The Society for Music Theory SMT-40 Dissertation Fellowship


This yearly award, made possible by the SMT-40 campaign, is intended to recognize and foster excellent research in music theory by helping highly qualified Ph.D. 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.


$3500 and 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. It evaluates completed applications and selects two awardees per year. The Fellowship is awarded to research projects that promise to make a significant contribution to the field of music theory. The winner will be notified in early 2019, 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 award may be accepted without the cash prize (should this be a condition for accepting an award from a different source). 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 winner will be made public when the award is announced.

Application Process

A completed application consists of the following, submitted by October 26, 2018 to the Chair of the SMT-40 Dissertation Fellowship Committee, Professor Ellie Hisama:

  1. A completed application form (download the form here).
  2. A curriculum vitae (maximum of 3 pages).
  3. A current dissertation prospectus (3000–4000 words, plus references and working bibliography, musical examples, and figures). In clearly written prose, the prospectus should describe the motivation for the dissertation (supported by, but not limited to, an assessment of relevant secondary literature), present its research question, outline the research methods, explain the significance of the project to the field of music theory, and describe its progress to date.
  4. A complete sample chapter of original research (that is, not a literature review).
  5. A confidential letter from the chair of the applicant's dissertation committee certifying that the student has completed all required coursework and examinations and that the dissertation proposal has been approved, evaluating the student’s academic work, explaining the project’s significance to the field, and describing progress to date.

A PDF of the guidelines can be found here.