Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Conducting

Degree Requirements

The Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting 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 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.

Language Requirement

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.

Conducting Program Outline

Students must complete a minimum of 48 graduate credits, including:

MH 711 Music Research Techniques
(to be completed within the first three semesters of doctoral study)
3 cr
MT 701 Doctoral Proseminar in Theory 3 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 MP 891–94 Choral Literature Seminar.

Qualifying Examinations

In any semester after completing at least 30 credits, students may undertake the 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 the oral examination only after passing all written examinations. Requirements vary by concentration. There are also three opportunities to pass the oral examination.

Doctoral students in conducting may elect one of two program options: the dissertation track or the alternate track. Dissertation track students will register for 3 credits of MP 929 Research and Directed Study in Conducting in lieu of 3 musicology/music theory credits.

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 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 Handbook.