Doctor of Musical Arts

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Solo pianist performs live on stage Solo pianist performs live on stage

The Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) degree is offered in Keyboard Performance and Keyboard Performance and Pedagogy. The program is highly selective and competitive, accepting approximately ten students each year. Most of the successful candidates receive Teaching Assistantship awards and demonstrate leadership as performers and teachers.

Although requirements vary among degrees, three solo recitals and one chamber recital of broad keyboard repertoire performed at the highest level of technical mastery and artistic expression are required during the three-year residency. Each candidate must also complete a D.M.A. Essay containing intensive research on a relevant topic of study.

The competitive reality of the market for performers and teachers has never been more demanding. We are proud that many of our students have gone on to win awards at piano competitions, have been invited to publish in recognized periodicals, and are currently in teaching positions both in the U.S. and abroad.

Our current and past FSOM piano students have participated and won prizes at competitions such as:

  • Tchaikovsky Competition
  • Queen Elizabeth Competition
  • Van Cliburn Competition
  • Sydney International Piano Competition
  • Paderewski Piano Competition

Our mission at the Frost School of Music is to have you join them!

Visti and Like us on our Facebook page where you will see the latest on our current and past students from the Department of Keyboard Performance.

For FSOM Graduate admission information and financial support, please click here.

Doctor of Musical Arts

A doctor of musical arts (DMA) is the terminal degree for a music student. With a DMA, you are qualified to teach, perform, conduct, compose, and pursue other musical fields at a high level. The requirements and the length of DMA programs differ, but all DMA students will complete independent research, practice their instrument extensively under faculty supervision, and experience hands-on experience teaching or other assistantship work. DMA students must also pass qualifying exams and performances, depending on the program. These days, music is more competitive than ever. A DMA means that you have spent significant time honing your skills and can compete at a high level.

To Degree or Not Degree: Why Do I Need a DMA?

A DMA is intended to push you to the next level as a musician. If you are serious about being a musician and want to achieve the terminal degree in this field, a DMA may be for you. Many DMA graduates have gone on to compete competitively at national and global levels. DMA graduates have also entered the field of teaching, an increasingly competitive endeavor. A DMA combines teaching, performance, and close work with faculty and peers. In the course of the degree, you may also conduct research, hone your academic writing skills, and even publish in the academic realm. The DMA track you choose depends on your goals for the rest of your career. Talking with program faculty and administrators early on will help you tailor the program to your strengths and goals.

What Happens During a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree?

DMA degrees are available in diverse fields at the Frost School of Music, including the following:


  • Instrumental conducting
  • Instrumental performance
  • Instrumental performance (multiple woodwinds)
  • Choral conducting
  • Vocal pedagogy and performance
  • Vocal performance
  • Keyboard performance
  • Keyboard performance and pedagogy
  • Jazz composition
  • Jazz performance (instrumental)
  • Jazz performance (vocal)
  • Composition

Though requirements are tailored to the specific focus of the degree, you will typically undertake a combination of private study in your instrument, work within small groups, and academic writing and research. Your DMA equips you with a broad set of skills so that you can think about and perform music at a high level.

What Have DMA Graduates Gone On to Accomplish?

The accomplishments of DMA graduates are broad and diverse. Some graduates focus on research and publishing to expand our understanding of musical fields, music theory, and pedagogy. Other DMA graduates focus on teaching at the university level, in conservatories, in private lessons, or in other venues. Some grads are professional performers and enjoy performing in symphonies and ensembles. Whether your focus is in conducting, composing, performing, scholarship, or another area, a DMA can help you move forward in the musical field you love. A DMA is an important credential that gives you an edge in an extremely competitive field. Advanced degrees also give you valuable connections with your cohort, faculty, and the school’s alumni that can serve you throughout your career.

What are the Characteristics of a Strong DMA Program?

A quality DMA program has several characteristics:

  • Faculty that know the students’ strengths and abilities. Faculty who know you as a musician and a scholar can connect you with opportunities that give you an edge,
  • A location that enhances the experience. Attending a school located in a city, such as Miami, with an established international music scene means that you can take advantage of the connections available even outside the walls of the school.
  • Esteemed alumni. What have the alumni of the school gone on to accomplish? A DMA gives you access to a pool of alumni connections that can help you get a foot in the door in all sorts of ways.
  • Diverse academic concentrations. A range of DMA concentrations means that you will enjoy the benefits of an established program.

How Do I Find the Doctor of Musical Arts Program That’s Right for Me?

By the time you decide to pursue a DMA, you have likely identified some career goals. Finding faculty who can support your journey towards these goals is key. It’s important to find a program that is a good match for you, especially because a DMA is a time-intensive, energy-intensive degree. Graduate students in the Frost School of Music enjoy a rigorous curriculum that encourages collaboration with classmates and includes the opportunity to work closely with senior faculty from day one. Within each graduate degree program, faculty strive to tailor requirements to students’ unique talents by recognizing and expanding upon their abilities, while also fostering growth in new areas of musical expertise. At the Frost School, you can expect to develop relationships and acquire experience that will help you shape your professional identity and carve out your unique path.