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The program leading to the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts provides students with the highest level of professional training in the art of musical performance or the craft of musical composition. To this end, applied study in the major field is supported by extensive academic work with musicology and music theory. The Doctor of Musical Arts degree certifies that its holder is a sophisticated professional with the requisite skills and understanding to be an effective leader in his or her field.

For detailed information about the DMA program, please consult the DMA Guidelines, which is published yearly and archived by the Office of Academic Affairs.

Degree Requirements (DMA)

The program of study for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree will normally require an attendance of two years beyond receipt of the master’s degree. The doctoral candidate must attend full time for at least one year (minimum of 18 to maximum of 36 credits for one academic year, including 8 credits of private study), and may complete the remainder of the requirements on a part-time basis. Upon completing coursework and recitals, students achieve Degree-in-Progress (DIP) status. For the purposes of student loans and F-1 visas, students who have achieved DIP status are considered full-time students. To maintain that status, students must register for Consultation (610 • 813–814) each semester and pay DIP fees. Continuous registration each year in courses or applied studies is required: a DIP students may not take a leave of absence.

A maximum of 12 semester hours of graduate study (coursework) completed at other accredited institutions may be applied to the Doctor of Musical Arts degree, with the approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, after examination of placement results and consultation with the entrance interview committee. Credit must have been earned within five years of the student’s first graduate degree registration at Peabody and must carry grades of B or better.

Students may petition the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to have credits for courses and/or ensembles that were over and above the minimum requirements for a previous Peabody degree applied to the DMA degree program. No coursework that was required or used to fulfill minimum credit requirements for a previous degree may be applied to a subsequent graduate degree. Work completed in the Graduate Extension program, beyond the MM degree level, may transfer to the DMA program, upon satisfaction of all other admission requirements. All previously earned credits applied to the DMA degree must carry grades of B or better, and must have been earned not more than five years prior to initial registration in the program.

Deficiencies in ear-training and music theory identified during the entrance/placement examinations must be corrected in the first year of enrollment and may be corrected either by remedial study or by re-examination. Students may not enroll in graduate courses in these areas until deficiencies are remedied. Review courses carry zero credit and do not count toward fulfillment of degree requirements, but the grades earned are calculated in the GPA and the hours are counted as part of the course load which determines full-time status.

All requirements for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree must be completed within seven academic years from the date of initial DMA registration.

Advisory Committees

Each student will be advised by a major field advisory committee and an academic advisory committee.

  • The major field advisory committee is appointed by departments in consultation with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The major field advisory committee is responsible for approving the student’s repertoire list, approving and jurying all the student’s recitals, and submitting questions for the major field qualifying examination.
  • The academic advisory committee consists of the major teacher three other faculty members. Each academic advisory committee must have a faculty member from the Departments of Musicology and Music Theory. This committee shall be available to the student for consultation and advice concerning curriculum and possible dissertation or paper topics. Members of this committee also shall submit appropriate questions for the written qualifying examinations and sit on the oral qualifying examination committee. The academic advisory committee is selected by the student but appointed by Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and must be seated before the student becomes a degree-in-progress student.
  • The DMA Committee is a standing committee of the Conservatory Faculty Assembly.  The DMA Committee oversess the Doctor of Musical Arts program and advises the faculty and the administration on matters including doctoral curriculum, degree requirements, examinations, recitals, academic standing, admissions, scholarship and assistantships, and final documents and dissertations.

Curriculum Components (DMA)

Major Area Study

Upon entry to the program, each candidate must submit a repertoire list to the department faculty indicating works memorized and works performed. At the end of each year in the program, the candidate will submit an updated repertoire list reflecting new works studied and performed.

DMA students may perform in large ensembles on a space-available basis after students with an orchestral requirement have been seated.

A minimum of three recitals is required of all performance majors. Any student not playing a degree recital in a year of residency will be scheduled for a graded hearing before the department faculty at the end of the spring semester.  It is advisable for doctoral students to register for recitals when enrolled full time, as students must be registered for private study during the semester in which a recital is presented. Exceptions to this include the chamber music recital and the lecture-recital.  All degree recitals must be approved by the student’s Major Field Committee, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and the Concert Office.

Students must supply program notes of publishable quality before each recital program will be approved by the Office of Academic Affairs. These should be approximately one page in length, and must be approved by a representative of the musicology faculty.

For most DMA candidates, the final recital will be a lecture-recital. The lecture-recital will be based on an analytical or historical essay written under the guidance of a member of the candidate’s academic advisory committee. This essay must be completed prior to the presentation of the lecture-recital. Details concerning the scope of the project, topic approval, the format of the lecture-recital, and the timetable of the process may be found in the DMA Guidelines.

Core Curriculum

Each student shall take a minimum of two graduate seminars in musicology and two graduate seminars in music theory, plus electives in repertoire and other studies, including at least one 3-credit upper-level course in humanities at the School of Arts and Sciences of The Johns Hopkins University or another accredited institution. Minimum requirements vary depending on the major. See the curriculum listings for individual programs.

Doctor of Musical Arts students are required to enroll in the Musicology Colloquium during their first year for one semester. The colloquium gives students the opportunity to hear guest lecturers speak on musicological topics of their expertis, and focuses on developing writing and critical thinking abilities. Some majors require DMA students to take specific graduate seminars in musicology; see specific program curricula for details.

Preliminary Oral Examination

The second-semester preliminary oral examination is intended to demonstrate a student’s ability to speak about and respond to questions on a single, substantial piece of repertoire, chosen by the student and approved by members of the DMA Committee. The 25-minute preliminary oral examination consists of an examination on selected repertoire and a listening portion. The intention of the preliminary oral examination is to identify areas in which the student may need additional guidance.

Qualifying Examinations

In order to be admitted to official candidacy for the DMA degree, DMA students must satisfactorily pass all qualifying examinations:

  1. Language Proficiency Exam
  2. Musicology Exam
  3. Music Theory Exam
  4. Major Field Exam
  5. Final Oral Exam

For more details about the qualifying examinations and Final Oral Exam, see the DMA Guidelines.