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Musicology and subsequent employment


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I just graduated with a degree in Music Composition and am very serious about pursuing Musicology (research interests being aesthetics, nationalism, and popular culture/music). However I know what the job market is like, and I don't have any sort idealized dream of smoking a pipe and being a tenured professor at some university, I want to be realistic. The thing is, I know I have other options I just can't really PINPOINT what they can be. I could see myself teaching or doing research in any setting, or maybe working for a government department, or in a county school board, or *something else* that isn't a tenure track or adjunct position sort of thing. So for you Musicology (and other related sorts of subfields in music etc) how do I pinpoint laying out back up plans and other fields of interest after I eventually graduate with a PhD? I know some schools (like UCLA, FSU, etc) have a good history with placing their PhD graduates, but I still think this sort of thing is really important to think about. How else can a Musicologist serve his/her society other than being a professor? Also what about grant writing and other sorts of things? I just really don't want to come out of grad school and not qualify for certain things when I know they could easily be applicable.


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I just graduated with a BM Composition from Florida State, I'm applying for MM/MA Musicology and American Studies programs now (UT-Knoxville, Univ. of South Florida). After that I will get a PhD in Musicology, hopefully at FSU, UCLA, or UVirginia. I'm also gonna pick up some certificates along the way/

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For placement effectiveness, check out:

http://www.wikihost.org/w/academe/music ... 2008-2009/

A listing of jobs listed last year, who they went to (when info is available), and where they're from. If you can, try and figure out how many of the hires were straight out of PhD (usually have to find them online). Also take care to notice if the hires are only out of one side of the department (historical or ethno). More than anything, try to communicate with grads from the schools you are interested in who are presently in the job market.


You can plug in your discipline and get rankings for each school, including placement. Use this one with caution; these are only broad brush strokes (don't forget that "music" includes performance and scholarship).

The truth is, an applicant's effectiveness in the job market is most effected by two factors: first, how well is your adviser known (there are really only a couple of schools whose name alone improves your chances)? second, how strong is your scholarship (illustrated in number and quality of publications, or failing that, the quality of your dissertation)?

I'll be honest, the job market outside of professorships is very limited. I suppose there are jobs on musicological journal staffs (though editors tend to be professors), or perhaps consultants for performing groups; library sciences is another field that I've seen musicologists turn to (although it requires further certification and I believe another degree program). In general, secondary school districts won't have the money for or interest in hiring a music historian, as there are generally not enough interested teenagers to justify the hiring of a full-time staff member to teach or serve on administration; also, public school districts will be pretty insistent on educational certification, which would probably be another 2-3 years of classes for you.

When applying, I would recommend that you omit, or at least play down, your "outside" interests and try to present yourself as an applicant who is fully focused on musicology (though you certainly should be sure to mention your interests in terms of periods of study, such as German Baroque, French Post-Modernism, etc.). Undergrad committees are impressed by "well-rounded" individuals, grad committees want to see that you're focused on your intended field. (Two of the schools that accepted me last year went out of their way to mention how the focus in my statement of purpose was a primary factor in their decision.)

Finally, I would recommend that you focus on the hurdle immediately in front of you (admission) before start working on the next one (grants).

Best of luck!

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