Orchestral Instrument Performance

In the Doctor of Musical Arts in Orchestral Instrument Performance, you’ll bring creative and performance achievement to a high level while enriching your background with academic studies, including specialized training in music history, theory and other areas.

We prepare DMA candidates for superior performance and academic careers. We encourage interdisciplinary research and collaborative performance projects within the UBC School of Music or in the broader university environment.


  • Outstanding performing ability
  • Masters of Music degree in orchestral instrument performance or equivalent


You must complete a total of 44 credits in

  • 512E Directed Individual Studies - 3 credits (Ref. 1)
  • 649 Thesis (Ref. 1)
  • 693 Music Performance (693C strings; 693D brass/woodwind) - 6 credits
  • 694 Music Performance (694C strings; 694D brass/woodwind) - 8 credits
  • 695 Music Performance (695C strings; 695D brass/woodwind) - 10 credits
  • Seminar in Music History - 3 credits (Ref. 2)
  • Seminar in Music Theory - 3 credits (Ref. 2)
  • Seminars in Music History, Music Theory, or Ethnomusicology - 6 credits (Ref. 2)
  • Music Electives - 5 credits (Ref. 3)

Students take the division comprehensive examinations after completing all course work, except the final year of performance and Music 649. In addition, as part of the program of study and before the comprehensive examinations are taken, students must complete one solo recital with an accompanying keyboard instrument and one chamber music recital.

Note that students must complete any remedial requirements specified as a result of entrance examinations before admission to relevant academic seminars in Music History, Music Theory, and Ethnomusicology; completion of remedial requirements, furthermore, is a prerequisite for advancement to doctoral candidacy.

  1. Students shall register in Music 512E during their first term of study and remain registered in this course until they advance to doctoral candidacy. Although students may repeat Music 512 for credit, only three credits of 512 may be related to the subject of the DMA thesis. Once candidacy has been approved, students shall register in Music 649 and remain registered in this course until they complete their program.
  2. Courses for the required 500-level seminars in Music Theory, Music History, or Ethnomusicology must be taught by faculty in the Music Theory, Musicology, and Ethnomusicology Divisions.
  3. To include at least two credits of Performance Electives (ensembles), drawn from the list below. Music Electives shall usually be courses at the 500 level. However, courses at the 300- and 400-level to a maximum of 6 credits may be included with approval, provided they are not required for the B.Mus. degree in orchestral instrument performance. Music 520A (Introduction to Music Research) must be taken as a prerequisite (not counting for program credit) if its equivalent has not been completed elsewhere. Music 521A (WBP) or Music 521D (Strings): Seminar in Performance Practices must be taken if its equivalent has not been completed elsewhere; if taken, it may be counted toward elective credit.

Performance electives

  • 550 Large Instrumental Ensemble (4 credits)
  • 557 Early Music Ensemble (2 credits)
  • 559 University Chamber Strings (2 credits)
  • 560 String Chamber Ensemble (2 credits)
  • 562 Wind and Percussion Chamber Ensembles (2 credits)
  • 563 Contemporary Players (2 credits)
  • 564 Jazz Ensemble (2 credits)
  • 565 World Music Ensembles
  • 565A Chinese Ensemble (3 credits)
  • 565B Balinese Gamelan (3 credits)
  • 565C Korean Ensemble (3 credits)
  • 565D African Music and Dance Ensemble (3 credits)
  • 569 Intensive Specialized Chamber Ensemble (1-3 credits)

Comprehensive examinations

This examination is normally taken immediately before advancing to candidacy, following the completion of course work, acceptance of the thesis proposal and performance of the final recital and lecture recital. Questions focus on the performance area of the candidate.

The examination consists of three parts. You are strongly encouraged to prepare independently for this examination, using the general topic areas, before attempting Part I: Broad study questions.

Preparation time: 2 weeks

You are given three broad study questions for each of three general topic areas, determined by the division in question. This will lead to a submitted bibliography. Examples of general topic areas may include historical aspects of a given instrument’s development, repertoire, pedagogy, performance practice, aspects of operatic production, and development of educational programs.

Length: 4 hours

The written examination will be administered within one week of submitting the above bibliography. You will be given two questions for each of the three general topic areas above. They will choose one question from each area to compose three essay answers. The questions presented will be related to the broad study questions. You may use a laptop computer and music library resources.

Length: may vary with each student

Three days after your written examination, you will have to present your oral examinations. These examinations will be used to clarify and/or expand the written examination essay answers. In addition, questions may be posed which explore related subject areas.


Once you become a candidate, you will take three credits of Music 512E (Directed Individual Studies) to formulate a proposal for the thesis topic.

After your comprehensive examinations, you will complete one further solo recital with keyboard accompaniment and then the thesis.

The DMA thesis in orchestral instrument performance includes an in-depth analytical or historical study culminating in a lecture-recital with an accompanying document. The document intends to complement and amplify the lecture-recital.

Effective February 28, 2023, a DMA student should send a link to the final lecture-recital in an appropriate streaming format alongside the dissertation. For detailed information about DMA dissertation submission, visit the Submitting the Dissertation for External Examination section of the UBC Graduate School website.

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