DMA Degree Requirements

The Doctor of Musical Arts in Contemporary Music with specializations in composition or performance is a four-year program that requires a minimum of 66 hours beyond the master’s degree. Any required remedial work in history, theory or research methodology will be added to the applicant’s program and will not be counted in the required 66 hours toward degree completion.

Required Coursework

  1. Specialization: Private study in composition or performance (16 hours)
  2. Cognate in one of three minor areas of study (12 hours):
    1. Culture
    2. Digital Media
    3. Music Cognition

    The cognate in culture emphasizes aesthetics, history and philosophy. The digital media cognate is concerned with the utilization of technology in new performance and creative contexts. The music cognition cognate focuses on theory, perception and pedagogy. These are intended to be of professional use to the student.

  3. Multidisciplinary music seminars focusing on the collaborative process in the development and creation of new works and the examination of common issues in culture, digital media and music cognition (9 hours)
  4. Off-campus internship designed to develop nonacademic career options (4-12 hours)

    Because the time commitment of the internship may vary greatly, the opportunity for flexible credit exists. The individual’s doctoral committee will help determine the amount of credit that can be earned. Examples might include work in foundations, orchestral management, museums or the entertainment industry.

  5. Electives in and outside of music (9 hours)
  6. Culminating experiences (16-30 hours)
    1. Composition
      1. Recital of original works
      2. Composition project (original work for large resources)
      3. A research paper that combines the individual’s major and minor areas of study
      4. A portfolio (a collection of papers written during the degree program, as well as scores, tapes and programs of works written and/or performed in addition to the required recital)
    2. Performance
      1. Three solo/chamber music/ensemble programs composed of contemporary music (at least one off-campus). In some cases a major concerto performance with orchestra may be substituted for one of the recitals. Permission for any alternative to this requirement must be secured from the doctoral committee.
      2. Research paper that combines the individual’s major and minor areas of study.
      3. Portfolio (a collection of papers written during the degree program, as well as programs and tapes from performances in addition to the three required recitals).


  1. Language Requirement: Doctoral students must show a reading knowledge of one foreign language, as is appropriate to the particular specialization. As an alternative, a computer programming language can be substituted for this requirement with permission of the student’s doctoral committee. The language proficiency examination must be completed before the final semester of study.
  2. Preliminary examinations (written and oral) are taken after completing 40 hours of course work, not including the internship. These examinations will test the student’s knowledge in music history and theory, with particular emphasis on contemporary music. The examinations will also cover the student’s area of specialization, composition or performance. Successful completion of these exams will admit the student to candidacy. Upon admission to candidacy, the student will be allowed to begin the culminating experiences in composition or performance.
  3. Final examinations/defense (oral) are taken in the last semester of study and focus on the culminating experiences.

Updated: 10/01/2018 10:19PM