Doctor of Musical Arts

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The DMA degree is awarded for high attainments in the practice of music, with emphasis on the arts of performing and teaching. A candidate for this degree must be a capable artist who demonstrates intellectual attributes of the highest order.

Studies in composition and music education may be undertaken within the division of graduate professional studies (the DMA as described here) or within the division of graduate research studies. The respective programs have differences in emphasis and course content. In terms of applying, the Doctor of Musical Arts program requires an audition on an applied instrument or voice; the Doctor of Philosophy program does not require an audition for admission. Emphasis is on practical applied music in varying degrees in each of the DMA majors, and constitutes a distinctive feature of the division. Thus the composition and music education majors contain a strong performance component in the DMA degree program, and have a distinctly different emphasis in the PhD degree program.


Program of study

Description, General Components, Requirements: The program of study constitutes the formal requirements that must be met by the student before completion of work for the DMA degree. The program normally will comprise at least 60 credits beyond the master’s degree, and must be approved by the Graduate Professional Committee (GPC). Programs of study are developed by the student in close consultation with his or her program adviser, and are normally submitted to the GPC for approval by the third semester (or after 20 credit hours). Individual programs may vary considerably, depending upon the needs of the student (as revealed in the placement tests in theory and music history), general educational background, and career goals. The program of study must be approved by the GPC at least four months before the doctoral qualifying exam is taken.  The DMA typically takes 3.5 years of full-time study to complete.

Applied music: The DMA degree program emphasizes the study of applied music. All DMA students must be registered for one-hour lessons during the semester(s) in which they are preparing and/or performing a degree recital or lecture-recital. Students in the performance and literature major are required to take four consecutive semesters of applied music instruction.

Comprehensive examinations: Before completing the degree, all students in the DMA program must pass the comprehensive examinations, and must satisfy their various major departments and the GPC that they have attained broad competency as practitioners of music. The comprehensive examinations consist of a written examination in the fields of music history, literature, and theory, and an oral examination of a broad nature covering the student’s major and minor fields of study. A person submitting a full dissertation to satisfy the requirements of the degree will not be considered a candidate for the degree or permitted to begin work on the dissertation until she or he has passed the comprehensive examinations.

Students not writing a dissertation or doctoral essay will sit for the comprehensive examinations after all academic requirements of the degree and at least two of the performance requirements, plus the departmental jury, have been met.

Dissertation: Certain majors within the DMA degree program are required to complete a dissertation or final project, as indicated here by major. Ordinarily, the dissertation must be written in residence, under the supervision of the candidate’s adviser. A final oral examination (a defense of the dissertation) is not required of DMA candidates unless requested by the candidate, the department, the associate dean of graduate studies, or the adviser.

Ensembles: All graduate students are encouraged to participate in the school’s large vocal and instrumental ensembles. No more than four credits may be earned through ensemble courses for degree credit without explicit permission from the GPC.

Foreign Language Requirements: Most majors in the DMA program do not have a foreign language requirement, except in those instances where the knowledge of a foreign language is essential to research or other work in a specific field. See the specific majors below.

Independent Study: Students may submit a proposal for independent study. This proposal must be approved by the adviser before it is approved by the associate dean of graduate studies.

Performance: Public demonstrations of proficiency in the field of applied music are required of all candidates for the DMA degree. Programs must be approved by the candidate’s major teacher (and, for conducting majors, by the faculty of the conducting and ensembles department) and his or her adviser. A faculty committee will be in attendance at each public program to assess if the performance reaches the level expected of doctoral candidates.

Remedial Courses: Remedial courses required as a result of placement exams or upon admission to a program must be taken above and beyond the 90 credit hours required for the DMA.




Doctor of Musical Arts with a Major in Composition

Program of Study

  • Composition Study: Advanced Composition I – IV
  • Performance Study: A minimum of two consecutive semesters of private lessons; two recitals of works by the composer, works conducted by the composer, and performed by the composer on the major instrument/voice. In this last category, a work from the standard repertoire is required.
  • Research and Writing Seminars: Three doctoral seminars and one upper-level graduate composition seminar
  • Academic Coursework: Topics in Tonal Literature & Analysis; Compositional Practice circa 1925-1955/1955-1980).
  • Electives/Minor Field: In consultation with the advisor, 10-15 credit hours in areas other than composition and applied music.
  • Dissertation: A composition in the form of an extended work for orchestra, chorus, or large chamber ensemble

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Doctor of Musical Arts with a Major in Conducting
(Choral, Orchestral, or Wind Ensemble)


Applicants in conducting on the doctoral level should have held professional-level conducting positions for at least two years. Such positions may be within a public school teaching context, with a professional ensemble, or in an equivalent professional arena.

Program of Study

  • Foreign Language Requirement: Choral and Orchestral Conducting majors must demonstrate foreign language proficiency equivalent of two years of undergraduate study in French, Italian, or German. If the necessary degree of proficiency is not reached upon matriculation, a language will be a mandatory part of the student’s curriculum until it is reached.  There is no language requirement for Wind Conducting majors.
  • Emphasis: Majors will declare an emphasis in the literature and performance of instrumental, wind ensemble, or choral music, and will concentrate on that specialization.
  • Conducting Studies: DMA Conducting, I-IV; Colloquy in Conducting
  • Research and Writing Seminars: Four doctoral seminars, or two doctoral seminars and a DMA research project.
  • Theory: Topics in Tonal Literature & Analysis; Topics in Twentieth-CenturyLiterature & Analysis; and one additional graduate-level theory course. TH 400 may not be used
  • Electives: If the doctoral essay does not involve music history, then nine credit hours of MHS coursework are required. Electives may include up to six credit hours of applied music lessons and may also include a minor area of concentration.
  • Performance Requirement: Participation as conductor in three public concerts is required.
  • Final Project: For conducting majors, the final project normally consists of:
    • A research paper dealing with selected repertoire.
    • One or more public performances of that repertoire, in the candidate’s field of emphasis. A level of professional proficiency is expected. Performances must be scheduled at least two months after the final written research paper has been approved by the reading committee.
    • A lecture-recital to be given in a rehearsal at least two weeks before the performance described above. A proposal for the research paper must be approved by the Graduate Professional Committee along with the candidate’s program of study.

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Doctor of Musical Arts with a Major in Early Music
(Emphasis in Historical Plucked Instruments)

Program of Study

  • Applied Study: Majors must enroll for applied music study for a minimum of four consecutive semesters; Students must be registered for one-hour lessons during the semester(s) in which they are preparing and/or performing a degree recital or lecture recital
  • Research and Writing Seminars: in musicology, music history, and/or theory. These may include a dissertation.
  • Music Theory: Choose ten hours from Topics in Tonal Literature and Analysis; Counterpoint; Analysis of Early Music; and History of Theory.
  • Minors/Electives: Students are encouraged to develop a minor field in consultation with their advisers. Typical minors might include music history, performance practice, choral conducting, or opera production.
  • Jury: All DMA performance majors must take a departmental jury during the first year of residency at Eastman.
  • Recitals: Three recitals are normally required for this major: one solo, one collaborative, and one lecture recital.
  • Foreign Languages: For the DMA, proficiency in Italian, German, or French (the equivalent of two years of undergraduate study) will be demonstrated by passing a written exam, which will consist of a passage from a contemporary theory treatise or from the secondary literature on the applied instrument. If proficiency is not demonstrated on the exam, the student will be required to register for a course in one of these languages at Eastman.
  • DMA Comprehensive Exam: DMA students in the early music program will take the current DMA written and oral comprehensive examinations. All Eastman School DMA graduates should possess a broad knowledge of repertoire, of historical contexts for music extending from the Middle Ages to the present, and of appropriate analytical techniques for different repertories.

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Doctor of Musical Arts with a Major in Jazz Studies & Contemporary Media

Program of Study

Once admitted, students are required to take placement tests specific to this major, in addition to the regular music history and music theory placement tests. These tests are given in jazz theory, jazz history, and functional jazz piano. Students with deficiencies in these disciplines will be required to complete review courses. Credits for review courses are not counted toward the degree requirements.

  • Applied Music and Improvisation: Includes both jazz and/or classical applied study and independent study projects in improvisation or jazz composition.
  • Research and Writing Seminars: Students may choose from among several options, including a dissertation.
  • Music Theory: At least one theory course must be an analysis course.
  • Jazz Composition and Arranging: Based on the background and experience of the individual student.
  • Minors/Electives: Students are encouraged to develop a minor field in consultation with their adviser. The minor field must be approved by the GPC when the student’s program of study is submitted.

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Doctor of Musical Arts with a Major in Music Education

Program of Study

  • Music Education Courses including research methods, measurement and evaluation, curriculum, and the history and philosophy of music education.
  • Music History and Theory: Two doctoral theory courses and four graduate music history courses, three of which must be doctoral seminars.
  • Performance: This major also has a strong emphasis in performance. Students take four to five semesters of applied lessons, and in most cases, one solo recital and one lecture recital will be required.
  • Qualifying Exam and Dissertation: the dissertation (concept paper or prospectus) must be submitted during the oral portion of the qualifying examination. DMA dissertations are research projects of large scope, normally qualitative and descriptive in nature.
  • Reviews: Majors must also undergo annual reviews with faculty members in the department.
  • For detailed curricular information, please refer to the Registrar’s portion of the Eastman website.

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Doctor of Musical Arts with a Major in Performance & Literature


The DMA degree is awarded for high attainments in the practice of music, with emphasis on the arts of performing and teaching. A candidate for this degree must be a capable artist who demonstrates intellectual attributes of high order.

Program of Study

  • Performance: Majors in performance and literature enroll for at least five consecutive semesters of applied study, perform a jury in the first year of residency, and perform three recitals (DMA pianists are required to play a fourth, collaborative recital), and a lecture recital.
  • Research and Writing Seminars: A total of 12 credits must be taken in musicology, music history, and/or theory courses, including doctoral seminars and/or a dissertation, at least three theory courses, and additional music electives.

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Doctor of Musical Arts with a Major in Piano Accompanying & Chamber Music

The training of pianists as artistic collaborators is the goal of the graduate programs in piano accompanying. Collaborative pianists must have the same technical skills as soloists, plus knowledge of languages, diction, sonata and duo repertory, vocal repertory, and chamber music. The lively performance scene at Eastman creates a willing body of collaborators and many performance opportunities for accompanying majors.

Program of Study

  • Performance: four to five semesters of applied lessons (four must be taken consecutively); four recitals: one lecture recital, one with a vocalist or vocalists, one with an instrumentalist or instrumentalists, and one additional recital; jury (in December of the first year of residency)
  • Languages: Within the first year at Eastman, students majoring in piano accompanying and chamber music are required to pass a one language comprehension examination in French, German, or Italian. Before completion of the degree, they must pass a second language comprehension examination in one of the remaining languages. In addition, they must either successfully complete the vocal diction courses in German, English, French, and Italian with a grade of B+ or higher, or demonstrate diction proficiency in all four languages by examination.
  • Minor Field: In consultation with their program advisers, majors in piano accompanying and chamber music develop a minor field in an area such as pedagogy, Baroque performance practice, opera coaching, or interdisciplinary studies in the humanities.
  • Academic Courses: Majors must enroll in three doctoral seminars in music history and an additional 10 to 12 credits in music history and theory.
  • Electives: May include keyboard study.

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