Degree Requirements - Composition - DMA Jazz Composition

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Degree Requirements


DMA • Jazz Composition


The four-year Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) degree in Composition trains students to create music and convey their musical ideas through a variety of performance media. Students are expected to exhibit a thorough knowledge of the theoretical and historical basis of music and to develop strong pedagogical skills. A comprehensive general curriculum and optional concentrations in various areas of specialization help to prepare students for advanced careers as composers and teachers.


Administrative Contacts

Graduate Advisor | Director of Graduate Studies

Scholarships & Assistantships

Graduate Admissions Coordinator

HR Coordinator

Graduate Coordinator

Operations & Scheduling

Division Contacts

Director of Jazz Studies

Division Head, Jazz





Degree Requirements

Major Coursework

Major Coursework for the D.M.A. in Jazz Composition
Hours Course Number Course Title/Description
6 MUS 388K Projects inJazz Composition
3 MUS 388T Analytical Techniques
3 MUS 387L Jazz Perspectives
3 MUS 388P Jazz Pedagogy
3 MUS 388J Improvisation Styles & Techniques
3 MUS 388C Composition
6 MUS 399W Dissertation

The dissertation will normally consist of a work of major proportions. The dissertation must also be accompanied by a document which adequately explains the content of the composition. In addition, a recital consisting of the candidate’s original works must be presented. Find recital scheduling procedures on the Butler School Operations website.  

An analysis of the dissertation work, normally expected to be at least 30 pages in length, must be presented to the doctoral committee when the dissertation is presented for evaluation. It is to be submitted to the Graduate School with the dissertation and must follow the Graduate School format for doctoral dissertations. 

Supporting Work

Supporting Coursework for the D.M.A. in Jazz Composition
Hours Course Number Course Title/Description

Music theory courses selected from the following: 

MUS 398T: Pedagogy of Music Theory 
MUS 388C: Composition 
MUS 388M: Topic 3: Contemporary Styles & Techniques 
MUS 329E: Introduction to Electronic Music 
MUS 329G: Intermediate Electronic Composition 
MUS 329F: Projects in Electronic Music 
MUS 366: Intermediate Orchestration 
MUS 228J: Intermediate Jazz Improvisation 
MUS 276J: Beginning Jazz Piano Techniques (strongly recommended for non-pianists) 


Music history/ethnomusicology courses selected from the following: 

MUS 379K: Conference Course in Music Literature 
MUS 380: Advanced Studies in the History & Culture of Music 
MUS 387L: Advanced Studies in Music Literature 
MUS 381J: Topic 2: Foundations of Ethnomusicology 
MUS 385J: Seminars in Ethnomusicology 
MUS 334: Music of the Americas 
MUS 342: Area Studies in Ethnomusicology 


Music & Human Learning courses selected from the following: 

MUS 391: Foundations of Music Education 
MUS 384J: Research in Music & Human Learning 
MUS 383L: Seminar in Music & Human Learning 
MUS 384J: Advanced Studies in Music & Human Learning 
MUS 392: Psychology of Music 
MUS 393: Seminar in Music and Human Learning 


Applied music courses selected from the following: 

Inst. 280/480/280J/480J: Graduate Performance 
ENS 18x: Problems in Performance Practice 
MUS 28x: Jazz Combos 
CON 480: Graduate Conducting 

6   Related courses inside or outside the School of Music for which the student has the necessary prerequisites. 


Treatise Option

Doctoral students in music performance who wish to pursue the treatise option must obtain permission from the Graduate Studies Committee in music before applying for candidacy. Differences from the non-treatise are:

  • The Chamber Recital is not required.
  • Students in candidacy register for MUS x99 Treatise instead of MUS x99N Non-Treatise Lecture-Recital Document.
  • The lecture-recital document is expected to be a substantial research paper of a scholarly nature.

Comprehensive Examinations

Common Comprehensive

The common comprehensive examination consists of score identification and music history exams. Competency in music theory is tested as part of the final examination process of each section of the MUS 388T Analytical Techniques course. They are offered once per semester and in the summer.

A student who fails any portion of the common comprehensive exam on the first try must re-take the failed portion of the exam. If a student fails a portion of the exam twice, that student must choose one of the following options:

  1. Take one or more graduate courses as determined by the musicology or theory faculty. The student must achieve a grade of B or higher in the specified course(s) to complete the requirement and officially pass.
  2. Take the relevant portion(s) of the exam a third time, with the understanding that a third failure will result in termination of the student’s degree program.

Specialized Comprehensive

The content and procedures for the specialized comprehensive exams vary across divisions. Consult with the head of your division for additional information about the specialized comprehensive exams.



Advising & Registration

For information about course registration, deadlines, adding and dropping courses and other policies, visit the Graduate School Academic & Registration Policies webpage.

Students who wish to take an independent study course need to fill out a Consent Form. Once the faculty member and Graduate Coordinator have approved your request, the bar to register for the course will be lifted.

To be eligible for fellowships, scholarships and assistantships, graduate students are required to be enrolled full-time (at least 9 hours).

All international students are also required to be enrolled full-time during each long semester, regardless of whether they receive funding from the Butler School of Music.

Transferring Coursework

A new doctoral student may petition to substitute up to twelve credits of graduate level coursework completed at another institution for degree requirements at the University of Texas, subject to approval by the Butler School Graduate Studies Committee. This process must be completed during the first semester of enrollment, before the close of the fall advising period.

Courses approved for substitution typically fall into the areas of music history, theory, literature, and pedagogy, as well as chamber music.

Under normal circumstances, transferred coursework should have been completed within the four academic years prior to the start of the doctoral work at UT. The GSC will consider on a case-by-case basis whether coursework completed more than four years prior to the start of doctoral study at the Butler School can count toward the program of study.

Coursework completed for a master's degree at the University of Texas at Austin may be included in the course work for the doctoral degree without a petition form, but is subject to approval by the Graduate Studies Committee chair in Music, the candidate's supervising committee, and the Dean of Graduate Studies.



Graduation Timeline

Semester-by-Semester Overview

Prior to 1st semester

  • All students must take the diagnostic examinations in music history and music theory. Additional diagnostic exams are administered for students in composition, jazz and music theory.

Semester 1

  • For students who completed an M.M. degree before coming to UT Austin, course transfer requests must be submitted in the first semester. If they haven’t been submitted by at least the advising period for spring classes (i.e. late October), the student’s registration will be barred.
  • Composition students will present a jury every semester unless they are presenting their D.M.A. recital, or are enrolled in Treatise/Dissertation hours (final semester(s)).

Semester 2

  • All first year D.M.A. students should meet with the Graduate Coordinator for an audit of their coursework during the advising period for summer and fall classes in April. Registration will be barred until this meeting takes place.
  • Composition jury (unless presenting a recital).

Semester 4-6

  • Students must submit a completed D.M.A. course outline to verify their completion of coursework.
  • Unless there are mitigating circumstances (for ex., insufficient number of Master’s level credits that can be transferred or an unusually large number of deficiency courses a student must complete) documented and approved by the Graduate Advisor, all D.M.A. students must attempt the common comprehensive exams (comps) upon completion of coursework.
  • Similarly, all D.M.A. students must complete their specialized comps.
  • Unless a particular student has failed one or more sections of the common comprehensive exams, all D.M.A. students must form their committee and apply for candidacy.
  • After an individual’s candidacy is approved, all D.M.A. students must see the Graduate Coordinator to add MUS X99W to their registration.
  • Composition jury (unless presenting a recital or in Treatise hours).

Semester 6-8

  • Students who passed their common comprehensive exam retake(s) must form their committee and apply to candidacy.
  • Most D.M.A. students perform their D.M.A. composition recital, though it can be performed earlier in the timeline.
  •  In the final semester of study, composition students schedule and complete their final oral defense. The defense may not take place in the last week of classes. The defense must be officially scheduled with the graduate school using the Request for Final Oral Exam application.
  • After the final defense students must obtain all committee signatures on the Report of Dissertation document supplied by the graduate school and return to their office by the deadline listed on their website along with any required pages.
  • All students must apply to graduate by the deadline.



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