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.


The applicant must be prepared to perform the equivalent of a full master’s recital as deemed appropriate by the major performance division. The audition is heard by at least two members of the major division Graduate Faculty. The applicant should consult the major performance division for specific memory and repertoire requirements. The applicant also should submit with the application a comprehensive repertoire list indicating work studied, memorized, performed in public, or ready for immediate performance. In the case of international students, acceptance may be achieved by submitting a video tape (DVD) to be reviewed by the Graduate Faculty in the major division. A pre-screening audition is required for voice and piano applicants. View School of Music audition requirements and procedures.

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 those in 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. The student must satisfy all diagnostic deficiencies by the end of the third semester of enrollment.

Advisory Committee

Each doctoral student must form a Graduate Advisory Committee. 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. Performance members of the advisory committee grade the required degree recitals.

Program of Study

A Program of Study approved by the major advisor must be submitted for the approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs by the end of the second term of admission. Students who do not submit a Program of Study by the end of the second semester shall not be permitted to enroll in third semester courses.


All students in performance and conducting must perform a total of 3 public recitals. This does not include the D.M.A. lecture-recital if the student selects a lecture-recital as a final project. At least two of the three degree recitals must be performed before the oral comprehensive examination.

The first of the three doctoral recitals is considered to be a qualifying recital for determining whether the student can remain in the doctoral program. It must be given within the first two semesters of enrollment unless a petition is submitted for an extension.

Written and Oral Comprehensive Examinations

Performance D.M.A. students must take written qualifying examinations in Musicology, Music Theory, and the major area. Composition D.M.A. and Ph.D. students in Musicology and Music Theory take written qualifying exams in Music Theory and Musicology. After successful completion of the written examinations and the residency and research skills requirements, the student is eligible to schedule the oral comprehensive examination administered by the student's graduate advisory committee. Majors in performance and conducting must have presented 2 of the 3 required recitals before taking the oral examinations.

Document or Lecture-Recital

Candidates in performance, conducting, and composition must submit to the graduate advisory committee a proposal for a D.M.A. lecture-recital document, or a longer D.M.A. document only, at the Oral Comprehensive Exam or at least 12 weeks prior to the scheduled defense. Guidelines for proposals can be found on the School of Music website.

Upon satisfactory completion of all other degree requirements, candidates must schedule a final oral examination (defense). The student must receive at least a grade of B on the document, lecture-recital, or 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/defense for candidates for the D.M.A. degree.


Each D.M.A. student (not including Composition) may choose a defined cognate area of 12 credits with the approval of the student's advisory committee. Hours taken to fulfill the Musicology, Music Theory and elective requirements may be used to meet the optional 12 credit Cognate.

Piano Performance, Literature, and Pedagogy Program

MUSC 801Music Bibliography and Research3
PIAN 961Directed Performance (Applied lessons)18
Seminars in piano9
PIAN 965Doctoral Recitals (1 credit each)3
Advanced courses in musicology and music theory*12
D.M.A. document or lecture-recital4
Minor concentration (pedagogy or accompanying) 16

* Credits may be used to fulfill the 12 optional Cognate credits.