Graduate Degree

Music Conducting - Doctor of Musical Arts

Music Conducting - Doctor of Musical Arts
Plan Code:
Program Level:
Award Type:
Doctor of Musical Arts
College of Music

Excerpt from the official Academic Programs Catalog:

Listed below are the approved requirements for the program from the official Academic Programs Catalog.
Students must consult their advisors to learn which specific requirements apply to their degree programs.

College of Music

Graduate Study

Music Conducting - Doctor of Musical Arts

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Music students must meet the requirements specified below.


To be admitted to the Doctor of Musical Arts degree program in music conducting on regular status, an applicant must have:

  1. A master's degree in music from a recognized educational institution or a total of 30 credits of approved course work.
  2. Presented a live performance audition that was acceptable to the committee appointed by the Dean of the College of Music.

When applying for admission to the Doctor of Musical Arts degree program with a major in music conducting, an applicant must specify one of the following three major areas:  wind conducting, choral conducting, or orchestral conducting.

With the approval of the faculty in an applicant's major area, an applicant may be considered for admission to the program on the basis of a high–quality video recording of a recent performance, rather than on the basis of a live performance audition. An applicant must submit a video recording showing a front view of the applicant conducting a minimum of 10 minutes. An applicant who submits a recording may be admitted only on provisional status pending the presentation of a live performance audition before a faculty committee appointed by the Dean of the College of Music. The audition must be presented before the end of the first semester of enrollment in the program.  As part of the audition, an applicant must present a 10–minute lecture on a topic related to conducting. The applicant may be asked to conduct a live performance group or to illustrate appropriate conducting techniques in relation to printed scores. The applicant may submit video and audio tape recordings of performances that they have conducted.

For additional information about the Doctor of Musical Arts degree program in conducting, contact the Director of Bands, the Director of Choral Activities, or the Director of Orchestras in the College of Music.

Guidance Committee

The student’s guidance committee, which must be formed in the first year of graduate study, must consist of the student’s major professor, who serves as the chairperson, a second faculty member from the student's conducting area, one faculty member in the area of music theory, and one faculty member in the area of musicology. In instances where additional expertise would be beneficial it is recommended that the guidance committee include an additional faculty member from within or outside the College of Music.

Requirements for the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Music Conducting

Each student in the program has a major professor who provides instruction in the student's major area, oversees the musical content of the student's program guides the preparation of required conducting appearances, oversees the preparation of the scholarly paper or abstract, and oversees the final oral examination. Normally, the student studies with the major professor for four semesters.

1. Complete 8 credits from the following courses:
MUS 958A Seminar in Wind Conducting 1 to 8
MUS 958B Seminar in Orchestral Conducting 1 to 8
MUS 958C Seminar in Choral Conducting 1 to 8
2. Complete a minimum of 3 credits in Music 830 Research Methods and Materials in Music, three courses in music theory at the 800- or 900-level, and at least 6 additional credits of 800-or 900-level courses in music history as specified by the student’s guidance committee.
3. Complete at least 6 credits of electives as specified by the student's guidance committee.
4. Pass the written comprehensive examinations in musicology and music theory and two examinations related to the student’s area of conducting. One of these will be a take-home examination. The other will be taken on the MSU campus. Students become eligible to take the comprehensive examination in each of these areas during the semester in which they are completing the required course work in that area.
5. Complete the following requirements in lieu of 24 credits of Music 999, a doctoral dissertation, and a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation:
a. Complete 24 credits of Music 997 Doctoral Concert Conducting.
b. Direct various ensembles on four different programs containing repertoire which demonstrates the ability to program creatively, to execute music in various period styles and forms, and to work effectively with diverse groups.
Performing groups for the required conducting appearances may be ensembles from the College of Music, or any school, church, or community musical ensemble able to meet the demands of the repertoire. The performance must be approved by a committee from the conducting area. A recording of each of the four programs must be submitted to the Office of the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and will be retained by the College as part of the permanent degree record.
Two of the first three conducting appearances must be presented within six calendar months of each other.
The fourth conducting appearance must involve a complete program.
With the prior approval of the student's major professor, any of the four required conducting appearances may take place off campus. In the event that a conducting appearance is off campus, the appearance will be graded on the basis of the video recording of the appearance.
c. Submit a scholarly paper exhibiting a thorough understanding of a significant and relevant topic approved by the student's major professor and take a final oral examination of approximately two hours based on the paper and administered by the student's guidance committee.
A final copy of  the paper referenced in item 5. c. above will be retained by the College as part of the permanent degree record. The final copy must be approved by the guidance committee and submitted to the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies before the degree can be completed.
6. Students majoring in choral conducting must complete MUS 891 Special Topics and enroll in the section on Score Study and Interpretation through String Bowing.
7. Students majoring in choral conducting must demonstrate proficiency in vocal pedagogy by taking MUS 340 Methods and Literature for Voice. These credits will not count toward those required for the degree. This requirement will be waived if the student’s transcript shows successful completion of a similar course at another institution.
8. Students majoring in choral or orchestral conducting must demonstrate proficiency in French, German, Italian, English, and Latin through an assessment administered as part of the audition process. Lack of proficiency in any language must be addressed by enrolling in MUS 845 Secondary or Specialist Emphasis: Voice, which will focus on repertoire in the deficient language(s) and will include a jury for the voice faculty.

Academic Standards

Doctoral study presumes continuing excellence in course work. A student may accumulate no more than 6 credits with a grade below 3.0 in courses that are to be counted toward the degree.

The student's performance on the final oral examination and the scholarly paper on which the examination is based must be approved by the members of the student's guidance committee with not more than one dissenting vote. Should the committee fail to accept the final oral examination, or the paper, the student shall be allowed to repeat the final oral examination, or to rewrite the paper, only once. The examination must be retaken, or the paper  must be rewritten, within one year, during a fall or spring semester.