2022-23 Edition

Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology, Ph.D.

The Ph.D. program in Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology (ICIT) is taught by a core faculty whose work embraces diverse forms of music making, challenging conventional distinctions between classical composition, computer music, improvisation, and jazz. Students will receive close personal attention from faculty, and are encouraged to work on interdisciplinary projects. Applicants should possess an undergraduate degree in music or an equivalent level of training and should demonstrate potential for creative and innovative work integrating a wide range of contemporary music and ideas. In addition to the core ICIT faculty, the Music Department includes many other performers, musicologists, theorists, and historians, making for a rich environment in which to develop critical skills that are essential for the 21st-century musician. 

In addition to meeting all general requirements for admission to graduate study, applicants should normally hold a B.A. in Music or a B.Mus. A master's degree is not required, but students with prior graduate study may request course requirement waivers as detailed below under Course Requirements. Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in vocal or instrumental performance commensurate with at least two years of individual undergraduate instruction, including exposure to improvisation and non-notated music.

The online application must be submitted and all supporting materials must be received by December 1. Supporting materials must include the following: Composition portfolio, Academic writing sample, and Performance audition (video).

Applicants are expected to have good general knowledge of music history and music theory and competence in basic musicianship skills. Entering students will be given diagnostic tests in these areas prior to the beginning of classes and will be expected to remedy any evident deficiencies during the first year in residence.

Required Courses

Students may request that specific course requirements be waived based on equivalent graduate coursework completed at other institutions, up to a maximum of 12 units. Such requests must be submitted in fall quarter of their first year and accompanied by relevant course syllabi and transcripts.

A. Complete:
MUSIC 200 Bibliography and Research
MUSIC 235 Critical Studies in Music
MUSIC 250 Directed Research (at least two quarters) 2
MUSIC 215A Computer Music Composition and Production
MUSIC 212 Composition (two quarters)
MUSIC 276 Contemporary Ensemble (two quarters) 2
MUSIC 239 Thesis Colloquium (one quarter for one unit per year until advancement to candidacy) 1,2
B. Select 44 units of additional courses chosen from the following: 3
Seminar in Creative Practices
Theoretical ICIT Seminar
Practical ICIT Seminar
Computer Music Programming
Contemporary Ensemble
Seminar in Contemporary Music
Seminar in Musicology
Seminar in Music Theory and Analysis
Critical Studies in Music

Assuming advancement to candidacy by the end of the third year, these requirements amount to 79 required units, leaving sufficient room for students to take additional coursework in other departments.   

Language Requirement

Before advancing to candidacy, Ph.D. students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of a language other than English, at a level sufficient to conduct research in that language. This requirement may be met either by attaining a passing score in a proficiency examination administered by the department or by earning a grade of B or higher in level 2A (representing ability equivalent to four quarters) of an approved undergraduate language course.

Advancement to Candidacy

The normative time for students to pass the Qualifying Examination and advance to candidacy is nine quarters (three years). Candidacy Committee chairs are assigned in the spring quarter of the first year of Ph.D. study. Students must sign up for two quarters of MUSIC 250 with their Candidacy Committee chair to prepare for qualifying exams. During these quarters of MUSIC 250, the student works with the Candidacy Committee chair to designate the remaining four committee members, and develops a dissertation prospectus to submit to the committee prior to the candidacy exam. The candidacy exam consists of a response of roughly 10,000 words to a set of questions provided by the committee, followed by an oral examination with the Candidacy Committee.

Students are not admitted to an M.A.-only program, but may be granted an M.A. in recognition of progress toward the Ph.D. by completing six quarters of ICIT coursework and submitting a portfolio of original musical work completed during that period.


After advancing to candidacy, the normative time to degree is three quarters (one year). The dissertation committee consists of at least three faculty. The chair shall belong to the core ICIT faculty. One member shall be core ICIT or affiliated ICIT Academic Senate faculty. One other member shall be University of California Academic Senate faculty from outside the UCI Music Department.

The Ph.D. dissertation in ICIT combines innovative creative activity with scholarly research. The goal of the dissertation is to address a major intellectual issue in the integration of composition, improvisation, and technology, and to make an original contribution to existing knowledge of that issue through research and new artistic work. The tangible product will be a written dissertation that presents and contextualizes substantial innovative work in integrated composition/improvisation/technology, and music of significant scope that clearly demonstrates that work.