DMA Academic Fields

The DMA degree in the USC Thornton School of Music requires three areas of concentration in addition to the Major Field and the Basic DMA Curriculum: one Academic Field and two Elective Fields. This page contains information regarding the Academic Fields that can be considered for your DMA degree.

The Academic Field consists of 8–12 units, may not duplicate a major or an Elective Field, and is chosen from among these five:

  1. Choral Music
  2. Music Teaching and Learning*
  3. Musicology
  4. Sacred Music
  5. Theory and Analysis

*Students majoring in Music Teaching and Learning may be approved to consider an Academic Field outside of the five listed above. Such approvals are rare and must be discussed in depth with your department faculty and advisor.

Each field is represented on the candidate’s guidance committee by a faculty member. The Academic Field is supported by courses that are determined by the department in which the field is administered.

No more than two of the four total fields may be under the guidance of the same department within the USC Thornton School.

The Comprehensive Examination for the Academic Field will consist of capstone requirements that may be written research papers, proctored written exams, projects, or a combination of several of these.


Application

DMA students must apply and be admitted to an Academic Field. The application form and all supplemental materials must be submitted by the following deadlines:

Review each Academic Field, as described below, to confirm what supplemental materials will be required as part of the application for admission to that field.

The information that follows lists sample curricula for the Academic Fields, but note that an actual program may involve different courses that may be individualized by the faculty to fit the goals of the students seeking that experience. The finalized curriculum must be approved by the Graduate Advisory Committee following the Graduate Committee Interview (GCI).


Choral Music

Curriculum (8–12 Units)

Comprehensive Examination

Faculty Chair

Supplemental Materials Required for Application

  1. Personal Statement: A one-page statement addressing why you wish to pursue an academic field in Choral Music and how academic work in this field would align with your professional goals.
  2. Resume: Include all choral music experience.

Music Teaching and Learning

Curriculum (8–12 Units)
Choose 2–3 courses:

And choose 1–2 course(s):

Comprehensive Examination

Faculty Chair

Supplemental Materials Required for Application

  1. Statement of Purpose: A one-page statement addressing all of the following:
    • Why you are pursuing a DMA degree
    • How an academic field in Music Teaching and Learning would contribute to your personal and professional goals
    • What specifically you will achieve through coursework, practice and examinations in the academic field in Music Teaching and Learning
  2. Writing Sample: A sample of your academic writing (e.g., Master’s thesis, recent term paper)
  3. Resume: List all teaching experience. Also, list the name, title and contact information for three education references (e.g., fellow music teachers, music supervisors, site or district administrators who are not related to you) who can vouch for the quality and integrity of your work with students in music education settings (early childhood through university level).
  4. Teacher Certification: If you have taught in public or independent schools in the U.S. or abroad, complete the Teacher Certification document available from the Thornton Doctoral Advisor. If you have not taught in public or independent schools in the U.S. or abroad, include a brief written statement that indicates this.

Musicology

Curriculum (8 Units)

Comprehensive Examination/Capstone
The capstone project for the Academic Field in musicology requires two documents:

And one of the following:

Faculty Chair

Supplemental Materials Required for Application:

  1. Recent Research Paper: A mature musicological study that reflects research into historical or primary data, contains a critical engagement with ideas from the relevant musicological literature, and reaches an original conclusion.

Sacred Music

Curriculum

Plus three courses chosen from:

Comprehensive Examination

Faculty Chair


Theory and Analysis

Curriculum (8 Units)

Comprehensive Examination

Faculty Chair

Supplemental Materials Required for Application

  1. Personal Statement: A one-page statement addressing why you wish to pursue an Academic Field in Theory and Analysis and how academic work in this field would align with your personal and professional goals.
  2. Recent analytical paper OR strong recommendation from a current member of the Thornton Composition faculty.