Doctoral Qualifying Examinations


DMA Study Guide THEORY

Part B Study Guides are available from Administrative Coordinator for Musicology and Composition/Theory: email with your full name and instrument.


  • FRENCH and ITALIAN language exams  will be held:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 9 a.m. – 11a.m. in Room 154

  • GERMAN language exam will be held:

Thursday, September 18, 2014, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. in Room B36


  • DMA Qualifying HISTORY exams  will be held:

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014, 9 a.m – 4 p.m. (with a one-hour lunch break) in Room B36

  • DMA Qualifying THEORY exams will be held:

Monday, September 29th, 2014, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (with a one-hour lunch break); Location: Basement practice rooms


Registering for Qualifying Examinations

You may register for the exam by bringing this application form, signed by your department chair or your advisor, to room 240.  Please submit the application to room 240 one week prior to the exam you are taking.

Application due dates:

History: Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Theory: Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Please note: To take the exams, you must have passed MU719, MU749, have completed at least thirty (30) credits, and have no incompletes.

Language Examinations

The language exams generally take place one week prior to the History and Theory exams.   You may either come by Jillian Hogan’s office, room 240, or download a copy here.  It only takes a few seconds to fill out, but you’ll need to register for this exam just like the Qualifying Exams. Beginning at 9 a.m. you have two hours to complete the exam. It will be written in blue books with a pen or pencil. You’re allowed the use of a paper dictionary, but the use of laptops is prohibited.

Note: You have the option of taking a reading class in one of the above required languages of your choice in lieu of taking the exam. The class is pass/fail just like the exam and counts the same as the exam. These classes are offered by GRS, not by CFA. You can find them if you search the Student Link, and register for them in the same way as you register for CFA classes.

The class numbers are:

LI621: Reading Italian for Graduate Students

LF621: Reading French for Graduate Students

LG621: Reading German for Graduate Students

Doctoral Qualifying Examination in Music History:

Laptops are prohibited. Students will write the exam in blue books using a pen or pencil, and are allowed a paper dictionary if one is needed. Please see below:

Part A

10 sample essay questions are available on the School of Music website. These exact questions will not appear on the exam. On the day of the exam, 10 new questions that are similar to these in style and organization, will be handed out, and the student will write 3 out of the 10 given essays, one from each group. Here is the breakdown of historical genres:

Three essays, one from each group.

Group I. Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque

Group II. Classical, Romantic, Twentieth Century

Group III. Contemporary Classical, World Music, Popular Music, Jazz

Part B

This varies from department to department.  Melissa Lund will have questions for most departments.  Some departments like to give questions directly to you, the student, and she won’t have those, but you’ll work that out directly with your department chair. This is generally true for the departments of Collaborative Piano and Composition & Theory.


Tutors for the Music History Examination are now available through the Department of Musicology.  Fee: $45 per hour for private tutoring, and a class rate per person (for a class of from two to five students) of $25.  The frequency of the sessions is to be determined between the tutor and the student.

BASIL CONSIDINE Basil is a dissertation-stage PhD candidate in Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology. His research focuses on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sacred music, nineteenth-century opera, and the music of Mauritius. He works extensively with international students and is also a Writing Tutor at BU. He may be contacted at or 617.858.1617.

MARIA GEORGAKARAKOU (accent on last “a”) Maria Georgakarakou was born in Athens, Greece. She holds a Master’s degree in Early Music from the Longy School of Music and is a PhD candidate in Historical Musicology at Boston University.  She may be contacted at or 617.230.3630.

DAVID KJAR (pronounced “care”) David Kjar is pursuing a PhD in Musicology. His research focuses on eighteenth-century performance practice and notions of performance in the twentieth century, with attention given to Wanda Landowska and her influence on the performance style of the early music movement.  He may be contacted at or 617.879. 2619.


Doctoral Qualifying Examination in Music Theory

Study Guide

Computers, cell phones, and paper dictionaries are prohibited during the Music Theory exam.  Students are allowed only writing utensils, a watch, and food/water for the duration of the exam.


Doctoral Qualifying Examination in Music History – Oral Examinations

Once you’ve passed both written exams, you’ll be immediately qualified for your oral examination. It is required that you do the oral exam in the same semester as you finish the written exams, and that you are available for any date given.  Please check the Graduate Handbook for more information.  Once you’re on the list for an oral exam, Melissa Lund will begin making a panel with your major teacher/department chair, Musicologist or Theorist/Composer, and one faculty member at-large, chosen from any department. The exam is roughly 2 hours long.

If a retake of the exam is needed, it takes place no sooner than the following semester.

General Information:

Three Opportunities

Each student is given 3 opportunities to take and pass the exams. This means 3 for History, 3 for Theory, and 3 for the oral examination. You can back out of the written exams as late as the morning of the exam, as long as you let Melissa Lund know via email that you’re not ready to take it. However, if you take the exam paper from her, look at it, and then decide you’re not ready, you’ve used one of your 3 opportunities. This does NOT apply to the oral exam. You must take it when it is scheduled.

Graduate Handbook

The Graduate Handbook is the ultimate authority for official policy regarding exams.


We’ve created a facebook group for students to encourage each other and swap studying ideas – “BU School of Music – Studying for DMA Exams”.