Texas Tech University

Doctoral Qualifying Examination (D.M.A. and PhD)

Doctor of Musical Arts Program

All D.M.A. programs require three separate examinations, collectively known as "The Qualifying Examination," the successful completion of which, in connection with the completion of required coursework, advance a student to Doctoral Candidacy.  The examinations in Music Theory and Music History are typically given on non-consecutive Saturdays in October/November, in March, and in June. Students are encouraged, but not required, to sit for both examinations during the same semester. 

The examination in the Major Area is conducted most often by the student's Doctoral Advisory Committee, the same committee that will oversee the completion of the student's D.M.A. Project and Document.  The major area examination and the D.M.A. Document Defense are separate, distinct oral examinations, and thus the committees for each need not be identical.

The student must pass all three parts of the Qualifying Examination for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree before enrolling in the fourth doctoral performance project. The Qualifying Examination for Admission to Candidacy for the D.M.A. degree is one of the major features of the program. The examination in its various parts requires a synthesis and application of knowledge acquired during the course of study for the D.M.A. degree; consequently, satisfactory performance in course work does not necessarily guarantee successful performance on the Qualifying Examination. A student is eligible to stand for these examinations after receiving approval of the "Program for the Doctoral Degree" from the Dean of the Graduate School and after completing most of the course work prescribed by the approved program. The student must be enrolled during the semester that any of examinations are taken.

Ph.D. Program

The Qualifying Examination for the Ph.D. in Fine Arts with an emphasis in Music is divided into four parts: Music Theory, Music History, major area, and Fine Arts core. Despite this examination structure, it is reported to the Graduate School as a single event. The examinations in Music Theory and Music History are typically given on non-consecutive Saturdays in October/November, in March, and in June. Students are encouraged, but not required, to sit for both examinations during the same semester. Check with the Associate Director for Graduate Studies for specific dates.

The Qualifying Examination for Admission to Candidacy for the doctoral degree is one of the major features of the doctoral program. The examination requires a synthesis and application of knowledge acquired during the course of study for the doctoral degree; consequently, satisfactory performance in course work does not necessarily guarantee successful performance on the Qualifying Examination. A student is eligible to stand for this examination after receiving approval of the "Program for the Doctoral Degree" from the Dean of the Graduate School and after completing most of the course work prescribed by the approved program. No part of the examination may be taken in absentia without approval from the Graduate School.

Procedure when the examination is satisfactory (D.M.A. and PhD)

Once the individual parts of Qualifying Examination have been successfully completed,  and if any requirements in languages (including English) and/or tool subjects have been met, the Associate Director for Graduate Studies and/or advisory committee will send to the Graduate Dean (for consideration by the Graduate Council) a formal letter stating the date of the examination, as well as a recommendation that the applicant be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree. A copy of the request is to be given to the Director of Graduate Studies for the record. The letter should state the date of the examinations and whether or not the student passed both the major and the core portions. This letter of recommendation is forwarded as soon as possible after all of the above requirements have been met.

Procedure when the examination is not satisfactory (D.M.A. and PhD)

If any part of the Qualifying Examination is not satisfactory, the chairperson of the advisory committee will notify the Associate Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Dean in writing. An applicant who does not pass a part of the Qualifying Examination may be permitted to repeat it once no sooner than the subsequent semester. Failure to pass the Qualifying Examination the second time will result in dismissal from the program irrespective of performance in other aspects of doctoral study.

Preparation Guides

Music Theory:

Music History:

For the Masterworks Pool for Doctoral Exams/Repertoire List for Qualifying Exams, please visit the Forms section of this handbook.

Ph.D. Core Examination

The core examination is designed to test the student's general understanding of concepts and materials implicit in the program of core courses required for the degree. The goal is to demonstrate an ability to relate general issues and concerns common to all the arts. It is not expected that any student should have the depth of specialized knowledge in the core that he or she will have in the major area.

Students should plan to take the core exam during the semester following the conclusion of their core class work, or at the end of the last semester in which they are enrolled in core classes. In consultation with his or her area advisor, the student selects the committee. One committee member must be from Art, one from Music, one from Philosophy, and one from Theatre. Ideally, the committee members will be drawn from the group of instructors who have taught the student in the core classes; when this is not possible, other core course instructors can be asked to serve on the committee. The student should contact the prospective committee members and ask if they will be on the committee. The Chair of the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts Graduate Committee is automatically the chair of the committee. All members of the committee, including the chair, are voting members.

As the committee is being formed or once the committee is formed, the student sets a target date for the exam in consultation with the committee. After the question has been approved and certified as approved by the Chair, the arrangements can be finalized. In consultation with the student and other committee members, the author of the question confirms the day and time for the exam and reserves a suitable room.

In responding to the question, the committee expects the student to demonstrate the ability:

  • to identify a single thesis or a set of central arguments in response to the question
  • to provide and explain convincing evidence to support the thesis/arguments
  • to respond intelligently to challenges to the thesis/arguments.

Additional information and sample questions may be found in the Guidelines to the Fine Arts Doctoral Program and on the TCVPA web site.

For more information, please contact:

Music Theory: Dr. Peter Martens at peter.martens@ttu.edu

Music History: Dr. Christopher J. Smith at christopher.smith@ttu.edu

 

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