Early Music Performance

Doctor of Musical Arts – Early Music Performance

  • 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 2016-2017 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 early 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. Four doctoral recitals are 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 574 Music of the Renaissance (2 units)
MUHL 575 Music of the Baroque Era (2 units)
MUHL 500-695 Music History elective (2 units)
MUEN 5__ Ensemble electives (two 1-unit courses)

Lessons, Ensemble and Performance Classes (16 units)

MPEM 653 Performance (lessons) (four 2-unit courses)
MPEM 650 Collegium Directing (two 2-unit courses)
MUEN 650 Early Music Ensemble (four 1-unit courses)

Program Intensive Courses (6 units)

MUHL 572 Seminar in Historical Musical Notation (2 units)
MUHL 589 Seminar in Renaissance Repertoires and Performance Practice (2 units)
MUHL 591 Seminar in Baroque Repertoires and Performance Practice (2 units)

Academic Field (8-10 units)

Choose one from:

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

Four Graduate Recitals – two as soloist and ensemble director, one lecture-recital, and one recital of student’s choice.
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 eight units per semester.

A maximum of 30 units from the Masters Degree may be applied toward the 65 units beyond a Bachelors 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 the MGEE page for more information.