Choral & Sacred Music

Doctor of Musical Arts – Sacred Music

  • The program details described below are subject to change. Actual degree requirements for a given academic year may differ from what is listed here.
  • Refer to the 2017-2018 USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements.
  • See the Thornton Admission page for specific application information.
  • Current students should refer to the specific requirements list for their major, which is available through the Thornton Student Affairs office.


The DMA in sacred music requires a minimum of 65 units beyond the bachelor’s degree and consists of the following areas of study: the basic DMA curriculum, course work in the major, an academic field and two elective fields. One lecture/recital is required.

Sample Summary of Program of Study

Basic DMA Curriculum (20 units)

MUCD 441 Choral Conducting II (2 units)
MUCD 443 Instrumental Conducting II (2 units)
MUCO 501 Introduction to the Analysis of Tonal Music (2 units)
MUCO 502 Introduction to the Analysis of Post-Tonal Music (2 units)
MUED 505 Teaching and Learning Music (2 units)
MUHL 570 Research Materials and Techniques (2 units)
MUHL 500-695 Music History electives (6 units)
MUEN 5__ Ensemble electives (two 1-unit courses)

Music Ensembles (2 units)

MUEN 5__ Choral Ensemble (two 1-unit courses) (Sacred music majors must participate in a choral ensemble chosen from MUEN 508, 510, 511, or 512 each semester if enrolled for 4 or more units)

Program Intensive Courses (18 units)

MSCR 474
or MPVA 439
The Organ in Worship and Congregational Life
Vocal Pedagogy Practicum (2 units)
MSCR 571 Music of the Great Liturgies (2 units)
MSCR 572 Sacred Music Administration (2 units)
MSCR 790
or M__ 501
Individual Instruction (lessons) (4 units)
MSCR 794ab Doctoral Dissertation (two 2-unit courses)
Four units from the following:
MSCR 473 Hymnology (2 units)
MSCR 475 Introduction to Jewish Music (2 units)
MUHL 588 Special Studies in Music since 1900 – Music and the Holocaust (2 units)

Academic Field (8-10 units)

Choose one from:

  • Musicology
  • Analysis
  • Music Teaching and Learning
  • Choral Music

You must apply to your chosen field. An individualized program of study will be created for you in this field in consultation with a faculty advisor in this area.

Elective Fields I and II (12-16 units)

Choose two fields from among over 50 possible areas in topics within Composition, Performance, Early Music, Jazz Studies, Music Teaching and Learning, Choral Music, Sacred Music, Conducting, Pedagogy, Electroacoustic Media, Music Industry, as well as areas outside of music.

You must apply to your chosen fields. Individualized programs of study will be created for you in each field in consultation with your faculty advisors in these two areas.

Including your major field, no more than two of the four fields may be under the guidance of the same department within the School of Music.

Electives (units will depend on Academic and Elective Field units taken)

Music or non-music courses at the 400-level or above

Capstone Projects

One Lecture/Recital
Comprehensive Exams which include the major area, one academic field and two elective fields

All curricular requirements are evaluated on an annual basis and are subject to change. Students follow the curricular requirements as published in the USC Catalogue for their year of matriculation. A typical graduate credit load is 8 units per semester.

A maximum of 30 units from the Master’s Degree may be applied toward the 65 units beyond a Bachelor’s Degree required for the DMA.  Petitions must be prepared with the Thornton academic advisor, all of which must be signed and approved by the appropriate faculty.

A language examination to demonstrate reading knowledge in one foreign language (French, German, Italian or Spanish) must be passed before the comprehensive exams are taken.

Music Graduate Entrance Exams (MGEE) are administered during Orientation Week just prior to the start of your program.  See this MGEE page for more information.