Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting, Orchestral

Application deadlines are specific to degree programs. See our Graduate Admissions page for a list of all deadlines.

Designed for students seeking to develop into highly qualified professional conductors through intensive study with a major artist-teacher, the DMA in Orchestral Conducting features one-to-one mentorship and a comprehensive approach to the development of leaders within the profession and in their communities. Each DMA student is a director of their own symphony orchestra and will conduct at least one fully staged opera production while in school. The focus on artistic integrity is grounded in knowledge of the score, skillful and expressive conducting techniques, and the extra-musical aspects of a conductor’s responsibilities. DMA students conduct at least one world premiere each year, assist faculty, guest orchestral and opera conductors, and also assist with the direction of the Contemporary Directions Ensemble. The University of Michigan Orchestra program performs a wide range of works from the historical canon, and through its program known as MORE (Michigan Orchestra Repertoire for Equity) and other activities, is a leader in commissioning and recording new works from a range of diverse composers. The DMA culminates in public performances with repertoire equivalent to three concerts in lieu of a dissertation.


Completion of the program normally requires six terms of full-time study beyond the master’s degree. Students are expected to attain candidacy at the beginning of the sixth term. Courses include:

  • Conducting
  • Private Lessons
  • Musicology & Music Theory
  • Graduate Student Instructor


SMTD offers a wide variety of courses across all disciplines.

Silent Advisor

Degree requirements and term-by-term layout for current students.


Nearly all DMA students receive full-tuition fellowships. Most also receive health benefits and a stipend attached to a Graduate Student Assistantship, which can vary in proportion to the appointment fraction and the duties associated with it. In addition to the funding packages offered by the SMTD, Rackham students are also eligible to apply for a wide range of fellowships to fund research, travel, and performance.

Residency Requirement

At least one academic year of full-time residence is required.



Jason Fettig

Professor of Music and Director of Bands
Bands, Conducting

Jayce Ogren

Assistant Professor of Music and Associate Director of Orchestras

John Pasquale

Donald R. Shepherd Clinical Professor of Conducting; Director of Michigan Marching and Athletic Bands; Associate Director of Bands; Faculty Associate, African Studies Center, LSA International Institute; and Chief Marshal to the University

Eugene Rogers

Associate Professor of Music and Director of University Choirs

Ellen Rowe

Chair of Conducting and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Music

Courtney Snyder

Associate Professor of Music and Associate Director of Bands

Performance Opportunities

From large ensembles in celebrated concert halls to chamber groups in intimate recital spaces, performance opportunities across all disciplines abound, with nearly 900 student performances each academic year. Whether your focus is on early, classical, or contemporary music, whether your passion is for jazz, electronic, or world music, there is an ensemble—or in many cases, multiple ensembles—to suit your interests.


University Symphony Orchestra

Kenneth Kiesler, conductor
The USO strives for and attains the highest level of excellence as a symphony orchestra. Led by the Director of Orchestras, the USO has performed on GRAMMY Award-winning and GRAMMY-nominated albums and is committed to performing the greatest works in the symphonic repertoire from the Classical, Romantic, and Modern eras, with concerts in historic Hill Auditorium. The USO frequently commissions new works, performs with celebrated guest soloists, and is one of the ensembles that accompanies the SMTD Concerto Competition winners.


University Philharmonia Orchestra

Jayce Ogren, conductor
With a string section comprising all freshman, the Philharmonia Orchestra provides student musicians an immersive opportunity to improve their large ensemble skills and play some of the greatest works in the symphonic repertoire.

Opera Orchestras

Opera Pit Orchestras

SMTD presents two fully staged operas each year. Graduate students assist in preparation.

previous arrowprevious arrow
next arrownext arrow