Doctoral Qualifying Examinations

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All Frost School of Music Doctoral students (DMA and Ph. D.) must take doctoral qualifying examinations. These substantive exams represent a significant milestone within the doctoral degree and help to determine a student’s readiness for moving forward with the final project. To explain further, the doctoral qualifying exams are not an assessment of what a student has learned thus far in doctoral coursework, but rather an indicator of knowledge and skills acquired throughout a lifetime of musical training and experience. These exams determine whether or not a student has gained the depth and breadth of knowledge appropriate to the discipline, such that the individual shows potential to function independently as a pedagogue and scholar. Consequently, students should be well-prepared for these exams.

Please read below for exam policies and specific exam instructions for each doctoral degree program.

Policies Relevant to All Doctoral Qualifying Examinations

  •  All qualifying exam components must be successfully completed before a student can apply for doctoral committee approval, defend the dissertation proposal or doctoral essay proposal, and apply for Doctoral Candidacy.
  • If a student fails a qualifying exam (or a portion of the exam), s/he can re-take the exam in a subsequent semester, with departmental approval.  A student who fails a qualifying examination (or portion of the exam) for a second time will be dismissed from the degree program.
  • Successful completion of doctoral qualifying examinations is documented by an appropriate faculty member within the student’s major department (i.e., advisor or exam coordinator), using the Doctoral Qualifying Results form that is submitted to the Frost School Office of Graduate.
  • Doctoral proposal defenses may be scheduled in the same semester as qualifying exam completion.

Next Steps:  What Happens after Qualifying Examinations?

After successfully completing these exams, doctoral students should follow these steps, in this order:

  1. Apply for Doctoral Committee approval from the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in the Frost School.  
  2. Defend the proposal for the Doctoral Dissertation or Doctoral Essay.  
  3. Apply for Doctoral Candidacy. This form is found on the Graduate School website at: Graduate School Forms