Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Performance

DMA Performance students must take a minimum of 18 credits of applied lessons (maximum of 23 credits). The 18 credits must be taken over six semesters of study, with no more than 4 credits per semester. No more than 5 credits of extra applied lessons may be applied to the degree as elective credits.

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Performance techniques and skills in the area of concentration.
  • Broad knowledge of repertory and literature from all periods.
  • Knowledge and skill in related fields such as music theory, musicology and ethnomusicology, and pedagogy.
  • 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.

Performance Majors

  • Bassoon
  • Flute
  • Organ
  • Trumpet
  • Cello
  • French Horn
  • Percussion
  • Tuba
  • Clarinet
  • Harp
  • Piano
  • Viola
  • Collaborative Piano
  • Harpsichord
  • Saxophone
  • Violin
  • Double Bass
  • Oboe
  • Trombone
  • Voice

Each student is assigned to a member of the faculty for private instruction. Individual instruction is given in one-hour lessons; every effort is made to consider the student’s preferences in studio assignment.

Degree Requirements

The Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance 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 earn a minimum of 48 course credits with grades no lower than B− in graduate-level coursework. For performance majors, 18 of these credits must be in the field of the applied major instrument, and additional credits must fulfill graduate music electives (14 for Recital Track and 12 for Dissertation Track). Graduate music elective courses may include ME, MH, MP, and MT courses numbered 500 and higher. PDP courses, e.g., tennis, dancing, or yoga, do not count as graduate music electives for graduate students. All degree requirements must be completed within seven years of the date of matriculation.

All DMA students must take at least 15 credits combined in music theory (at least 9) and musicology (at least 6), including CFA MT 701 Doctoral Pro-Seminar: Skills and CFA MT 702 Doctoral Pro-Seminar: Analysis. All MH and MT courses used for the component must be at the 600 level or higher. Double majors are not permitted at the doctoral level.

Participation in musical organizations is a vital component of the graduate programs in performance. All DMA Performance Majors in Strings, Harp, Brass, Winds, and Percussion are required to participate in BU Orchestras (MP 500/600 A1) and/or BU Wind Ensemble (MP 502/602 A1) as assigned, during their first four semesters of doctoral studies (regardless of the number of credits taken).

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. 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.

Program of Study

A minimum of 48 graduate credits is required for the degree. Students are expected to declare either Dissertation or Recital Track by the beginning of the second year of study.

DMA Performance 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 credits 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, of which two may be taken in a given semester), one in the area of music history, and one in the major field. Any combination of these examinations may be taken in a given semester. These exams may be taken after the completion of a minimum of 30 credits, with passing grades earned in all courses and no incomplete grades outstanding. There is one exception to this policy: students may take the corresponding written qualifying exams in music theory during the semesters in which they are registered for MT 701 or MT 702. Students are expected to take a sufficient variety and number of courses during the first two years of study, including courses in music theory and musicology, to prepare them adequately for success in the qualifying examinations.

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.

Dissertation Track and Dissertation Presentation Recital

Performance majors in the DMA dissertation track programs are required to give three public recitals and one public dissertation presentation recital. Students must pass a recital permission examination prior to each of the three public recitals and must be enrolled for private lessons in the major area during the semesters in which these recitals are given.

  • Two public recitals must be solo recitals, each at least 60 minutes of music.
  • One of the three recitals must include works for chamber music groups. Consult individual departments for repertoire requirements.
  • The Dissertation Presentation Recital must be based upon the candidate’s dissertation and is approximately 60 minutes in length. The following timeline must be observed:
    • At least eight weeks prior to the presentation, the supervisor agrees that it is a complete and full document, and the draft is submitted to the second and third readers for review.
    • At least four weeks prior to the presentation, the second and third readers agree that the presentation may proceed. At this point, the presentation date and venue should be confirmed.
    • It should be understood by all that all major editing is completed prior to the presentation and that only minor edits will be necessary following the presentation.

Students pursuing the DMA Dissertation Track 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 Dissertation Presentation Recital based on this document and use the medium of performance to illustrate it. The Dissertation Presentation Recital must be attended, supervised, and approved by assigned faculty readers. A copy of the presentation must be included as an appendix in the final copies of the document.

Recital Track

The Doctor of Musical Arts recital track option does not involve writing a dissertation. Five recitals are required (as opposed to three in the dissertation track), along with a smaller-scale written document keyed to one of the recitals. This option is available within the following departments: Brass, Woodwinds, Percussion, Collaborative Piano, Historical Performance, Piano, Strings, Harp, and Voice. Each department specifies its own set of program requirements, which can be found on the DMA Policies website under the heading Recital Track. Students must be enrolled for private lessons in the major area during the semester in which each recital is given (with the exception of the self-prepared recital). Students must also enroll in CFA MP 705 in order to prepare for the lecture-recital.