Doctor of Musical Arts Programs
The primary objective of the Doctor of Musical Arts degree is the recognition of the highest achievement in music performance and teaching, preparing artist-pedagogues for careers in higher education and in the professional world.
The degree may be taken in performance and literature (with specialization in piano, collaborative piano, voice, percussion, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, low brass, violin, viola, cello, double bass, conducting) or in composition. Historical and theoretical knowledge sufficient to support individualized interpretations for performers and original creative work for composers is expected, as are writing and speaking skills needed to communicate clearly and effectively. To assist the student in achieving these objectives, the course of study includes requirements in performance or composition, academic coursework, and research.
The Doctor of Musical Arts curriculum in conducting prepares students for careers in higher education and in the professional world. During the program of study, students will study repertoire and technique specific to ensembles in all three major performance areas: wind band, choir, orchestra. Demonstration of knowledge, skill, expressive fluency and general conducting competency will be developed through public performance preparation with all three areas; however, most performing will be completed in the student’s primary area of emphasis.
DMA Admissions Process
Before you begin your application, contact Dr. Michael Vercelli, Director of Graduate Studies, at Michael.Vercelli@mail.wvu.edu. Dr. Vercelli will connect you with the faculty member in your area of specialization.
students in music are required to have completed the appropriate curriculum of
undergraduate study in music at WVU or its equivalent at another institution of
Application deadline for the most advantageous consideration is March 1. To pursue admission to our graduate degree programs, the following steps should be completed as early as possible:
- Go to https://graduateadmissions.wvu.edu/how-to-apply and follow the instructions for applying to WVU according to your needs: as a first-time applicant, a second degree applicant, a non-degree applicant, or an international applicant. Your application will include a $60 application fee. (You are considered a second degree applicant if you have previously applied and attended West Virginia University for graduate school. You are considered a re-applying applicant if you previously applied but did not attend West Virginia University for graduate school.)
Request official transcripts from all institutions previously attended to be sent directly to
Office of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment
PO BOX 6510
Morgantown WV 26506
- Please complete the SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS portion by uploading a personal statement/letter of intent and a resume/vitae, as directed. In addition, please upload a repertoire list under the heading OTHER.
Submit the School of Music Application for Graduate Admission.
Fill out our Graduate Application Online.
- Please provide 3 letters of recommendation by forwarding the following link to 3 recommenders. Alternatively, recommenders can send a letter of recommendation on letterhead directly to the School of Music at the following email address: Music@mail.wvu.edu.
- Applicants seeking admission as composition majors must submit representative compositions directly to the School of Music for evaluation and approval.
International Students should follow the steps to apply for an international student and submit a completed WVU application with the mandatory application fee to the WVU Office of Graduate Admissions.
a. Results of the Test
of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.
Results from these exams must be sent directly to WVU by the
Educational Testing Service. A minimum score of 79 is required for the
current TOEFL exam; a minimum score of 6.5 is required for the
current IELTS exam. Students who have taken the older paper
based TOEFL exam need a score of 550. Students who have taken the
older computer based TOEFL exam need a score of 213.
If you do not meet admission scores for the TOEFL you may be interested in the WVU Intensive English Program
When your admissions file is complete, all applicants must schedule an audition and interview with the faculty in your area of specialization. Music Education students will schedule the audition/interview through the Music Education Faculty.
Students applying to doctoral degree programs in Music Education must also:
- Submit a current resume to the Office of Graduate Studies in Music.
- Submit an essay describing and discussing your training, experiences, and present interests in the field of Music Education. Also, discuss your career aspirations five years from now as they relate to earning master’s (or doctoral) degree in Music Education to the Office of Graduate Studies in Music.
- A video-recording (or internet links to videos) of teaching, preferably a K-12 music class or rehearsal. Please submit a detailed lesson plan for each class or rehearsal presented in your teaching video. The video-recording container should clearly indicate your name, instrument, and degree program for which you are applying. Recordings should have been made within the six months prior to the submission of the application. Video-recordings must be of high quality. The preferable format is internet link. Applicants should review the video-recording in its entirety to ensure audio, visual, and technical clarity before submitting. (This is not required if you are applying for the Master of Music - Certification option) to the Office of Graduate Studies in Music.
Any recordings or videos on disc submitted for your admissions file will be held no more than one year. If you would like such materials to be returned to you, please provide a self addressed, stamped envelope.
Have a complete résumé and prepared list of your completed repertoire in hand for
examination by the Audition Committee. On this list, use asterisks to indicate
those numbers that you have performed from memory. Auditions are approximately
60 minutes of performance. Live auditions are strongly recommended, but tapes
or other recorded formats can be considered when travel distance poses a hardship.
The following repertoire guidelines are intended to be flexible and to encourage diversity of individual interests, but they also provide a sense of expected scope. Offering repertoire from all the categories listed below is not mandatory at your audition, but you should certainly choose a program that contains stylistic variety and that represents your own strengths. Works customarily performed from memory in public recitals should be performed from memory at your audition. Early in the application process potential students should contact the major teacher in their area and discuss audition repertoire possibilities.
Percussion Audition Requirements
Major contemporary marimba work,
Solo violin work (1 movement) from J.S. Bach Sonatas and Partitas,
Vibraphone solo of any style.
Perform six orchestra excerpts (xylophone and glockenspiel).
Solo or etude from the advanced classical repertoire,
Solo or etude from the advanced rudimental repertoire,
Three orchestra excerpts
Perform at least 4 varying styles
World Percussion (optional):
Possibilities include steel drums, African drumming, taiko, etc?)
Video recording of last solo percussion recital that includes multiple percussion
and chamber music (if possible)
Piano Audition Requirements
- A major Baroque work, such as a group of Scarlatti sonatas, a suite by Bach, or one or more preludes and fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier
- A complete sonata, variation set, or similar work by Beethoven or another Classical composer
- A major Romantic or Impressionist work
- Another work of your choice, preferably a major composition (or several shorter pieces) representative of twentieth-century style
Collaborative Piano Audition Requirements
Three letters of recommendation. It is recommended that these letters describe solo and collaborative performance as well as sight reading and music learning abilities.
Detailed resume that lists both solo and collaborative repertoire studied and performed.
Audition requirements: 60 minutes of music, including a major instrumental sonata, art songs, and an opera aria, as well as one solo memorized major work.
The audition, including collaborative works, may be submitted as a DVD, video links, or CD of performances within the past year. Video links through YouTube or other file-sharing site are recommended.
To apply, students must complete 2 applications: one for the University and one for the School of Music.
Voice Audition RequirementsHave a prepared list of your previous vocal teachers and vocal coaches and a precise statement of your present language background; foreign language study, diction, phonetics, etc.
An aria from an oratorio; Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn
One selection of your own choice; preferably a major operatic aria
At least two selections from each of the four language
17th & 18th century
An aria by Mozart
19th & 20th century opera
An aria by Bach
Lieder; Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wolf, Mahler, Strauss
Art Songs; Debussy, Ravel, Faure, Poulenc
Early Songs; Purcell, Arne
Contemporary American and British songs; such as Britten, Menotti, Floyd
Strings Audition RequirementsAudition repertoire for the DMA in Music Performance should be chosen to demonstrate the applicant’s current level of achievement. Early in the application process potential students should contact the major teacher in the area to discuss audition repertoire possibilities. Suggested repertoire could include a concerto, sonata, show piece, solo Bach, and for the double bass three major orchestral excerpts.
Woodwinds and Brass Audition RequirementsAudition repertoire for the DMA in Music Performance should be chosen that allows the candidate to demonstrate their current level of achievement. Early in the application process, potential students should contact the major teacher in their area and discuss audition repertoire possibilities.
Conducting Audition RequirementsAn on-campus audition with the WVU Wind Symphony, University Choir, or Symphony Orchestra is preferred, although video recorded auditions are allowed when great distance precludes a visit to campus. The student is encouraged to audition in his/her strongest performance area: wind band, choir, or orchestra. Further audition requirements are as follows:
The applicant will perform a conducting audition with an appropriate WVU ensemble
which will consist of 20-30 minutes of rehearsal of repertoire that will
be assigned at least two weeks in advance by the appropriate conducting faculty.
The applicant will perform an audition on his/her major instrument or voice
before appropriate music faculty. Those who have been away from solo performance
for a period of several years may offer evidence of past proficiency (e.g.
recital programs, letters, reviews, video or audio tape of a performance,
Knowledge of literature and techniques appropriate to the applicant’s desired
area of emphasis will be assessed by appropriate faculty.
Applicants desiring a choral emphasis will also be asked to demonstrate knowledge
of appropriate vocal pedagogy within the choral rehearsal, as well as appropriate
Composition Audition Requirements
Applicants for entrance to the DMA in Composition should send a portfolio of compositions that include a major work (master’s thesis or equivalent) and two or three other works in various genres. Scores may be submitted as Finale or Sibelius files or as pdf’s. Recordings and/or MIDI realizations of application compositions are strongly encouraged but not mandatory. Electronic submission of both score and audio files is highly recommended. Files may be sent as attachments to an e-mail to, Matthew.Heap@mail.wvu.edu and Kyle.Simpson@mail.wvu.edu or via a file sharing service such as dropbox or Google drive, etc.
NOTE: Doctoral instruction in composition is generally in contemporary art music styles but also includes work in various electronic mediums (fixed playback pieces, instrument(s) and electronics, interactive electronics, etc.) with studies available in jazz, world music, and other vernacular musical styles. At least one submitted work must be in the style of art (concert) music for traditional acoustic instruments.
Questions about the application process should be addressed the Director of Graduate Studies. Questions about the portfolio of compositions may be directed to Dr. Heap or Dr. Simpson.
DMA CurriculumThe exact amount and nature of course work undertaken will be determined by the student’s advisor with the approval of the doctoral committee in light of previous preparation and field of specialization. A paradigm detailing recommended courses and other requirements is available upon request.
Upon completion of the requirements of the Division of Music and the general WVU graduate
studies requirements, the student will be recommended for admission to candidacy
for the degree. These requirements are (in order of occurrence):
1. Pass written qualifying examinations
a. Broad knowledge in music theory and musicology and literature.
b. In-depth knowledge of the literature of the field of specialization or of the craft of composition.
2. Satisfactorily pass a comprehensive oral qualifying examination
The qualifying examinations shall be considered one integral examination consisting of written and oral parts. If the first attempt is unsuccessful, the student is allowed to try the entire examination a second time. The second attempt will be considered final. The applicant’s committee may elect to discourage a second attempt if the first does not indicate probable success upon repetition. Graduate students who have met these requirements and who have maintained a minimum average of B (3.0) in courses completed shall be admitted to candidacy.
Completion of the requirements for this degree normally requires at least three years of full-time graduate work. A minimum of two consecutive semesters must be spent in full-time graduate study at WVU beyond the master’s degree or its equivalent. Exceptions to this requirement may be presented to the Graduate Committee.
Performance Requirements for Performance Degrees
Performance requirements (for performance majors) include private lessons, master classes in applied repertory, and public performance of at least two solo recitals and other types of presentations appropriate for the preparation of an artist-teacher, such as chamber music programs, concerto performances, major roles in opera or oratorio, or major accompaniments. Credit for each public performance is established in advance, during the first semester of study, along with the establishment of the student’s DMA committee. A Performance Prospectus indicating projected performance repertoire is prepared by the student in consultation with his/her committee and the major ensemble directors, as appropriate.
Academic requirements include courses in music theory, musicology, and music literature.
Composition Requirements for DMA in Composition
Composition requirements (for composition majors) include private lessons and the creation of a composition portfolio. The student will be encouraged by the major professor to compose works in a timely manner in a wide variety of genres from which can be drawn a select number of pieces for the portfolio. The comprehensive examination determines the admission to candidacy and is normally taken after the successful completion of required course work in music theory and musicology. Work on the major project and research document normally will commence only after admission to candidacy. The candidate will submit to his/her Doctoral Committee for approval a prospectus for the portfolio to include the proposed major work, the proposed research document, and other compositions with proposed credit weighting for each.
Research Requirements for all degrees
Research requirements are intended to develop theoretical and historical investigative techniques sufficient to enable the performer to form valid individualized interpretations and to assist the composer in developing an original style. These requirements consist of the course Music Research and Bibliography (MUSC 771), for composers a doctoral seminar, and for all students a research project culminating in an extended written study related to the student’s area, although not necessarily constituting original research. This project will be supervised by a regular graduate faculty member who is a member of the student’s doctoral committee in consultation with the entire doctoral committee. An oral exam of this research will be administered by the DMA Committee.
For performers, the final examination will consist of a major solo recital (which will be regarded as the equivalent of the Ph.D. dissertation defense). Immediately following the public performance the candidate’s committee will meet to evaluate the performance as evidence of mature musicianship and finished technique. The final recital will not occur in the same semester as the qualifying examination.
For composers, when all compositions and the major project have been approved and all other requirements have been fulfilled, the candidate’s doctoral committee will administer the final oral examination. At the option of the committee, a written examination may also be required. The final examination(s) shall be concerned with the compositions, the major project, and the candidate’s grasp of the field of specialization and its relation to other fields. The final examination will not be given in the same semester as the qualifying examination.
Following admission to candidacy, doctoral students are allowed five years to complete all remaining degree requirements. Extensions may be requested according to the guidelines posted in the WVU Graduate catalog.