This fellowship, made possible by the SMT-40 campaign, is intended to recognize and foster excellent research in music theory by helping highly qualified PhD. students to complete their dissertations.

  • Applicants must be current members of the Society for Music Theory who have completed all required coursework and examinations, and have received approval of the dissertation proposal, by the application deadline. 
  • Previous years’ applicants are encouraged to reapply.
  • Awardees must not have completed and defended their dissertation by the time they receive the fellowship.
  • These fellowships are awarded to research projects that promise to make a significant contribution to the field of music theory.
  • In keeping with the Society's mission to promote diversity and inclusivity, at least one of the two awards will support a topic in an area of music theory research that engages diversity, or an applicant who contributes to the diversification of the SMT community. 
  • 2023 dissertation research fellowships include an award of $5,000 to support full-time research and writing for a minimum of two months.
  • Awardees will receive recognition at the Annual Meeting and in the SMT Newsletter. 
  • The SMT-40 Dissertation Fellowship Committee consists of a Chair and three additional members appointed by the SMT President.
  • The committee evaluates completed applications and selects up to two awardees per year. The Committee reserves the right not to make any award.
  • Committee members recuse themselves from deliberations regarding any graduate student who attends their institution or who may pose a conflict of interest for them. Any recusals associated with the award winners will be made public when the award is announced.
  • The winners will be notified early in the year (Jan–Feb) and will have two weeks to accept or decline the Fellowship.
  • An awardee may receive the Fellowship only once; it is not deferrable or renewable.
  • The Fellowship may be accepted without the financial award should this be a condition for accepting an award from a different source.
Application process

Please fill out the online form (log-in required) to apply. 

The application asks for the following:

  • Basic information about the student (name, institution, email, mailing address)
  • Dissertation advisor and their email address
  • Curriculum vitae (no more than three pages)
  • A dissertation prospectus, with title, up to fifteen double-spaced pages (approximately 3000–4000 words) in length. This document should be clearly organized and include:
    • A clear statement of the project’s objectives
    • A discussion of the methodology in use
    • A consideration of how the work ties into (extends, supplements, engages with) current important streams of music-theoretical thought
    • An overview of the chapters
    • A statement of the present status and timeline for completion of the project.
    • (Optional) Up to four pages of supplementary materials that illuminate the argument (images, musical examples, etc. with clear captions) and a bibliography up to two pages in length (single spaced). Supplementary materials are not included in the suggested length of fifteen double-spaced pages (approximately 3000–4000 words).
  • A sample chapter (with title) from the dissertation that showcases the most promising contributions of the dissertation
  • A confidential letter from the dissertation advisor, to be uploaded by the advisor directly to the SMT portal before the application deadline
The deadline for applications was December 15, 2023.