Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Conducting (Choral or Orchestral)

Changes to this program will take effect in the 2022–2023 academic year.

The Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting program at Boston University combines rigorous study of choral and orchestral conducting techniques and literature with related work in performance, music theory, and musicology in a vibrant and intimate setting, all within a major research university. DMA candidates will join a diverse community of scholar-performers led by a renowned faculty. In addition, the rich intellectual and artistic environment of Boston provides many further opportunities for amateur and professional collaborations.

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of the program, students are expected to demonstrate:

  • Performance techniques and skills in the area of concentration.
  • Broad knowledge of repertory and literature from all periods.
  • Acquisition of advanced knowledge and skills in musicianship, music theory and analysis, and music history.
  • Superior proficiency in verbal communication of musical ideas and concepts.
  • Capability for producing professional-level written documents such as program notes or scholarly essays.
  • Capacity for artistic growth and skills for navigating the professional world.

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 a proficiency examination in the area of music theory. The examination is administered online before the start of classes. Incoming students are notified of the exam dates and contents in advance and are responsible for taking it by the specified deadline. Exam results are used for purposes of advisement and may establish prerequisite or required coursework. Material covered in this examination is commonly presented in most undergraduate degree programs in music. No retakes of the exam will be permitted.

Required Courses

Any deficiencies identified by the proficiency exams must be addressed as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not the student plans to take other courses in these areas. Students may not take advanced graduate courses in a particular area OR graduate until all deficiencies have been addressed. Prerequisite and other required courses may include:

  • CFA MH 401 Graduate Music History Review
  • CFA MT 401 Graduate Music Theory Review
  • CFA MT 601 Analytical Techniques 1
  • CFA MT 602 Analytical Techniques 2

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 Outlines

DMA Choral Conducting Program Outline

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

MP 701 Choral Conducting Seminar (5 semesters) 15 cr
MP 700 Orchestral Conducting Seminar 3 cr
MP 894 Early Choral Literature: 14th–18th c. 3 cr
MP 895 Choral Literature: Late-Classical to 21st c. 3 cr
MP 893 World Choral Perspectives 3 cr
MT 701 Doctoral Proseminar: Skills 3 cr
MT 702 Doctoral Proseminar: Analysis 3 cr
Courses in Musicology (MH) (must be 600 level or higher) 6 cr
Courses in Music Theory (MT) (must be 600 level or higher) 3 cr
MU 995 Dissertation 3 cr
Graduate Music electives 3 cr
Total 48 cr

Orchestral Conducting Program Outline

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

Orchestral Conducting Curriculum (Dissertation Track)

Applied Lessons 18 cr
MT 701 Doctoral Proseminar: Skills 3 cr
MT 702 Doctoral Proseminar: Analysis 3 cr
Courses in Musicology (MH) (must be 600 level or higher) 6 cr
Courses in Music Theory (MT) (must be 600 level or higher) 3 cr
MU 995 Dissertation 3 cr
Graduate Music electives 12 cr
Total 48 cr

Orchestral Conducting Curriculum (Recital Track)

Applied Lessons 18 cr
MT 701 Doctoral Proseminar: Skills 3 cr
MT 702 Doctoral Proseminar: Analysis 3 cr
Courses in Musicology (MH) (must be 600 level or higher) 6 cr
Courses in Music Theory (MT) (must be 600 level or higher) 3 cr
MP 705 Writing for DMA Recital Track 1 cr
Graduate Music electives 14 cr
Total 48 cr

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, written and oral. There are three written examinations: one in the area of music theory (in four parts), one in the area of music history, and one in the major field. Any or all of these examinations may be taken in a given semester.

Once a student has passed an individual area exam, they 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.

Students who fail any portion of the DMA qualifying examinations (written or oral) three times may be subject to dismissal from the program.

Choral and Orchestral Performance Requirements

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.

Concerts

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.

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: Independent Research/Dissertation and Lecture-Recital (Choral Conducting)

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 document must be supervised and approved by assigned faculty readers.

Terminal Project (Orchestral Conducting)

The orchestral conducting student, in consultation with the conducting faculty, may elect to combine performance and scholarship in a variety of ways. Students will consult with their advisor to develop the terminal project.