satisfied with your completed draft of the final project, ask your research director to send an e-mail message to the doctoral clerk in the music graduate office at musdoc [at] indiana [dot] edu indicating their approval to distribute the document to the research committee. Depending on how closely you have been working with the research director during the writing process, the time the research director needs to review the document and approve it for distribution to the research committee may range from a couple weeks to a few months.
Using the link below, submit your final project to the music graduate office for distribution to the research committee. You must ask each committee member whether they prefer a printed or electronic copy and submit a printed copy for each faculty member who prefers it in that form. The final project will not be distributed for committee review until all necessary copies have been submitted to the music graduate office.
The document must be submitted electronically using this submission form:
On the submission form, you will be asked to submit the names of research committee members who have asked to receive the document electronically and the names of committee members for whom you are submitting printed copies.
Printed copies may be submitted in person to the East Studio Building Room 120 or by mail/UPS/FedEx/etc. to:
Music Graduate Office
200 S Jordan Ave, Room C039
Bloomington, IN 47405
You are encouraged to submit printed copies double-sided.
At this point, you may also schedule your public presentation (step 5).
By Jacobs School of Music policy, members of the research committee may take up to six weeks (excluding breaks) to review the document and decide whether to approve it for public presentation. The music graduate office will inform you by e-mail when your project has been approved by all committee members. You should not ask committee members for updates or ask them to review more quickly than policy dictates. The graduate office will follow up with faculty who do not respond by the requested response date.
If the research committee does not approve the project for public presentation by the response date, the public presentation (if already scheduled, step 5 below) will be canceled and you will be required to make revisions as directed by the committee and to resubmit the document for another full review. Only when the project has been approved by all committee members may you make the public presentation.
If you have selected the defense or public lecture format, you may schedule the public presentation with the doctoral clerk any time after the time the document is distributed. The presentation date must be at least two weeks after the committee’s requested response date. If the public presentation is not scheduled in advance, it may be scheduled as soon as the committee approves the document.
Defenses and public lectures are held Mondays through Fridays at 4:00 pm during the fall and spring semesters (except not during the first week of classes, during final exam week, or on holidays or during breaks). If all committee members are available, the public presentation may be scheduled during the normal six-week JSOM summer term.
Every member of the research committee must ordinarily be present in person at the public presentation. For the defense and lecture formats (only), students may petition, after consulting with their committee and the Director of Graduate Studies, to have lectures and defenses administered online using videoconferencing software. This option is not available for the lecture-recital.
The scheduling process is available here: Final project public presentation/defense calendar
If you have have selected the lecture-recital format, you may schedule the lecture-recital once you have a good idea of when you will submit the document for distribution (see Step 4 above).The lecture-recital is ordinarily scheduled during the fall or spring semester. If all committee members are available, it may be scheduled during the portion of summer term in which Jacobs School of Music courses are offered.
You should schedule the recital to take place a minimum of eight weeks after you will submit your document to the music graduate office for research committee approval. (Two weeks after the review period, which is six weeks from the date the document is distributed, excluding breaks.) If the document is not distributed in time to allow for the review period plus two weeks, the lecture-recital must be rescheduled. If the document is not approved by all committee members by two weeks before the lecture-recital, the lecture-recital will be cancelled.
Lecture-recitals are scheduled through the JSoM scheduling office according to the rules governing doctoral recitals (consult with the JSoM scheduling office for more information). You must consult with members of your committee when reserving the recital date, since it must be scheduled at a time when your entire committee can be present in person. There are no exceptions. You must inform the music graduate office once you have scheduled this date.
This date is considered tentative until all the members of your research committee have approved the written component of the project. When they have approved it, the music graduate office will notify you and the JSOM scheduling office confirming that the program may be printed and the lecture-recital presented.
The Public Presentation Stage
Make a public presentation attended by the members of the research committee, other members of the Jacobs School of Music community, and others whom you or your department invite. The research committee decides on the acceptability of the presentation. Every member of the Research Committee must be present at the public presentation. There are no exceptions.
- A defense typically begins with a short presentation in which you explain how you came to the topic and giving an overview of the research and its results. This is followed by questions on the project and topic from members of the committee (and, if time permits, from guests). It usually lasts about an hour.
- A public lecture should last 60 minutes and will be followed by questions from members of the research committee and others present.
- If the public presentation is a lecture-recital: A lecture recital should consist of at least 30 minutes of lecture and 30 minutes of performance, and is followed by questions from the research committee and others in attendance.
The members of the research committee will meet privately immediately after the public presentation to decide on its acceptability for the degree. The music graduate office will supply the chair of the research committee with a form on which the committee can record its judgment; the chair of the committee delivers the form to the music graduate office by the following business day.
If the public presentation is not considered passing, the committee will offer specific recommendations on matters relating to the document or the presentation that must be addressed before the student may make a second attempt.
If the public presentation is judged to be passing, the committee may yet ask you to make revisions to the written component. Sometimes these are minor, but may be more substantive. The committee will decide at the public presentation which (if any) committee members will approve final revisions.
If you plan to use the electronic submission method to submit your final copy (see step 7), you will still have a signature page but will not gather signatures for it. If you plan to submit bound paper copies, you should bring multiple copies of your signature page to the committee for them to sign at the public presentation (be sure that the paper for the signature pages matches the paper type of the final copies).
The Submission Stage
After the public presentation is passed and you have completed any required revisions and had them approved as directed by the research committee, prepare the final copy and submit it as outlined below:
This must be done by the last day of classes for the semester (or of the JSOM summer term) in order to graduate in a given semester.