All Doctoral students (DMA and PhD) must take qualifying exams. These substantive exams represent a significant milestone within the doctoral degree and help to determine a student’s readiness for moving forward with the final project. Consequently, students should be well-prepared for these exams. After successfully completing these exams, students can apply for doctoral committee approval, defend the dissertation proposal or doctoral essay proposal, and apply for Doctoral Candidacy.

Doctoral Qualifying Examinations for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The qualifying examination for PhD students includes two components.  The first component consists of writing three scholarly papers that are independent of or significant extensions of documents written as part of other coursework. These papers must be generated independently and must pertain to topics formally approved by Department faculty.  The second component consists of a one-hour, oral examination focusing on the written papers.  Students in the PhD degree program should contact their graduate advisor to obtain detailed guidelines on the entire qualifying examination process and timeline.

Doctoral Qualifying Examinations for the Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

All DMA students must take and pass qualifying exams in their respective discipline as part of degree requirements.  These exams may be written or performance-based, and may also have an oral component.  Typically, these exams are taken in the fourth semester of full-time study, but certain programs may have different exam schedules.  DMA students should contact their graduate advisor to obtain specific details regarding preparation and scheduling for the specific doctoral qualifying exam in their degree program.

Policies Relevant to all Doctoral Qualifying Examinations:

• Doctoral proposal defenses may be scheduled in the same semester as qualifying exam completion.

• All qualifying exam components must be successfully completed before a student can apply for doctoral committee approval, defend the dissertation proposal or doctoral essay proposal, and apply for Doctoral Candidacy.

• If a student fails a qualifying exam (or a portion of the exam), s/he can re-take the exam in a subsequent semester, with departmental approval.  A student who fails a qualifying examination (or portion of the exam) for a second time will be dismissed from his/her respective degree program.

• Successful completion of doctoral qualifying examinations is documented by an appropriate faculty member within the student’s major department, using the Doctoral Qualifying Results form that is submitted to the Frost School Graduate Studies Office and found here: Frost Faculty

Next Steps:  What Happens after Qualifying Examinations?

After successfully completing these exams, doctoral students should follow these steps, in this order:

1.    Apply for Doctoral Committee approval from the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in the Frost School.  Students must have either passed or remediated all entrance exam requirements before applying for doctoral committee approval.  The committee must be approved before students can proceed with the proposal defense for the final project.  The form is available here: Doctoral Committee Approval form

2.    Defend the proposal for the Doctoral Dissertation or Doctoral Essay.  Detailed instructions for proposal defense procedures are found in the Frost School of Music Graduate Student Handbook, located here:  Graduate Student Resources

3.    Apply for Doctoral Candidacy.  This form is found on the Graduate School website at: Graduate School Forms  Students should submit the completed form to the Office of Graduate Studies in the Frost School.  The Associate Dean of Graduate Studies will review the application and forward it on to the Graduate School for final approval.