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Ph.D. / D.M.A. Curriculum


The Ph.D. program includes areas of emphasis in Composition, Computer Music and Integrative Studies. The Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) degree is in Contemporary Music Performance. Successful completion of a Master’s degree—either at UC San Diego or including requirements equivalent to those of UC San Diego’s M.A. in Music—is required for admittance to the doctoral program. All UC San Diego M.A. students must re-apply for admittance to a doctoral program. UC San Diego M.A. students continuing to the Ph.D. or D.M.A. program must complete all departmental requirements, obtain Graduate Division approval, and file the M.A. degree at the University Central Library before enrolling in any Ph.D. or D.M.A. courses. Concurrent Ph.D. or Ph.D. and D.M.A. degrees are not allowed.


Core Curriculum:

METHODS - All students are required to complete both courses during their first quarter at UCSD.

  • MUS 291
  • MUS 501

PERFORMANCE - All students must complete at least 4 units (M.A. level) or 8 units (Doctoral level).

  • MUS 200/201/202

DEPTH - All students must complete at least 20 units (MA level) or 32 units (Doctoral level) from among these options.

  • MUS 206
  • MUS 207
  • MUS 210
  • MUS 215 A-B-C
  • MUS 271 A-B-C
  • MUS 272
  • MUS 170-177 (no more than one course from this series can count towards this requirement)

NOTE: All courses in the "Methods" and "Depths" series above must be taken for a letter grade to count towards a student's degree progress.

Courses used to fulfill Area requirements cannot also be used to fulfill Depth requirements (except where explicitly stated in the Composition Area requirements).

BREADTH - All students are encouraged to take at least one graduate-level or upper-division undergraduate course outside of the department, which, by petition and on a case-by-case basis, may count towards the “depth” requirement.

FOCUS - All students (except for computer music) are required to enroll in the appropriate area focus course (S/U grading option only) every quarter in residence (for Ph.D. students), or until advanced to candidacy (for D.M.A. students).

  • MUS 204/205/245

RESEARCH - All students must complete at least 6 units of MUS 299 and are encouraged to pursue independent research on a continuing basis. Doctoral students must complete at least 6 units of MUS 298 enrolled with members of the student’s doctoral committee in preparation for the qualifying exam.

  • MUS 298/299

TEACHING - Participation in the undergraduate teaching program is required of all graduate students at the equivalent of 25% time for three quarters or 33% for two quarters (6 units total)

  • MUS 500

ENGAGEMENT - All students are encouraged to explore outreach and service opportunities during their graduate study and to engage in sustained and substantive ways with our diverse local communities as an integral part of their creative and scholarly research.

Area Requirements:


  • MUS 203 A, B, C - Successful completion of the jury process is necessary to get a passing grade in the corresponding seminar
  • MUS 203 D - every quarter in residence with committee chair after successful completion of 203C
  • MUS 210 - must be taken twice (one time can count towards the “depth” core requirement)
  • MUS 228
  • MUS 229
  • MUS 271A & B (both courses can count towards “depth” requirement)

AnchorComputer Music

  • MUS 270 A, B, C - must be taken within the first year of the program unless previously taken as a UC San Diego M.A. student.
  • MUS 270D - every quarter in residence after successful completion of 270C

AnchorIntegrative Studies

  • MUS 215 A, B, C
  • MUS 215D - every quarter after successful completion of 215C, until qualification.


  • MUS 200, 201, or 202 every quarter in residence
  • MUS 232 every quarter in residence

AnchorDoctoral Qualifying Examination

Requirements PRIOR to taking the qualifying examination:

  • Appointment of the Doctoral Committee per UC San Diego regulations.
  • Successful completion of the Core Curriculum and all curricular requirements of the student’s area of emphasis for the Ph.D. or D.M.A. degree, including at least 6 credits of Music 298. Courses taken as an M.A. student at UCSD may count towards doctoral requirements. Students should enroll in 298 with the committee members who will be providing qualifying questions for the exam.
  • Integrative Studies students must pass the Preliminary examination, the purpose of which is to evaluate a student’s command of content presented in the core Integrative Studies sequence (MUS 215 A-B-C) and of scholarly research and writing conventions more broadly. Students take the Preliminary Examination at the end of the spring quarter of their first year. The exam consists of written responses to questions provided by the professors who taught in the core sequence during that same year. The exam duration is three hours and it is proctored electronically. After the exam, the participating professors provide written feedback evaluating a student’s demonstrated proficiency and identifying any perceived shortcomings. If, in rare cases, those professors unanimously agree that the student has not passed the exam, then the student will not be allowed to continue in the program and will receive no further funding or support. In select cases, students may also be asked to repeat core coursework, even if they received a passing grade, in order to continue in the program. The overriding purpose of the exam, however, is constructive rather than punitive.
  • All Ph.D. students must submit one research paper (not previously submitted for any other degree) that is judged by the student’s committee to be of publishable quality. The topic and scope of the publishable paper will be developed with, and approved by, the student's Ph.D. committee chair.
  • Composition students must submit a folio of not fewer than three compositions (not previously accepted for an M.A. degree)
  • D.M.A. students must give at least one recital (not previously given for an M.A. degree)

The qualifying examination for ALL doctoral students consists of the following:

A written and oral defense of responses to three questions provided by the Doctoral Committee pertaining to appropriate areas of specialization. Qualifying exams must be well supported with appropriate and proper citations, and are most often in the range of 25 pages of written text for each question. Students have a 12-day period in which to write the qualifying exam and must deliver copies of their responses to each committee member and to the graduate staff advisor within that 12-day period. Final deliveries must be made on a regular UC San Diego work day, followed by a normative period of at least five work days before the exam defense can be held, so please schedule accordingly. Students are advised to schedule an agreeable date and time for the exam with their committee members and then work backwards to arrive at an acceptable date for receiving their questions. Successful completion of the qualifying exam marks the student's advancement to doctoral candidacy.

  • For Integrative Studies students, one question will involve a defense of the student's dissertation prospectus and the remaining two questions will pertain to the student's primary and secondary specialties. The dissertation prospectus is a document that presents the research topic of the dissertation, places it in the context of the relevant literature or in the context of recent artistic developments, discusses its significance, specifies and justifies the research methods, theoretical orientation, and/or artistic approach, and indicates the anticipated steps leading to completion.

AnchorDoctoral Completion Requirements

After successful completion of the qualifying examination, all students must remain in residence for at least three quarters, during which time they must enroll in twelve-units of Music 299 every quarter with their committee chair or other committee members. Students must provide a full copy of the doctoral research they wish to defend to the student's doctoral committee members four weeks prior to the doctoral defense. Materials previously submitted for other degrees are not acceptable, and in all cases a final public defense of the student’s doctoral work is required. It is understood that the edition of the dissertation given to committee members will not be the final form, and that committee members may request changes or revisions be made to the text after the defense. In extreme cases, another public defense may be merited.


  • For Composition students, completion of a major composition project.
  • For Computer Music students, completion of an acceptable dissertation.
  • For Integrative Studies students, completion of a book-length dissertation demonstrating original research and critical insight, or presentation of a major creative work and a substantive written defense of that work.
  • For D.M.A. students, completion of two more recitals, or: one recital plus one of the following: (a) a thesis or research project; (b) a concert or lecture recital that is innovative in design and/or content and which is supported by appropriate documentation as determined by the committee; or (c) two approved chamber music concerts, with appropriate documentation as determined by the committee.

All of the above doctoral completion requirements must have final approval from all members of a student's committee. Acceptance of the dissertation by the University Librarian represents the final step in completion of all requirements for the Ph.D. or D.M.A. degree. Click here for UC San Diego policy on Progress to Degree.