Honors in Music 

To be considered for Honors in Music, graduating seniors, in addition to meeting the College’s general requirements for honors, must do the following:

  • complete a substantial, original project of high caliber in one of the areas described below

  • obtain a minimum GPA of 3.7 in MUS-designated courses and a general GPA of 3.5 by the semester in which the defense is to occur (students with GPAs below the minimum may petition the Music Department for permission to proceed with their Honors projects; the petitions must be made in the semester prior to when the defense is to occur)

  • complete no less than two semesters of an MUS-designated independent study related to the Honors project, typically in the fall and spring of the senior year (interdisciplinary projects must be approved by the Music Department Chair in the first semester of independent study; if completing an interdisciplinary project, at least one semester of independent study must be with a member of the Music Department faculty)

The Honors Committee should consist of 3-5 faculty members (see below for further detail). The members of the committee will be chosen by the Project Adviser and student. Students must submit the names of those who have agreed to serve on the Honors committee to the Music Department Chair at least two months prior to the defense. Once a committee has been secured, the Project Adviser, in consultation with the student, will schedule a defense date and location. The defense should take place towards the end of the second semester of independent study (generally in the spring semester of the senior year). It should occur no later than the final reading day of the semester.

Students must distribute drafts of their papers and/or portfolios to the Honors committee at least one month prior to the defense. During that month, students should meet with the members of the committee individually to get feedback and suggestions. The final draft of  papers and/or portfolios (or recordings of performances if available) must be distributed to the Honors committee at least two weeks prior to the defense.

The defense will begin with brief opening statements from the Project Adviser then the student (no more than 10 minutes). The format for the remainder of the defense will be decided upon by the Project Adviser but will generally consist of questions from and robust discussion with the Honors Committee. During this time, the Project Adviser may leave the room or may stay as an observer.

After the defense, the Honors Committee will make one of three recommendations: Honors, No Honors, or Honors Pending Revision. If revisions are required, a date will be decided upon by the Project Adviser for the student to turn in the revised project. Honors will not be finalized until the revisions have been submitted and approved by the Project Adviser and Music Department Chair.

Students are strongly encouraged to meet with the Music Department Chair by the end of the first semester of independent study in order to discuss the Honors protocols and timeline.

Example timeline:
Fall Semester: Student enrolls in first semester of independent study with Project Adviser
October or November: Student consults with Music Department Chair on Honors protocols and timeline
Spring Semester: Student enrolls in second semester of independent study with Project Adviser
Last week of February: Honors committee is formed; date and location of defense are secured
Last week of March: Student distributes drafts of papers and/or portfolios to committee for feedback
Mid-April: Student distributes recordings (if available) and final draft of papers and/or portfolios to committee; Project Adviser, after consulting with the student, informs the committee of the procedures for the defense
Last week of April: Defense takes place


Areas of Concentration:

Honors in Composition
Students wishing to be considered for Honors in Composition must submit a portfolio of compositions consisting of a minimum of 30 minutes of original music, composed for various instrumentations, voice, and/or media. The Honors Committee should consist of 3-5 Music Department faculty members (one of whom may be from outside the Music Department).

Honors in Conducting
Students wishing to be considered for Honors in Conducting must present a conducting concert in the fall or spring of their senior year (if a concert is not feasible an alternative project will be decided upon in consultation with the Project Adviser and Music Department Chair). This concert must consist of a thoughtfully designed program agreed upon by the student and the Project Adviser. In the semester before or after the concert, the student will write a ~2000-word paper that complements the performance, written in consultation with the Project Adviser or other full-time member of the Music Department faculty. It should address the particulars of the project (such as program design, issues related to performance practice, etc.) and provide a thoughtful and rigorous historical or analytical discussion of the programmed works. The Honors Committee should consist of 3-5 Music Department faculty members.

Honors in Ethnomusicology, Music History, and Music Theory
Students wishing to be considered for Honors in Ethnomusicology, Music History, or Music Theory must complete an original and fully cited ~10,000-word paper. The citation format should be in Chicago Notes and Bibliography Style (Music History and Music Theory) or Chicago Author-Date Style (Ethnomusicology). The Honors Committee should consist of 3-5 faculty members. The Honors Committee for Ethnomusicology and Music History projects must include one faculty member from outside the Music Department.

Honors in Performance
Students wishing to be considered for Honors in Performance must present a lecture-recital, generally in the spring of their senior year. This concert must consist of a thoughtfully designed program agreed upon by the student and the Project Adviser. The student will also submit a ~2000-word paper that complements the performance, written in consultation with the Project Adviser or other full-time member of the Music Department faculty. It should address the particulars of the project (such as program design, issues related to performance practice, etc.) and provide a thoughtful and rigorous historical or analytical discussion of the programmed works. The Honors Committee should consist of 3-5 Music Department faculty members.

Interdisciplinary Projects
The protocols for interdisciplinary projects will be decided in consultation with the Music Department Chair and the faculty representative(s) from the other department(s).