Graduate Students FAQs (for students and faculty)

Mentoring Graduate Students - Roles and Responsibilities

Graduate student mentorship is a partnership that takes many shapes, including (but are not limited to): teaching, research, professional and personal development plus guidance of teaching fellows/teaching assistants.  This guide is intended as a starting point with resources for both faculty and graduate students to work together across our diverse degree programs in the UNT College of Music and to navigate graduate degree programs.  Each semester, the Director of Graduate Studies provides an orientation which summarizes much of this information.  You can view a video of this presentation here:

The CoM enrolls approximately five hundred and fifty graduate students across its seven degree programs, each with specific requirements.  This Mentoring Handbook provides a brief guide to relevant terminology and procedures, which may differ in ways large and small from those of other institutions. It focuses on the mentoring of MM and DMA students, who make up the bulk of our graduate student population. The other degree programs mentioned above typically feature analogous requirements.

Degrees and Handbooks
Graduation Deadlines and Time Limits
The Advisory Committee
Forms and Degree Milestones
Qualifying Exams (DMA students)/ Oral Exams (MM students)
Academic Integrity and the Thesis/Dissertation
The Thesis or Dissertation
The Dissertation Defense (DMA students)
Graduate Faculty Status 
Curriculum Committees
Additional Resources


Degrees and Handbooks 

Official degree requirements are published at  Each degree has specific handbooks, degree plans, and requirements.  It is the student’s responsibility to consult the published resources for specific requirements as each degree is very different.
The degree plan is a contract between the student and major professor and ensures that students are registering for courses which count toward their degree. The degree plan is to be filed at the end of the first year of study. 

Jazz Studies
Music Education
Music History, Theory, and Ethnomusicology
Music Performance
Performing Arts Health
Graduate Artist Certificate


Graduation Deadlines and Time Limits

Students are responsible for knowing and meeting these graduation deadlines.  College of Music deadlines are two weeks in advance of the Toulouse Graduate School.   
College of Music milestones and graduation deadlines:  Graduation Deadlines | Graduate Studies (
Toulouse Graduate School deadlines:  Graduation Information | Toulouse Graduate School<sup>®</sup> (
Master’s students must complete their degree within five years from the date from which first master’s credit was earned. Doctoral students must complete their degree no more than eight years from which their first doctoral credit was earned. 


The Advisory Committee

The advisory committee is responsible for administering the final comprehensive exam (for MM students) and the qualifying exams (for DMA students). It also guides the final thesis (for MA students) and dissertation (for PhD and DMA students) from the submission of the proposal to the final oral defense.
Important note:  The advisory committee should not be confused with recital committees, which usually comprise three faculty members from the student’s applied area and are chaired by the major professor. Some recital committees also include the related-field professor.

A student’s advisory committee comprises at least three faculty members:

  1. The major professor serves as the committee chair and the student’s primary faculty mentor. For students in applied areas, the major professor is usually (but not necessarily) the studio teacher.
  2. The related-field professor represents the student’s related field (on which see below). Most degrees, including the MM and DMA, require a related field, but for those that don’t the related-field professor is replaced by a second committee member typically drawn from the student’s area of study. 
  3. The third committee member is typically drawn from the student’s area of study.
  4. Students may elect to include a fourth committee member on their committee.
  5. Changes to the advisory committee can be made (for example, if the student’s related field does not pertain to their dissertation and they wish to change membership for the defense).  Consult the graduate office with any questions about changes in committee membership.


Forms and Degree Milestones

Forms are used by the Graduate Studies office to track various student degree milestones (degree plans, advisory committee, recital registration, etc).  It is the student’s responsibility to acquire appropriate permissions before completing degree milestones, as articulated in the degree handbook.  Failure to do so will inevitably lead to delays in completing milestones and sometimes graduation.  
A note to faculty: Never sign a form if unable to certify its accuracy and/or have not had adequate time to review a relevant document (e.g. a topic proposal or thesis). Questions can be addressed by sending an email to The Graduate Studies Office.

Graduate students progress through various milestones as they pursue their degrees. Some of the most significant are:

  • The Degree Plan is a formal contract between the student and the university specifying the courses (s)he will take to fulfill the degree requirements. Students are bound by the degree requirements in effect in the year that the degree plan is approved. They must submit their degree plan before they complete their second semester of study. The degree plan requires the signature of the major professor, the CoM Director of Graduate Studies, and the dean of the Toulouse Graduate School. 
  • The Committee Form indicates the composition of the advisory committee and requires the signature of all committee members as well as the CoM Director of Graduate Studies and the dean of the Toulouse Graduate School.


Qualifying Exams (DMA students)

The Qualifying Exams (for DMA students) are taken when the following conditions are met: the student has 1) satisfied all review and/or leveling courses; 2) has completed thirty hours of graduate coursework beyond the master’s degree; 3) has completed two degree recitals (in the case of performance majors); 4) has an approved degree plan filed with the Toulouse Graduate School. Part I consists of two written examinations in the student’s major field (2 three hour sessions) and one in their related field (three hours). Once the student has passed Part I, he or she advances to Part II, which consists of a two-hour oral comprehensive exam that includes questions on the written examinations and on all other areas appropriate to the degree. The major professor coordinates the qualifying exams with the other members of the advisory committee. All members of the committee grade the exams.

Oral Comprehensive Exam (MM students)

MM students must pass the Oral Comprehensive Examination covering the major and related fields. The examination may be taken no more than three times. The student may take the examination before or after the completion of the master's degree recital. When scheduling the oral examination date, the student must be aware of the Toulouse Graduate School deadline for filing the results of the oral examination in order to graduate. The Oral Comprehensive Exam Form must be submitted to by the major professor by the deadline in order for the student to graduate.


Academic Integrity (all degrees)

UNT’s Academic Integrity policy UNT Policy 06.003 Student Academic Integrity) states: “’Plagiarism,’ in this policy, means use of another’s thoughts or words without proper attribution in any academic exercise, regardless of the student’s intent, including but not limited to:  1. the knowing or negligent use by paraphrase or direct quotation of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgement or citation, or 2. the knowing or negligent unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or by an agency engaged in selling term papers or other academic materials.” 

All Graduate students are required to share the TurnItIn document with their major professor/advisory/defense committees to review for instances of plagiarism before the student submits the dissertation to the Director of Graduate Studies.  Dissertations which contain plagiarism will not be approved for submission to the Toulouse Graduate School.   This includes the appropriate use of quotation marks (“’s) in addition to appropriate citation.  Nearly every printed word is searchable on the internet, and this step is paramount to uphold our university’s high standard of scholarly work by our students.  This step protects our students and our institution.  Plagiarism is a serious matter, and offenses can lead to dismissal from the academic program, the university, or even deportation for international students.  See UNT’s official policy here:  Academic Integrity | Office of the Provost (

  • How to interpret plagiarism reports (generated through Canvas submission): 
    • Helpful examples/ how to identify plagiarism in plagiarism reports: TBD
    • Guide to using the plagiarism reports: TBD



The Thesis or Dissertation (for further guidance, see degree handbook)

Dissertation/Thesis requirements vary according to the degree.  See the appropriate handbook for specific requirements.  Once approved by the advisory/defense committee, all dissertations are submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies for approval before submission to the Toulouse Graduate School.  The use of an editor is optional but requires prior permission using the form located in the DMA Handbook.  Contact the graduate office to request permission to use an editor.  Note that the Director of Graduate Studies and the Toulouse Graduate Reader are not editors.

The dissertation (for DMA students) consists of three recitals and a final project, which comprises: 1) a lecture/recital (50–60 minutes) with performance and critical essay (a minimum of 6,250 words); 2) a lecture (50–60 minutes) with critical essay (a minimum of 10,000 words); or 3) one thesis (a minimum of 25,000 words). Whichever option the student chooses, he or she must submit a topic proposal for approval by the GPDC before embarking on the critical essay or thesis. Detailed guidelines for the topic proposal are available here. Students who choose the first and second option must submit a complete draft of the critical essay to the advisory committee at least one month before the scheduled date of the lecture/recital or lecture. The committee members will provide the student with feedback for revisions no later than two weeks before that same date. 

Before submitting the topic pre-proposal and topic proposal, DMA students must be familiar with the DMA Dissertation Style Guide located in the DMA Handbook and must successfully complete a module about Copyright within the Graduate Canvas course.


The Dissertation Defense (DMA students)

The oral defense (for DMA students) is a two-hour exam pertaining to the dissertation and conducted by the advisory committee.
The purpose of the defense is for the student to demonstrate their comprehensive command of the research area, and to vet any discrepancies in research or methodology as the dissertation represents not only the student but the entire College and University. 
Part of the defense is careful review (by the student and committee) of copyrighted materials.  This includes musical examples, quoted prose, and illustrations, plus confirmation that the appearance of previously-published prose is appropriately attributed (using citations and quotation marks) as necessary.   The reprint of musical examples which are not public domain and do not constitute “fair use” must be accompanied by permission from the copyright holder.  See the UNT Library’s website for further information on Fair Use:  Fair Use - Copyright Quick Reference Guide - Guides at University of North Texas (
Once the student has passed the oral defense, they shall incorporate any revisions noted by the committee and submit the critical essay or thesis to the Graduate Studies Office via Canvas for the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies and the Dean of the College of Music no less than two weeks before the graduate school’s semester graduation deadline. 


Graduate Faculty Status

(UNT policy 06.026) Graduate Faculty Membership | University Policy Office (

All faculty members who formally mentor graduate students in any capacity (including recital grading), are required to be members of the University Graduate Faculty. Tenure-track / tenured faculty are typically full members by default, which allows them to serve as a major professor and thus chair an advisory committee. Lecturers and adjuncts are eligible to be nominated for associate membership only, which allows them to serve as related-field professor or as a committee member. Division chairs (and the GPDC for performance division faculty) are responsible for nominating new faculty for full or associate membership. Nominations are reviewed by the College of Music Graduate Council and forwarded to the Toulouse Graduate School.  Nominations are considered by the GPDC and the College of Music Graduate Council during the first meeting of each long semester.


Curriculum Committees

Curricular changes are “owned” by the faculty at UNT, meaning that any faculty member can make a proposal to the appropriate committees.  Our proposal cycle is 2 years in advance, to allow for vetting, approvals, editing, and encoding before students register a semester in advance.  A proposal approved during the 2022-23 schoolyear will be published in the 2024-25 catalog.  Proposals are discussed (when appropriate) by area, division, college and university committees before becoming official.  Proposals can be tracked online at 

  • The Graduate Performance Degree Committee (GPDC) comprises eight faculty members from the various performance areas as well as one each from music history and music theory. It reviews proposed changes to the MM and DMA degrees as well as student petitions for curricular exceptions. Finally, the GPDC reviews all DMA topic proposals and pre-proposals.
  • Analogous curriculum committees exist for the following areas: composition; jazz studies; music history, theory and ethnomusicology; and music education. 
  • The College of Music Graduate Council is the preeminent curriculum committee in the college and comprises faculty members from all degree areas (performance, composition, music education, jazz studies, and music history/theory/ethnomusicology) as well as two elected at-large members, and the College of Music representative on the UNT Graduate Council as elected by the UNT Faculty Senate. The Director of Graduate Studies serves as chair, and it reviews proposed curricular changes to all graduate degrees in music as well as nominations for membership in the graduate faculty.  The Graduate Council considers proposals for curricular changes after the proposal has been discussed and approved by the appropriate divisions.
  • The University Graduate Council comprises faculty members from across the university, including one representative appointed by the Faculty Senate for Group VIII (Music, Media Arts, Dance & Theatre Arts). It reviews proposed changes to all graduate degrees throughout the university.


Additional Resources

This webpage provides only an introduction to graduate mentoring at UNT. Please consult the following websites for more detailed requirements and guidelines:
College of Music Graduate Studies Website for degree handbooks, forms, and other information relevant to graduate students and their mentors.

Please contact us with any questions or concerns you might have or direct your students to do so at any time!

Dr. Jaymee Haefner, Director of Graduate Studies; (940) 565-3739
Dr. Colleen Conlon, Senior Graduate Academic Counselor; (940) 565-2930
Dr. Caden Ridge, Graduate Academic Counselor; (940) 369-7772

The UNT Writing Center helps writers at all levels and at all stages of study, including writing workshops.
Theses Manual provides information regarding University-level standardization of graduate documents.
Theses and Dissertationss provides information concerning Theses and Dissertation Guidelines for Toulouse—this supplements the information for your specific degree program handbook.
Academic Integrity/ UNT Teaching Commons provides information concerning mentoring graduate students across campus.
Toulouse Graduate School provides information concerning workshops and funding available to graduate students across campus as well as important deadlines for graduation.
Graduate Catalog for comprehensive degree requirements and course offerings in music and throughout the university.