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Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition

Three to Five Year Degree (45-30)

The Supervisory Committee creates the Doctor of Musical Arts program for each student in order to fulfill the best interests of that student’s education. Therefore, it is important that a student form a Supervisory Committee as soon as possible after entering the doctoral program. It is the responsibility of the Supervisory Committee to assure an appropriate program of study for each student. Program requirements assume an academic background equivalent to a master’s degree in composition. See the master’s degree program requirements. The Graduate School requires ninety (90) credits for the doctoral degree, sixty (60) of which must be taken at the University of Washington. With the approval of the degree-granting unit, thirty (30) credits from an appropriate master’s degree may be counted toward the total enrollment requirement. In addition to coursework at the master’s level, the following is a breakdown of coursework required for the doctoral degree.

Major Area: 45  
Graduate Composition Instruction: Enroll for a minimum of 18 credits, or until candidacy:  
  • Music 591 Composition Lessons (3 credits ea.)
Doctoral Recital: Present a recital of graduate compositions prior to the defense of the dissertation, or demonstrate significant record of professional performances approved by the supervisory committee.  The recital must be scheduled with the approval of appropriate faculty. All recitals must be documented as “A recital in fulfillment of the requirement for the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree.” The program and recital approval form signed by appropriate faculty are placed in the student’s file.  
Dissertation: A student must register for a minimum of 27 credits of dissertation writing, MUSIC 800, over a period of at least three (3) quarters. At least one of the three quarters must come after the student has passed the General Examination. (See Final Examination) 27
Other Studies in Music: 18  
Music Electives: In addition to coursework taken at the master’s level, a student must take at least 18 credits of approved 400- or 500-level courses chosen from the fields of Composition, Analysis, Computer Music, Music Theory, Music History, Ethnomusicology, Performance, and Digital Arts Technology. Interdisciplinary study may be taken according to interest.  
Other Electives: 27  

Total Credits: 90

  • Foreign Language: Students must pass a foreign language examination, choice of language to be approved by the supervisory committee. If a student has fulfilled this requirement for the master’s degree, no additional language is required.
  • General Examination: The General Examination consists of a written examination and a general oral examination. The oral examination consists of three oral presentations, on topics to be approved by the supervisory committee: the first two presentations are to be given in the context of our weekly masterclass ("Composers Lab"), while the third one is to be given to the supervisory committee. The written examination will be taken before the oral examination and will focus on topics chosen by the supervisory committee. Doctoral students should have their committee established at least four months before the General Examination. They may sign up for MUSIC 600 with members of their committee in order to prepare for the General Examination. The Request for the General Examination must be submitted online to the Graduate School no later than three (3) weeks before the examination. The Graduate School requires completion of 60 credits of coursework (including coursework taken for the master’s degree) prior to the General Examination, 18 of which must be from the 500-level or above and 18 of which are from the 400-level or above and numerically graded.
  • Final Examination: Prepare a dissertation that consists of one or more substantial compositions approved by the student’s Supervisory Committee and present an oral defense (Final Examination) of the composition(s). Students must submit a draft of the dissertation to the Reading Committee no later than five (5) weeks before the Final Examination date. Once the Reading Committee has read a draft of the dissertation and agrees that it is ready to defend, the student submits the online Final Examination request to the Graduate School no later than three (3) weeks before the examination. See the Graduate School home page,, for information on formatting the exam, turning in the dissertation etc. A student must satisfy the Graduate School’s requirements for the degree at the time the degree is to be awarded.

Rev. 3/15