Doctor of Musical Arts

The Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree is a professional degree program that recognizes exceptional student academic and music qualifications in preparation for professional careers, including teaching at the university level. The DMA student has the opportunity to collaborate with music scholars, theorists, and other performers to attain a broad and well-rounded foundation for advanced careers in music.The degree of Doctor of Musical Arts is offered in

  • Church music (organ or choral conducting emphasis),
  • Composition,
  • Conducting (choral, orchestral, or wind), and
  • Areas of performance

D.M.A. Admission

The applicant is expected to have a master’s degree, or its demonstrated equivalent, in the proposed field. In addition to official transcripts and letters of recommendation, all applicants should submit résumés of their training and experience in teaching and performing.

For general information on academic requirements, residence, tenure, and enrollment, see the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog. Further admission requirements are listed below.


Applicants should submit at least 3 scores of original works (including master’s thesis), recordings if available, and lists of past performances.

Graduate Admission to the School of Music

Application procedures and program requirements can change. Please visit the School of Music Admissions webpage for current information.

Graduate programs in the School of Music are open to students with acceptable baccalaureate degrees, as specified by the admitting areas, whose academic records indicate that they can do successful work at the graduate level. Regular admission requires a bachelor's degree and a grade-point average of at least a B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale), from KU or from another regionally accredited institution or foreign university with substantially equivalent bachelor's degree requirements.

Programs of study leading to the Master of Music (M.M.), Master of Music Education (M.M.E.), Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) are offered through the School of Music. Specific admission procedures and degree requirements for the M.M. and M.M.E. programs are described under division headings. Specific admission procedures and degree requirements for the D.M.A., Ph.D. (musicology/music theory), and Ph.D. (music education/music therapy) are listed in the appropriate sections.

Program Areas

Graduate study in the School of Music is organized into program areas within 2 units:

  • Music includes programs in composition, conducting, musicology, music theory, and areas of performance.
  • Music Education and Music Therapy (MEMT) includes programs in music education or music therapy.

At least a 3.0 grade-point average, overall and in the major area, is required for all course work counted toward any graduate degree in the School of Music. If the overall grade-point average falls below 3.0, the student is placed on probation for one semester; if the cumulative average is not 3.0 or higher after the next semester, the student is dismissed from the program. Students must also achieve at least a grade of B in thesis, lecture-recital, document or dissertation, and on each recital for satisfactory completion of degree requirements.

Diagnostic Examinations

All entering graduate students (except music education, music therapy, and opera performance majors) must take written diagnostic examinations in musicology and music theory. These are given the week before the start of classes in the Fall and Spring semesters to determine whether a need exists for remedial work in those areas prior to enrolling in graduate coursework. Students who show the need for remediation must complete the prescribed review courses or show mastery of the material by re-examination. Graduate students entering programs in piano must take additional tests in piano literature given before the start of classes. A student is exempt from all diagnostic exams if he or she received a bachelor’s or master’s degree in music from the University of Kansas within the previous 4 years.

D.M.A. Degree Requirements

Research Skills and Residency

Before scheduling the oral comprehensive exam, doctoral students must satisfy the residency, basic research skills, and responsible scholarship requirements. MUSC 801: Music Bibliography and Research (or its equivalent as determined by the Musicology division) will satisfy the research skills and responsible scholarship requirements.

Two semesters, which may include one summer term, must be spent in full time resident study. Full time is defined as 9 credit hours in the Fall and Spring Semesters and 3 credit hours in the summer. For those with Graduate Teaching Assistantships, 6 credit hours are considered full time.

Diagnostic Examinations

All incoming graduate students, except MM-Opera, are required to take diagnostic exams in Musicology and Music Theory. The exams are given during the week before the Fall and Spring semesters begin. The student must pass all diagnostic exams before being allowed to enroll in courses in those subjects. Diagnostic deficiencies can only be satisfied in one of two ways: 1) re-taking the exam the next time it is given (one re-take only) or 2) enrolling in the appropriate review course and receiving at least a grade of "C." The student must satisfy all diagnostic deficiencies by the end of the third semester of enrollment.

Advisory Committee

Each graduate student selects a faculty advisory committee, in consultation with the major advisor, subject to the consent of the faculty members involved, and approved by the associate dean. The committee consists of 5 faculty members: at least 2 faculty members from the major division, 1 from musicology or music theory (at least 1 from musicology for D.M.A. composition), and 1 from outside the MUSIC department. This committee administers the comprehensive and final oral examinations.


Composition students must present a public program of original compositions approximately 45 minutes in length and participate in at least one work as either a performer or conductor.

All recitals and public appearances required for the D.M.A. are graded by the performance members of the student's graduate advisory committee. The student must achieve at least a grade of B on each recital for satisfactory completion of degree requirements.

Written and Oral Comprehensive Examinations

Composition doctoral students must take written qualifying examinations in composition, music theory and musicology when most of the course work has been completed and the research skills/responsible scholarship requirements have been fulfilled. All diagnostic deficiencies must be satisfied before taking the written qualifying and oral comprehensive exams. After successful completion of the written qualifying examinations, the student is eligible to schedule the oral comprehensive examination administered by the student’s graduate advisory committee.

Large-Scale Composition

Candidates in composition must submit to the student's graduate advisory committee a proposal for a large-scale composition at the Oral Comprehensive Exam or at least 12 weeks prior to the scheduled defense. The composition proposal should outline a large-scale work for orchestra, with or without soloists, a work for chorus and orchestra, or an opera, and should include a preliminary analysis.

Upon satisfactory completion of all other degree requirements, candidates must schedule a final oral examination. For students in composition, the examination is primarily a defense of the large-scale composition.

The student must receive at least a grade of B on the composition for satisfactory completion of degree requirements.


At least 3 months must elapse between the successful completion of the comprehensive oral examination and the date of the final oral examination for candidates for the D.M.A. degree.

Composition Program

MTHC 953Advanced Composition16
Advanced theory or score reading9
MUSC 801Music Bibliography and Research3
Advanced courses in musicology9
MTHC 965Doctoral Composition Recital2
MTHC 643Contemporary Repertoire3
MTHC 840Pedagogy of Music Composition3
MTHC 999Dissertation16
(A work for large ensemble, a major concerto, a work for chorus and orchestra or an opera, or a major work involving live performers and electronic media. A written analysis of the work must be included after the title page in the full score.)

Composition majors must present a public program of original compositions approximately 45 minutes in duration before being admitted to the comprehensive examination.