2010 - 2011 Site Archive



Graduate Bulletin

Music Composition, D.M.A.


Admission Requirements and Deadlines
Application Deadline:

Fall: January 15

Spring: September 15

Decisions regarding admission are rendered after all required credentials have been submitted and the admissions application is complete.

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 2

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from evaluators who can provide insight into the applicant's abilities, talents, and aptitude for graduate study.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

All applicants must present credentials that are the equivalent of the appropriate Bachelor of Music degree at Temple University, which is based on a curriculum of 124 to 135 hours.

Master's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A degree in Music is expected.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A degree in Music is expected.

Statement of Goals:

The Statement of Goals should include your special interests within the discipline and your expectations for the program.

Standardized Test Scores:

The GRE/MAT is required.

Minimum TOEFL score needed to be accepted: 550 paper-based, 213 computer-based, or 79 internet-based.


Applicants must submit with the admissions application evidence of compositional activity. Any compositions submitted will be returned to the applicant. If an applicant has enrolled in the Seminar in Composition prior to submitting her/his application for formal admission to the program in Composition, the work accomplished there may serve to meet this entrance requirement, if satisfactory.


A resume is required.

Writing Examination:

All doctoral applicants are required to complete the Writing Examination as part of the admissions process. The results of this examination figure in the admissions decision. Remedial coursework may be required.

Advanced Standing:

The D.M.A. program in Composition consists of 52 discrete credits taken beyond the master's degree. At the time of admission, the entire master's degree serves as advanced standing credits. These credits are not counted toward the 52 required credits of the doctoral degree. However, students may transfer into the doctoral degree up to 12 additional graduate credits in coursework taken beyond the master's degree. Typically, this coursework is reviewed after admission to the D.M.A. degree and must be approved by the major advisor and the Associate Dean. The maximum number of advanced standing credits awarded is 30.


The program provides opportunity for advanced study in composition that conforms to the very highest artistic and pedagogical ideals. For this reason, enrollment in the program is limited.

Due to the large number of applications for admission and the competitive nature of its music programs, the College admits only a portion of its applicants. In addition to the general admissions credentials required of all Temple University graduate applicants, specialized admission criteria (i.e., auditions, portfolios, interviews, recommendations, departmental term papers, and standardized examinations) are very heavily weighted in admission decisions of the Boyer College of Music and Dance. Graduate applicants may be rejected for admission for failing to obtain the required level of proficiency in any one area of the specialized admission criteria regardless of the level of success in meeting the Temple University general admission criteria. In addition to the level of success demonstrated in the above-mentioned criteria, a final admission factor is the College's Optimum Enrollment Policy. This Policy may preclude the admission of any student who meets the minimum requirements.

Program Requirements
General Program Requirements:

Number of Didactic Credits Required Beyond the Master's: 52

Required Courses (40 s.h.):

MUSIC HISTORY courses above the 8404 level (9)

MUSIC STUDIES 8701:  Research in Music

MUSIC STUDIES 8740:  Seminar in Composition

MUSIC STUDIES 8742-8746:  Seminar in Theoretical or Stylistic Analysis

MUSIC STUDIES 9999:  Monograph Research

Electives (12 s.h.) must be approved by advisor.

Recommended courses include:

MUSIC 8710:  Early Music Ensembles

MUSIC ED 8656:  Academic Writing Skills

MUSIC STUDIES 8713:  Canon and Fugue

MUSIC STUDIES 8714:  Contemporary Music


MUSIC STUDIES 8747:  Aesthetics of Music

Up to 6 credits of MUSIC STUDIES 8740:  Seminar in Composition may be counted toward the D.M.A. degree. Applied music may be elected for a maximum of 2 credits.

View all COURSE OFFERINGS in Music, Music Education, and Music Studies.

All degree credits are to be earned at Temple University.

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination: A language examination is required. Candidates in the Composition program are expected to successfully complete a translation examination, specified by the Department of Composition in one foreign language: either French, German, Italian, or another national language with department permission. The examination must be completed before the preliminary examination may be taken.

Additional Requirements:

Written Entrance Examinations:

All doctoral students must take written entrance exams prior to or during the first semester of doctoral study. Candidates who fail the entrance examinations the first time may, upon application to the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies of the Boyer College of Music and Dance, be permitted to take the examinations a second time. A third opportunity is not allowed. If the examinations are failed a second time, remediation must occur. Students are advised by departmental faculty who develop a remediation plan according to the student's needs.

To continue registration in the doctoral program beyond the second semester of study, all portions of the examinations must be passed or the appropriate review courses (or the equivalent, as determined by the examining department) must be in progress. Students planning to take the written examinations should request a list of dates from the graduate secretary and submit a written request to the Associate Dean one month prior to the administration date.

1. Music History Exam: A general examination covering the history of music is administered. Questions relative to forms, styles, and periods of music are included. It is expected that all examinees are acquainted with the standard literature of music.

2. Harmony Exam: This exam involves completion of a harmonic excerpt in advanced chromatic idiom and the creation of a bass line with figuration (figured bass) in Baroque style.

3. Counterpoint Exam: From a given motive, approximately 20 measures of imitative counterpoint in three parts are to be completed.

4. Form and Analysis Exam: A score is provided at the examination that requires analysis of specified passages.

5. Composition Exam: This examination includes essay questions on stylistic analysis and historical context, the writing of a figured bass line, and the Piano Performance Examination.

6. Writing Sample: A 90-minute examination of the student's ability to write at the doctoral level is conducted. Examination topics are of a general nature.

Composition Portfolio:

Scores of completed compositions in various media must be submitted on or before the date of the Piano Performance Examination. Tapes of works in electronic media may also be submitted with or without graphic representation. All such submitted work of these designations should indicate the composer's abilities to use effectively both instrumental and vocal media, and, if appropriate, electronic media.

Piano Performance Examination:

Prior to the examination, the following should be prepared:

1. A twentieth-century work for piano of sufficient technical difficulty and expressive scope to demonstrate at least medium ability.

2. Score-reading a section of a nineteenth- or twentieth-century orchestral score.

The following will be given for sight-reading:

3. Bach chorale.

4. Eighteenth-century orchestral score, in part.

5. Realization of a figured bass.

If the applicant in Composition gives evidence of outstanding ability to work in computer synthesis of music and has an educational background to support this kind of musical composition rather than one oriented to a more traditional performing medium, dispensation of the performance requirement may be made by the department, based on the applicant's evidence of skills related to the above or to other specialized modes of musical composition. If admitted on these qualifications in lieu of performance ability, the applicant is required to undertake sufficient work at the piano to enable her/him to perform, as a minimum requirement, a prepared chorale harmonization by Bach and a relatively simple orchestral score, also prepared in advance.


A recital of the student's music of chamber dimension is presented as a public event, with the performances the responsibility of the composer-candidate. A faculty committee selected from relevant performance and academic, as well as compositional, areas is asked to attend this recital and to participate in an oral critique of the recital as a whole with the composer-candidate. This is held at a designated time closely following the recital as set by the department chair. This recital must take place prior to the preliminary examination.

With departmental permission, a student may request a waiver of the recital requirement by presenting scores and recordings of five compositions that have received professional performances. The request must be made in writing to the department chair and a committee convened to review the compositions with the candidate prior to the preliminary examination.

Continuous Registration:

Continuous registration of at least 3 s.h. must be maintained each semester, with the exception of Summer, from the time of acceptance into the D.M.A. program in Composition until the completion of all coursework.


Each course or seminar requires an end-of-semester final grade based on papers presented, recitals prepared, and discussion and/or examinations taken during the course of the semester. Each semester of private study culminates in a performance examination or jury, except during semesters in which the student has presented one of the required adjudicated recitals. Grades of less than "B-" cannot be counted toward the degree. If the student earns a grade of less than "B-," s/he may, with permission of the department chair and the Associate Dean, retake the semester of study one additional time. Screening for continuance in the program after the first semester of study is conducted at adjudicated recitals, end-of-the-semester juries, and major examinations. This ensures that only the most qualified students continue beyond the early stages of the program.

Professional Development Policy:

In addition to taking the required subjects for their degrees, all students in the Boyer College of Music and Dance are obligated to serve in a number of capacities in order to enrich their academic and musical expertise. Boyer College of Music and Dance believes that such experiences give impetus to successful professional careers. Among the duties that may be required are conducting laboratory classes; tutoring; teaching private lessons; coaching; participating in the distribution and inventory control of Temple University-owned musical instruments and instructional materials; participating in ensembles; accompanying; performing at admissions and open house events; supervising performance classes; and engaging in other academic activities.

Performing Ensembles:

1. Touring: All students in touring performing ensembles are required to participate in all scheduled tours. These tours, usually one or two weeks in length, often take place immediately after termination of semesters. Students must arrange their schedules to accommodate this requirement.

2. Non-Credit Participation: With special permission, graduate students for whom there is no ensemble requirement, or where previous ensemble credits exceed the graduation requirement, may participate in choral and instrumental ensembles without cost, with prior permission from the ensemble director, the department chair, and the Associate Dean.

Independent Study Courses:

Independent study courses provide a special opportunity for graduate students to work in a highly individualized setting with one or more faculty members. All such study must receive the approval of the faculty member providing the instruction, the students' major advisor, and the Associate Dean. Approval will be granted only after the student has presented a detailed description of the intended independent study project. Approval of independent study projects will be granted only for students whose academic and musical record provides substantial support for the benefits of this type of study. In no case may more than 20% of a graduate student's curriculum be taken as independent study. Private lessons beyond those required in the curriculum are not an appropriate form of independent study.

Acceptable English:

All students, including those for whom English is not the native language, are expected to present all written work in acceptable English. No double standard exists to differentiate students on the basis of proficiency in the use of the English language. Students are also responsible for becoming familiar with the College's statement on plagiarism and academic honesty.

Written Preliminary Examinations:

The written preliminary examinations may be taken during the final semester of coursework, but no later than in the semester after completion of coursework. They are administered several times each calendar year, and span two consecutive days of six hours of examination each day. Written examinations should be taken no later than the end of the fifth year. The written preliminary examinations confirm that the student has attained broad competency in the field of music and that within her/his area of concentration s/he can deal with specific questions in depth.

Students planning to take the written examinations should request a list of dates from the graduate secretary and submit a written request to the Associate Dean one month prior to the administration date. Students are then notified in writing of the specific dates and administration times of the preliminary examinations for which they have been scheduled.

Faculty members within the student's major and minor subject areas are involved in preparing the examination questions. At least two graduate faculty members read each section of the written preliminary examinations. Students typically are graded "Pass" or "Fail" based on a consensus of the examination readers.

Oral Preliminary Examinations:

For those students who pass the written preliminary examinations, no oral preliminary examination is required. (This refers only to the oral preliminary examination and does not refer in any way to the oral defense of the dissertation/monograph.)

If a student fails one or more portions of the written preliminary examination, an oral examination is administered by the major advisor and a minimum of two additional faculty members. In the case of failure in one subject area, two members of that department are asked by the student's major advisor to participate with the major advisor in the examination. In the case of failure in more than one subject area, at least one faculty member from each of the departments in which the failure occurred is asked by the student's major advisor to participate in the examination.

The examination is to be a formal oral examination rather than an informal meeting with graduate faculty from departments in which the examination revealed that the student needs further work. This does not preclude such informal meetings, however, in preparation for the oral examination. Upon passing the oral examination, the student, as advised by the examining committee, is permitted to schedule a second and final attempt at the failed portions of the written examination.


All incomplete grades and keyboard proficiencies must be fulfilled by the first day of the month in which the student expects to graduate.


Graduate assistantships and other forms of University-sponsored financial aid do not cover private lesson and recital extension fees.

Culminating Events:


Upon completion of the preliminary examination, a Doctoral Advisory Committee (DAC) is appointed by the Associate Dean to guide the proposal and monograph/final project. When the student, in consultation with the major advisor and department chair, has identified a tentative advisory committee, the chair provides the names to the Associate Dean for consideration. The Associate Dean appoints the DAC. The DAC consists of no fewer than three persons: two faculty members from within the department and a third person from outside the department.

Each member of the DAC must approve and sign the final proposal. Once all members have signed the title page, the student copies the final proposal and delivers within 30 days one copy to each member of the DAC, the department chair, the Associate Dean, and the Graduate School. Students register for MUSIC 9998: Pre-Dissertation Research during the writing of the monograph proposal, and MUSIC 9999: Monograph Research after the proposal has been officially approved.


The D.M.A. Composition monograph is an original composition of dimension approved by the advisor for full or chamber orchestra with or without soloists, or for voices and orchestra, or other approved media is required. A written analysis of formal stylistic or technical elements of the composition shall form a part of the project.

Early in the semester in which a defense of the monograph is anticipated, the major advisor notifies the Associate Dean that it is time to appoint the Dissertation Examining Committee (DEC). The DEC consists of the DAC plus an "outside" reader, who is an additional graduate faculty member from Temple or another university, but not from the faculty of the student's home department.

Doctoral candidates must schedule a defense of the monograph with the Associate Dean at least one month before the requested defense date. Forms to schedule the defense are available from the graduate secretary.  This includes the "Announcement of Oral Defense" form, which must bear all appropriate signatures and be submitted to the Associate Dean.

Two weeks prior to the oral defense, the student submits individual copies of the abstract and the completed dissertation/monograph to the Associate Dean and each member of the DEC. The graduate secretary notifies the Graduate School and posts notices of the impending defense on bulletin boards located within the Boyer College of Music and Dance. All members of the DEC attend the oral defense and then vote to pass or fail the monograph and its defense after the conclusion of the public presentation.

Changes in membership of a DAC or a DEC must be approved by the Associate Dean. The change also must be communicated to the Graduate School.

Program Contact Information:


Department Information:

Dept. of Composition
Boyer College of Music and Dance
2001 North 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122


Department Contacts:


James Short


Program Coordinator:

Professor Maurice Wright


Graduate Chairperson:

Professor Michael Klein



Professor Michael Klein


About the Program

The objective of the D.M.A. degree in Composition is to provide an opportunity for advanced study in composition that will conform to the very highest artistic and pedagogical ideals. The D.M.A. degree in Composition is intended to prepare composers to teach at the university level, to provide the student with the opportunity to create large-scale compositions, and to advance the student's professional career. The program encourages students to develop complementary musical skills as a performer, conductor, theorist, or software designer.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 7 years

Campus Location:


Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

Students are required to complete the degree program through classes offered before and after 4:30 p.m.  Students are also able to complete the degree program on a part-time basis (8 credit hours or less per semester).

Department Information:

Dept. of Composition
Boyer College of Music and Dance
2001 North 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122


Interdisciplinary Study:

Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Study Abroad:



Boyer College of Music and Dance has been ranked among the top 30 music schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report.


The degree program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

Areas of Specialization:

Not applicable.

Job Placement:

Graduates of the program typically find employment in professional music organizations throughout the world and in colleges and universities, among other employment venues in the music profession.


Not applicable.

Non-Degree Student Policy:

At the discretion of the department, an applicant may be permitted to enroll for up to 9 graduate credits as a non-matriculated student on a probationary basis, permitting her/him to attend classes and develop sufficient evidence of compositional talent beyond what is demonstrated at the time of application to qualify for full acceptance into the program.

Financing Opportunities

Boyer College of Music and Dance offers a number of assistantships and academic internships to matriculated graduate students. Full awards carry a cash stipend plus full tuition remission for the Fall and Spring semesters. Partial awards also are available in values of 1/4 or 1/2 of a full award. Duties for assistantships and internships vary, but typically include teaching, tutoring, classroom assistance, research, artistic performance, and/or direct service related to academic programs. Applicants must submit an assistantship/internship application by March 1 to obtain priority consideration for an award. Applications are available online at the Graduate Financial Aid page of Boyer's website. Typically these awards are made only in the Fall semester for up to two semesters: Fall and Spring. Awards may be renewed on an annual basis (typically up to one additional year for master's students and up to three years for doctoral students) based on departmental needs as well as satisfactory academic and musical progress by the recipient.

Updated 3.29.11