Difference between DMA and Ph.D in Music

Ambitious, success, career are all part of life that make you stronger and wiser. Among all the professions music is one which is fairly diverse and indifferent. It is an art and a collection of feelings and emotions. Only talented people enroll themselves in music school. This is because it requires passion, consistency and skills. There are many institutes that preach music and every year hundreds of students take admissions. However, you may be surprised to know that just like other professions music also holds degrees like DMA (Doctorate of Musical Arts) and Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy in Music). Both of them are master degrees but encompass a world of difference. This article addresses the major difference between them. Give it a read if you want to learn about them. 


As per the board of musical education, DMA works on the principles of performances. On the other hand, Ph.D. is more of research and findings. Some candidates have chosen DMA over Ph.D. saying that it seems boring!

Thesis and Dissertations

DMA encompasses small recital components whereas in Ph.D. extended, lengthy dissertations and analysis are present. DMA also has dissertations as a part of the study program but is not as elongated as Ph.D.

Difference of title

As mentioned earlier DMA is related to performance and Ph.D. is more of research the title one gets is “professors of compositions” for DMA holders and “Professor of Musical Theory” for those holding Ph.D. degrees.

Length of course work

As far as DMA dissertations are concerned, there are about 40k to 50k words however dissertations and research papers in Ph.D. word limits outstretch to about 100k words.

Difference of activity

DMA is all about performances and practical work. You think, composer, write and play. On other hand, Ph.D. links to extensive research with no practical performances at all. All the concerts and stage shows you see are done by DMA holders. However, the backstage work and all its belonging work are supervised by Ph.D. graduates. 


For those students who are more concerned with playing, giving diverse ideas and topics related to music should go for DMA. For those willing to stay isolated in a calm environment for hours and hours thinking in silence then yes! Ph.D. is your choice.

Final verdict

No degree or study program is superior to another. Either DMA or Ph.D. both hold equal those. It depends on the candidate what he or she will choose. Musical knowledge is a divine gift and not everyone is blessed with  it. The next time you see someone seeking to pursue a master’s in music, just tell them the main things regarding DMA and Ph.D. 

5 3 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago


2 years ago

原來DMA 論文和博士論文與研究論文有字數上的差別

2 years ago


8 months ago
Reply to  MusicHobbyist

Respectfully disagree. Some exceedingly talented performers earned their PhD instead of DMA. Also, composition is not the only music degree. Best of luck!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x