Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Composition

The Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition at Boston University is a comprehensive professional program in the College of Fine Arts. Composers work to attain a personal compositional aesthetic and the techniques to express it through sound, as well as a broad knowledge of contemporary and historical compositional practices and a mastery of analytic techniques for tonal and post-tonal music. Students develop the skills necessary to navigate the professional world, and the Center for Music presents them with an array of opportunities to hear diverse musical styles.

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.

All entering Doctor of Musical Arts students are required to take proficiency examinations in the areas of music theory and musicology. These examinations are administered online before the start of classes. Incoming students are notified of the exam dates and contents in advance and are responsible for taking them by the specified deadline. Exam results are used for purposes of advisement and may establish prerequisite or required coursework. Material covered in these examinations is commonly presented in most undergraduate degree programs in music.

Students with insufficient background may be required to take review courses as appropriate.

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
MT 701 Proseminar in Theory 3 cr
MH 711 Research and Bibliography 3 cr
Theory/Composition electives 2 cr
Musicology electives 6 cr
Approved Music electives 12 cr
MU 995 Dissertation 3 cr
Total 48 cr

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

Reading proficiency is required in one language, chosen from German, French, and Italian. Students may demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language by passing its corresponding reading course at the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences: GRS LG 621, GRS LF 621, or GRS LI 621. Students may also satisfy the requirement by passing a foreign language examination, administered once each semester by the School of Music.

In any semester, after all required courses have been completed and there are no incomplete grades outstanding, 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.

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.

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.


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.

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
MT 701 Proseminar in Theory 3 cr
MH 711 Research and Bibliography 3 cr
Theory/Composition electives 2 cr
Musicology electives 9 cr
Approved Music electives 9 cr
MU 995 Dissertation 3 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.

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