Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Conducting

Degree Requirements

The Doctor of Musical Arts 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 Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts students are required to take the Proficiency Examination in Music Theory and the Proficiency Examination in Musicology. These examinations are given before the start of classes. Accepted students are notified of the exam dates and are responsible for taking them. 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. Detailed descriptions of these exams are supplied to accepted students. Students in composition, music theory, and musicology will also be examined in fugue; historical performance students will be examined in counterpoint.

Students with insufficient background in music theory may be required to take MU 400 Graduate Theory Review, which may be used as elective credit. The course is a seven-week, online course given twice per year in the second half of the Fall Semester and in the Summer Term.

Conducting Program Outline

Students must complete a minimum of 48 graduate credits including music history and music theory, including:

MU 749 Music Research Techniques and MU 719 Doctoral Proseminar in Theory
(MU 749 must be completed within the first three semesters of doctoral study.)
6 cr
Musicology and/or Music Theory 6 cr
Applied Music (if appropriate) 18 cr
Approved Music Electives 18 cr

Choral conducting majors must take 8 credits of Choral Literature Seminar.

Doctoral students in performance may elect one of two program options: the dissertation track or the performance track.

Dissertation Track

Candidates for the DMA in Conducting must give two public recitals. The programs for the recitals can reflect the specific interest of the individual student, but the programs must include literature from a broad historical span.

Terminal Project: Independent Research/Dissertation and Lecture-Recital

The student must write a substantial document demonstrating the ability to conduct independent research. This document should stress source materials, comparative editions, score analysis, and performance practice. The student must give a lecture-recital based on this document and use the medium of performance to illustrate it. The lecture-recital must be supervised and approved by assigned faculty readers. A copy of the lecture must be included as an appendix in the final copies of the document. Conducting students are not required to give a lecture-recital.

Alternate Track

Choral and Instrumental Conducting

There are three distinct components leading to the fulfillment of the requirements for the DMA in Conducting (choral or orchestral) for the student electing this program option.


Both choral and orchestral conductors shall present concerts proposed in consultation with their advisor. No specific number of performances is required, but it is recommended that there be no fewer than three different programs that meet conditions outlined in the School of Music Graduate Student Handbook.

Supporting Written Material

Depending on the nature of the project agreed upon by the student, the advisor, and the conducting faculty, the written material can take a variety of forms, for example: documented and originally composed program notes; translations and phonetic guides to pronunciation (in the case of choral music); or analysis of the works conducted.

Pre-Concert Lectures

The student may present a series of pre-concert lectures, which may or may not be associated with the above concerts. The lectures should be original to the conductor and fully documented.

Terminal Project Options

The conducting student, in consultation with the conducting faculty, may elect to combine performance and scholarship in a variety of ways. Details are provided in the School of Music Graduate Student Handbook.