Skip to Content

School of Music


Doctor of Musical Arts

Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition

Ready to apply?  View graduate admissions information.

Composition

Major Area[1]
a) composition studies (12 credits of MUSC 816)[2]
b) composition-related courses (6 credits to be chosen, in consultation with the student?s academic advisor; may include MUSC 816, MUSC 717, MUSC 737, and other such courses; credits may not count toward a Doctoral Minor or Other Studies)
c) dissertation composition (10 credits of MUSC 899)[3]
d) composition recital (1 credit of MUSC 890)[4]
e) document (1 credit of MUSC 897)[5]

30 credits

Doctoral Minor (in an approved field of music, such as music theory, music technology, music history, performance; courses to be chosen in consultation with the student's academic advisor)

 12 credits

Other Studies (as approved by the student's academic advisor; may include study outside the School of Music)

6 credits

Residency: A minimum of four semesters of full-time study and residence on the USC-Columbia campus is required. Three of the four semesters must be consecutive. Under no circumstances may the Comprehensive Examination be taken before the three consecutive semesters and all coursework (exclusive of the dissertation requirement) have been completed.

Foreign language requirement (to be satisfied before the Comprehensive Examination can be scheduled): reading proficiency in French, German, or Italian

DMA-Composition students with weaknesses in counterpoint, orchestra­tion, score reading, conducting, or keyboard skills should remedy these deficiencies before taking the Comprehensive Examination. Note that these courses may not be applied toward the 48 credits needed to complete the DMA degree. DMA-Composition students must have their compositions represented every semester on program-approved concerts. In addition, composition students are expected to attend master classes, lectures, and performances sponsored by the composition faculty.

[1]Unless taken elsewhere, advanced courses in post-tonal analysis, tonal analysis, computer music, and Music Bibliography/Research (MUSC 707) must be included in a composition student's doctoral studies.

[2]MUSC 816 is a 3-credit course during Fall and Spring terms, and a 1-credit course during either Summer term.

[3]A composition or group of compositions totaling at least 20 minutes for large forces. The candidate must have passed the Comprehensive Examination before beginning work on the dissertation. Further, the dissertation project and research document must be approved by the student's dissertation committee before the candidate begins work. Approval is obtained by submitting both a dissertation project and research document prospectus. Guidelines for preparing the dissertation project and research document prospectus, dissertation composition, and research document are available from the Music Graduate Office.

[4]All DMA students in composition must present a public performance of at least 30 minutes of original work written during their course of study. These works should demonstrate compositional mastery in a variety of media. The recital may be scheduled anytime after the comprehensive examinations have been successfully passed.

[5]A 25-40 page analytical, historical, or theoretical paper developed in conjunction with the dissertation advisor.