DMA Online Courses

The Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education consists of 48 credits, 4 of which are obtained in Research, Directed Study, and Dissertation phase. Students enroll in 24 credits of major area courses, 8 credits of theory and musicology, and 12 credits of approved electives.

Some doctoral students elect to attend courses on campus during the summer session. Residence hall accommodations are usually available, and online students find it exciting to study with online and on-campus students in Boston. More information including session dates, optional on-campus residence hall availability, financial aid, and tuition rates is communicated to students during the academic year.

Click on a course name below to read the description.

Major Area Courses *

(24 credits, all required)

ME740 (4 credits)

In this course, students become acquainted with a variety of research that informs music education, learn both to critique and apply that research, and develop their scholarly writing skills. Note: This course is typically waived for DMA students who have enrolled in a similar course during Master’s degree study.

ME741 (4 credits)

The purpose of this course is to examine and discuss historical and contemporary philosophical ideas and problems in music and music education. A goal is for students to develop a sharpened sensitivity to past and present thought (primarily, but not limited to historical and philosophical thought) in the field of music education in order to better inform their own curricular and instructional choices.

ME742 (4 credits)

The purpose of this course is to critically examine psychological and sociological concepts as they relate to music and education. Topics include key issues and concepts in psychology and sociology; psychology as related to music education processes; problems encountered in the sociology of music education; and cultural influences that affect both the psychology of the individual and the sociological aspects of group dynamics.

ME841 (4 credits)

Quantitative research methods and their application to educational research contexts; quantitative research design, sampling techniques, reliability and validity, descriptive and inferential statistics, quantitative studies in music education, and using software to conduct statistical analysis.

ME842 (4 credits)

This course introduces graduate students to key issues and concepts in qualitative research. Students develop skills in conducting interviews, and observations; they gain experience with ethnographic and narrative techniques including transcribing, coding, interpreting data and presenting results of analysis.

ME859 (4 credits)

This course normally serves as the final course in the DMA sequence. It brings theoretical and conceptual understandings from prior courses together with a range of research strategies, so that students can consider a possible research path.

Musicology and Music Theory

(8 credits required*)

MH700 (4 credits)

Methods and materials of research in the music disciplines including bibliographical and writing styles.

MT400 (2 credits)

Review of fundamental music theory and analysis through the study of chord grammar, voice-leading principles, figured bass, four-part chorale harmonizations and form. Materials are approached through listening, writing and analytical work. Credits from this review course will not apply toward degree completion.

* Enrollment in MT400 is determined by results from the music theory proficiency exam. It is a 2 credit prerequisite music theory course and is not eligible for Stafford Direct Student Loans. If a student is required to take this course, it will bring them to 50 total credits.

MT600 (4 credits)

Investigations (systemic and empirical) into formal and compositional procedures of selected masterworks from the tonal repertoire. Lectures lead to individual analytical projects.

*pre-requisite is MT400 or pass Music Theory Proficiency Exam

Approved Electives

(12 credits, select three courses)

AR670 (4 credits)

This course is intended to address policy issues and advocacy strategies for leaders in the arts. Local, State and National Arts Education policies and advocacy programs will be addressed. Students will research agencies, partners and other organizations beyond the schools that serve as sources for advocacy and often influence policy. Students in this course should develop the knowledge and expertise in understanding needs for change and developing plans for advocacy.

ME541 (4 credits)

The course will include activities designed to introduce students to significant technologies that can support music teaching and learning. These technologies will include music sequencing/production, recording, audio and MIDI editing, computer-based notation, graphic-based web authoring, social media for music distribution, and computer-assisted instruction software. The majority of learning activities will begin with a teacher demonstration of a set of skills in music software. Each demonstration will be followed by an assignment designed for students to practice those skills and demonstrate mastery of techniques. Successful completion of ME541 will qualify students for Level 1 certification through TI:ME (Technology Institute for Music Educators). Information will be provided at the end of the course for students to earn this credential for their professional profile.

ME542 (4 credits)

This course serves to expand the knowledge that many teachers have about uses of technology for teaching music. Students explore music technology pedagogy; that is, the practice of teaching music in a technologically enhanced environment and the special kinds of teaching skills required to do so effectively. Students examine theoretical foundations of the uses of technology for music teaching, including theories of student interaction with technology, multimedia principles, and technology-infused music curricula. Students will design a technology based curricular unit of music study and implement that unit in a real-world scenario such as their own classroom or studio.

ME543 (4 credits)

ME543 will focus on skill development with notation software. Students will develop advanced skills with techniques in notation software including multi-voice staves, part creation, custom styles, and page formatting. No prior experience with Sibelius or other notation software is expected. Students will be required to have access to their own installation of the latest version of Sibelius.

ME545 (4 credits)

This course is designed to expand awareness of the intersections between music, education, and society as they relate to issues of power, privilege, and marginalization within US, educational, and global contexts. Students will participate in group discussions, individual reflection, and student-designed projects to increase awareness of their own biases and assumptions and deepen reflective practice in music making and teaching. Upon completion of the course, students should be better prepared to engage in acts of social justice, transform structural biases, build coalitions to effect change, and advocate for marginalized students in their own care.

MH750 (4 credits)

This course examines the important historical and contemporary approaches to the study of musical experience and significance.

ME751 (4 credits)

Drawing upon the social, cultural, political, and economic milieu including movements in music education, music therapy and ethnomusicology, this course first examines reasons for the growth and development of community music. Students will be asked to trace an aspect of community music that may be considered as part of its heritage and also to evaluate and critique a contemporary community music project through fieldwork. Students will then be in a position to articulate their own vision for community music both as a practicum and as a scholarly pursuit.

ME753 (4 credits)

This course will provide an overview of early childhood development and education.  Students will then investigate the musical development of very young children, and explore the components of research-based, developmentally appropriate early childhood music education.  Special attention will be paid to the role of play in childhood and designing and implementing play-based musical experiences.

ME840 (4 credits)

Study of current issues influencing the state of music education in schools. Focus on the interpretation, implementation, and development of policy. Topics include public policy, politics, advocacy, diversity, evaluation, and curriculum.

MH835 (4 credits)

Overview of early music in the colonies. Various attempts to create an individual “American” musical style. Diversity of influences: European, African-American, Indian, Spanish-Mexican, religious, jazz, folk song, minstrel, etc. Music of Billings, Lowell, Mason, Gottschalk, MacDowell, Ives, Gershwin, Copland, and others.

MH837 (4 credits)

Examination of the blues in its musical and cultural dimensions. Focuses on defining the blues as a place where cultures and styles meet. Chord structure, cultural background, characteristics, major themes, different regional styles and dialects, and its place in history will be examined along with the cultural idea of “crossroads.”

MH862 (4 credits)

African Music & Culture: Focus on developing innovative teaching material and activities based on African music, and planning and implementing developmentally appropriate creative experiences based on the wealth of African cultures and traditions.

MT630 (4 credits)

Contemporary orchestral techniques, focusing on scoring for modern winds, brass, strings and mixed ensembles, including full orchestra. Concepts include chord spacing, melodic projection, layering and delineation of material, and extended instrumental techniques. Materials are approached through readings, listening, writing and analytical work.

MT781 (4 credits)

Analysis of combo, vocal and jazz ensemble literature from a variety of grade levels. Development of arranging and composing skills in the jazz idiom. Overview of score study, rehearsal, and programming topics pertaining to jazz ensemble development and leadership. Individual analytical and arranging projects.

TA801 (4 credits)

Students will explore and critically engage with materials and approaches in the principal areas of present-day church musicians including: theology of music ministry, resources, choral and vocal techniques, conducting, the organ and other instruments, alternative and contemporary worship, and professional concerns. They will deepen their understanding and integration of the multi-faceted skills inherent in the practice of music ministry. This course is offered through BU’s School of Theology.

DMA Proposal & Dissertation

(4 credits, all required)

ME921 (1 credit)

All other courses must be completed prior to enrollment in ME921. A week-long residency on campus with faculty where students define a need for research, develop a research problem, think critically about theoretical frameworks, and discuss appropriate research strategies.

ME995 (3 credits)

Last class (dissertation) in Doctoral program. Selection of dissertation topic; research techniques; compilation of preliminary bibliography. After students complete their coursework, they are given additional time to complete their dissertation under the direction of a faculty advisor.

While students are working on their dissertation, they are expected to enroll in Continuing Studies for 0 credits each Fall and Spring until they defend. Continuing Studies fees apply.

* Graduates of the Boston University Master of Music in Music Education program who enroll in the DMA program will be given revised course requirements and course sequences.


* Enrollment in MT400 is determined by results from the music theory proficiency exam. It is a 2 credit prerequisite music theory course and is not eligible for Stafford Direct Student Loans. If a student is required to take this course, it will bring them to 50 total credits.

Students take qualifying exams in music theory, musicology, and music education prior to completing the Proposal & Dissertation writing phase.

While students are working on their qualifying examinations, they are expected to enroll in Continuing Studies for 0 credits each Fall and Spring until they defend. Continuing Studies fees apply.

Total Coursework: 48-50* Credits