Doctor of Musical Arts

Doctor of Musical Arts Program Information

Auditions

Prospective Doctor of Musical Arts students must audition before a faculty committee; a live audition is an integral part of the application process and should be arranged as early as possible with both the Graduate Office and the appropriate area coordinator. An acceptable graduate-level performance is required at the audition. The audition should be arranged within the published scholarship audition dates (available online at www.music.uh.edu, or contact the Graduate Office at gradmusic at uh.edu); a recorded audition may be arranged only under extenuating circumstances and at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies as well as the appropriate area faculty.

Auditions will be conducted by a committee of at least three faculty members. Prospective students should consult the audition requirements specific to the area in which they are auditioning; generally all DMA auditions will require that prospective students prepare at least three representative works in different styles, and at least one work that will be performed from memory at the audition (for voice and piano applicants, all works must be performed from memory). Prospective DMA students in voice performance should plan to perform selections in four languages, including English, and proficiency in the four major singing languages: English, Italian, German, and French. If an accompanist is needed for the audition, the applicant should supply scores to the Graduate Office well in advance.

If you have additional questions, please contact the appropriate area coordinator, or the Graduate Office.

Candidacy and Continuous Enrollment

DMA students with majors in Performance and Conducting must complete all required coursework, present all required recitals except their lecture recital, and pass their comprehensive exam in order to gain admission to candidacy.

DMA students with majors in Composition must complete all required coursework, present their chamber-music recital, and pass their comprehensive exam in order to gain admission to candidacy.

DMA students with majors in Music Education must complete all required coursework and pass their comprehensive exam in order to gain admission to candidacy.

Note that students are expected to present any required pre-candidacy recitals during the time in which they are completing coursework; for students required to complete remedial work in music theory or music history, it may be advisable not to schedule degree recitals until all such requirements have been satisfied.

For all doctoral students, the comprehensive exam may be scheduled upon the completion of (but not before the completion of) all required coursework and pre-candidacy recitals. Comprehensive exams are administered by the Graduate Office and scheduled over a three-day period in the week preceding the start of classes in Fall and Spring semesters (see “Doctoral Comprehensive Examination” for more information). Students are expected to take their comprehensive exam at the start of the semester immediately following that in which they complete required coursework for their degree.

Admission to candidacy is granted upon successful completion of the comprehensive exam. Students complete their lecture recital and doctoral document after admission to candidacy. Note that in some cases students may present their lecture recital before their admission to candidacy, pending approval of their doctoral committee and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Doctoral students must adhere at all times to the requirement to be continuously enrolled in Fall and Spring semesters until the degree program has been completed and the degree awarded (see “Continuous Enrollment and Leaves of Absence,” on the Graduate Studies home page).

Conditional and Unconditional Admission

The School of Music does not consider Doctor of Musical Arts applicants for conditional admission. Admission for the DMA is not possible for students who do not satisfy all entrance requirements.

Credit and Grade Requirements

Doctoral degrees require 60 credits of graduate work beyond the master's degree with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00. No course in which a student earns a grade of C+ or lower will be accepted for credit toward the degree (see also the "Four-C Rule," in the "General Information for Graduate Students" section).

Degree Plans

Collaborative Piano Performance-Instrumental
Composition Performance-Keyboard
Conducting Performance-Voice
Music Education

Doctoral Committee

Doctoral students will appoint a committee the responsibility of which is to adjudicate recitals and recital programs, read and guide progress on the doctoral document, and generally monitor progress toward the degree and provide a sense of continuity in the degree program. The committee should be appointed in consultation with the student's major professor, with consideration given to the topic of the student's doctoral document, and with the knowledge that the committee can be reconfigured after candidacy, as the student enters intensive work on the doctoral document. The committee must be appointed before the student's first recital.

Doctoral committees will consist of (1) the student's major professor; (2) a second faculty member from the student's major field; (3) one at-large faculty member from the School of Music but from outside the student's discipline; and (4) one at-large faculty member from any discipline, inside or outside the School of Music. At least one committee member must be from an academic department in the school of music (music theory, musicology, composition, or music education), and in all cases the committee must include at least one member who has written a doctoral document or dissertation. The committee members listed here as numbers 1–4 will correspond to the members listed on the College of Liberal Arts and and Social Sciences Committee Appointment Form (available in the Graduate Office). Students may appoint a fifth at-large member of the committee, if appropriate.

These committees are subject to the approval of the student's major professor and the Director of Graduate Studies. Any reconfiguration of the committee is subject to the approval of the committee chair and the Director of Graduate Studies.

The student's major professor chairs the committee. In cases in which the major professor is adjunct, the committee is co-chaired with another full-time faculty member. Following a student's achieving candidacy for the degree the role of committee chair may be assigned to a different member of the committee (a member of the music theory or musicology faculty, for example), as appropriate.

Doctoral Comprehensive Examination

Before scheduling their doctoral comprehensive examination, doctoral students must:

  1. satisfy the residency requirement;
  2. remedy all academic deficiencies;
  3. satisfy the foreign-language proficiency requirement;
  4. complete all coursework with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00;
  5. present all required pre-candidacy recitals (see "Candidacy and Continuous Enrollment," above, for more information);
  6. and submit an application form, with a completed degree plan, to the Graduate Office; students cannot be scheduled to take the comprehensive exam without submitting an application.

Doctoral comprehensive examinations are written by a committee of four faculty members (who are not necessarily members of the student's doctoral committee): (1) the student's major professor; (2) one faculty representative from the student's minor field; (3) one music theory faculty member; and (4) one musicology faculty member. Members 2, 3, and 4 are selected by the Graduate Office; generally these will be the coordinators in the respective areas of study or their designated representatives. Committee members will submit comprehensive exam questions, including scores if necessary, to the Graduate Office at least two weeks prior to the examination. The Graduate Office will notify committee members of the date of the exam and the deadline for submitting questions.

The doctoral comprehensive examination is divided into four sections—major field, minor field, music history, and music theory—and administered by the graduate advisor over three consecutive days. Students are required to take the exam on campus, on the designated day, at the scheduled time. Each day is divided into two four-hour time blocks: block 1 in the morning; and block 2 in the afternoon.

The exam is administered on the following schedule:

DAY BLOCK CONTENT
1 1 music history part 1
  2 music history part 2
2 1 major field part 1
  2 major field part 2
3 1 music theory
  2 minor field; or music theory part 2, if music theory is the minor field; or free, if music history is the minor field

Every doctoral comprehensive exam is tailored to the individual student; as such, students should seek guidance from their exam committee regarding what will be expected of them on their exam. Exam content may include, but is not limited to, these subjects:

  1. major field: questions pertaining to any aspect of the student's major field of study.
  2. minor field: questions pertaining to any aspect of the student's minor field of study.
  3. music history: questions pertaining to (a) literature and performance practice in the student's major field; (b) bibliographic knowledge of source materials for research in the student's major field; and (c) general knowledge of music history and literature.
  4. music theory: questions pertaining to (a) analysis of selected repertoire performed on degree recitals or other repertoire relevant to the student's major field; (b) analysis of unidentified scores; (c) (b) bibliographic knowledge of source materials for relevant analytical research.

At the conclusion of the exam, the Graduate Office circulates the entire exam as a package to each committee member for evaluation. Each committee member will evaluate the exam within three working days and forward it to the next member. Committee members grade each portion of the exam independently and have four grade options for each section: pass, fail, oral exam required, or abstain.

If one or more committee members chooses a grade of “fail” on one or more portions of the exam, the full committee will meet to consider the exam. If the committee then determines by majority vote that the student has failed any portion of the exam, the student may retake (in written form) that particular portion of the exam within six months. The committee will then evaluate the student's rewritten exam according to the same procedures and criteria as the first exam. A second failure will result in the student's dismissal from the graduate program.

In evaluating the exams, committee members also have the option of requiring—before issuing a pass or fail grade—the student to submit to an oral follow-up exam if aspects of the written exam remain in need of clarification. The oral exam will take place if one or more committee members chooses a grade of “oral exam required” on one or more portions of the exam. The oral exam will take place within three weeks of the written exam and will be graded pass or fail by a majority vote of the committee. If the student fails the oral exam, a second oral exam may be scheduled within six months, or the student may complete another course of action at the committee’s discretion (another written exam, for example). A second failure will result in the student's dismissal from the graduate program.

Admission to candidacy is granted upon successful completion of the doctoral comprehensive exam.

Doctor of Musical Arts Degree: Two-Track Option

All DMA students have the option to complete their degrees on one of two tracks: the doctoral document track or the doctoral essay track. Generally the doctoral essay track will require one extra recital and a shorter, essay-style final research project (see below, under "Final Research Project: Doctoral Essay Track"); the doctoral document track will require one fewer recital and a longer, multi-chapter final research project. Both tracks require a lecture recital. For specific information on recital requirements specific to various majors, consult the appropriate degree plans, available at the bottom of this page.

Students must propose to complete their degrees on one of the two tracks following completion of their second DMA recital. (Some areas may require the doctoral document track, in which case no proposal is necessary.) Track proposal forms are available from the Graduate Office. The track proposal will require students to submit to their doctoral committees a writing sample, which in most cases will be a paper completed in an academic course in which the student has previously enrolled. The student's doctoral committee will read the writing sample and recommend approval or disapproval the choice of track; the track proposal is subject to the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. (Note that the track proposal is not a doctoral document or doctoral essay topic proposal.) Any changes to the track after the initial approval will require a new petition to the student's doctoral committee, following exactly the same procedures as the first track proposal.

Electives

Some DMA degree programs allow for electives. Electives may be satisfied with graduate-level (6000-level or above) music courses or, pending approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, other courses in a different university department that may be considered an enhancement of a student’s degree objective. No additional hours of doctoral document research or doctoral essay research MUSI 8299) beyond the amount required in the degree will satisfy a free elective requirement or any other degree requirement; additional hours of applied study in the major area will not satisfy a free elective requirement or any other degree requirement.

Final Research Project: Doctoral Document Track

The doctoral document is a contribution to the existing body of research in the student's major field of study. It is the student's opportunity to produce a piece of scholarly work on the level of professionals in the field, and, as such, the document must show evidence of original thought, original research, and a command of basic musicological or analytical tools.

After passing the doctoral comprehensive exam and achieving candidacy for the degree, students must submit a doctoral document topic proposal to their doctoral committee for approval. The proposal should include: the proposed title; a minimum one-page description of the document's proposed scope, methodology, and aims; a working, chapter-by-chapter outline; a working bibliography (which will include, if appropriate, a discography); and a signature page with spaces for the signature of each committee member. The student's entire doctoral committee must approve the topic  proposal.

Documents are expected to be comparable to others produced in the student's major field of study; a general guideline for length is 75 pages (60 pages minimum), double-spaced in a standard font. Students should use footnotes, not endnotes, and the notes should be included at the bottom of the page on which the reference appears. For other questions concerning formatting (including margins and other issues related to physical appearance of the document), front matter, order of pages, and numerous other issues, students should see the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Thesis and Dissertation Information page. Note also (as explained on the Thesis and Dissertation Information page) that students are required to submit a review copy of the completed and successfully defended manuscript, with all committee signatures (and with signature pages printed on the correct paper), by the published deadline in the semester in which graduation will occur; usually this is the last day of classes in the semester. Manuscript submissions require an appointment with the college's dissertation secretary, also as explained on the Thesis and Dissertation Information page. Following delivery of the final copy to the dean's office, the dissertation secretary will coordinate submission of the document to UMI (University Microfilms International) for public archiving.

For more general questions regarding matters of style, format, and other issues involving writing, students may consult the standard style reference for humanities disciplines, the Chicago Manual of Style; other sources may include Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations; and Oliver Strunk and E. B. White, The Elements of Style. Music education majors may consult the standard style reference in the science disciplines, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. For questions regarding writing about music specifically, students may also wish to consult D. Kern Holoman, Writing About Music: A Style Sheet from the Editors of "19th-Century Music"; Jonathan Bellman, A Short Guide to Writing About Music; Richard J. Wingell, Writing About Music: An Introductory Guide; or James R. Crowdery, ed., How to Write About Music: The RILM Manual of Style. Finally, note that some students may need to enlist outside consultants for assistance with general style and copyediting issues.

During the semester in which the document will be completed, students should schedule a defense on a date at least three weeks prior to the published submission deadline (see above, on manuscript submissions). The student's doctoral committee must attend the defense, and as such the student should consult with the entire committee to find an acceptable date and time. Students may schedule the defense by calling the main office in the School of Music to reserve the conference room; one hour should be sufficient for most defenses.

Students must submit to their entire committee a final copy (the "defense copy") of their doctoral document at least three weeks prior to the scheduled defense date; students must allow the entire committee three weeks to review the defense copy. Upon reading the document, the committee has the option of not permitting the defense to proceed as scheduled.

At the conclusion of the defense, the committee will, by majority vote, approve the document as submitted, approve the document pending revisions, defer approval (perhaps pending a second defense), or disapprove the document. A result of deferral or disapproval will require that the student resubmit the document and reschedule a defense according to the procedure outlined above. This normally will require that the student enroll for additional semesters of study; consult the Graduate Office for more information.

Final Research Project: Doctoral Essay Track

The doctoral essay is a scholarly essay of sufficient quality, and on a topic of sufficient interest, to warrant possible publication in the student's field of study. The essay will be a minimum 7500 words, not including footnotes and bibliography. Doctoral essays do not require a final defense and will be archived in the Graduate Office (not submitted to UMI).

After passing the doctoral comprehensive exam and achieving candidacy for the degree, students must submit a doctoral essay topic proposal to their doctoral committee for approval. The proposal should include: the proposed title; a minimum one-page description of the essay's proposed aims; a working outline; a working bibliography; and a signature page with spaces for the signature of each committee member. The student's entire doctoral committee must approve the topic proposal.

Essays should use footnotes, not endnotes, and the notes should be included at the bottom of the page on which the reference appears. The physical appearance of the essays will be exactly the same as doctoral documents, including all front matter pages (except the table of contents, which is not necessary), signature pages, abstract, etc. For all questions on these and related matters, students should see the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Thesis and Dissertation Information page. The only difference between doctoral essays and doctoral documents in this regard will be that where the college's Thesis and Dissertation Information page refers to three copies of the document, doctoral essays will only require one copy (thus one copy of the signature page, one copy of the bound document, etc.). All other doctoral document provisions will apply to doctoral essays: students completing doctoral essays are required to submit a review copy of the approved essay, with all committee signatures (and with the signature page printed on the correct paper), by the published dissertation submission deadline in the semester in which graduation will occur (usually this is the last day of classes in the semester); and essay submissions require an appointment with the college's dissertation secretary, as with doctoral documents.

Students must submit to their entire committee a final copy of their doctoral essay at least four weeks prior to the published submission deadline. Students must allow the entire committee three weeks to review the final copy, after which students will have one week to make the any remaining changes requested by the committee. Upon reading the essay, the committee has the option of not approving the essay in its present form; disapproval will require that the student resubmit the essay according to the procedure outlined above. This may also require that the student enroll for additional semesters of study; consult the Graduate Office for more information.

Foreign Language Proficiency

All doctoral students except those in music education must demonstrate reading proficiency in French, German, or Italian in order to gain admission to candidacy. Proficiency may be demonstrated in one of the following ways:

  1. Satisfactory completion of second-year (fourth semester—equivalent of 12 credit hours or four one-semester courses) undergraduate French, German, or Italian.
  2. Satisfactory completion of six credit hours (two semesters) of intensive graduate reading courses in French, German, or Italian.
  3. Satisfactory completion of a translation exam in French, German, or Italian. Translation exams are administered by the musicology faculty; contact the Graduate Office for scheduling information.

Doctoral students in voice performance must also pass a three-part language proficiency exam in order to gain admission to candidacy. The content of the exam is normally as follows (consult the voice area coordinator for more information):

  1. Part 1: Translation, with the aid of a dictionary, of an approximately 300-word prose text in the student's choice of French, German or Italian.
  2. Part 2: Translation, with the aid of a dictionary, of a poetic text (song or aria) in the student's choice of French, German or Italian.
  3. Part 3: Transliteration using IPA, without the aid of a dictionary, of four texts in, respectively, French, German, English, and Italian.

Juries

Jury requirements at the doctoral level vary by area of study; students should consult with their major professor for more information and specific requirements.

Minor Field

The minor field should be selected in consultation with, and is subject to the approval of, the chair of the student's doctoral committee and the Director of Graduate Studies. The minor field must be declared by the end of the first year of study using the appropriate form (available online at www.music.uh.edu).

Recitals

Doctoral recitals are adjudicated by a student's doctoral committee (see "Doctoral Committee" for more information). Doctoral recitals are scheduled in Fall and Spring semesters. Students must be enrolled for private applied study and doctoral recital credit during the semester in which the recital occurs. No degree recitals may be presented (and no committees may be formed) before a student is accepted into the Doctoral of Musical Arts program.

A "full recital" at the doctoral level typically comprises at least sixty minutes of music, with doctoral piano recitals usually approximately ten minutes longer; recitals must fulfill all requirements specific to the student's degree plan or area of study, including requirements for memorization (vocalists and pianists, for example, are required to perform entirely from memory). All degree recital programs must be approved by the student's doctoral committee at least two months before the scheduled recital date; programs and other aspects of the recital (including duration) are also subject to the approval of the coordinator in the student's major area of study. Music from the student's entrance audition and music previously presented in recital may not be included without approval of the student's doctoral committee and the coordinator of the student's major area of study.

Vocalists and pianists are expected to perform all solo works (not chamber works) from memory. For other instrumentalists, the amount of memorization should be appropriate to the student's field of study and the genres of the specific works performed (memorization expectations for concertos, for example, differ from those for other solo works); at least half the program will typically be performed from memory. The student's doctoral committee is responsible for approving memorization requirements when questions arise.

Chamber-music recitals should include works for a variety of media and from a variety of musical periods. This repertoire should be prepared under the supervision of the student's major professor and other faculty coaches, as appropriate. In many cases students may wish to combine the required solo and chamber-music recitals, with each recital including solo and chamber literature; in these cases expectations for memorization, repertoire, and duration continue to apply, as appropriate for the specific literature. Note that in all cases the ultimate responsibility for all aspects of chamber-music recitals and their quality, including ensemble playing and issues of musical interpretation, rests with the student.

Students' doctoral committees have responsibility for deciding whether recitals in the form of solo performances with an orchestra (on or off campus) will qualify as degree recitals, with consideration given to the nature of the repertoire, duration of the performance, venue, ability of the committee to attend the performance, or availability of a high-quality video recording of the performance.

Students must perform a pre-recital jury before their full committee at least two weeks prior to all scheduled solo, chamber-music, and lecture degree recitals (exceptions to the two-week requirement are subject to the approval of the student's committee). Students' performances in their pre-recital juries, together with all other aspects of the recital, must be approved by the full committee; the committee has the option to not permit the recital to proceed as scheduled on the basis of either the program or the student's performance at the jury. Jury approvals are granted on the Pre-Recital Jury Form available online at www.music.uh.edu or in the Graduate Office, and juries are graded "pass" or "fail" by a majority vote of the committee. The committee chair should obtain the Pre-Recital Jury Form from the Graduate Office prior to the jury, circulate it among committee members after the jury, and return it to the Graduate Office upon its completion.

Lecture recitals should include both lecture and performance, with approximately half of the total sixty minutes allotted for each. Students must present a final draft of the lecture (orally or in written form) at the pre-recital jury. Memorization on lecture recitals should be appropriate for the student's field of study and the specific works presented. Students must distribute to the audience a printed handout (or other materials, as appropriate) that supports the lecture. The lecture recital should not be an oral duplication of the doctoral document but rather may focus on a particular aspect of the students' work toward the document; in many cases the topic of the lecture recital may be completely different from that of the document.

At least two members of a students' doctoral committee must be present for all degree recitals and pre-recital juries. If one or more committee members are unable to attend either event, students may either appoint one or more substitute committee members, in consultation with the committee chair and the Director of Graduate Studies; or students may provide absent committee members with a high-quality video recording of the recital or jury.

Committee members should submit recital grades to the Graduate Office within 24 hours after the recital (or within 10 days if viewing a recorded recital). Graduate Recital Evaluation Forms are available online at www.music.uh.edu or from the front desk in the School of Music office; committee chairs should distribute a copy of the form to each committee member at the time of the recital. Committees may meet at the conclusion of the recital to discuss the student's performance and grade, but in any case each committee member should submit their own confidential grade form.

The student's final recital grade will be the average of the grades submitted by each committee member (including the committee chair).

Residency Requirement

Doctoral students must complete at least one year (usually the first year) of the program in residence, enrolling for full-time study (9 credits) in consecutive Fall and Spring semesters.

Time Limitation

Students must complete the doctoral degree within 10 years of the date on which they first enrolled with the objective of obtaining the degree (computed according to the “ORD,” or “Official Reporting Date” for degree objective, as explained in the University of Houston Graduate Catalog); no credit (including transfer credit) older than ten years at the time of commencement may be included for credit toward the degree.

The doctoral document must be completed within five years of the date on which the student passed the doctoral comprehensive exam; students who fail to do so will be required to retake the comprehensive exam.