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 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.


Two awards of $3500 will be given, with recognition at the Annual Meeting and in the SMT Newsletter. 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.


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 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 winner will be made public when the award is announced. The winners will be notified in early 2020 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.

Application Process

A completed application consists of the following, submitted by FRIDAY OCTOBER 25, 2019 to the Chair of the SMT-40 Dissertation Fellowship Committee, Karen Bottge, at

  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 (not a literature review).
  5. A confidential letter from the Chair of the applicant's dissertation committee:
  6. (a) certifying that the student has completed all required coursework and examinations and that the dissertation proposal has been approved

    (b) evaluating the student’s academic work

    (c) explaining the project’s significance to the field and (as applicable) its contribution towards diversification of the field of music theory

    (d) describing progress to date.

A PDF of the guidelines can be found here.