Comprehensive Examinations

All DMA Students must complete a Comprehensive Examination.


Application Form

In order to be considered for Comprehensive Exams, DMA students must submit the DMA Comprehensive Exam Request Form to Job Springer (jspringe@usc.edu) by the following dates:

For Spring Examinations

  • October 15 by 5:00 PM

For Fall Examinations

  • March 15 by 5:00 PM

Important Guidelines

  • Discussions about these exams with the members of your Guidance Committee should begin early in the semester before you actually plan to take the exams. It is often not advisable for faculty to sign the request form, supporting approval for the student to take the exams the following semester, until substantive preparation is completed by the student to demonstrate readiness to take the exams. It is common for faculty advisors to ask students to develop questions/ideas for the exams, followed by multiple rounds of revisions, before providing the necessary approval signature. In order to stay on a reasonable preparation schedule, you should work toward having your faculty advisors submit your finalized questions and other guidance for comprehensive exams to Job Springer by the first Friday of classes during the semester you expect to take the Comprehensive Exams.
  • Students MUST be registered for at least one graduate-level unit during the Comprehensive Exam semester. That is often 1-2 units of individual instruction (ex. Mxxx 653). If you need to be full-time, MUSC 800 Preparation for Exams in Music can be considered. MUSC 800 costs one unit of tuition, but carries zero units of graduate credit. Discuss this with your department and Job Springer when planning what class(es) you will take during your semester of exams.
  • If the language requirement is not fulfilled on time, the Comprehensive Exams could be delayed.
  • All comprehensive examination components (e.g., written examination, recital, project, paper(s)) for the Academic Field and both Elective Fields must be completed, assessed, and approved as passing by the appropriate faculty prior to the Oral Exam. The specific due dates for these pre-Oral Exam components are generally the 5th, 6th, and/or 7th Friday of the Comprehensive Exam semester, and the exact due dates will be communicated to you by Job Springer and/or his office colleagues. If you do not know the due dates, be proactive and ask for clarification.
  • For degree programs requiring 3-4 recitals for the major field, at least two (2) of those recitals must be successfully performed and passed prior to the Comprehensive Exam. All required recitals may be completed earlier than the Comprehensive Exam, but only if allowed by the major field department and the student’s primary studio teacher.
  • Students who do not meet deadlines or do not sufficiently prepare with their faculty advisors may be denied the opportunity to sit for the exams during any given semester.