Online 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. This program does not result in licensure.

The degree program consists of three components: coursework, qualifying examination, and a dissertation. Students must complete a minimum of 48 semester credits with grades no lower than B– and a minimum cumulative GPA no lower than 3.0 in graduate-level coursework. All degree requirements must be completed within seven years of the date of matriculation. Students are allowed to transfer up to 16.0 credits of external coursework, pending faculty review for equivalency, for courses completed within 5 years of matriculation to the DMA program.

A new cohort of students is admitted each fall. Cohort members progress through coursework together and culminate in an on-campus Residency prior to beginning their dissertation. They also interact with other music education graduate students as part of a nationwide community of scholar/practitioners.

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of this program, students are expected to be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to articulate research problems in music education as tensions between theory and practice.
  • Choose and apply research methods that appropriately address research questions and demonstrate the ability to collect, analyze, and interpret research data.
  • Discuss specific issues, trends, and problems in music education, demonstrating in-depth knowledge of scholarly and professional literature in music education and other related fields.
  • Produce original contributions to knowledge in the field of music education.

Program of Study

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

Music Ed Core: CFA ME 740, 741, 742, ME 841–42, ME 859 24 cr
CFA ME 750 Theoretical and Cultural Applications 4 cr
Approved electives 16 cr
Residency CFA ME 921 Research and Directed Study 1 cr
CFA ME 995 Dissertation 3 cr
Total credits 48 cr

For additional information, please consult our website.

Language Requirements

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

Qualifying Examination

The music education qualifying exam will take place in Summer 2, Year 2, or after the student has taken 30 credits (whichever is later) and after completion of CFA ME 859 Problems, Theories, and Literature. Doctoral students will receive guidelines and rubrics for this exam at the conclusion of their coursework in CFA ME 859. The doctoral student must submit the music education qualifying exam before attending residency (see Residency, below). Students who fail the qualifying exam three times may be subject to dismissal. After passing the qualifying exam, the doctoral student will be considered a doctoral candidate and assigned a faculty research supervisor to help prepare the dissertation prospectus.


After completing 44 credits, DMA students attend a weeklong intensive residency on campus, engaging with faculty and peers in workshops and meetings designed to support students as they prepare the dissertation prospectus.

Dissertation Prospectus

The prospectus is an oral presentation in which the candidate presents the proposed topic, purpose, questions, methods, and scholarly and practical significance of the dissertation. The prospectus may be scheduled after completion of all coursework (including attendance at doctoral residency), at a time agreed upon by the research supervisor. Evaluators of the prospectus will include the candidate’s research supervisor and one or two additional BU faculty members. The purpose of this prospectus presentation is to offer the candidate early guidance in the direction of the study. After the prospectus evaluators and candidate have agreed on the scope and direction of the study, the candidate and supervisor may begin implementation of the research.


Under the direction of the dissertation supervisor, the DMA candidate designs the study, obtains any necessary institutional review board (IRB) approvals, 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 presentation seminar is scheduled when the document is complete. The DMA candidate must make any revisions suggested at the dissertation seminar and upload the final, approved document, as outlined by the Boston University Libraries Guide for Writers of Theses & Dissertations, before graduating.