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Doctoral Degree Requirements

6.1 Checklist for the Doctoral Degree

Students can download recommended timelines for the doctoral degrees to use as guides when planning the degree.

Admission:
1. Apply to the Graduate School of the University.
        a. Transcripts and GRE or MAT scores should be sent directly to the University, not the School of Music.  
        b. Please note that there are additional admission requirements for international students.
2. Apply to the School of Music
        a. Audition for the School of Music faculty (for performance, conducting, or jazz degree.)
        b. Send a portfolio of compositions or written materials (for composition, musicology, or music education degrees).

Beginning of first semester:
3. Take entrance examinations in music history and theory.
4. Begin course of study.

Second semester:
5. Establish doctoral committee in consultation with major professor.
6. Take language proficiency exam.
7. DMA Performance concentrations may perform first recital
8. Submit Doctoral degree plan to the School of Music Graduate Studies Office (See 6.12 DMA/PhD Degree Plans)

Third & Fourth semesters:
8. Fulfill the residency requirement by completing at least two successive semesters as a full-time student (summers included).
9 .Begin discussing document topic/proposal with committee
10.Take the Qualifying Exams (DMA only).
11.DMA Performance concentrations may perform second recital (after passing Qualifying exams).
12.Take written and oral comprehensive exams. Once passed, student is admitted to Doctoral Candidacy.

Fifth, Sixth, and/or Final semesters:
13. The semester you plan to graduate, submit your application during the first week of the semester (see 6.11 Applying to Graduate).   
14.Submit approved document or dissertation to the committee for the defense at least one month in advance.
15.Perform final recital or lecture recital (DMA) and defend the dissertation or research document. A proper signature page containing all signatures of the committee will be appended to the document.
16.Submit a copy of the final version to the Graduate School. The student is also expected to provide a bound copy of the final version to the Music Library.

6.2 Doctoral Residency

Students must commit to full-time study for a minimum of two successive semesters after admission to the degree program to fulfill the residency requirement.  Full-time study is defined as 9-credits per semester (minimum). In the School of Music, sum­mer semesters may be used for this purpose; however, summer offerings in the School of Music are limited, so credits may not be available for the residency requirement.

6.3 Doctoral Committee

Students should consult their major professor as they prepare a tentative plan to meet the degree requirements and select a doctoral committee.  After enrolling in 18 hours of courses, which usually occurs in the second semester of study, the student must select a doctoral committee by submitting the Thesis/Dissertation Faculty Committee Appointment Form to the School of Music Graduate Studies Office.

The doctoral committee serves as a consistent advisory group for the student. The committee approves degree plans, recital repertoire, the recitals themselves, serves as the examining committee for the comprehensive exam, approves the document/dissertation proposal, critiques the research document/dissertation, and serves as the final examining committee for the dissertation defense.

The committee must be comprised of at least four members and must include:
1) Major professor, serves as chair (if eligible)
2) One additional member from the student's major field
3) One member from the cognate area

If the student's DMA document or dissertation has a significant focus on music history or music theory, it is strongly suggested that a member of those areas serve on the committee. Likewise, if the student's document or dissertation has a significant focus on a tangential topic (i.e. French poetry, kinesiology) it is recommended that a faculty member with a specialty in that topic be included in the committee.

The chair of the committee must be a full member of the Graduate Faculty of the university. All members of the committee must have Graduate Faculty status; individuals who are not on the faculty of the University of Memphis may be appointed when their special expertise is needed for the dissertation, but they must seek affiliate faculty status from the Graduate School.

Recitals and exams should be scheduled when the entire committee can be in attendance. If the entire committee cannot be in attendance, then a minimum of 3 committee members must be present. Oral exams and defenses cannot be guaranteed during the summer semester, when many faculty are not in residence; students wishing to take orals or defend in the summer should consult their entire committee well in advance.

Committee membership should be changed only under extraordinary circumstances, and always in collaboration with the major professor and the Associate Director for Graduate Studies.

6.4 DMA Recitals - Dissertation Equivalent

The DMA degree requires between 6-9 hours of dissertation equivalent. Doctoral degree candidacy is a prerequisite for the final lecture recital. The dissertation requirements are slightly different for the various concentrations:

• Composition: Students must complete 9 hours of MUTC 9000.
• Performance & Conducting: Students must complete 6 hours of MUAP 8999 and 9000. These 6 hours must be comprised of at least 4 hours of MUAP 8999 (recital) and at least 1 hour of MUAP 9000 (dissertation) to fulfill the degree requirements.

Students preparing a doctoral degree recital will need to fill out a Doctoral Recital Form and submit it to the chair of their doctoral committee prior to the recital. This form documents the results of the recital and must be signed by all members of the student's committee. Doctoral recitals can only be passed with unanimous approval from the entire committee. Recitals are scheduled through the Scheduling Coordinator's office. The program for the recital must be submitted at least two weeks before the recital and students will be allowed up to two hours of rehearsal time in the hall prior to the recital.  Please follow the guidelines listed in 4.1 Recital Scheduling to schedule your recital and submit your program.  Hearings are not required in the doctoral program, but may be requested by the major teacher. If this occurs, the hearing must be at least two weeks prior to the recital.

The DMA dissertation equivalent is constructed differently in the various concentrations:

  • Performance: Three recitals (or two recitals and a lecture recital) and the DMA document. Music that is treated in the research document will form the basis of the lecture-recital; if the student gives three solo recitals, the repertory from the DMA document should appear on at least one of the recitals. The repertoire of each recital must be approved by the doctoral committee.
  • Composition: A composition of significant proportions in a medium approved by the doctoral committee. This is typically an orchestral work of 15-20 minutes, but the exact instrumentation and length is variable, with committee approval.
  • Conducting (Choral): Students in choral conducting must perform two choral recitals and one lecture-recital. A minimum of 9 credit hours of coursework must be completed before the first recital is given.
  • Conducting (Orchestral): Students in orchestral conducting must perform two public orchestral conducting recitals and one lecture-recital. With the permission of the doctoral committee, a series of smaller performances may be substituted for one of the first two recitals. The lecture-recital is in support of the research document. A minimum of 9 credit hours of coursework must be completed before the first recital is given.    
  • Conducting (Wind): Students in wind conducting must perform two recitals and one lecture recital. 

              - Recital #1 – Rehearsal format recital 
              - Recital #2 – Compilation recital
              - Recital #3 – Lecture-recital

A minimum of 9 credit hours of coursework must be completed before the first recital. The compilation recital is an audio and video recording assembled from specific public performances with one of the major ensembles during residency. The lecture recital is in support of the research document.

6.5 Major Field & Cognate Field Requirements

Major Field Requirements for the DMA
The DMA in Conducting and Performance require nine credits in the major field. Students are responsible for consulting the degree plan, major professor, and this document to ascertain these requirements. The following are additional area-specific requirements that are not specified in the Graduate Catalog.

Conducting:
Select from (3 cr.)
     • MUSE 7002 - Teaching Music in Higher Ed (3)
     • MUSE 8219 - Concepts in Teaching and Learning (3)
     • MUAP 8802 - Career Resources for Musicians (3)

Required (6 cr.)
     • MUSE 6208 – Band Literature (3), MUSE 7203 – Choral Literature (3), or Orchestral Literature (3)
     • MUTC 8801 - Analytical Techniques (3)

Keyboard:
(A). Piano Performance (9 cr.)

Required (6 cr.)
     • MUSE 7513 - Piano Pedagogy 1 (3) OR MUSE 7514 - Piano Pedagogy 2 (3)
     • MUHL 7003 - Piano Repertory (3)

Select from (3 cr.)
     • MUSE 6505 - Collaborative Piano Techniques (3)
     • MUSE 7217 - Advanced Collaborative Piano Techniques (3)
     • MUHL 6014 - Chamber Music with Piano (3)
     • MUSE 7511 - Projects Piano Pedagogy (3)
     • MUSE 7515 - Class Piano Pedagogy (3)
     • MUSE 7002 - Teaching Music in Higher Ed (3)
     • MUAP 8802 - Career Resources for Musicians (3)

Voice:
Student must take at least one course from two of the three columns.

Column A: Pedagogy

  • MUSE 7501 - Graduate Vocal Ped 1 (3)
  • MUSE 7502 - Graduate Vocal Ped 2 (3)
  • MUSE 8516 - Graduate Diction (3)
  • MUSE 7002 - Teaching in Higher Education (3)

Column B: Literature

  • MUHL6002 - Graduate Song Lit (3)
  • MUHL 6263 - Oratorio Lit (3)
  • MUHL 6407 - History of Opera (Page) -- (3)

Column C: Opera

  • MUAP 6301 - Acting for Opera (3)
  • MUAP 7704 - Opera Stage Direction (3)
  • MUAP 7705 - Opera Coaching (requires outstanding piano skills) (3)
  • MUAP 8802 - Building Career Resources for Musicians (3)

Strings:
Select from (3 cr.)
     • MUSE 7002 - Teaching Music in Higher Ed (3)
     • MUAP 8802 - Career Resources for Musicians (3)

Required (6 cr.)
     • MUSE 7204 - Instrumental Lit and Tech (3)
     • MUHL 6500 - String Repertory (3)
     • MUSE 7601 – Suzuki String Pedagogy I (3)
     • Secondary Instrument
     • MUAP 6004 - Orchestra Excerpts (2)

Woodwinds:
Select from (3 cr.)
     • MUHL 6012 - Historical Chamber Music/Wind Instruments (3)
     • MUAP 6263 - Reed Making (1)
     • MUAP 6004 - Orchestral Excerpts (2)
     • MUSE 7608 - Instr. Ens. Rehearsal Tech. (3)
     • MUAP 7002 - Chamber Music (1)

Required (6 cr.)
     • MUSE 6512 - Pedagogy and Literature (3)
     • MUSE 7002 - Teaching Music in Higher Ed. (3) OR MUAP 7802 - Career Resources for Musicians (3)

Brass:
Select from (3 cr.):
     • MUSE 7002 - Teaching Music in Higher Ed (3)
     • MUAP 8802 - Career Resources for Musicians (3)

Required (6 cr.):
     • MUSE 6514 - Brass Pedagogy (3)
     • MUHL 6020 – Solo Brass Literature (3)

Percussion:
Select from (3 cr.):
     • MUSE 7002 - Teaching Music in Higher Ed (3)
     • MUAP 8802 - Career Resources for Musicians (3)
     • MUHL 6800 - World Musical Styles (3)
     • Large Ensemble (1)
     • MUAP 7204 - Percussion Ensemble (1)
     • MUAP 7205 - Contemporary Chamber Ensemble (1)

Required (6 cr.):
     • MUSE 6520 - Percussion Pedagogy (3)
     • MUHL 6030 - Percussion Repertory (3)

Cognate Field Requirements for the DMA and PhD
All doctoral students must pursue a related field for a minimum of 9 hours. Students are responsible for consulting relevant faculty and the Graduate Catalog in order to ascertain cognate requirements specific to each individual field. Courses that make up the Cognate must be made in conjunction with a faculty member from that field and approved in the student's degree plan. A student's doctoral committee must include a representative from the chosen Cognate area. Students have many options when considering the Cognate field. The School of Music has the following requirements for the these popular cognates:

Music Education
A music education cognate consists of three courses in the MUSE prefix.  No more than one course may be at the 6000 level.
Cognate Requirements:

  • MUSE 7220 - Research in Music Education (3)
  • Select from two MUSE courses chosen in consultation with the cognate faculty member (6)

Music Theory
A music theory cognate consists of three courses in the MUTC prefix.  No more than one course may be at the 6000 level.
Cognate Requirements:

  • MUTC 8101 - Pedagogy of Theory (3)
  • Select from two MUTC courses chosen in consultation with the cognate faculty member (6)

Music History
Three MUHL courses, not including Bibliography (MUHL 7400/8400) or repertory courses, with no more than one at the 6000 level.

Wind, Orchestral, or Choral Conducting
A Wind, Orchestral, or Choral conducting cognate consists of three courses in the
field.  No more than one course may be at the 6000 level.
Cognate Requirements:

  • Two Semesters of Advanced Conducting (6)
  • Select from Wind Literature, Orchestral Literature, or Choral Literature (3)

Vocology
Cognate Requirements:

  • MUSE 7501 - Vocal Pedagogy 1 (3)
  • MUSE 7502 - Vocal Pedagogy 2 (3)

Choose one option:

  • AUSP 7003 – Anat/Phys (3)
  • AUSP 7000 – Speech Science (3)

Vocal Pedagogy
Cognate Requirements:

  • MUSE 7501 - Vocal Pedagogy 1 (3)

Choose any two of the following options:

  • MUSE 7502 - Vocal Pedagogy 2 (3)
  • MUHL 6002 – Song Repertory I (3)
  • MUSE 6211 – Vocal Diction I (3)
  • MUHL 6263 - Oratorio Lit (3)

Opera Stage Direction
Cognate Requirements:

  • MUAP 6301 - Acting for Opera (3)
  • MUAP 7704 - Opera Stage Direction (1, 2, or 3)
  • MUSE 6211 – Vocal Diction I (3)

Opera Coaching/Conducting
Cognate Requirements:

  • MUAP 7705 - Opera Coaching (3)
  • MUSE 6211 – Vocal Diction I (3)
  • MUAP 7620 – Conducting (3)

Community Engagement & Residency
Cognate Requirements:

  • MUAP 7002 - Chamber music (1) for 3 semesters
  • MUAP 8802 - Career Resources for Musicians (3)
  • JRSM 7330 - Social Media & Community Engagement (3)

Jazz Studies
Cognate Requirements:

  • MUTC 7104 – Analytical Studies Jazz (3)
  • MUSE 7520 – Jazz Pedagogy (3)

Choose one option in consultation with Jazz area:

  • Improv I, II, or III

6.6 Qualifying Examinations for the DMA

The qualifying exams in music history and theory are usually attempted in the third or fourth semester of full-time study.  The exams may be taken after the student has completed 24 hours.  Students may perform only one degree recital before attempting the qualifying exams.

The exams are normally scheduled on the Monday and Tuesday before the fall and spring semesters begin. Qualifying exams can be given at the start of the summer semester by request. Notification of the Graduate Office by email must happen by April 1. Students who fail one or more sections of the exam will have an opportunity to retake those sections. Opportunities for remediation will be provided by courses, organized study or review sessions, and/or reading lists. A second failure will result in termination from the program. A third attempt will be permitted only by petitioning the Director of the School of Music.

The music history exam will consist of seven unknown score examples (A picture or an extract from a treatise can stand in for a score). The student picks six on which to write essays in which she or he identifies the genre, approximate date, and a plausible composer; makes a case for this identification; and say something about the significance of this sort of music (or artifact) in music history. Students will have three hours in a closed room to write these essays. Grading will be on the basis not only of right and wrong answers but of the level of articulateness and depth of understanding shown in the essays.

The music theory exam will include formal analysis, identifications, definitions, and an essay. Students will have three hours in a closed room to write these essays.

6.7 Comprehensive Examinations in the Major and Cognate Fields

The comprehensive examinations consist of written and oral comprehensive exams, which are administered by the doctoral committee. Before attempting the comprehensive exams, students must have completed the following:

  • Qualifying Exams (see 6.6)
  • Foreign Language requirement (see 3.6)
  • For DMA students, the second recital can be completed

The research document or final recital/lecture-recital may not be completed until after the comprehensive exams are passed.

DMA students
The written examination ordinarily consists of three questions, two from the major field and one from the minor.  The student is given seven days to write substantial (typically 10–15 pages), fully footnoted essays addressing the topics raised in the questions. At the committee's discretion, there may be an additional timed, private examination dealing with the pedagogy, literature, performance practice, theory, and/or history of the major field, instrument, or performance area. The examination is composed and graded by the candidate's committee.

Once the student has passed the written comprehensives, the oral comprehensive may be scheduled.  The oral portion of the comprehensive examination will be conducted by the student's doctoral committee. It will last up to two hours and will focus on the answers from the written examination and on general concerns of the committee over the major and cognate areas.

PhD students
The student, in consultation with the advisor, proposes three areas in which she or he may be examined. The student writes three possible questions for one of the areas. The committee then picks one of those questions and provides its own questions in the other two, and the student is given seven days in which to research and answer the questions.

Once the student has passed the written comprehensives, the oral comprehensive may be scheduled. It will last up to two hours and will focus in part on the answers from the written examination and in part on general concerns of the committee over the major and minor areas. Language proficiency must be passed before taking comprehensive exams.

6.8 Admission to Doctoral Candidacy

When the written and oral comprehensive examinations have been successfully completed, the Associate Director of Graduate Studies will send a form to the Graduate School and the student will be granted doctoral candidacy.

Once candidacy is granted, the student is permitted to proceed with the dissertation or dissertation equivalent. The student in performance will be allowed to prepare for the final, third recital and begin work on the written doctoral research paper (once the topic proposal has been reviewed and approved by the doctoral committee). The student in composition may officially begin the dissertation composition. Students in musicology or music education must submit a proposal for the dissertation, which must be approved by the doctoral committee.

6.9 DMA/PhD Proposal and Dissertation/Document Guidelines

Proposals for the DMA document & PhD dissertation
The topic proposal should be presented to the committee in a standard proposal format: thesis question, limitations, research plan (review of literature, outline), approximate timeline, and the general plan for the lecture-recital (for performers who plan to take this option.) The doctoral committee must approve the proposal prior to the DMA document or dissertation beginning. Once the proposal is approved by the committee, the chair of the committee will submit the Graduate School's Thesis or Dissertation Proposal Defense form to the School of Music's Graduate Studies Office. If there is substantial content that lies outside the field of music (such as statistics or medieval French poetry), at least one member of the committee should have expertise in that area. DMA candidates writing a DMA document must write a proposal 7-10 pages in length containing the criteria mentioned above. PhD students are advised to refer to "Kreitner's Dissertation Guide" found on the School of Music site.

Guidelines for the DMA document & PhD dissertation
The student writes the dissertation or research document with one faculty member, usually the chair of the committee. When that person approves, copies of the dissertation or research document are distributed to all committee members, and the defense is scheduled. The student should allow about a month between submission and defense for the committee to read and provide comments for possible revisions.  PhD students are advised to refer to "Kreitner's Dissertation Guide" found on the School of Music site.

The DMA document and the required recitals combine to make the "dissertation equivalent." As a result, the DMA document will be substantially smaller in scope than a PhD dissertation. Page lengths will vary based on the research subject, however, typically the DMA document should be 75-100 pages.

All 9000 courses are covered by the Graduate School's continuous enrollment policy; once a student has enrolled in this number, he or she must keep enrolling for at least one credit every semester (summers excluded, except for a summer graduation) until the dissertation is complete.

All theses, research documents, and dissertations that involve human subjects—including, for example, interviews with living musicians—are required to have prior approval from the University's Institutional Review Board.  See 3.12 IRB Guidelines for more information.

6.10 Defending the Dissertation or Research Document

During the dissertation/research document/lecture-recital defense, the candidate meets with the doctoral committee. Committee members will ask questions and critique the document. Performance majors doing a lecture-recital typically defend after the performance, however, with committee permission, may defend prior to the performance. Once the defense is passed, the chair of the committee will submit the Graduate School's Thesis/Dissertation Final Defense Results form to the School of Music's Graduate Studies Office and a defended copy of the document is given to the Graduate School for approval. The deadline for this is typically six weeks before the end of the semester.

6.11 Applying to Graduate

The deadline for applying for graduation is within the second or third week of the semester you plan on graduating. These steps must be completed and submitted to the School of Music one week prior to the Graduate School deadline. The Graduate School's Deadlines for Degree Candidates gives detailed due dates for each step of the process. The Graduate School's Graduation Information page links to all required forms.

Step 1 - Login to the MyMemphis portal online and Apply to Graduate.  If you don't
manage to graduate during the semester you apply, you have to reapply in the following semesters—unless you have received an IP in thesis, recital, etc., which puts you into the Continuous Enrollment universe and at least spares you this one pain.

Step 2 - Fill out the Candidacy form, which is found on the Graduate School Forms page under "Graduation Forms."  The Candidacy form requires you to list the courses you have taken that count as part of the degree: the "Dept." (actually the prefix, e.g. MUAP, MUHL), the course number, the course title, the number of hours, the grade, and the year. Your accurate and current degree plan, submitted after your second semester of study, will help simplify this process. When filling out the Candidacy form:

  • The Graduate Studies Coordinator is the School of Music Associate Director of Graduate Studies. The College Director of Graduate Studies is the Associate Dean of College of Communication & Fine Arts. Departmental Records should be the name and email address of the Graduate Studies Office staff member in the School of Music.
  • Do not list any credits or courses that are not found on your degree plan. Only enter courses that are a formal part of the degree curriculum, not courses with undergraduate numbers (e.g. language, theory review), extra ensembles, or ensembles taken for 0 credit-hours. The credits you enter on the candidacy form must equal the exact number of credits of your degree.
  • For courses currently underway, leave the "grade" box blank. Use the grade IP only for courses (normally thesis-type courses) for which you have actually received the grade IP.

Step 3 – Before your candidacy form will be signed you will need to submit the following to the School of Music Graduate Studies Office:
     1. UM Academic transcript (from MyMemphis)
     2. Approved Degree plan with signatures (see 6.12 DMA/PhD Degree Plans)

The candidacy form is routed through Docusign to your major professor, the Associate Director of Graduate Studies, to the CCFA office of the Associate Dean, and then to the Graduate School for appropriate signatures.

 

6.12 DMA/PhD Degree Plans

By the end of the second semester of study, the student must submit a degree plan, which lists all courses required for the degree and is approved by the student's major professor, doctoral committee, and the Associate Director of Graduate Studies. Students should consult their major professor/committee chair as they prepare a degree plan. A list of courses that aren't offered each semester can be found in 3.14 Rotating Course Offerings. This list is not definitive and it is recommended that students contact area faculty to find out the latest course offerings for the upcoming semester. Any changes to the degree plan must be submitted in writing on a degree plan form and approved by the major professor/committee chair and Associate Director of Graduate Studies, and filed with the School of Music Graduate Studies Office.

Degree plans may not be filed in the semester a student plans to graduate. Click on the following links for specific degree plans: