The most advanced degree available, the Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Piano Performance provides in-depth and a laser focus in a specific research topic, thus providing a unique position to the DMA graduate.

Our DMA in piano students benefit from a wide range of performance opportunities, teaching internships and assistantships. The DMA is a powerful tool in the pursuit of a successful career in music.


  • Outstanding performing ability
  • Master of Music degree in piano performance, or equivalent
  • Knowledge of the music for keyboard instruments from its origin to the twentieth-century


You must complete a total of 43 credits in

  • 512E Directed Individual Studies - 3 credits (Ref. 1)
  • 649 Thesis (Ref. 1)
  • 692A Music Performance (Piano) - 4 credits
  • 694A Music Performance (Piano) - 8 credits
  • 695A Music Performance (Piano) - 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 (to include 521D if its equivalent has not been completed elsewhere) - 6 credits. (Ref. 3)
  • The student’s first recital, attached to Music 694A (taken during the first year of the DMA program), is to be a solo recital.

Division comprehensive examinations are to be taken following all coursework except the final year of Music Performance and Music 649.

In addition, as part of the program of study and before you take your comprehensive examinations, you must complete one solo recital and one chamber music recital. Finally, you must meet any remedial requirements specified in your entrance examinations to relevant academic seminars in music history, music theory, and ethnomusicology. Furthermore, the completion of remedial requirements 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. Once candidacy has been approved, students will 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. Normally courses at the 500 level, although 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 piano 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. Although students may repeat Music 512 for credit, only three credits of 512 may be related to the subject of the DMA Thesis. Students are strongly advised to enrol in 561A (Chamber Music) in preparation for the required chamber recital. It is also recommended that students enrol in 535 (Song Interpretation) during their course of study.

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 (I, II, and III below). 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 will be given three broad study questions related to the 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 narrowly focused questions related to each of the three general topic areas above. You will choose one 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.


After successfully completing the comprehensive examinations, DMA candidates will take three credits of Music 512E (Directed Individual Studies) to formulate a proposal for the thesis topic. Once a thesis proposal is finalized and approved by the candidate’s committee, the student will proceed to candidacy.

The DMA thesis in piano includes an in-depth analytical or historical study culminating in a lecture-recital with an accompanying document. The intent of the document is 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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