D.M.A. in Performance with local concentration in Jazz Studies

The D.M.A. in Performance with a local concentration (major) in Jazz Studies was approved by the UNT Graduate Council in September 2011. It received NASM approval at the November 2011 Commission meeting.

For further information about this major, please contact jazz@unt.edu.

For information on the Jazz Studies related field at the doctoral level, see this page in our student handbook.

Admission Requirements

  1. Apply for admission to UNT through the Toulouse Graduate School (tgs.unt.edu/).
  2. Apply for admission to the College of Music with the application for admission, audition, scholarship, fellowship and assistantships available at music.unt.edu. The application allows you to submit a representative sample of your work in digital format (required file formats are listed below) for the required pre-screening materials. Also required: submit a letter of application and a professional resume as PDF documents uploaded as part of your college of music application. The letter must describe your professional background, make a statement of purpose for pursuing the degree, and outline your professional goals.
  3. The deadline for the pre-screening materials is the first Monday in December.
  4. If, on the basis of the materials submitted in step 3, you are invited for an on-campus audition: Perform an on-campus audition, and, while on campus for the audition, have an interview with members of the jazz faculty. Audition requirements are listed below. Students may choose to emphasize performance or composition/arranging in the applied study and dissertation portions of the degree. Students who wish to emphasize composition/arranging must pass a performance audition at the doctoral level in addition to submitting scores and recordings. The Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 audition date is strongly recommended for this audition.
  5. Submit GRE score (Analytical Writing Portion only) or take on-campus writing exam administered by the Jazz Studies Division during graduate orientation. More information about our GRE requirement.
  6. Attend all orientation sessions scheduled by the director of graduate studies in music.
  7. Take the Graduate Placement Examination (GPE) given by the College of Music.

Required file formats
Performance must be documented with video recordings. The higher the sound quality, the better. The image size does not need to be larger than 720p. HD quality is recommended but not required. The College of Music application interface allows you to upload files. For those who intend to pursue the emphasis in jazz composition and arranging, score examples must be submitted in PDF. Audio files should be submitted in mp3 at 320kbps (the highest quality mp3).

Audition requirements
Applicants to this program must choose as their principal instrument one of those instruments for which we have one or more full-time faculty members in the Jazz Studies division: saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar, bass, drumset, voice, and jazz strings (violin, viola, cello).

If you are invited for an on-campus audition/interview, you'll be asked to send a sample of your research-based writing from your master's degree work in advance of the audition. It doesn't have to be a master's thesis. It can be a research paper from a class. It should be on a jazz-related topic. The interview will cover your career goals, research interests, teaching interests, and the writing sample.

  • Bass UNT is an upright oriented program. Placement into most lab bands does require ability to play upright and electric well. A typical DMA applicant has a very high degree of proficiency on their instrument and a clear command of the jazz language. They will have had professional performance experience in addition to academic study.

    Pre-Screening video recordings are required of all DMA jazz bass applicants. Each selection on the video recording should be an uninterrupted, unedited, continuous performance. Include up to five tunes of contrasting tempo and style. In one of the selections include a portion that demonstrates your ability to play something with a bow. Try to include groups of different sizes (from trio, to big band) to demonstrate a variety of performance capabilities. These must be with a live ensemble. Playing with tracks is not acceptable.
    Confirmation of a live audition and interview date will be sent by email approximately one month prior to the audition.
    UPDATE: Given the ongoing situation with COVID-19, the UNT College of Music will hold all admission auditions and interviews for the 2021-22 academic year virtually. Live virtual auditions will occur through Acceptd on the dates listed below. Additional details will be provided once applications are submitted and reviewed.

    University of North Texas - Virtual Live Auditions
    Friday, February 5, 2021 (Graduate Percussion, Piano, Strings, Voice and DMA Jazz ONLY**)

    To learn more about our jazz bass and improvisation teacher Professor Lynn Seaton, click here to visit his website: www.lynnseaton.com

    Audition requirements for bass:
    Play a live audition and interview for admission into the College of Music that will contain some of the following:

    • All of the required skills at the Graduate and Undergraduate level
    • Ability to improvise a stylistically appropriate bass line and solo on a chart of complex jazz harmony (e.g. Wayne Shorter or Thelonious Monk tunes, etc.)

    • Ability to solo and improvise a walking bass line on common jazz variations on a 12 bar blues progressions in all 12 keys

    • Ability to solo and improvise a walking bass line on the progression to "I Got Rhythm" (Rhythm Changes) in all 12 keys
    • Ability to play: the melody, an improvised bass line, and solo on several jazz tunes/standards from memory.
 Please bring a two part list of songs that you know from memory. One section of that list will be ten (or more) tunes you know with the melody and chords. The second will be a section of fifteen (or more) tunes that you know only the chords. Please bring 4 copies of lead sheets for all the tunes on your list from both sections. There will be a live rhythm section of talented students that will accompany you in your live audition. You will perform selected tunes from both sections.
    • Ability to sight-read bass line charts with written lines in several different rhythmic styles (swing, bossa nova, rock, funk, etc.)

    • Ability to sight-read an improvised walking bass line and solo on tunes (jazz lead sheets and big band charts)
    • Ability to play at least two contrasting pieces in the classical style is recommended. At least two years of college-level classical double bass lessons experience is highly recommended. Attention will be paid to time feel, stylistic authenticity, technical proficiency, tone, musical background, overall musicianship, and potential for development. Even if you do a live audition for admission, submitting a video is still necessary for scholarship consideration.
  • Composition The study within this degree program culminates with a work of approximately 25 minutes for symphonic jazz orchestra (orchestral instrumentation with rhythm section – extra horns, electronic or percussion instruments, and voices are optional) with improvisation occupying no more than one third of the composition.
    For the pre-screening evaluation, please submit the following materials. Please note that applicants for the composition emphasis must also submit prescreening materials for an instrument because admission into the composition emphasis requires performance ability that would enable admission as a performer of that instrument.
    1. a cover letter stating your professional history as a composer/arranger, your present and future artistic aspirations, and why you want to attain this degree;
    2. a video recording of you performing one of your compositions in a jazz group context that also includes your improvisation (please exclude other improvisers unless you are accompanying that improviser);
    3. your best long-form composition for big band (no blues or standard song forms) with no more than 33% improvisation in the arrangement;
    4. one work of any length that demonstrates some ability to score for instruments (or voices) outside of the typical big band instrumentation.

    Scores should be submitted electronically as PDFs and accompanied with mp3 recordings.

    If the pre-screening evaluation is satisfactory, you will be invited to send more materials for review. At that time you will need to supply a portfolio of compositions consisting of larger works (long form or through-composed; no typical song or blues forms unless they have significant formal development with expansive introductions, transitions or interludes, and endings) that demonstrate a mastery of the jazz genre. Other stylistic influences (including classical music) are welcomed. Instrumentation can include big band, orchestra, vocal ensembles, or various chamber groups as well as electronic composition.

    Scores should be in digital PDF format with recordings (mp3s) and should be emailed directly to: Richard DeRosa, director of jazz composition and arranging.

  • Drumset All pre-screening audition material must be a live performance. Playing with tracks is not acceptable. Broad performance configurations, i.e., from trio to big band, are preferred in order to demonstrate a variety of improvisational styles both within the ensemble and as a soloist. If a live audition is granted the applicant's sight reading skills will be assessed along with further examination of improvisational and technical skills. The applicant's knowledge of jazz history in general and, specifically, the evolution of the drum set and rhythm section in jazz, will also be examined.
  • Guitar For the pre-screening evaluation, applicants for the DMA with a major in jazz guitar must present a high-quality video of a live performance/concert with a group, which should be at least 40 minutes in length. It is recommended that this include one solo guitar presentation. Play-along tracks are not acceptable for this audition. Include a cover letter, which addresses your career history, present and future artistic aspirations, and reasons for pursuing this degree.

    If you are invited to campus to audition, you will play with a rhythm section, demonstrate sight-reading skills and be interviewed by faculty. Knowledge of the guitar in jazz history and a variety of jazz styles is recommended.

  • Piano You are first required to submit a pre-screening video to determine if you will receive an invitation for a live audition. Please upload these video-recordings through the Acceptd application portal by the preferred admission deadline for full consideration. You will then be notified if you qualify for an audition.
    Guidelines for Prescreening Round:
    Submit the following:
    1. High-quality recordings of studio and/or live performances (preferably a mix of both), totaling approximately thirty (30) minutes and displaying a wide range of pianistic styles, tempi, and techniques. You must include at least one solo piano piece (not necessarily a ballad), and the remainder of the pieces should be performed with a live rhythm section, not a backing track. Please upload each piece as a separate video file with the filename “FirstNameLastName_PieceTitle”.
    2. At least one example of academic writing in English, e.g. a Master’s thesis or course paper with a works cited
    3. OPTIONAL: Other original compositions, videos or creative projects to round out your prescreening application

      Guidelines for Live Audition Round:
      If you are notified that you have passed the prescreening round, you will be asked to do a live audition. All DMA auditions must be in-person, not remote (even for international applicants). You are encouraged to arrange a multi-day visit, allowing you sit in on classes, receive a trial lesson from Prof. Dave Meder, and check out our local music scene. Sign up for the specific audition date designated for DMA Jazz Applicants in Acceptd. Each DMA audition lasts approximately one hour. If this date is not possible due to a documented schedule conflict, please email Prof. Dave Meder to schedule a different date, and select “Arranged Audition” in the Acceptd portal.
      Please prepare a program of no more than thirty (30) minutes, to include at least the following:
      1. A slow blues or spiritual
      2. A medium tempo jazz standard (not a blues or rhythm changes piece)
      3. An up-tempo rhythm changes piece
      4. A solo ballad (rubato, in-time, or a mix of both)
      5. An original composition (please also upload a PDF of the score or lead sheet)
      6. A straight eighths and/or odd meter piece (if not already covered by the original composition)
      7. OPTIONAL: A piece from the standard, common practice “classical” repertoire: recommended technical difficulty comparable to a Prelude and Fugue of J.S. Bach, a sonata allegro movement, or a Concert Etude of Chopin, Liszt, Scriabin, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Bartok, Debussy or Ligeti.

      You will have a live rhythm section available to accompany you. Please bring all necessary music. You have the option of performing other pieces besides the ballad as solo piano.
      You will also be asked to:

      1. Discuss your academic writing sample (submitted in the prescreening)
      2. Describe your research interests, career goals, and preferred teaching assignments
      3. Sight-read and transpose a lead sheet (comping and improvising)
      4. Analyze a jazz standard in terms of harmonic functions
      5. Other tasks designed to assess your overall musicianship

      Jazz piano applicants who may not have extensive background in classical study should still apply and audition. The classical repertoire of the prescreening audition is completely optional and evaluated holistically, with much greater weight placed on the jazz audition.
      International applicants for the jazz piano DMA will also be required to take a short analytical writing exam, which will consist of reading a brief excerpt from an academic journal and answering related comprehension questions.

      Saxophone For the pre-screening evaluation, applicants for the DMA with a major in jazz saxophone must present a high-quality video of a live performance/concert, which must be a minimum of 40 minutes in length. They may include one performance or a composite of several excerpts from different performances with a group (however, no excerpt may be less than 10 minutes in length). Content of all recordings must be current within three months of your submission.

      It is recommended that the selections submitted should include a broad spectrum of styles and tempos.

      Include a cover letter, which addresses your career history, present and future artistic aspirations, and reasons for pursuing this degree.

      If a live audition is granted, the following will be expected:

      1. The applicant will present a live performance presentation with a provided rhythm section.
      2. The applicant will be expected to perform two jazz standards submitted at the time of your audition by Professor Leali (with the provided rhythm section).
      3. The applicant's sight-reading will be assessed.
      4. The applicant's knowledge of the history of jazz saxophone will be examined in the format of a verbal presentation.


      Candidates applying for a DMA in Performance, Jazz Studies major field on jazz trombone should prepare video recordings of the following for submission as the pre-screening video:

      • One (1) Bordogni (Rochut) Etude; Unaccompanied from selected numbers 1-60.
      • Confirmation, at a comfortable tempo for the applicant:
      • One Medium or Medium-Up Swing tune from the American Songbook (i.e. composed by Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, etc. The original version of the tune should have lyrics.)
      • One jazz ballad performed at a ballad tempo (Quarter note = 60 or slower)
      • One tune with straight eighth-note feel. (i.e. Bossa Nova, Mambo, Jazz-Latin, etc.)
      • Optional: one original composition

      Applicants will be invited for an on-campus audition based on an evaluation of the pre-screening video.

      For the on-campus audition audition, the applicant should provide a repertoire list of 10 selections covering a broad range of styles, tempos, and historical jazz periods (i.e. bebop, hard bop, modal, modern, etc). Applicants should bring sight-readable lead sheets for the rhythm section for any and all compositions. In addition, DMA applicants should bring at least one original composition, with lead sheets for the panel and rhythm section. The audition will also include an interview that will address your career plans, research interests, and preferred teaching assignment(s) and how you would approach them.

      For questions about the trombone audition, contact Prof. Nick Finzer at nicholas.finzer@unt.edu.

      Trumpet For the pre-screening evaluation, applicants for the DMA with a major in jazz trumpet must submit high-quality videos of a live performance/concert with a group, which should total at least 40 minutes in length. The pre-screening may contain lead playing (no more than half) but must contain examples of improvisation. Play-along tracks are not acceptable for this audition. Include a cover letter that addresses your career history, present and future artistic aspirations, and reasons for pursuing this degree. If you are invited to campus to audition, you will play with a rhythm section, demonstrate sight-reading skills, and be interviewed by faculty. Knowledge of the trumpet in jazz history and a variety of jazz styles is recommended.

      Violin, Viola, and Cello All applicants for the D.M.A. in Performance with Jazz Studies major field must submit a pre-screening video. Applicants in Jazz Strings must submit a video of a recent public performance in a duo or small group setting. The video should be approximately 30 minutes long and should include several selections in a variety of tempos and time feels. Applicants will be invited for an on-campus audition based on an evaluation of the pre-screening video. Applicants are also asked to submit one example of a piece of research-based writing that was completed during master’s study.

      The on-campus audition for the D.M.A in Performance with Jazz Studies major field will consist of: 1) play the melody and improvise on "Donna Lee" (mm. = 220 or above) by Charlie Parker; 2) a ballad, including melody and improvisation, selected from "Body and Soul" by Johnny Green (in D flat), "'Round Midnight" by Thelonious Monk, or "Skylark" by Hoagy Carmichael; 3) a non-classical piece in a style of the applicant’s choice; 4) an improvisation based on a chord progression that the applicant will listen to and then improvise on; 5) a movement from a Bach Partita/Sonata or Suite; 6) a sightreading example; and 7) and an interview that will address the applicant’s creative and scholarly interests, preparation for teaching, and career goals.

      For further information, contact Prof. Scott Tixier at scott.tixier@unt.edu.

      Voice All pre-screening DMA auditions for jazz voice must be in digital video format, and each selection on the video recording should be an unedited, continuous performance. All of the recorded music must be with a live band (no play-along tracks). The total duration of the videos submitted must not exceed 30 minutes. If a live audition is granted, the applicant's sight-reading, vocal technique and pianistic skills will be assessed along with an additional live performance presentation with a provided rhythm section. The applicant's knowledge of the evolution of jazz singing tradition will also be examined in the format of a verbal presentation.

      Vocal selections submitted should include a broad spectrum of styles and tempos, from ballads to very up-tempo tunes (1/4 note = 240+). At least two selections at contrasting tempos/styles should contain demonstrations of syllabic (wordless) improvisation over musical selections with advanced harmonic language.

      Strong candidates will display a thorough knowledge and understanding of both historic and modern jazz styles, will demonstrate thorough command of their instrument technically/pedagogically and will have had documented experience in both teaching and performing jazz in a variety of settings professionally. Candidates who possess significant composing and/or arranging experience or instrumental skills (other than voice) will also be viewed favorably.

Major Field in Jazz Studies
Last 60 Hours of Study

1. Major performance, 16 hours
Applied instruction in performance, 12 hours
MULB 5174 Large jazz ensemble, 2 hours
MUCM 5550 Jazz chamber music, 2 hours

2. Literature of the major field, 6 hours
MUJS 6010 Doctoral Seminar in Jazz History and Analysis, 3 hours
MUJS 6020 Doctoral Seminar in Jazz Pedagogy, 3 hours

3. Dissertation, 12 hours.
The written documentation should be at a level acceptable for peer-reviewed publication. Choose one of the following:
Option I: 3 recitals (3 credits each); 1 lecture/recital (50–60 minutes) with performance and critical essay (25 page minimum) for a total of 3 credits;
Option II: 3 recitals (3 credits each); 1 lecture (50–60 minutes) with thesis* (30 page minimum) for a total of 3 credits; or
Option III: 3 recitals (3 credits each); 1 written project with doctoral document (100 page minimum) for a total of 3 credits.
* Thesis registration is a minimum of 6 hours of registration.

4. Musicology/Music Theory Component, 9 hours
1. Musicology: 3 to 6 hours of 5000- or 6000-level courses to be chosen in consultation with the advisor.
2. Music Theory: 3 to 6 hours of 5000- or 6000-level courses to be chosen in consultation with the advisor.

5. Related field in music, 12 hours
Choose from one of the following areas of study: collaborative piano, composition, computer music, conducting, contemporary music, early music, ethnomusicology, music and medicine, music education, music theory, musicology, opera, sacred music, or vocal pedagogy.

6. Electives, 5 hours
Choose from any field in music or outside of music at the 5000 or 6000 level. Electives in jazz arranging and composition are suggested. Competence in arranging is an entrance requirement.

Frequently-asked Questions

Q. What is the deadline for applications?
A. The College of Music sets the deadline this way:
"To be considered for admission in the Fall semester, preference will be given to applications received by the first Monday in December. Applications received after that date will be reviewed, and auditions will be scheduled on a case by case basis depending on space availability."

Q. Is the Major performance part of the degree (the private lessons, large ensemble, and small group) in the jazz or classical idiom?
A. Jazz.

Q. What sort of job can I get with the DMA in Performance with a local concentration in Jazz Studies?
A. We expect that most if not all of the students in the program will be earning the doctoral degree in order to seek academic positions, including teaching positions and academic leadership positions such as Director of Jazz Studies.

Q. What kind of preparation do you expect students to have? A certain degree in a certain field?
A. Our entrance standard will be measured against a completed Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies at UNT, just as we consider the completed Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies at UNT as the standard for admission to our M.M. in Jazz Studies. A master's degree in Jazz Studies is the most relevant kind of preparation, along with professional experience. A master's degree in a closely-related field, with a substantial amount of work in jazz at the master's level, would be next most relevant kind of preparation. Students who lack this level of preparation, but otherwise meet the admission requirements (pass the audition, have high enough GPA and GRE score [remember--GRE Analytical Writing section only, not the entire GRE; or take the jazz studies in-house writing exam after admission]), may be assigned review courses at the master's level. These add time to completion of the degree and don't count towards the degree.

Q. What sort of financial aid do you provide to doctoral students?
A. Many doctoral students will be offered teaching fellowships or assistantships in Jazz Studies. For out of state students, this enables the student to pay tuition at the in-state rate. One of the things that make this an excellent place to earn a doctoral degree is the fact that our undergraduate and master's programs are large (190 and 70 majors, respectively). That means there will be a variety of opportunities to gain teaching experience while earning the degree. A small number of doctoral students will be offered full tuition scholarships along with a teaching fellowship.

Q. How much does a teaching fellowship pay?
A. The current pay rate for a full-time teaching fellowship (20 hours per week of teaching including some time for preparation) for a student who has earned 18 or more graduate hours is $6,400 per semester.

Q. What sorts of teaching do teaching fellows and teaching assistants do?
A. There is a list of their assignments on our faculty page.

Q. What is the cost of tuition and fees at UNT?
A. A full class assignment for a grad student is 9 semester hours. For current information on tuition and UNT fees, see this page. There are College of Music fees on top of that that can amount to several hundred dollars per semester depending on which classes a student is taking. As of Fall 2015, UNT provides a scholarship that covers 6 graduate credits per semester for all full-time teaching assistants or teaching fellows, and most of our doctoral students will be full-time TAs or TFs.

Q. How many doctoral students do you plan to admit?
A. The program will be selective. We anticipate admitting around five students the first year.

Q. You want applicants to submit recordings and play an on-campus audition?
A. Correct. We will study the recordings along with the documents you send as we prepare to listen to your on-campus audition and have the interview while you are here for the on-campus audition.

Q. I just completed a master's degree. Am I eligible to apply?
A. You are eligible to apply. The Jazz Studies faculty has expressed a preference for applicants who have professional experience along with academic training. Some students may have had professional experience before starting their master's work, or may have had professional experiences mixed in with their academic work. There is not a rule that prevents a student from continuing from a master's into our doctoral program. But if the only experience a student has is academic, that application will not be as competitive as applications that show extensive professional experiences.

Q. When you write "professional experience," do you mean only performing?
A. We mean performing, teaching, composing/arranging, or other professional experiences, or some combination.

Q. What is the residency requirement?
A. From the graduate catalog: "The minimum residence requirement for jazz studies students consists of two consecutive long terms/semesters (fall and the following spring, or spring and the following fall) with a minimum load of 9 hours each term/semester."

Q. Will I be able to complete all of the course work in two long semesters?
A. It wil take longer than two long semesters to complete all of the required course work.

Q. Are any of the required classes offered online?
A. Not at present.

Q. How many of the required classes are offered in summer sessions?
A. Few of the jazz classes are. Some of the classes in the music theory/music history component and the related field are.

Q. Which instruments can students in this program have as their principal instrument?
A. The instruments for which we have one or more full-time faculty members in the Jazz Studies division: saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar, bass, drumset, voice.

Q. I am primarily a composer. Can I apply for this program?
A. Composers are eligible to apply for this program. They must demonstrate a performance level that would gain them admission to this program as performers. If a composer passes the playing audition and the review of scores and is admitted to the program, the applied study and the dissertation work would be in composition, or a mix of composition and performance, and the student would be expected to play on at least part of the recitals for the dissertation.

Q. What if I only compose, or I play but not at a level that would enable me to pass the performance audition?
A. Students in that situation may apply to UNT's Ph.D. in Composition. If you meet the requirements for admission and are accepted, you may do part of your applied study and dissertation work in the jazz idiom. For further information about the Ph.D. in Composition, see the Division of Composition Studies website.