Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition (D.M.A.)

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The purpose of the Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition (D.M.A.) is to train the most composers in composition and scholarship. The Doctor of Musical Arts provides prepares students to move into a career in composition as well as a professorship in higher music education. Teaching Assistantship are available but highly competitive.

The mission of the Doctor of Musical Arts program in Composition is to provide students with advanced preparation in the field of composition. The goals of the program are:

  • To enable students to develop advanced compositional skills beyond the level of the Master of Music degree in Composition;
  • To help students consider or choose their compositional directions or options in the 21st century;
  • To help students get their music performed or realized;
  • To help students develop a strong profile or identity as a composer.

In addition to coursework, the doctoral candidate is required to:

  1. Compose a doctoral composition of substantial proportions.
  2. Write a doctoral essay on the piece that was composed or on another topic.
  3. Public presentations of the candidate’s compositions on concerts or festivals

To apply to be accepted into the degree, the student must submit a Graduate Compositon Portfolio of his/her works (three scores and three recordings).

To be considered for a teaching assistantship, the student must do an interview with the department faculty.

For more information regarding curriculum, please visit the Academic Bulletin.

What is a DMA Degree? For more information, please click here.

If you’re interested in advanced study in a musical field, such as keyboard performance, a DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) degree may be right for you. Doctorate programs are intended to help you pursue the highest level of musical excellence you can achieve. The playing field for professional musicians is more competitive than ever, but a DMA can give you an edge.

A DMA typically takes place over a three-year program residency. It’s an intense period of study as you will need to have honed abilities to be competitive. In addition to private lessons with esteemed faculty, you’ll learn a variety of technical, scientific, and entrepreneurial skills. You may also have an assistantship involving teaching or serving the school in another capacity in exchange for a partial or full tuition waiver.

What Will I Do During My DMA Degree?

Private lessons. Individual instruction is a key part of any graduate degree. Over the course of your matriculation, private lessons can help you come to really know yourself as a musician.

Group teaching. Science has demonstrated that collaborative environments work well in all sorts of fields, not the least in music. Participating with a small group of students during instruction helps you learn from each other and experience teaching and learning in action.

Independent and group research. Working with a faculty member, you will conduct hands-on research on a music-related project. Research is an important component of any graduate-level study. Emerging from your DMA with solid research experience will show that you are not just a superb performer, but an experienced scholar.

Graduation Requirements of the DMA Degree

Depending on your school, the requirements for DMA completion will differ slightly. Schools adjust their programs according to their pedagogy, their faculty expertise, and the program’s overall strengths. Throughout your DMA coursework, you will be preparing for a few key graduation requirements. DMA degree requirements may include the following:

Solo recitals. While an undergraduate piano degree may require a final senior solo recital, a DMA may require a solo recital every year.

Chamber recital. Working with other musicians showcases your skills in collaboration. The wider variety of learning situations you put yourself in, the broader your skillset will be.

DMA essay. This essay will highlight one area of intensive research, demonstrating your mastery of the subject matter.

What is the History of the DMA Degree?

Following World War II, more American students entered universities than ever before. This period of time signified intense expansion in American higher education. Many universities struggled to fill faculty positions, and musical fields did not have a terminal degree through which they could appoint faculty members. DMA degrees emerged in the 1940s and 1950s to meet these needs. The structure of the degree has changed over the years, matching wider trends in pedagogy and higher education. These days, a DMA is a good move for students who want to be top performers in their field, teach at the college level as professors, or pursue other top levels of recognition in their musical field. Before pursuing any degree, review your goals and where you’d like to see your future self.

What are the Requirements for Applying to a DMA Degree Program?

Before you apply to a DMA, you will need to have achieved a significant level of excellence in your instrument already. This is a highly competitive field, so a foundational level of skill and achievement in your instrument is essential. The school will ask you to audition for them to see your performance skills in action. You will also need to submit all of the regular graduate school application materials, including college transcripts, a letter of intent, and other documents. Make sure to check the school’s website so that you leave yourself plenty of time to apply. These requirements differ a bit from program to program, but there is a lot of overlap. Talking with the admissions office the school you’re planning to apply can also help you prepare.

What Jobs Can I Get With a DMA Degree?

College professor. Teaching positions are highly desirable and competitive as many qualified candidates apply. That being said, a DMA is nearly always necessary these days if you aim to teach college or university music students.

Performing or touring musician. For some music students, working as a professionally performing musician is the ultimate goal. Before you apply to schools, look up the school’s alumni to see what kinds of careers they have achieved.

Music teacher. Many DMA grads work as private instructors, secondary or primary school teachers, or in another instructional capacity.

Music director. Whether you direct programs at a school of music, lead the music program at a house of worship, or run a community music program, many jobs are available to in this musical field.

How Do I Find the DMA Degree That’s Right for Me?

Only you can decide whether a DMA degree is right for you. Picking the school of music that’s best for you depends on your career and performance goals. Those with DMA degrees work in diverse musical fields, and many of these fields pay above average salaries. The Frost School of Music uses The Frost Method™, a highly experiential, hands-on approach to teaching. Collaborative, applied learning is the best teaching method for many learners, especially at advanced levels of study. The Frost School of Music allows you to participate in hands-on work and study with with mentors whom you will be able to count on for years to come. An increasing number of highly skilled musicians are turning to DMA degrees in order to take their musical abilities to the next level.