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School of Music

V. Thesis Guidelines

A. Music Education and Music History Degrees

Required Title Page (DOC) | Thesis Proposal Form (PDF) 

The Thesis Advisor And Thesis Committee

The Director of Graduate Music Studies, in consultation with relevant faculty and the student, will assign a Thesis Advisor to the student. In most cases the advisor will be a faculty member in the student's major, i.e. a music history student would have a music history faculty member as Thesis Advisor.  An exception to this may be made with the unanimous support of the faculty in that area, the student, the proposed Thesis Advisor, and the Director of Graduate Studies.  In such cases, at least 50% of the thesis committee members must be faculty members in the student's major. Following selection of a thesis advisor, the Director of Graduate Music Studies, with input from the Thesis Advisor and the student, will appoint a Thesis Committee of 2-4 additional faculty members who are qualified to offer advice and direction on the chosen topic.  The Thesis Advisor will serve as the Chair of the Thesis Committee.

Selection And Approval Of A Topic; Development Of The Proposal

The Candidate should consult with the Thesis Advisor so that an appropriate thesis topic is agreed upon. Topics frequently evolve from class discussions and lectures, research papers, conferences, or collateral reading. Typically, a possible topic is determined by the second semester of enrollment. The Advisor will then assist the Candidate in formulating a Thesis Proposal, which will include a detailed research plan and annotated bibliography. The Proposal should be succinct but sufficiently developed to give clear indication of direction and methodology.

Once the Proposal has received the Advisor's approval, a copy of the Thesis Proposal Form must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Music Studies, as well as to all members of the Thesis Committee; copies of this form are available online or in the School of Music office. For graduation at the end of a spring or summer term, the Thesis Proposal Form must be submitted by October 1 of the previous calendar year. For graduation at the end of a fall term, the Thesis Proposal Form must be submitted by March 1 of the same calendar year. The Committee will then meet to review the Proposal. It is incumbent upon the Committee to carefully consider the Candidate's research plan and make alterations where needed. It is at this crucial stage that the fundamental essence of the thesis is shaped and basic premises given credence. Any primary objections to the project should be fully vetted. The Proposal may need to undergo one or more revisions until all members of the Committee are satisfied and vote to approve it. At that point the Candidate, with the Advisor's supervision, should commence the approved research plan.

The Committee should decide the manner and level of oversight it wishes to exert. Typically the Candidate will conduct the research and write a thesis draft in consultation with the Advisor, independent of the Committee. However, the Committee may direct that it wishes to remain actively involved, approving each chapter as it is produced in draft form. In all cases Committee members should remain ready consultants to both the Candidate and Advisor when called upon.

Directions For Format And Typing Of Thesis

The paper used for the Thesis will be 8 1/2 by 11 inches. The body of the Thesis will be double-spaced. The left margin should be 1 and 1/2 inches, and the right margin should be 1 inch. Page numbers must be Arabic numerals for the body, and small Roman numerals must be used for front matters, bibliography, and any appendices. The Thesis will be written in English unless the Committee has approved an exception.  A standard Title Page format must be used.

The Chicago Manual of Style, current edition, will be the reference for matters of style and bibliography for all School of Music writing; it is available online through the Irwin Library homepage at http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html. Students may also consult two style guides that derive from the Chicago Manual, Kate L. Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations (available in Irwin Library: PN203 .T8 1996) or Richard Wingell's Writing About Music: An Introductory Guide (ML3797.W54 2002) as resources to assist in the preparation of all research papers. The authority on spelling and usage is the Oxford English Dictionary, available through the Irwin Library homepage at http://www.oed.com.

Final Oral Defense

When the Thesis draft is completed, a copy should be given to each member of the Committee at least two weeks before the oral defense. During this defense the Candidate will be questioned about the conduct of the research, findings, and presentation. Minor alterations can be imposed, and errors of fact and grammatical/stylistic corrections are expected at this time. Substantive changes, though, that run contrary to the approved design of the Proposal are not allowed. However, if the Candidate has strayed from the intent and focus as articulated in the Proposal, the Committee has the right to require whatever revisions it deems essential. The Thesis draft may need to undergo one or more revisions until all members of the Committee are satisfied and vote to accept it.

Submission Of The Completed Thesis

The final paper copy of the Thesis must include a completed title page (see template on website) with the original signatures of all members of the Committee indicating their approval and a second signature by the advisor/thesis defense committee chair indicating that the thesis as presented is in its final approved form. This final paper copy is then brought to the Director of Graduate Music Studies. S/he will photocopy the title page and place this in the student’s file.  The student will then submit a digital copy of the thesis via this URL: https://www.butler.edu/library/services/thesis-submission-binding

The signed title page will be included as the first page of the thesis and will serve as the certification form for the Library’s purposes.  Note that you will need to enter the title of your thesis and an abstract of the thesis (This is a short summary of what your thesis is about, approximately 1 paragraph or 250 words).  The Director of Music Graduate Studies will receive electronic notification when the thesis is submitted to the library.  Only then will s/he assign a final grade for the class.

B. Composition Degree

Required title page (DOC)

Directions For The Format Of The Thesis

A standard Title Page format must be used. There are no set page sizes for the thesis; the bindery can accommodate most sizes.  Margins should be at least one inch on all four sides of the page.  The thesis includes an original composition in one of the larger forms, an accompanying scholarly paper about the composition, and (if at all possible) an audio  recording of the composition.   

Final Oral Defense

The Director of Graduate Studies in Music, together with the student's composition teacher and with input from the student, will appoint a Thesis Committee of at least four faculty members, including the primary teacher, along with members of the composition, conducting, history and theory faculty, and/or a faculty member whose area of expertise is directly related to the thesis itself.

When the Thesis draft (score, plus accompanying recording and scholarly paper) is completed, a copy should be given to each member of the Committee at least one week before the oral defense. During this defense, the Candidate will be questioned about the work and corollary areas related to it. The Thesis draft may need to undergo one or more revisions until all members of the Committee are satisfied and vote to accept it.

Submission Of The Completed Thesis

The final paper copy of the Thesis must include a completed title page (see template on website) with the original signatures of all members of the Committee indicating their approval and a second signature by the advisor/thesis defense committee chair indicating that the thesis as presented is in its final approved form. This final paper copy is then brought to the Director of Graduate Music Studies. S/he will photocopy the title page and place this in the student’s file.  The student will then submit a digital copy of the thesis via this URL: https://www.butler.edu/library/services/thesis-submission-binding

The signed title page will be included as the first page of the thesis and will serve as the certification form for the Library’s purposes.  Note that you will need to enter the title of your thesis and an abstract of the thesis (This is a short summary of what your thesis is about, approximately 1 paragraph or 250 words).  The Director of Music Graduate Studies will receive electronic notification when the thesis is submitted to the library.  Only then will s/he assign a final grade for the class. 

If the student has a CD recording of the thesis composition that s/he would like to include with the thesis, this should be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies along with the paper coy of the thesis. The Director will assure that the CD is given to the library and cataloged along with the thesis.