Doctor of Philosophy in Music, Emphasis Theory (PhD)
Theories of music describe ways that listeners, composers, and performers conceive of the elements of their art. Study of theory, then, informs all aspects of musical learning at UBC. Our faculty include internationally known researchers who contribute to theories of rhythm and meter, music cognition, computer applications, music theory pedagogy, and the analysis of a diverse range of recent art music and traditional music from across the world.
Students in our graduate programs are mentored professionally through intensive seminars, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and conference participation. We welcome research of an interdisciplinary nature, involving musicology, ethnomusicology, mathematics, linguistics, and other musically pertinent areas.
What makes the program unique?
Our faculty includes internationally known researchers who contribute to theories of rhythm and meter, music cognition, computer applications, music theory pedagogy, and the analysis of a diverse range of recent art music and traditional music from across the world.
Students in this program attain advanced proficiency in the theories and analysis of Western music (including tonal and post-tonal music); practice in the analysis of world music; familiarity with recent scholarship on diverse topics in music theory; and experience in independent, critically engaged research and writing projects in music theory and analysis.
Contact the program
Admission Information & Requirements
1) Check Eligibility
Minimum Academic Requirements
The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies establishes the minimum admission requirements common to all applicants, usually a minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% at UBC). The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements. Please review the specific requirements for applicants with credentials from institutions in:
Each program may set higher academic minimum requirements. Please review the program website carefully to understand the program requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitive process.
English Language Test
Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application.
Minimum requirements for the two most common English language proficiency tests to apply to this program are listed below:
TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language - internet-based
Overall score requirement: 90
IELTS: International English Language Testing System
Overall score requirement: 6.5
Other Test Scores
Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:
The GRE is not required.
Prior degree, course and other requirements
Prior Degree Requirements
The entering student should have completed a program of study comparable to our M.A. in Music Theory.
The entering student should have completed a Master's degree or its equivalent, including a thesis. Exceptionally, however, a student who has completed 12 credits in the first year of an M.A. program may be offered admission directly into the Ph.D. (without completing the M.A. thesis) if the student has demonstrated sufficient mastery of graduate-level material and sufficient development as a scholarly writer. Students who wish to transfer from a master’s to a doctoral program must have completed one year of study in the master’s program with a minimum 80% average in 12 credits, of which at least nine credits must be at the 500 level or above and at least nine credits must be at 80% or above. The student must show clear evidence of research ability.
2) Meet Deadlines
September 2023 Intake
Application Open Date10 September 2022
September 2024 Intake
Application Open Date15 September 2023
3) Prepare Application
All applicants have to submit transcripts from all past post-secondary study. Document submission requirements depend on whether your institution of study is within Canada or outside of Canada.
Letters of Reference
A minimum of three references are required for application to graduate programs at UBC. References should be requested from individuals who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications.
Statement of Interest
Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.
Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.
Instructions regarding supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Music, Emphasis Theory (PhD)
Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.
4) Apply Online
All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.
Students in music theory draw upon the wide expertise of the research faculty, including Renaissance sacred polyphony; Reformation and Counter-Reformation; opera history and reception; the interrelations of music and other performing arts; nineteenth-century topics (program music, form, harmony, art song); 20th- and 21st-century art and popular music; rhythmic analysis; theory construction and analytical method; music cognition; music theory pedagogy; computer-based analysis and corpus studies; aspects of modern and contemporary music and musical life; and music of East Asia (especially Korea and Bali). The faculty in performance and composition includes many figures well-known throughout Canada and beyond for their work in concert, on radio, and on CDs.
From the state-of-the-art Chan Centre for Performing Arts, one of North America's premier musical venues, to the historic Old Auditorium and intimate Roy Barnett Recital Hall, to university-wide resources such as the Emerging Media Labs, graduate students in music have access to world-class facilities.
Tuition & Financial Support
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,767.18||$3,104.64|
|Tuition per year|
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
|Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible)||$3,200.00 (-)|
|Other Fees and Costs|
|Student Fees (yearly)||$1,057.05 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $17,366.20 (check cost calculator)|
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.
Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.
Program Funding Packages
All full-time students who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in September 2021 or later will be provided with a funding package of at least $22,000 for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships. Please note that many graduate programs provide funding packages that are substantially greater than $22,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.
Scholarships & awards (merit-based funding)
All applicants are encouraged to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund their graduate education. The database lists merit-based scholarships and awards and allows for filtering by various criteria, such as domestic vs. international or degree level.
Teaching Assistantships (GTA)
Graduate programs may have Teaching Assistantships available for registered full-time graduate students. Full teaching assistantships involve 12 hours work per week in preparation, lecturing, or laboratory instruction although many graduate programs offer partial TA appointments at less than 12 hours per week. Teaching assistantship rates are set by collective bargaining between the University and the Teaching Assistants' Union.
Research Assistantships (GRA)
Many professors are able to provide Research Assistantships (GRA) from their research grants to support full-time graduate students studying under their direction. The duties usually constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is a form of financial support for a period of graduate study and is, therefore, not covered by a collective agreement. Unlike other forms of fellowship support for graduate students, the amount of a GRA is neither fixed nor subject to a university-wide formula. The stipend amounts vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded. Some research projects also require targeted research assistance and thus hire graduate students on an hourly basis.
Financial aid (need-based funding)
Canadian and US applicants may qualify for governmental loans to finance their studies. Please review eligibility and types of loans.
All students may be able to access private sector or bank loans.
Foreign government scholarships
Many foreign governments provide support to their citizens in pursuing education abroad. International applicants should check the various governmental resources in their home country, such as the Department of Education, for available scholarships.
Working while studying
The possibility to pursue work to supplement income may depend on the demands the program has on students. It should be carefully weighed if work leads to prolonged program durations or whether work placements can be meaningfully embedded into a program.
Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals
Canadian residents with RRSP accounts may be able to use the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) which allows students to withdraw amounts from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to finance full-time training or education for themselves or their partner.
Please review Filing taxes in Canada on the student services website for more information.
Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.
8 students graduated between 2007 and 2012. Of these, career information was obtained for 8 alumni (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016):
RI (Research-Intensive) Faculty: typically tenure-track faculty positions (equivalent of the North American Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor positions) in PhD-granting institutions
TI (Teaching-Intensive) Faculty: typically full-time faculty positions in colleges or in institutions not granting PhDs, and teaching faculty at PhD-granting institutions
Term Faculty: faculty in term appointments (e.g. sessional lecturers, visiting assistant professors, etc.)
Sample Employers in Higher EducationVanier College
University of Georgia
University of Calgary
University of Alberta
Sample Employers Outside Higher EducationTsuut'ina Nation
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher EducationTeacher
PhD Career Outcome SurveyYou may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
DisclaimerThe data show all specializations in Music combined. These data represent historical employment information and do not guarantee future employment prospects for graduates of this program. They are for informational purposes only. Data were collected through either alumni surveys or internet research.
|2019||Dr. Gainey developed a method for using the harmonic series as an analytical referent to explain the overlapping roles of timbre and harmony in spectral music, and how these roles reflect deeply ingrained features of our auditory cognition.|
Theories of music describe ways that listeners, composers, and performers conceive of the elements of their art. Study of theory, then, informs all aspects of musical learning at UBC. Our faculty include internationally known researchers who contribute to theories and analysis of modernist and contemporary art music, theories of rhythm and meter, performance analysis, and the analysis of both Western art music and world music.