The graduate program in The History and Theory of Music at UC Irvine is unique within the state of California, and rare within the United States as a whole, in combining both historical musicology and music theory and analysis to offer a Ph.D. program with a particular emphasis on music theory and analysis, critical theory, and the aesthetics and philosophy of music. The program rests on two central pillars: a sustained engagement with musical works that is underpinned by a thorough grounding in musical skills and literacy, and a strong focus on critical theory, which students learn to apply to musicological sub-disciplines such as music analysis and historical musicology.
The program is designed to be completed within six years. Two years of full-time course work is followed by up to four years of work toward completion of the dissertation. The practical nature of the course work carried out in the first two years, with its emphasis on critical and analytical thinking, prepares students for the broader musical, historical, and cultural explorations they undertake in their dissertations.
The heart of the program lies in the Department of Music, known as a place of excellence and rigor, offering historical seminars, skills-based courses in musical literacy, and opportunities to explore technology and digital approaches to music. Students are also encouraged to build relationships with other departments within the Claire Trevor School of the Arts and to forge connections across the campus, in particular with the School of Humanities, including UCI Critical Theory. Through formal seminar and individual directed study, students are encouraged to become conversant with related fields such as history, philosophy, cultural studies, and literary studies.