Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance: Voice

Department of Voice

Designed for students seeking the highest degree in the field, the DMA is a rigorous three-year course of study culminating in three doctoral performances in lieu of a dissertation, two of which must be song recitals.

Program Requirements


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. The minimum requirements include the following:

Foreign Language

A basic reading knowledge of two foreign languages is required. The languages are normally French and German (though Italian, Russian, and Spanish are acceptable if considered appropriate by the student’s advisor). The requirement in each language may be met by completing courses 111 and 112 with a grade of B or higher. A student with a background in the language may satisfy the requirement by examination or by simply completing course 112 with a grade of B or higher. A placement examination in Italian, French and German diction is required.

Musicology & Music Theory
  • Musicology 503, Bibliography of Music (3 hrs): this course is considered necessary as preparation for graduate work in music and for the written and oral examinations prior to candidacy, and should be elected in the first term of enrollment as a pre-candidate.
  • A minimum of fifteen hours of graduate work in musicology and music theory or at least five courses totaling a minimum of twelve hours are required prior to taking the preliminary examinations. Recommended course elections will be based on a placement examination in music theory and an interview with musicology faculty during the initial registration period. As a general rule, Theory 551 and 552 are recommended. In musicology, each period from the seventeenth century to the present should be covered in courses at or above the 500-level. Musicology 514, History of Opera, 19th and 20th Centuries (3 hrs.), and 524, The Art Song (2 hrs.), are recommended. At least one of the musicology courses must be at the 600-level.

Each doctoral student in Voice Performance may audition for roles in the SMTD opera productions each term. If cast, the student is required to perform the role, subject to the approval of his or her studio teacher.

Each student must elect Voice Performance 891 each term of residence as a pre-candidate, or at least two terms. Voice Literature 567, Oratorios (2 hrs) is recommended, but 519, Teaching Voice (2 hrs) and 520, Teaching Voice II (2 hrs) are required if not elected earlier. Additional work in opera production and in the coaching of art songs is also recommended.

Election of Music Performance 995, Dissertation Candidate (8 hrs) each term in residence as a candidate (or at least one term).

Residency Requirement

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

Repertoire Requirements for Pre-candidates

Because the body of vocal literature is vast and varied, and the differences among vocal categories are obvious, it would be unrealistic to require a specific repertoire for all doctoral students in voice. A thorough knowledge of the literature and styles of all periods is, however, required of each student, as well as an ability to discuss and perform repertoire representative of each. The following twenty-three categories, with the number of songs, arias, or works to be chosen from each, is considered the minimum for a student completing the doctoral program in voice performance:

DMA Repertoire List
  • Baroque and/or Rococo Solo Cantatas (3 works)
  • Arie Antiche (8 works) 
  • English Lute Songs (4 works)
  • Purcell (6 works)
  • J.S. Bach (2 major roles, one of which may be secular)
  • Handel (3 arias from opera, 3 arias from oratorio, including passages of recitative)
  • Mozart (1 complete operatic role, 2 complete sacred works and 2 additional arias which may include concert arias)
  • Lieder (60, including one complete cycle)
  • French Art Songs (26 works)
  • 19th and 20th Century Italian Song (12 works)
  • Russian Song (6, in Russian)
  • Songs by Nationalistic Composers (7, in the original language)
  • British Songs (10 works)
  • 20th and 21st Century American Songs (20 works)
  • 17th-20th Century French Operatic Literature (5 arias)
  • 19th and 20th Century Italian Operatic Literature (10 arias)
  • 18th-20th Century German Operatic Literature (5 arias)
  • Middle European and Russian Operatic Literature (3 arias)
  • North American and British Operatic Literature (5 arias)
  • 18th-21st Century Oratorios, Symphonic and Chamber Works employing solo voices (5 works)

Students must include at least three atonal pieces, at least five works by living composers, at least five works by African diaspora composers, and at least five works by female composers.

Requirements for Candidacy


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 Department of Voice.

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

After achieving candidacy, the student must present three performances in lieu of a dissertation, two of which must be song recitals. The third performance may be a major opera role or an oratorio role performed with orchestra. Although the basic requirements for the degree must be met by all students, various specializations are possible at the candidacy level including, for example, specializations in pedagogy, theatre, musical theatre, early music, contemporary music, and chamber music.


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: Voice must have completed a master’s of music degree or equivalent to be eligible for admission.

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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