PhD in Music Performance

Typically, doctoral degrees in music performance are offered through Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) programs rather than Ph.D. programs. Read about the prerequisites for admission to a DMA program, and explore the instruments and genres in which you could specialize. Learn about the coursework in a music performance DMA program. Get info on other music-related Ph.D. programs that you could consider pursuing if a DMA doesn't meet your goals. Schools offering Ethnomusicology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Doctoral Programs Are Available in Music Performance?

Doctor of Philosophy programs in music performance are tricky to find. This is because most Ph.D. programs in music focus on research and education, and they deal less with the hands-on technical aspects of music, repertoire and performance. Though you might be able to find a Ph.D. in Music Performance, it's far more common to come across performance-based programs that award the Doctor of Musical Arts.

To get into a doctoral degree program in music performance, you'll most likely need to have a master's degree, though some programs admit students with only bachelor's degrees. You'll also need to pass an audition before a faculty committee. Since these programs are hands-on in nature, they're unavailable through distance learning.

Doctoral Programs Available in Music Performance Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) or Ph.D.
Performance Areas Jazz studies, vocal performance, chamber music, instrumental performance
Program Curriculum Music and research courses culminating in a dissertation or lecture recital
Ph.D. Programs Ethnomusicology, musicology, music education

What Types of Performance Areas Can I Pursue at the Doctoral Level?

DMAs are available in a number of areas within music performance, whether your specialty is vocal or instrumental and whether your background is in classical, jazz or another genre. You'll need to do some research to find schools that offer performance DMAs in your instrument, since many schools don't have qualified faculty available in every instrument. You're likely to find DMAs in jazz studies, chamber music and vocal performance, and many of these programs can be customized for your musical and professional goals. For example, some schools allow you to major in jazz studies on your instrument and minor in a different area, such as music education, piano accompaniment (if your major instrument isn't piano) or music history.

What Kind of Coursework Will I Need to Complete?

If you've made it to the point of considering doctoral-level education in music, you already know that performance study requires a great deal of coursework, time and dedication. DMA programs, like music performance programs at other levels, require applied music courses, wherein you'll take private lessons for academic credit.

You'll also need to take research courses, which will train you to thoroughly investigate historical or contemporary trends within your musical specialty. Dissertations are a requirement of many programs, but some programs require you to complete a lecture recital, which entails the development of a presentation that demonstrates both the performance and research aspects of doctoral music studies.

What If I Still Want a Ph.D. Instead of a DMA?

If the DMA doesn't sound like the right choice for you, you may still be able to find a Ph.D. program in performance. Such programs still require private lessons and dissertations, though they may include more courses on research and teaching than a DMA program would.

You might also consider Ph.D. programs in research areas of music. You could major in musicology, which is simply the study of music, or ethnomusicology, which examines music within the contexts of various world cultures. Also available are Ph.D. programs in music education. All of these Ph.D. programs will still provide you with performance-based coursework and experience, though they emphasize the more academic sides of musical study.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • University of Connecticut

    Campus Locations:

    • Connecticut: Storrs
  • University of Oklahoma Norman Campus

    Campus Locations:

    • Oklahoma: Norman
  • University of North Texas

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Denton
  • University of Southern Mississippi

    Campus Locations:

    • Mississippi: Hattiesburg
  • University of Rochester

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: Rochester
  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Greensboro
  • University of Colorado Boulder

    Campus Locations:

    • Colorado: Boulder
  • Shenandoah University

    Campus Locations:

    • Virginia: Winchester
  • Manhattan School of Music

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: New York
  • CUNY Graduate School and University Center

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: New York