The Practicum is a graduate course that involves a part-time student placement in an on- or off- campus work environment, which in the past has included work at libraries and archives, for concert/festival organizations, and on large-scale research projects. The student is expected to spend one full work day, or up to 10 hours per week, with the host institution. The student earns one half-credit for successful completion of a one-term placement, which should fall within the academic timeframe that the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs has established for the term in question.

The purpose of the practicum is to provide a learning experience of a kind not otherwise available in a standard academic setting. A practicum involves exposure to both theory and practice in a given field, and opportunity to consider the application of broader ideas to specific settings. The choice of practicum should be based on a student’s research interests, and the practicum itself should lead to a final paper that theoretically and/or critically engages with the practicum experience. This is not a course for students who are only interested in acquiring practical experience: the academic component is crucial for a successful practicum proposal and course.

The practicum is not a requirement for completion of the M.A., so admission to the course is not guaranteed. All requests for a practicum placement must be approved by the Graduate Committee. Inadequate or incomplete applications, weak academic performance, or unavailability or unsuitability of the requested placement are all reasons for the rejection of an application. Although the program may assist in setting up certain practica, it ultimately remains the student’s responsibility to make and pursue contacts, develop and submit the proposal and carry out the work for the practicum.


  1. Practica in Music and Culture are available only to full-time program students who have completed at least one full term of study.
  2. Up to one credit of practicum experience can be used towards completion of the degree requirements.
  3. Practicum placements are not available to qualifying-year students.

Exceptions to the above restrictions may only be granted by the Graduate Supervisor in unusual circumstances.


  1. Students interested in a practicum should contact the Graduate Supervisor early during the term prior to the anticipated practicum in order to discuss possible placements. It is the student’s responsibility to make the contacts and develop the proposal. An External Supervisor (i.e., someone in the host institution who can provide reports and serve as a liaison) should also be identified.
  2. No less than two months prior to the placement, a practicum proposal must be completed and submitted by the student. The proposal will include contact information for the host and indicate in detail relevant background information and experience for the applicant, the nature and scope of the practicum activity, and the work that is expected to be completed (along with clear indications of how that work will be assessed). It is essential that the proposal details the nature of the academic component to the practicum and how it relates to the practical experience. The practicum should conclude with a formal paper that theoretically/critically engages with the work accomplished.
  3. The Graduate Committee will consider the application and make a decision at the latest two weeks before the beginning of the term in which the practicum is to take place. The decision will include the assignment of an Internal Advisor (i.e., a Carleton faculty member who will oversee your practicum). Note: This means that before your proposal is accepted your main point of contact is the Graduate Supervisor. But if you are approved, then you should communicate with and submit all required material to your Internal Advisor.


  1. Two months before commencement of practicum: Deadline for submission of application to the Graduate Supervisor.
  2. End of prior term: Registration for MUSI 5300 (once approved by Graduate Committee).
  3. First week of practicum, submit the following two forms to Kristopher Waddell (
    1. Unpaid-Placements-Letter-to-Placement-Employers
    2. Unpaid-Placements-Student-Declaration-of-Understanding-and-Agreement
  4. Middle of term: Submission to the Internal Advisor of; (i) midterm progress reports from both the student and the External Supervisor, and (ii) the student’s proposal for final paper (short bibliography and paper proposal).
  5. Two weeks before end of term: Submission of draft of paper to Internal Advisor.
  6. End of term: Submission of student paper to Internal Advisor; submission of External Supervisor’s report.


  1. The evaluation of work carried out during a practicum will be undertaken by the External Supervisor and the Internal Advisor. A final report from the External Supervisor will base itself on the work completed, and will take into account performance during the placement. Ultimately, the final mark will be the responsibility of the Internal Advisor. However, in determining that course mark, the Internal Advisor will assign equal weighting to the work performed during the term (as assessed in the External Supervisor’s report) and the final paper. That paper will be evaluated on the basis of its theoretical/critical engagement with the practical placement, i.e. for its academic component, as well as its organization, style, etc.
  2. A progress report/paper proposal will be submitted at mid-point in the practicum. This will allow any adjustments to the scope of the project to be noted. See below (under Instructions for Host Institutions) for more information about this report.


While the Graduate Supervisor for the Carleton M.A. in Music and Culture assists the student with securing the Practicum placement, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to make contact with the host institution and to develop the proposal. The host institution should appoint an individual to serve as on-site supervisor (the External Supervisor) for the practicum¸ who will function as representative for the host institution in dealings with the Music and Culture program, and provide on-site supervision for the practicum itself. Once initial contact is established, the potential host institution is encouraged to work with the Carleton Music Graduate Supervisor and with the student to assist in the development of the proposal and the practicum itself. The proposal must be approved by the Music Graduate Committee at Carleton before the practicum can proceed. Once the proposal is approved, the Committee will designate a Carleton advisor (the Internal Advisor) who will work with the student on the academic component of the specific practicum placement, which includes the student’s midterm progress report and end-of-term paper (to be assessed by the Carleton Internal Advisor). By accepting a practicum student placement, the host institution commits to providing one term of supervision for the student in an appropriate work context.  The host institution and/or the M.A. in Music and Culture may make adjustments to the proposal and the practicum, granted that compelling reasons for the change exist and that the changes result from consultations that have taken place between the External Supervisor, the Internal Advisor and the student.

The evaluation of work carried out during a practicum will be undertaken by the External Advisor and the Internal Advisor. The External Advisor will provide evaluation of the student at two times during the term:

(i) A progress report will be submitted at mid-point in the practicum (in conjunction with a paper proposal written by the student). This will allow any adjustments to the scope of the project to be noted. The progress report does not need to be extensive, but should describe in a general way the work being undertaken by the student, the number of hours worked to date and the External Supervisor’s overall level of satisfaction with the student’s performance.

(ii) A final report from the External Supervisor will base itself on the work completed, and will take into account performance during the placement. The following information should be included in that final report:

  • What was the nature of the work undertaken by the student?
  • What were the specific tasks?
  • How successful was the student in undertaking these tasks?
  • In general, what were the strengths and weaknesses of the student in this internship?
  • To what degree did the student meet your expectations for this internship?
  • What mark would you assign to the student’s performance in the internship?

In assessing the overall success of the practicum, the final report by the External Supervisor should apply one of the following evaluative terms: Excellent, Very Good, Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. The Carleton Internal Advisor will then assign a letter grade for the practicum, giving equal weight to the on-site supervisor’s final report and the end-of-term paper. Final responsibility for the grade rests with the Carleton Internal Advisor.