Applications for admission to the Performance DMA program include requirements beyond those specified by the Graduate School. These include the following:
- A master's degree
- A passing score on the candidacy audition
- Pass an audition prior to or during the first term of full-time residence or before completing nine (9) hours of course work.
- A Statement of Purpose which includes a rationale for seeking an advanced degree and states the desired area of specialization.
Students who are unable to meet regular admission standards may be considered for conditional admission. For details concerning conditional admission, see Admission Requirements and Procedures .
A Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score is not required for admission to this program.
All students must audition for the appropriate area faculty (generally, taped or recorded auditions are not acceptable; however, some areas accept Skype, video recordings, or YouTube). Early auditions are encouraged, and a high level of performance proficiency is expected. The audition must be deemed "satisfactory" before an applicant will be accepted into the School of Music. With the approval of the School of Music Graduate Committee, applicants completing the Master of Music degree in performance at USM may use their graduate recital in lieu of a candidacy audition. The appropriate faculty must attend the recital, and the printed program must state the total purpose of the concert, (e.g., "This recital is given in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Music in Performance, and it also serves as an audition for acceptance into the Doctor of Musical Arts curriculum in the School of Music."). The student must begin doctoral study within one year of this audition.
Repertory lists with representative works are available upon request. Write: [instrument] professor, School of Music, The University of Southern Mississippi, 118 College Drive #5081, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001.
String and Woodwind Performance: For those majoring in string and woodwind performance, the audition must be at least 30 minutes in length and must include three works of contrasting style, preferably representing three different periods in music.
Brass Performance: For those majoring in brass performance, the audition must be a full recital for the brass faculty.
Percussion Performance: For those majoring in percussion performance, the audition should demonstrate proficiency on timpani, on mallet keyboards, and include a multiple- percussion piece.
Piano Performance: For those majoring in piano performance, the audition must be a full recital, memorized, and performed before the piano faculty. It must include three works of contrasting style, preferably representing three different periods in music (e.g., Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Impressionist, Contemporary). The faculty may select portions from the repertoire submitted. The piano area highly recommends the applicant discuss repertoire choices with a member of the piano faculty.
Voice Performance: Voice performance applicants must demonstrate, by audition, (1) advanced vocal technique; (2) good diction in English, French, German, and Italian; and (3) good vocal quality and musicianship. The repertoire must be memorized and include a total of eight contrasting selections - two selections each in English, French, German, and Italian - and must include one but no more than two arias from an opera or oratorio, an Italian song or aria, a German Lied, a French Mélodie, and a song in English. A minimum of five pieces will be heard. For International (those outside of the U.S.) applicants only, the voice faculty accepts auditions via "live" Skype or current YouTube upload.
Early in the first term of full-time residence or before nine (9) hours of graduate credit have been earned, the student and the major professor select those faculty who will serve as the student's Advisory Committee. Doctoral committees must include five members: 1) the major professor, 2) a second professor from the major area, 3) a third professor from the major area (or a substitute approved by the School of Music Director), 4) a representative from Music Theory, 5) a representative from Music History. Any deviation from this formula must be pre-approved in writing by the School of Music Director. The advisory committee must be appointed before taking the qualifying examination.
Various degree requirements are completed when the members of a student's Advisory Committee indicate their approval with a signed vote of at least 4-1. These milestones include choice of repertoire for each recital, recital performances, the degree plan, grading each section of the qualifying and comprehensive exams, the dissertation prospectus, and the defended dissertation.
- In the only exception to this broad rule, the recital repertoire for a DMA student in conducting needs instead to be approved by the three members of the conducting faculty on the student's Advisory Committee.
Special Problems Courses (MUS 692, 792, MED 692, 792)
Students cannot enroll in special problems courses without appropriate approval. Petitions requesting permission to enroll are available on the School of Music website at https://www.usm.edu/music/forms-0
Petitions must be submitted to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies by the end of SOAR open registration. Special Problems courses demand a minimum of 45 hours work for each hour of credit earned. It is expected that the result of any problem undertaken be available for faculty examination; copies of term papers, examinations, or compositions must be turned in to the Coordinator for this purpose.
Program Requirements and Academic Policies
Diagnostic Entrance Examinations
All entering master's students are required to take a Diagnostic Entrance Examination in music theory and in music history & literature. The purposes of this examination are 1) to determine whether the student has foundation-level deficiencies that need to be addressed in order for her/him to be successful in doctoral-level courses on the qualifying examinations and on the comprehensive examinations; and 2) to provide information that will guide the student and his/her advisor in selecting useful and appropriate academic courses.
Diagnostic Examinations are administered on campus in fall, spring, and summer each Thursday and/or Friday preceding the first day of classes or as announced by the Coordinator of Graduate Studies. Newly admitted students should always see the Coordinator for the most up-to-date information.
Students who do not pass the history diagnostic exam must enroll in MUS 630 . Students who do not pass the theory diagnostic exam must enroll in MUS 620 . These courses must be included within the first two semesters of graduate work. Exceptions to this requirement may be granted for the summer semester only and will be considered on an individual basis.
Undergraduate music theory and/or history courses may be required as prerequisites to further study in graduate music theory or history. Students who do not pass the music theory review, or the history review (or required undergraduate courses) will not be allowed to enroll in further study in music history or music theory until the grade of "B-" or better is earned in the required course(s).
- MUS 620 , MUS 630 and undergraduate courses will not be counted toward hours earned for the Doctoral degree.
- Students with deficiencies may be required to take additional course work beyond the minimum required in the degree program.
All doctoral students are required to complete a qualifying examination consisting of three written components (music theory, music history, and the student's major area). This examination must be completed before the beginning of the second semester of full-time doctoral study. Part-time students must complete this examination at the end of the third semester of enrollment. The purpose of the qualifying examination is to determine if, after a semester of doctoral coursework (which may include review courses) and of independent study, the student is academically qualified to proceed with doctoral study. The exam will guide the advisory committee in planning the student's program.
The area emphasis portion of the qualifying examination (e.g., music education, conducting, music performance, etc.) will be graded by those members of the student's committee representing the emphasis area, followed by the other members of the committee. The music theory and history portions will be graded by theory and history faculty, respectively, followed by the other members of the student's committee.
Dates: Fall The final full week in October.
Spring: The second full week in April (as determined by Easter break).
Summer: The second full week of July.
The exact dates of the examinations are determined by the Coordinator of Graduate Studies. The dates are publicized as soon as the University's Academic Calendar is available. Students must register for the exam at least two months in advance with the Coordinator of Graduate Studies.
Note: See the School of Music D.M.A. Handbook for further details.
At the completion of all course work and examinations, the doctoral student is required to take a written comprehensive examination. DMA candidates take a written comprehensive examination in the student's area of specialization, music theory, and music history. Doctoral students should consult their major professor and the Coordinator of Graduate Studies regarding comprehensive examination policies beyond those listed in this Bulletin.
Generally, doctoral comprehensive exams are given during same time period as the Qualifying examinations. The exact dates of the examinations are determined by the Coordinator of Graduate Studies. The dates are publicized as soon as the University's Academic Calendar is available. Students must register for the exam two months in advance at the School of Music office.
Note: See the School of Music D.M.A. Handbook for further details.
Satisfactory competence in English and German, French, or Italian is required for candidacy and must be approved by the Advisory Committee. Competence in a foreign language can be demonstrated by:
- having already completed three semesters (9 hours) of an undergraduate-level language course with a grade of B or higher;
- completing two semesters (6 hours) of a graduate-level course in German or French or Italian in reading for research with a grade of C or higher.
- completing the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) test in French or German. The CLEP can be taken at many sites. Students must obtain a minimum score on the total test in one of the languages as follows: French 43; German 39.
Others may be required by the major professor and the graduate advisory committee. Students may transfer these hours from an accredited institution upon admission, provided that the most advanced of the courses was taken within the last six calendar years.
Voice Performance: The student's transcript(s) must show grades of B- or better in at least one course in diction for singers and in two years of foreign language: German, French, or Italian (may include any combination of those languages). Students lacking these will be required to pass such courses in addition to the requirements for the degree. In lieu of coursework, satisfactory performance on language exams, administered by the USM School of Social Science and Global Studies, is acceptable. Also, the student's transcript must show a solo recital at the master's level. Students lacking this requirement are expected to complete an additional solo recital to complete the degree.
Jury Requirements/Final Examinations for Doctoral Students
Students who are enrolled in MUP (Music Performance) Private Lessons in their principal applied area and who are seeking the Doctor of Musical Arts degree with emphasis in performance must perform a jury for the appropriate applied faculty. All other doctoral students enrolled in MUP Private Lessons must perform a final examination for the applied teacher. The applied teacher must record and submit any exception to this policy to the Graduate Coordinator; signatures of all appropriate area faculty must be included on this form.
Ensemble Participation for DMA Students
All full-time DMA students are required to participate in a major ensemble during their first four semesters. Major ensembles in the School of Music for graduate students are Southern Chorale, Concert Choir, Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Winds, Opera, Orchestra, and Jazz Band. A maximum of two (2) hours of graduate credit earned from ensemble work may be counted toward a degree. The ensemble in which one participates will be determined by the student's major applied area and area of interest. This major ensemble policy does not apply to graduate guitar or piano majors.
Continuous Enrollment Requirement
Doctoral students are expected to enroll continuously after they have taken required coursework until they complete their degree using the following guidelines.
- Students must enroll for a minimum of one (1) credit hour of Dissertation MUS 898 each fall and spring semester until the student graduates.
- The semester the student defends their dissertation they must enroll in one (1) credit hour of Dissertation (MUS 898 ).
- Students must register for at least one (1) hour of MUS 898 the next semester if they have not deposited their dissertation in the Graduate School.
If a student does not successfully defend their dissertation by stated Graduate School deadlines, they will be required to enroll for one (1) credit hour of MUS 898 the following semester.
Failure to enroll for the appropriate hours will result in the student being discontinued from USM and require that the student reapply for admission to the program.
Minimum residency requirements are set by the Graduate School as either two successive semesters with a minimum of twelve (12) hours each or three successive semesters with a minimum of nine (9) hours each.
Candidates for doctoral degrees in the School of Music must comply with the language requirements specific to the DMA program in which they are enrolled (described in this Bulletin). Alternative research tools for doctoral students may be determined by the candidate's Advisory Committee.
The following areas in the D.M.A. Performance degree have the option of either a dissertation or a doctoral project.
The D.M.A. dissertation, an option for completion of the Doctor of Musical Arts degree, must be a written dissertation that is an original and significant contribution to the knowledge of the field; it must give evidence of the candidate's ability to make a scholarly investigation of limited scope.
The Doctoral Project is a lecture recital accompanied by a lecture document. This lecture recital/document gives evidence of the candidate's ability to make a scholarly investigation of limited scope.
D.M.A. in Piano Performance
The Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance requires three recitals in addition to the entrance audition.
- One must be a solo recital;
- one a lecture recital; and
- a third chosen from the following options:
- (a) performance of a concerto with orchestra,
- (b) performance of a major role in an opera,
- (c) performance of a major role in an oratorio,
- (d) a full-length recital of chamber music, or
- (e) a second solo recital.
Note: To use options "a" through "d," permission of the student's advisory committee must be received before the semester in which the event will occur.
As a general rule, not more than one doctoral recital may be presented by a candidate during any academic term, nor more than two during any nine-month period. See the Coordinator of Graduate Studies for details. Students must inform all committee members of the dates for degree performances well in advance and must return a signed copy of the Recital Repertoire form to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies at least one week before the performance.
Other Performance Areas
For all other DMA Performance areas, three recitals will be required in addition to the candidacy audition. One must be a solo recital, one must be either a full-length recital of chamber music or another solo recital, and the third chosen from the following options:
(a) Performance of a concerto with orchestra/band
(b) Performance of a major role in an opera
(c) Performance of a major role in an oratorio
(d) A full-length recital of chamber music
(e) A lecture recital
(f) A solo recital
To use options "a" through "e," permission of the student's Graduate Advisory Committee must be received one semester prior to the semester in which the event will occur. As a general rule, not more than one doctoral recital may be presented by a candidate during any academic term, or more than two during any nine-month period. Rare exceptions will be permitted, but under rigidly-controlled procedures. See the Coordinator of Graduate Studies for details. Students must fill out a Recital Repertoire Approval Form and return it to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies no later than one week prior to the recital date.
Defense of the Dissertation Prospectus
A formal defense of the dissertation prospectus is required. With the major advisor's approval, the student will schedule a date in consultation with the entire Graduate Advisory Committee. At the defense, the student will respond to questions about the prospectus. The prospectus shall be distributed to the Advisory Committee a minimum of two weeks prior to the scheduled defense date. The student is responsible for distributing the prospectus to the Advisory Committee in the required time frame. If this deadline is not met, the student forfeits the defense date and must reschedule the date at the convenience of the committee while still meeting the two-week minimum for distributing the prospectus.
- The dissertation topic must be approved by the student's major professor and advisory committee and must be an original and significant contribution to knowledge in the chosen field. Dissertation topics dealing with human subjects must gain approval from the Human Subjects Protection Review Committee.
- Once a topic has been approved, the student must enroll in MUS 898 in each semester/term until the degree is completed.
- A separate bulletin outlining University requirements concerning the preparation of dissertations is available in the Graduate Office, McCain Library room 205, (601) 266-4369.
The Dissertation Defense
After the dissertation has been completed and after all required course work has been completed, but at least seven weeks before the candidate is scheduled to receive the degree, a final oral examination on the dissertation and related fields will be conducted by the student's Advisory Committee. The examination will be open to all members of the graduate faculty.
Scheduling the Dissertation Defense
The major professor must advise the student when the dissertation is acceptable for distribution for the dissertation defense. The advisory committee shall have seen drafts of the dissertation for comments, edits and revisions several times prior to final distribution. The advisory committee will set a mutually agreeable date for the defense with the student. The final draft of the dissertation must be in the hands of the advisory committee a minimum of three weeks prior to the defense date. If this deadline is not met, the student forfeits the defense date and must reschedule the date at the convenience of the committee while still meeting the three-week minimum for distributing the dissertation.