Dissertation Competition Music


This yearly award, made possible by the SMT-40 campaign, is intended to recognize and foster excellent research in music theory by helping highly qualified Ph.D. students to complete their dissertations.


Applicants must be current members of The Society for Music Theory who have completed all required coursework and examinations, and have received approval of the dissertation proposal, by the application deadline.


$3500 and recognition at the Annual Meeting and in the SMT Newsletter.


The SMT-40 Dissertation Fellowship Committee consists of a Chair and three additional members appointed by the SMT President. It evaluates completed applications and selects a single awardee per year. The Fellowship is awarded to a research project that promises to make a significant contribution to the field of music theory. The winner will be notified in January 2018, and will have two weeks to accept or decline the Fellowship. An awardee may receive the Fellowship only once; it is not deferrable or renewable. The award may be accepted without the cash prize (should this be a condition for accepting an award from a different source). The Committee reserves the right not to make any award. Committee members recuse themselves from deliberations regarding any graduate student who attends their institution or who may pose a conflict of interest for them. Any recusals associated with the award winner will be made public when the award is announced.

Application Process

A completed application consists of the following, submitted by October 1, 2017 to the Chair of the SMT-40 Dissertation Fellowship Committee, John Roeder, at j.roeder@ubc.ca:

  1. A completed application form (download the form here).
  2. A curriculum vitae (maximum of 3 pages).
  3. A current dissertation prospectus (3000–4000 words, plus references and working bibliography, musical examples, and figures). In clearly written prose, the prospectus should describe the motivation for the dissertation (supported by, but not limited to, an assessment of relevant secondary literature), present its research question, outline the research methods, explain the significance of the project to the field of music theory, and describe its progress to date.
  4. A complete sample chapter of original research (that is, not a literature review).
  5. A confidential letter from the chair of the applicant's dissertation committee certifying that the student has completed all required coursework and examinations and that the dissertation proposal has been approved, evaluating the student’s academic work, explaining the project’s significance to the field, and describing progress to date.

A PDF of the guidelines can be found here.

The Council for Research in Music Education

Outstanding Dissertation Award

Call for Nominations

The Council for Research in Music Education is seeking nominations for the 2016 Outstanding Dissertation Award (ODA), which recognizes excellence in research by doctoral students.

Nominations for the 2016 ODA are due by October 1, 2017.

Please direct questions, comments, or concerns regarding the ODA to


Volunteer Reviewers

The Council is also seeking reviewers for the Outstanding Dissertation Award. Eligible individuals are music education faculty members who are currently supervising graduate research, or have done so in the past. We especially invite retired or emeritus professors to serve as reviewers. If you are willing to serve as a reviewer, complete an application found below by September 15, 2017.

By volunteering as a reviewer for the Outstanding Dissertation Award, you agree to read a ten-page extended summary of the dissertation and a sample chapter, and to complete an online evaluation form. You will have four weeks to complete the review once you receive the materials. Plan on receiving these materials by lateOctoberand to complete the evaluation by December 1.

Click here to volunteer to serve as a reviewer.

Nomination and Review Procedures

The Council for Research in Music Education invites individuals who have served as research advisors, supervisors, or committee members to nominate dissertations in the field of music education that were defended during the 2016 calendar year.

The emphasis of this award is on recognizing doctoral students whose dissertations:

•    Advance overarching values of music education, broadly defined;

•    Employ rigorous and/or innovative methodologies;

•    Integrate research and theory grounded in a variety of intellectual traditions; and

•    Offer insightful implications for improving practice or forwarding theoretical constructs.

The initial round of nominations requires that the nominating faculty member contact the dissertation author, who will be responsible for submitting the relevant documents (described below). These documents will be evaluated by qualified reviewers in the field. Note that nominees should not submit full dissertations during the initial screening. Due to the wide-spread availability of most dissertations in electronic formats and the likelihood that studies have been presented at conferences, we are not able to ensure blind review. The documents, then, may include identifying information.

Nominators should submit a signed letter of support on university letterhead that speaks to the importance of the topic addressed by the dissertation, the use of strong or innovative methodological approaches, sophisticated writing, and overall contribution to the field. Please confirm the year in which the degree was conferred.

There is no limit on the number of nominations that can be submitted by a faculty member or representative institution.

In a second stage of review the top-ranked submissions will be further evaluated by a panel of judges. If the dissertation qualifies for this additional level of consideration, nominees will be asked at that time to submit a full electronic version of the entire document.

Click here to nominate a dissertation.

Document Submission

Nominees are asked to submit an 8-10 page summary (exclusive of references) of the entire study, as well as a representative chapter that best exemplifies the contribution of the dissertation to the field of music education.

If the dissertation follows an alternative format (such as a compilation of completed studies, rather than one study), please submit work that has not been subject to peer review as the representative chapter.

Both the summary and the sample chapter should be submitted in PDF form. Name each file with the author's last name first, followed by the type of document, such as Pestalozzi_Summary.pdf or Pestalozzi_Ch3.pdf

Nominees must submit the required documents no later than November 1, 2017.

Click here to submit documents.

For a brief history of the ODA and list of past recipients,
please click here.

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