Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance: Piano Pedagogy And Performance

Department of Piano

Designed for students seeking the highest degree in the field, the DMA is a rigorous three-year course of study culminating in one recital, one lecture recital, one workshop, and a doctoral thesis.

Program Requirements


The doctoral degree is awarded on the basis of demonstrated competence, not on a specified number of credit hours. Completion of the program normally requires six terms of full-time study beyond the master’s degree. Students are expected to attain candidacy effective at the beginning of the sixth term. Course elections must include the following:

  • Music Performance 891: Directed Performance (4-6 hrs), including weekly studio class and piano forum, elected each term in residence as a pre-candidate
  • A minimum of nine hours of graduate work in Piano Pedagogy selected from Piano Pedagogy 581, 582, 585, and 586.
  • Music Performance 781: Seminar in Performance Problems (2-6 hrs), elected each term in residence as a pre-candidate
  • Music Performance 591: Directed Performance in Chamber Music, Accompanying, Fortepiano or Harpsichord, to be elected if the candidate is preparing for recital performance in any of these areas or desires optional keyboard study
  • Music Performance 995: Dissertation Candidate (8 hrs), including weekly studio class, elected each term in residence as a candidate, or at least one term
Musicology & Music Theory
  • Musicology 503: Bibliography of Music (3 hrs), elected in the first term of enrollment as a pre-candidate
  • A minimum of fifteen hours of graduate work in music theory and musicology, or at least five courses totaling a minimum of twelve hours. At least one of the musicology courses must be at the 600-level.

Residency Requirement

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

Requirements for Candidacy

Foreign Language

A basic reading knowledge of one European language (other than English) chosen from among the following: French, German, Italian, Russian, or Spanish.


Every doctoral student in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance must satisfy the pedagogy requirement during the first two terms of enrollment. A list of courses that satisfy this requirement may be found in the Handbook for Rackham Students in Music, Dance, or Theatre.

Preliminary Examinations Prior to Candidacy
  • Music History General Preliminary Examination (or the coursework alternative)
  • Music Theory General Preliminary Examination
  • Performance Preliminary Examination in the field of specialization
  • Comprehensive Oral Preliminary Examination

The preliminary examinations required for admission to candidacy are taken after the student has satisfied the language, residence, and pedagogy requirements; has completed most of the course work; and is prepared to concentrate his or her efforts on the dissertation recitals. At least two courses in musicology, including MHM 503, must be completed prior to taking the preliminary examination in that field, and at least two courses in music theory must be completed prior to taking the preliminary examination in theory.

During the examination in performance the applicant must satisfy a jury that he or she has achieved the requisite musical competence to undertake the preparation of the public programs to be presented in lieu of a written dissertation. Both the performance and comprehensive oral preliminary examinations are administered by a committee from the Piano Department.

Candidacy will be conferred upon completion of these requirements and examinations. A dissertation committee must have been appointed by the time candidacy is achieved.

Dissertation Requirements


Three public performances are required after achieving candidacy:

  • One recital
  • One lecture-recital
  • One workshop

At least one-half of the recital repertory must be for solo piano. The remaining repertory may be comprised of accompanying, chamber music, ensemble (2 piano or 4 hands), fortepiano, harpsichord, or electronic keyboard. The workshop may address any approved area of keyboard pedagogy.


In addition to the public performances, the candidate must complete a written document, which will be a thesis on a topic approved by the Director of Graduate Studies in Piano Pedagogy and Performance. The proposal must be delivered to the Director of Graduate Studies in Piano Pedagogy and Performance no later than three weeks after the beginning of the first semester of candidacy.


An abstract listing the music performed and, if space permits, providing program notes and commentary is required.

Final Oral Examination

A final oral examination concerned primarily with the field of specialization will be conducted by the dissertation committee after all of the other requirements have been completed.

For requirement details, please see the 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.

Audition & Interview Dates

How To Apply

Academic Eligibility

Applicants to the Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance: Piano Pedagogy and Performance must have completed a master’s of music degree or equivalent to be eligible for admission.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to undertake language instruction prior to admission. Languages should ideally relate to the student’s chosen repertoire of emphasis.

Applicants must:

  • Apply to U-M via the Rackham Graduate School Application by December 1
  • Submit an SMTD Artistic Profile by December 1
  • Send official transcripts from all previous schools to the Rackham Graduate School

Click the button below to read more detailed information about the application requirements and procedures.

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Please send inquiries regarding the SMTD application process to To learn more about SMTD, sign up for an Information Session.



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