PhD Application

In the Spring of 2005, I decided I wanted to pursue further academic studies in music, specifically in the form of a PhD in music theory. I wanted to post all the materials from my PhD application in music theory so that other potential music theory PhD applicants (and perhaps other musicology or humanities applicants) can see exactly what goes into a fairly successful PhD application. Every applicant is unique, of course, so on some level, all of this information is completely useless now that my applications are over. However, when I was working on these applications, I would have really benefited from seeing exactly how someone else put together a successful application since I wasn’t enrolled in college at the time and did not have the traditional support network that people still in a university environment have. I put a lot of time and effort into my applications, basically creating everything from scratch. I ramped down my hours at work to part-time starting in May 2005 and spent most of the rest of my free time from then until the application due dates working on tasks related to the applications themselves. A lot of this time was just reading and research, trying to get back into the academic swing of music theory, trying to get my piano chops back, trying to tackle reading German, etc. — activities not directly related to the applications.

My personal statements (or statements of purpose) for each school were fairly similar. I would customize each school’s statement with some quotes from faculty members that I dug out of music theory articles, but that might have been pretty cheesy. I guess it worked OK, though. Here is my personal statement for Eastman, where I ended up enrolling:

I should also mention that the rest of my application was fairly strong, too. I studied pretty hard for the GRE, spending about an hour a day for two months before the test drilling vocabulary and taking practice tests. I also was very lucky to get some of my old profs (with whom I hadn’t communicated in years) to write what must have been pretty good recommendations. Here are the rest of the components to my application to give the most accurate picture possible:

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