Need Suggestions on which Musicology PhD program to choose

Hi all. I am international applicant. I have been accepted to PhD in Musicology programs at McGill, UMich, and Stony Brook. I am debating what would be the best choice for me. It would be great to hear your thoughts.

McGill is offering 3-years of funding (bummer!), but the program really aligns with my interests and I would love to live in Montreal. I would defo need to apply for external scholarships (most probably Quebec scholarships) if I go there.

UMich is giving a good package, but it is a very classically oriented program (I am doing a combination of Voice & Gender Studies. Professors generally do not have that kind of a focus as far as I understand). Also, I am quite to used to living in big cities so I am not sure how fulfilling life would be there. Besides, students finish their program in 6 years on average, which I think is super long as opposed to some other unis in the States.

Stony Brook does not have a good ranking though it is good. My research interests align with the faculty, but I am not sure how much I should care about the reputation as long as the program is a good fit. On the downside, I heard that social life was not so great there despite its proximity to NYC.

You might want to post this on the music major forum, which can be helpful.

Do you have a master’s? Are there particular teachers you were looking for?

I think of UMichigan as fairly progressive musically.

If you don’t have a master’s, 6 years isn’t long and even if you do, it seems like a normal length of time.

Are you interested in teaching and will you be a TA right away?

Do McGill and UMichigan have gender studies programs? Are your interests in voice and gender studies connected in some way? Sounds like a good area for a dissertation regardless.

Disclaimer: I know nothing about music, so just a random opinion.

McGill - Too risky.

If it were me and the faculty were willing to work with me in spite of it not being their focus, I’d spend the extra year for the UMich name. It is not unheard of to have faculty from other universities and departments (gender studies) on your committee. Ann Arbor is a lively college town (or it was pre-covid) and Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland and Chicago are accessible for weekend trips.

Yes you can have faculty from other departments on your committee. And take classes in other departments as well.

Here is UMichigan’s dept, of Women’s and Gender Studies ( started in 1973, interdisciplinary, and originally feminist-focused)



Here is McGill’s Gender, Sexuality, Feminist and Social Justice Studies dept/

Gender, Sexuality, Feminist, and Social Justice Studies is an interdisciplinary program that centrally engages contemporary and historical issues centered on gender, sexuality, feminism, and social justice. The program provides students with opportunities to explore the meanings and intersections of such categories as gender, race, class, sexual identification, age, ability, citizenship, and national identity, for example, and to examine how such categories might inform, reproduce, and challenge existing power relationships


Why do you think McGill is too risky? I think either Montreal or Ann Arbor are great places to be and both McGill and Michigan are great choices for this combination of interests.

Because OP only has 3 years of funding and will need to find outside funding for the last 2 years.

I am wondering what other funding resources there might be. TA in another department? Research assistant? teaching? Three years of funding for a doctorate is not enough, for sure. I just wanted to know what you were referring to :slight_smile:

McGill looks like a great fit but I think Michigan is too. I only know about percussion at Stony Brook and if the OP likes to live right in cities, I think the other two are better choices.

On top of the secure funding, UMich ranks higher than McGill in world rankings (17 vs. 51 US News 21 vs 31 QS Global), fwiw.

Not sure why the reply was to me…wondering what that ranking is for. For doctoral programs in music, funding comes first, then aesthetic/intellectual fit and teachers are most important.

That is ranking is overall.
I was just adding data to your comparison of McGill and UMich.
Based on that criteria, assuming OP got full funding from Stony Brook which he implies, Stony Brook wins.

I presented info on gender studies at the two schools, which the OP probably has. Otherwise I cannot and did not compare, other than the city locations. I have a PhD music kid but I would not make comparisons on a public forum.

Hello. Thanks for the suggestions!! I was not getting the notifications for some reason, so it took me a while to see this thread. McGill offers TAships, but they are not guaranteed. They are probably high in demand, and POI says that most students get them at some point (but not all of them). TAship brings an extra 3K per term, but of course that is only for the terms you get TAships. I will not be paying any tuition for Year 4, but I will not be getting any stipend either. Also, if I extend my stay to Year 5 or 6 at McGill, I will need to pay extra 5K from my pocket for each year I will be staying (Ouch!), which seems very likely because that is how long most PhDs take.

UMich is a great college town. But knowing that my whole life will revolve around campus for the next 6 (or 7 years) is too big of a commitment, I think. While applying, I had a positive opinion about Detroit, but I have been hearing very strange things, which make me unsure of committing there. Since I have never been to the state of Michigan before, I am not sure how lively the music or social scene is going to be there. (I am gay also, I have not heard great things about Michigan about gay life in general).

Stony Brook is actually pretty good research interests-wise (I got full funding also - 22.5K). However, I feel like it would be stupid to choose SB over UMich given UMich’s global reputation, but I also think it should come down to my research and not necessarily the name of the uni in the end.

I have two master’s (Musicology and Voice), and I am currently enrolled in PhD in Music program elsewhere.

I wouldn’t want to live in Detroit either, but you should be able to find clubs, bars, and music venues that play your kind of music and cater to your desired clientele.