Thesis Checklist

Checklist for Writing an Honors Thesis in Music - March 2018

A student wishing to write a thesis in music will choose an area of concentration: academic, performance, or composition. An academic thesis should be 50-60 pages in length, a performance thesis should be 25-30 pages, and a composition thesis should consist of a short performance program and a portfolio. 

The performance thesis subsumes enrollment in the Advanced Performance Seminar (Music 344) or in Performing Music (Jazz Improvisation) Advanced (Music 298).  Both the composition and performance theses include a performance of the work(s) discussed in the thesis.  All theses will normally be presented at the Ruhlman Conference in April of the thesis year.  All thesis students can apply for funding from the Jerome A. Schiff Fellowship; additional support is available from the Music Department for those who do not receive a Schiff Fellowship.

March/April (Junior Year)

Provide your potential advisor with a copy of your transcript to be sure that you have a GPA of 3.5 in the major.

April/May (Junior Year)

Provide your advisor with a working title for the thesis, one paragraph elaborating on the thesis title, and a Bibliography by the end of the Spring Term classes.  Once this is approved, your advisor will ask the Program Coordinator and the Chair to register you for Music 360. 

September (Senior Year)

Begin research for the thesis.

November (Senior Year)

The Music Department Faculty will meet to determine that sufficient progress has been made in Senior Thesis Research (Music 360) to merit continuing into Music 370.  If so, we will register you for the Senior Thesis (Music 370).

March (Senior Year)

A working draft of the entire thesis must be handed in to your advisor by the beginning of Spring Break.

April (Senior Year)

Thesis completed by the end of the month and Ruhlman Presentation.

May (Senior Year)

Thesis defense during Reading Period. The committee shall consist of at least the advisor, another reader, and the Honors Visitor (a tenured faculty member from another department).

The following are recent thesis titles:


-Pallas Riedler, “Piratical Debauchery, Homesick Sailors, and Nautical Rhythms: The Influence of Sea Shanties on Classical Music


-Fiona Boyd, “Race, Authenticity, and Reclamation in North Carolina Old-Time Scene and in the Music of the Carolina Chocolate Drops

-Kathleen Regovich, “To Be Totally Free: Galina Ustvolskaya, Sofia Gubaidulina, and the Pursuit of Spiritual Freedom in the Soviet Union


-Ariana Mora, “Euler: An Interactive Sound Installation

-Xi Zhang, “To the South!  A Study of Exoticism in Fanny Hensel’s Lieder


-Emily Weddle, “The Powerhouses of Parisian Society: Female Patronage and the Ballets Russes

-Kendall Clites, “Learning and Teaching Through the Wellesley Preparatory Chorus

-Michiko Inouye, “A Compositional Personalization: Influences of Late Beethoven Piano Sonatas on Schumann’s Phantasie in C Major

-Keelin Nave, “Ornamentation in Selected Antiphons and Responsories from Hildegard’s Vision of Music in Scivias”

-Katherine Sundstrom, “Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’été: Masterful Orchestration as a Vehicle for Text Expression

-Audrey Wozniak, “Orientalism, Regionalism, Cosmopolitanism: Musical Manifestations of Cultural Hybridity