The Doctoral Cognate for the Doctor of Musical Arts

Within the 60 credit hours required for the Doctor of Musical Arts, students may select a formal area of study known as the cognate.  A total of 12 credit hours are devoted to the cognate.  If a cognate is not selected, the student should work with the advisor to select a meaningful collection of elective courses that complement the student’s discipline. 

The cognate allows the student to obtain specialized knowledge and skill in an additional area of music. For example, a student pursuing the DMA in instrumental performance may wish to obtain a cognate in musicology or music business. Completion of a cognate should give the student a heightened level of understanding in this topic area, and could give the student a competitive advantage when pursuing post-graduation opportunities. When completed, cognates are listed on the student’s official transcript.

Doctoral Cognate Policies

  • Cognates are offered in a number of Departments within the Frost School. Students must apply to the cognate for acceptance; a process that may include an audition, interview, portfolio submission, or testing as determined by the Faculty-in-Charge for that cognate. 
  • Students must complete all requirements specified for a cognate to be recognized as having completed the cognate.  Otherwise, the credits will be considered electives and the cognate will not be granted. 
  • In order to ensure completion of the cognate in a timely manner, students should decide on a cognate no later than the end of their second semester of full-time study.
  • No credits required in the DMA program can apply to the cognate.  Any overlap will require approved course substitutions within either the DMA program or the cognate as determined to be most appropriate by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.
  • One course substitution is allowed within the 12 credits of the doctoral cognate. Any proposed substitutions must first be approved by the Faculty-in-Charge of the cognate, and subsequently by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in the Frost School, using this form: Click Here for Form. Ideally, the substituted course should reside within the same Department as the required course.
  • If a course that is required in a cognate has already been taken in a previous graduate degree, then a course waiver request must first be approved by the Faculty-in-Charge of the cognate, and subsequently the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in the Frost School, using this form: Click Here for Form.   Ideally, the replacement course should reside within the same Department as the waived course.

Procedures for completing a cognate

  • Contact the Faculty-in-Charge for the desired cognate (see below for list).
  • Complete the application process for that cognate.
  • If the student is accepted into the cognate, the Faculty-in-Charge must then complete and sign a Doctoral Cognate Acceptance Form as found here: Click Here for Formand submit it to the Frost School Office of Graduate Studies.
  • Obtain a copy of the requirements for the identified cognate (click on links below).
  • Complete all required courses in the cognate with a grade of C- or higher. The cognate can then be listed on the student’s official transcript at the time of degree conferral.

Available Doctoral Cognates

Doctoral Cognate
Faculty-in-Charge
Gary Wood
Choral Conducting
Karen Kennedy
Collaborative Piano Santiago Rodriguez
Conducting – Instrumental

Thom Sleeper (orchestral)
Rob Carnochan (wind)

Instrumental Performance

Richard Todd (brass)
Svet Stoyanov (percussion)
Ross Harbaugh (strings)
Margaret Donaghue (winds)

Jazz Performance John Daversa
Keyboard Pedagogy Naoko Takao
Music Business Serona Elton
Music Education Stephen Zdzinski
Music Technology Will Pirkle
Musicology David Ake
Theory Charles Mason
Vocal Accompanying Alan Johnson