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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

Prospective graduate 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 recognized-standing.

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:

  1. Apply to West Virginia University: Click HERE 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.)

  2. 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

  3. Complete the WVU School of Music Application. Please fill out our Graduate Application OnlinePre-screening is not required.

    * * APPLICATION DEADLINE FOR FALL 2024 ENTRY: Monday, July 1, 2024 * *

  4. Please provide 3 letters of recommendation by forwarding this 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:

  5. Please email the professor of your instrument/degree your repertoire list for your audition.
    1. Voice - Laura Knoop-Very
    2. Piano
      Classical - Lucy Mauro
      Jazz - Alton Merrell
    3. Woodwinds
      1. Nina Assimakopoulos, Flute

      2. Jeffrey Siegfried, Saxophone

      3. John Weigand, Clarinet

      4. Andy Sledge, Bassoon

      5. Cynthia Anderson, Oboe

    4. Strings
      1. Mary Grace Johnson, Violin

      2. Jonathan Epley, Guitar

      3. Brittany Blair, Harp

      4. Andrew Kohn, Double Bass

      5. Erin Ellis, Cello

      6. Andrea Priester Houde, Viola

    5. Percussion - George Willis
    6. Brass
      1. Robert Sears, Trumpet

      2. Carson McTeer, Tuba/Euphonium

      3. Hakeem Bilal, Trombone

      4. Albert Houde, Horn

    7. Applicants seeking admission for conducting, please contact the professor of your area of emphasis to send additional audition materials and to schedule your audition:
      1. Dr. Rotem Weinberg (Orchestral Conducting)
      2. Dr. Kym Scott (Choral Conducting)
      3. Dr. Scott Tobias, (Concert Band/Wind Symphony Conducting) 

To learn more about Graduate Assistantships and Awards, please click here.

International Applicants 

Please follow the steps to apply by clicking HERE and submit a completed WVU application with the mandatory application fee to the WVU Office of Graduate Admissions. International applicants should forward a letter of inquiry one year before they intend to begin study in the United States. The University receives a large number of applications from international students. For this reason and because of the time required for the student to make visa and financial arrangements, April 1 has been established as a deadline after which completed applications cannot be guaranteed for fall admission.

English Language Proficiency

Results from these exams (Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOFEL) or IELTS) must be sent directly to WVU by the Educational Testing Service. The minimum scores are as follows: 

  • 79 is required for the current TOEFL exam
  • 6.5 is required for the current IELTS exam. 
  • 105 is required for the Duolingo English 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  

Audition Requirements

Have a complete resume and a 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.

Accompaniment (Voice Audition Only): You may bring an accompanist or WVU can provide one for you.  If you would like us to provide an accompanist, please contact Prof. Laura Knoop-Very as soon as possible by phone at (304) 293-5677 or via email at laura.knoopvery@mail.wvu.eduOnly voice auditions require piano accompaniment; other auditions are performed without piano accompaniment.

If you will be opting for a video audition or Zoom audition, please contact the instructor of your concentration to make arrangements form the list above.

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.

All Brass Audition Requirements

  • Prepare three contrasting solo works. Selections should include repertoire from various composition style periods as applicable to your instrument. 
  • Prepare a minimum of five orchestral or military band excerpts covering an array of technical and musical skills. 
  • Students are encouraged to showcase their versatility through their repertoire choices (i.e., jazz, commercial, electronic, arrangements, original compositions, etc.).
  • Trumpet applicants are required to perform one piece or movement on piccolo trumpet and are encouraged to showcase ability on C and D/Eb trumpets. 
  • Trombone applicants are encouraged to perform on alto or bass in addition to tenor. 
  • Tuba applicants are encouraged to perform on large tuba (CC or BBb) and small tuba (F or Eb). 
  • Applicants are encouraged to consult with the teacher in their area to discuss repertoire selections.

    Percussion Audition Requirements

    Please provide the following information 2 weeks prior to the audition:
    • Full solo repertoire list
    • Full percussion ensemble repertoire list
    Audition material:
    • Snare – One solo work from Delecluse 12 studies, Mitchell Peters Advanced Snare Drum Studies, or similar work should be performed. A rudimental snare drum solo is also required.
    • Marimba – Any medium or advanced four mallet contemporary solo should be performed. A movement from any of the J.S. Bach collections (violin, cello, or lute) is also required. Sight-reading will be required.
    • Timpani – Any medium to advanced solo for three or four drums. A few singing and tuning examples will be required at the audition.
    • Multiple percussion – A medium to advanced solo for multiple percussion is required. The applicant can choose to submit a video or perform a solo at the audition.
    • Orchestra excerpts - 2 orchestral excerpts are required on snare drum, xylophone, and glockenspiel. 1 orchestral excerpt is required on both crash cymbals and tambourine. The applicants may bring their own crash cymbals and tambourine to the audition. These instruments will be available at the audition.
    • Drum set – If the applicant wishes they may display any styles in which they are comfortable on the drum set. Drum set is not required.
    • World music – If the applicant wishes they may display their skills on any world percussion instruments on which they are proficient. Applicants should contact Dr. Michael Vercelli before they arrive if they will need any world percussion instruments at the audition. The applicant may also bring their own instruments.

    Piano Audition Requirements

    DMA in Piano Performance
    • Solo piano audition repertoire:
          • 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
          • The audition may be submitted by video links of performances within the past year. Video links through YouTube or other file-sharing sites are recommended (no passwords). Please send those to
    • Students who want to prioritize collaborative piano audition repertoire:

          • 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 by video links of performances within the past year. Video links through YouTube or other file-sharing sites are recommended (no passwords). Please send those to

    Voice Audition Requirements

    Applicants should prepare a total of 6 selections that meet the following guidelines

    • A minimum of 1 and maximum of 2 arias may be offered; the second may be from an oratorio, cantata, or masterwork.
    • Four languages must be represented: English, French, Italian, and German. Other languages may also be represented in the six selections, but the above four are required
    • Repertoire should demonstrate varying eras and styles of music. Selections must include
    • one selection composed in the last 100 years
    • one selection composed prior to 1750 (pre-Classical Era)
    • All selections must be performed from memory except oratorio arias traditionally sung with score in hand

    Strings Audition Requirements

    Audition repertoire for the DMA should include 60 minutes of performance, from which the committee will select about 30 minutes at the audition. Suggested repertoire could include a concerto, sonata, show piece, solo Bach, a contemporary piece, and standard orchestral excerpts. Repertoire should be representative of the applicant’s abilities and strengths, show stylistic variety, and highlight musical interests. Works customarily performed from memory in public recitals should be performed from memory at the audition. Early in the application process potential students should contact the major teacher in their area and discuss audition repertoire possibilities.


    • Three orchestral excerpts
    • Three contrasting works from the standard harp repertoire

    Woodwind Audition Requirements

    Audition 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 Requirements

    An 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, etc.) 
    • 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 piano skills.

    DMA Curriculum

    The 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. For further degree requirements, please visit the WVU Catalog.


    Upon completion of the requirements of the School 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.

    Residence Requirements 
    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.

    Final Examination 
    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.

    Time Limitation 
    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.