Funding Opportunities

We offer several types of funding to support graduate students financially while also providing valuable teaching experience both within and outside the classroom.

There is not a doubt in my mind that the theory faculty at MSU fully prepared me to start a PhD in Music Theory. The faculty’s teaching and mentorship made me feel thoroughly equipped to dive deeper into my research. Additionally, the teaching experience and pedagogy coursework at MSU has made me feel exceedingly prepared to teach my current students.

Michael Ebie '21, now a Ph.D. student at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships include a stipend, student health insurance, and a tuition waiver of nine credits per fall and spring semester. Music theory GAs teach sections of undergraduate music theory and aural skills, mentored by a faculty supervisor. We consider this teaching experience essential, so we will not admit anyone to the Master's degree in music theory whom we cannot offer at least one year of classroom teaching experience. Music theory GAs play an essential role in undergraduate education in the College of Music, teaching the following courses: 

  • Five semesters of undergraduate music theory, in which GAs teach breakout lab sections and assist in the larger, faculty-taught classes
  • Four semesters of undergraduate ear training, in which each GA serves as the sole instructor of one or more assigned sections
  • An introductory course in music theory for non-music majors

 Learn more

My work as a teaching assistant in the MSU Music Theory program was among the most directly relevant and impactful learning experiences in preparation for my professional career.

Dr. Jeffrey Loeffert (MM Theory '09), Professor and Director of the Oklahoma State University Greenwood School of Music

Academic Achievement Graduate Assistantship (AAGA)

Michigan State University is strongly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of its educational mission. Academic Achievement Graduate Assistantships (AAGAs) are intended to achieve these goals in the recruitment of graduate students. These assistantships are intended for incoming applicants who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • ability to enhance the educational diversity of the student body of the program into which they are admitted
  • personal history and experience of overcoming obstacles (such as economic/financial hardships and social, and/or educational disadvantages)
  • come from an educational, cultural, or geographic background that is underrepresented in graduate study in the discipline
  • have demonstrated a commitment to diversity in the academic, professional, or civic realm through their work experience and volunteer efforts
  • are the first generation in their families to graduate from a 4‐year college or university
  • leadership potential for diverse communities, and demonstrated promotion of understanding among persons of different backgrounds and ideas
  • attendance at small liberal arts colleges, HBCUs, HSIs, or MSIs
  • participation in programs for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds like the Federal TRIO Programs (such as the Ronald E. McNair Post baccalaureate Achievement Program) and, in particular, the Summer Research Opportunities Program at MSU and throughout the Big Ten Academic Alliance 

Learn more


Fellowship Support

music theory learning centerGraduate students who receive fellowship awards from the music theory area serve as tutors in our Music Theory Learning Center (MTLC), the mission of which is to help undergraduate students succeed in core music theory and aural skills courses. Graduate tutors benefit greatly from the experience as well, gaining skills in individualizing instruction, solving problems, and communicating clearly.


Additional Sources of Funding for Graduate Students

  • Travel Funding (e.g., to present research at a conference) | Learn more
  • Research Enhancement Funding (e.g., to travel to collect data or conduct research off campus) | Learn more
  • Funding from the MSU Council of Graduate Students (e.g., professional development, conference travel, hosting an event on campus) | Learn more

Learn more

My TA experience was absolutely invaluable; it gave me the opportunity to regularly observe highest-caliber faculty in their element and the chance to develop my own teaching style and skills.

Thomas Childs (MM Theory '12), Music Theory Faculty at Interlochen Center for the Arts