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Professional Degree Policies

GCAC-700-K Doctor of Musical Arts Degree Requirements

Purpose: to define the specific degree requirements for obtaining a Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) degree.

Academic Goal: to ensure that students pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) have sufficient academic training and evaluation to become knowledgeable about the discipline of music as a whole, to have a thorough background in literature of the instrument, and to be able to perform at a professional level.

Scope: all students in a Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) degree program.



The D.M.A. degree is designed to provide students with a thorough background of preparation including but not limited to, music theory, analysis, and history and experience in professional-level performance to be able to teach at the collegiate or university level.



Professional Doctoral Degree Program: an integrated program of study combined with understanding of research literature to support application of knowledge to practice at the highest level, culminating in a project, portfolio, or performance that demonstrates expertise in professional practice. Students successfully completing a professional doctoral degree program are awarded the appropriate doctoral degree; professional doctoral degrees at Penn State include D.Ed., D.M.A., D.N.P., and Dr.P.H.

Research Doctoral Degree Program: an integrated program of study combined with investigation of a significant problem, question, or issue in the discipline, culminating in the completion of an original scholarly contribution (in the form of a dissertation) that expands the frontiers of knowledge. Students successfully completing a research doctoral degree program are awarded Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree.

Policy Statement

  1. The Doctor of Musical Arts requires four semesters in residence. See GCAC-700-A Residency Requirement for the requirements for residency.
  2. Sixty credits are required beyond the Master of Music.
    1. If an exceptional student is admitted before completion of a prior Master of Music degree, the student will complete a total of 30 credits in categories equivalent to those required for the M.Mus., in addition to the 60 required for the D.M.A.
  3. A qualifying examination will follow upon two semesters completed in residence.
  4. The comprehensive examination will occur upon the completion of course work, before the final recital.
    1. The examination consists of two solo recitals, two chamber music recitals, and a lecture-recital with pre-approved monograph text. The examination is intended to evaluate the candidate’s mastery of the major, and whether the candidate is prepared to embark upon his/her preparation for the final performance.
  5. The culminating experience of the D.M.A. degree is a public final performance (solo recital) that will be discussed and evaluated by the doctoral committee.
    1. The student who approaches the final recital will have passed the comprehensive examination, as well as all previous required recitals.
    2. The repertoire for the final performance will be decided by the student in consultation with the performance adviser and other faculty members in the major area, after which the student will prepare the final performance independently, without weekly coaching.
    3. The performance adviser may request a pre-hearing of the recital material before the doctoral committee members from the major area; the results of this pre-hearing are intended to be advisory and will not necessarily affect the scheduled final performance.
    4. The student's full doctoral committee will attend the public recital (i.e., the final performance) at University Park and evaluate it; as part of the evaluation, the doctoral committee will discuss the final performance with the student in private.
      1. If a committee member is unable to attend the final performance in person, resulting in not enough members serving on the committee (i.e., four or more active members of the Graduate Faculty), another Penn State graduate faculty member will need to be appointed officially to the doctoral committee as noted above to replace the absent member in order to constitute a legitimate doctoral committee. See GCAC-700-B Culminating Experience Committee Composition - Professional Doctoral Degrees for more information.

Revision History

Adapted from the Graduate Bulletin: June 2018

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