Students in the Ph.D. program in Music and Multimedia Composition produce, analyze, and perform original works that may include the use of electronic music, acoustic composition and sound in combination with video, performance, installation and text.

Students conduct advanced inquiry into the cultural, theoretical, technical, and aesthetic issues surrounding music and multimedia production in close collaboration with faculty researchers strongly invested in real-time, interactive sonic and visual media, sound art, instrument design, and acoustic composition. The program welcomes students working from diverse influences and methods, expanding their creative practices and underlying technical knowledge to spur artistic innovation. In addition to faculty mentorship, students can collaborate with a broad array of professional performing ensembles and visiting artists presented on the Brown University campus.

Diverse Resources

The graduate program in Music and Multimedia Composition offers an array of resources unique to Brown. Students have access to the department’s Multimedia and Electronic Music Experiments (MEME) studios, and the university’s Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. These specialized research facilities house recording studios, electronics shops, project studios, exhibition and performance spaces. Regular opportunities exist to interface with the larger arts and digital media communities at Brown, at the nearby Rhode Island School of Design, in Providence and the New England region. Music and Multimedia Composition students also partake in the many scholarly offerings of the Musicology and Ethnomusicology PhD program, with faculty specialties in technoculture, sound studies, copyright, improvisation and organology. A Brown doctoral degree in Music and Multimedia Composition leads to a career in college and university teaching, or to a position to applied work outside of higher education.


Brown offers five years of guaranteed support in the form of a full tuition scholarship, health benefits, and a cash stipend that is competitive with that offered by other top-tier programs. Summer support is funded for four years, over and above the academic-year stipend. Ph.D students in the music department hold a Fellowship in the first year of study, with no TA or proctorship obligations. During three of the remaining four years they hold either Teaching Assistantships or Proctorships. In the remaining year they hold a Dissertation Fellowship. There is some flexibility as to when to use up the final year of fellowship. Some people use it to fund dissertation research in the fourth year of study; others obtain external grants for that research and defer the fellowship for dissertation write-up time at Brown. (In other words, external funding does not replace Brown funding: students who win one year’s worth of external support still receive a full five years of funding from Brown, on top of that year of external support).

teaching assistantships

Graduate Teaching Assistantships and Proctorships in music normally require up to twenty hours of work per week during the school year.

In addition to TA assignments in undergraduate and graduate level music courses, MMC graduate students have the opportunity to direct the MEME electroacoustic improvisation ensemble. Advanced students may have the opportunity to propose a course of their own design. Graduate students may also work as Proctors in the MEME studios, assisting with concert production, studio management, promotion, and documentation.

Some of the courses for which grad students serve as TAs include:
Music 200: Computers and Music
Music 1200: Recording and Sound Design Techniques
Music 1210: Introduction to Real-Time Systems
Music 1500B: The Music of Olivier Messiaen

HEALTH INSURANCE and childcare

  • Doctoral and MFA students who receive health coverage through their financial support packages from the University receive a 75% subsidy on the cost of enrolling dependents, so it costs students $1,063.75 to enroll dependents. Health insurance information is here.
  • Doctoral students also receive dental insurance as part of their support package. Doctoral students also receive a 75% subsidy on the cost of enrolling dependents in dental care. Dental insurance information for students and dependents is here.
  • Please note that students with eligible child dependents are eligible for an annual child care subsidy of $5,000 per child (up to three children). Child Care Subsidy information is here.
  • Please note that students who become new parents, through birth or adoption, are eligible for one semester or term of Parental Relief, which is fully stipended. Parental Relief information is here.
  • All graduate students also receive a free membership with a backup care provider,, and receive 5 days per year (or 10 per year when on a Teaching, Research, or Proctorship appointment) of subsidized backup care days. Backup care information is here.


There is no dedicated financial assistance available for housing beyond the stipend. Graduate students are eligible for graduate student housing through Auxiliary Housing, including our graduate student housing unit, River House. We offer cost of living calculators here. Graduate student housing information is here.


A non-refundable fee of $75 is charged for processing each application received by the Graduate School (the MMC program has no control over this). This fee must be paid when the application is submitted. An application will not be processed unless the fee is paid. Applicants who want to be evaluated by more than one graduate program must submit separate applications to each program for which they would like to be considered. The Graduate School is not responsible for errors made by applicants during the application process. There are no application-fee refunds. Application-fee waivers are available under certain circumstances. Applicants to Brown’s graduate programs who can demonstrate financial need may apply for an application-fee waiver. Learn more.

Doctoral students pay an activity fee each semester determined by the Graduate Student Council ($40), a recreation fee each semester ($35), and a one-time academic records fee ($100), which covers transcripts for life. Doctoral students receive full coverage of the health services fee with their support package. Information on fees can be found here.


Joseph Butch Rovan
Professor of Music, Director of Graduate Studies, Music & Multimedia Composition
[email protected]


Review the program’s application requirements here.

For more information, please consult our Graduate Program FAQ. The MMC program also has a Supplemental FAQ that covers its specific application requirements in detail.

Apply to the Music & Multimedia Composition program through the Brown University Graduate School website.

Exams, Dissertations and Other Scholarly Work

During the first two years of the program students undertake the majority of their coursework, which involves writing and research in addition to creative practice. During this time they prepare their Masters project (a substantial performance, installation, or work in other formats) for presentation in the second year accompanied by an essay of thirty to fifty pages that describes the aesthetic concepts, historical background, and technical realization of the work.

In the third year students continue their coursework and must prepare for and pass their Qualifying Exams. This consists of three essays on topics that lead into their dissertation work and an oral exam on these essays. Once this is complete students develop a formal dissertation proposal in which serves as a clear and detailed outline of the areas of creative and scholarly research to be undertaken over the next two years.

The dissertation itself has two parts. The dissertation project is an original creative work that makes a substantial contribution to knowledge in the field. This is accompanied by a detailed paper that describes the project’s overall concept, technical methods, and the historical, theoretical, and artistic frameworks that inform and support it. The paper is completed after the dissertation project has taken place and requires a formal oral presentation and defense before it is approved.

See the MMC Graduate Handbook for specific details on these requirements.