Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Music Education

Degree Requirements

The Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education is a professional degree for individuals committed to leadership in music education policy and practice in a variety of settings both in and outside of schools. The degree program consists of three components: coursework, qualifying examinations, and a dissertation. 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.

A new cohort of students is admitted each fall. Cohort members progress through coursework and weekly seminars together and attend research seminars each year. They also interact with all music education graduate students as part of a nationwide community of scholar/practitioners.

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.

Music Education Program Outline

Every student must satisfactorily complete a minimum of 48 semester credits, distributed as follows:

Music Education Core (ME 701, 702, 841, 842, and 859) 20 cr
Music Theory and Musicology 12 cr
Approved electives 12 cr
ME 921 Research & Directed Study in Music Education 1 cr
MU 995 Dissertation 3 cr
Total 48 cr

Language Requirements

Music education majors develop proficiency in appropriate research methodologies in lieu of foreign languages.

Qualifying Examinations

In any semester, after all required courses have been completed and there are no incomplete grades outstanding, students may undertake the doctoral qualifying examinations, which consist of two written examinations, one in music theory and one in music history. Either or both of these examinations may be taken in a given semester.

Music Education Examination (major field)

After completing 44 credits, DMA students attend a five-day intensive residency on campus, engaging with faculty and peers in workshops and meetings designed to prepare the dissertation proposal. All DMA candidates will leave this residency with the rubrics that will be used to grade the dissertation proposal. After attending the residency, DMA students may submit a completed dissertation proposal during any subsequent grading period (contact the music education department coordinator for a calendar). At the end of the grading period, students will receive notice of whether the proposal is passed (in which case the major field examination is passed) or not passed (in which case the student will receive comprehensive feedback from faculty). Each DMA student may submit a completed proposal twice.

Final Projects

Institutional Review Board

Most dissertations in music education involve human subjects and thus require training in the ethical treatment of human subjects. The Boston University Institutional Review Board (IRB) approves all human subjects protocols. When music theory, music history, and major field examinations are passed, a music education faculty member will work with the student on the IRB application.


After the IRB approves human subjects protocols, the DMA student becomes a DMA candidate (ABD) and is assigned to a dissertation supervisor. Under the direction of the dissertation supervisor, the DMA candidate collects and analyzes data, presents the results of data analysis and conclusions, and suggests implications for the broader profession. A committee that includes at least two full-time BU faculty members reviews the dissertation, and the student can expect to make several revisions before finalizing the dissertation document. A dissertation defense is scheduled when the document is complete. The DMA student must pass the defense (and make any revisions suggested at the defense) before graduating.