Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Composition

Changes to this program will take effect in the 2016–2017 academic year.

Post-Master’s DMA in Composition

The Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition is granted upon successful completion of a program of study, written and oral qualifying examinations, and terminal projects appropriate to the student’s field of specialization. Students must complete a minimum of 48 semester credits with grades no lower than B- in graduate-level coursework. All degree requirements must be completed within seven years of the date of matriculation.

Proficiency Examinations

All entering Doctor of Musical Arts students are required to take proficiency examinations in music theory and music history. These examinations are given online before the start of classes. Accepted students are notified in advance of the exam dates and contents, and are responsible for taking them by the specified deadline. Exam results are used for advisement and may establish prerequisite or required coursework. Material covered in these examinations is commonly presented in most undergraduate degree programs in music. Students in composition will additionally be examined in fugue.

Students with insufficient background in music theory and/or music history may be required to take the appropriate review courses, which may earn elective credit.  Descriptions of these courses appear in the School of Music Graduate Handbook.

Composition Program Outline

MT 621 Graduate Composition 9 cr
MT 861 Seminar in Tonal Music 3 cr
MT 862 Seminar in Post-Tonal Music 3 cr
MT 632 Advanced Orchestration 2 cr
MT 635–37 Electronic/Computer Music 2 cr
MH 711 Research and Bibliography 3 cr
Theory/Composition electives 5 cr
Musicology electives 6 cr
Approved Music electives 12 cr
MT 921 Dissertation 3 cr
Total 48 cr


The student must present a program, approximately one-hour long, of original compositions.

Language Requirements

The minimum requirement for students in the DMA in Composition is reading competency in modern French, German, or Italian.

Qualifying Examinations

In any semester, after completing at least 30 credits, students may undertake doctoral qualifying examinations, written and oral. There are two written examinations: one in the area of music theory, and one in the areas of music history and the major field. Either or both of these examinations may be taken in a given semester.

The student has three opportunities to pass written examinations in each of the three areas. Once a student has passed an individual area exam, he or she need not repeat it, even if required to retake another area exam. The student proceeds to oral examinations only after passing all written examinations. Requirements vary by concentration. There are also three opportunities to pass the oral examination. Further details on these examinations are available in the School of Music Graduate Handbook.

Terminal Projects

Students in the DMA in Composition program follow the dissertation track and are permitted to begin work on the dissertation only after satisfactory completion of the qualifying examinations. For further details on terminal projects, see the School of Music Graduate Handbook.


Post-Baccalaureate DMA in Composition

Students who have completed a BA or BM may apply directly to the Post-Baccalaureate DMA in Composition program. Applicants must meet the general admission requirements for the MM program and must show evidence of strong academic performance as well as compositional achievement. Students who apply from the MM program prior to completion are subject to the same admission rules.

Composition Program Outline, Post-Baccalaureate DMA

MT 621 Graduate Composition 15 cr
MT 761 Advanced Tonal Analysis 3 cr
MT 861 Seminar in Tonal Music 3 cr
MT 762 Advanced Post-Tonal Analysis 3 cr
MT 862 Seminar in Post-Tonal Music 3 cr
MT 632 Advanced Orchestration 2 cr
MT 635–37 Electronic/Computer Music 2 cr
MT 641–42 Counterpoint 2 cr
MH 711 Research and Bibliography 3 cr
Theory/Composition electives 4 cr
Musicology electives 9 cr
MU 995 Dissertation 3 cr
Approved Music electives 10 cr
Total 62 cr


Students give two recitals during this degree program. During the second year of study, the student submits a recital portfolio for faculty approval. This portfolio must contain works totaling at least one-half hour in length. Once the portfolio is approved, the student presents these works in a recital. If the works have all been previously publicly performed or read, this first recital requirement may be waived at the discretion of the composition faculty.

Prior to work on the dissertation, during the third or fourth year, the student must again submit a recital portfolio for faculty approval. These works, which may include pieces previously submitted, must make up a full-length program. Once the faculty has approved the recital, the student must present it publicly. This may be done at any time prior to graduation. Students are expected to register for graduate composition lessons until the second recital portfolio is completed and approved.

Language Requirement, Qualifying Examinations, Terminal Project

These requirements are the same as those for the Post-Master’s DMA in Composition (see above).