At the University of Miami Frost School of Music, a Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) degree is offered in Jazz Performance (instrumental or vocal). This program requires a minimum of 60 credits beyond the master's degree, including studies in performance, jazz composition and arranging, and general core courses in music history, music theory, and music education. The program culminates with a doctoral essay. For more information, please contact Graduate Admissions at the Frost School of Music.

The Frost School’s Studio Music and Jazz Instrumental Program offers students the chance to study with top professionals via an innovative, concentrated, and individualized curriculum. The program is designed to train the total musician, developing skills in performance, composition, arranging, studio recording/technology, and music business/entrepreneurship. Frost students are exposed to a wide range of improvisation-based music, from the traditional jazz canon through the most current trends, while having the opportunity to develop an individual voice and pursue a personal musical direction. The MSJ faculty includes numerous Grammy award winners and nominees, a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, and veterans of the bands of Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Roy Haynes, Maria Schneider, Jack McDuff, Eddie Palmieri, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich and scores of other past and present jazz legends.

Our jazz graduates can be found in all corners of the music industry, performing with current jazz masters (Jeff “Tain” Watts, Esperanza Spaulding, Roy Haynes, David Liebman), TV orchestras (Jimmy Kimmel and Saturday Night Live bands), pop stars (Gloria Estefan, James Taylor, Rolling Stones, Paul Simon) and behind the scenes in recording studios, orchestra pits, and ensembles of all types and sizes throughout the world. Many are also accomplished composers, conductors, producers, and music business entrepreneurs. Frost jazz graduates populate all the world’s major music centers, and hold teaching positions at over one hundred universities and arts academies across the globe. Frost students routinely win awards from organizations such as Downbeat, ASCAP, Betty Carter Jazz Ahead, Thelonious Monk Institute, and numerous national instrumental competitions.

Frost jazz majors study one-on-one with a world-class private teacher each semester, along with courses in theory, keyboard, ear training, improvisation, arranging, composition, jazz history, music technology, and the business of music. At the core of the experiential curriculum is doing, and Frost students spend most of their time making music. The ensemble program includes both big bands and small groups, concentrating on a wide array of genres including classic bop, hard bop, post-bop, Latin, fusion, “ECM”, odd meter, Avant garde, and composer/theme ensembles dedicated to the music of the masters. Faculty artists Brian Lynch and Dafnis Prieto both mentor student-artist ensembles that feature both their own works and student compositions. Advanced students also can organize and direct their own ensembles for class credit.

Departmental student performances are scheduled twice a week, and numerous acclaimed international guest artists perform and lecture on campus each year. Recent artist residencies include Dave Holland, David Liebman, Chris Potter, Kenny Barron, Alan Ferber, Christian McBride, Jason Moran, Maria Schneider, and Joshua Redman. The Frost Henry Mancini Institute, under the artistic direction of James Newton Howard, affords students the opportunity to perform large-format works in conjunction with world renown guest performers, composers, and conductors.

Our jazz community is a recording culture! Jazz majors have access to four state-of-the-art recording facilities: the department’s own dedicated recording studio, the Weeks studio, the Gusman Hall Studio, and the film/media production lab. Find out more about Frost facilities, including the new Patricia L. Frost Faculty Studios, and visit our YouTube channel.

In addition to experiencing music on-campus, the greater Miami metropolitan area (population: five million) is rich with international, multiethnic opportunities for gigging, study, and fun. Students perform regularly in clubs, cafes, concert halls, and various other live venues. Frost students can also study abroad for a semester at four partner institutions located in Europe and Australia, and can participate in a five-year program combining the undergraduate performance degree with master’s in jazz pedagogy, effectively saving an entire year of graduate tuition. 

We invite you to contact Frost music admissions and schedule a visit to view in person the unique advantages of studying Studio Music and Jazz at Frost.

Admission Requirements

All applicants to the Frost School must submit the following items:

·       An online application

·       Application fee

·       Resume

·       Three letters of recommendation

·       Official transcripts from every post-secondary school attended

This graduate degree program also requires submission of certain supplemental materials, including:

·       Prescreen/performance

·       Live audition (preferred)

·       Writing sample

·       TOEFL/IELTS score, as applicable

For more detailed information, please visit our Graduate Admission website.

Curriculum Requirements

Performance Courses
Applied Lessons6
Performance Electives (improvisation, ensembles, applied lessons) 13
Creative Activities
MSJ 832Doctoral Recital (Taken once for 1 credit if MSJ 833 is selected, otherwise taken twice for 1 credit each) *3
Doctoral Recording Project (Taken once for 1 credit if approved by advisor; otherwise not taken)
Doctoral Lecture Recital (Taken once)
MSJ 831Doctoral Essay9
Jazz Courses
MSJ 644Jazz Pedagogy and Administration3
MSJ 720Analysis of Jazz Styles3
MED 790Teaching Music in College1
Jazz Performance Ensembles3
Jazz Electives2
Allied Music Courses
MCY 728Music Bibliography3
MTC 717Analytical Techniques (or other MTC course)3
MED 662Psychology of Music I3
Musicology/Music Theory Elective3
Select 12 credit hours of Cognate/Electives12
Total Credit Hours60

Jazz performance electives may be substituted for applied lesson credit hour with the permission of advisor.

To meet the 3 credits of culminating performance requirements for this degree, students can choose from two options:

Option 1: MSJ 832 Doctoral Recital (1 credit); MSJ 833 Doctoral Recording Project (1 credit); MSJ 834 Doctoral Lecture Recital (1 credit)

Option 2: MSJ 832 Doctoral Recital (1 credit); MSJ 832 Doctoral Recital (1 credit); MSJ 834 Doctoral Lecture Recital (1 credit)

Doctoral Qualifying Exams must be complete prior to the defense of the Doctoral Essay proposal.

Sample Plan of Study

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredit Hours
MSJ XX7 Applied Lessons 2
Jazz Performance Ensemble 1
Jazz Performance Elective (improv, ensembles, lessons) 3
MSJ 644 Jazz Pedagogy and Administration 3
Jazz Elective 1
 Credit Hours10
MSJ XX7 Applied Lessons 2
Jazz Performance Ensemble 1
MSJ 720 Analysis of Jazz Styles 3
MSJ 832 Doctoral Recital (or Elective) 1
MCY or MTC Elective 3
 Credit Hours10
Year Two
MCY 728 Music Bibliography (or MCY Elective) 3
MSJ XX7 Applied Lessons 2
Jazz Performance Ensemble 1
MSJ 831 Doctoral Essay 1
MTC 717 Analytical Techniques (or other MTC Elective) 3
 Credit Hours10
Jazz Performance Ensemble 1
MED 662 Psychology of Music I 3
MSJ 832 or 833 Doctoral Recital
or Doctoral Recording Project
Jazz Elective 1
Cognate/Elective(s) 3
MSJ 831 Doctoral Essay 1
 Credit Hours10
Year Three
Jazz Performance Ensemble 1
MSJ 834 Doctoral Lecture Recital 1
MED 790 Teaching Music in College 1
Cognate/Electives 6
MSJ 831 Doctoral Essay 1
 Credit Hours10
Jazz Performance Ensemble 1
Cognate/Electives 3
MSJ 831 Doctoral Essay (or Cognate/Elective) 6
 Credit Hours10
 Total Credit Hours60

* This is a suggested Plan of Study.  Your actual course sequence may vary depending on your previous academic experience as well as current course offerings.  Students should meet with their academic advisor each semester to determine the appropriate course selection.

*Doctoral Qualifying Exams must be complete prior to the defense of the Doctoral Essay/Dissertation proposal.


The mission of the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Jazz Performance is to:

  • Provide the terminal degree through advanced, in-depth study in the areas of musicianship and performance practice that will support a professional performance career as a jazz artist;
  • Provide performance opportunities that integrate the skills learned in both performance and academic classes, foster creativity and research, demonstrate advanced musical techniques and a thorough understanding of historical style and performance practice;
  • Continue to develop the skills for analyzing and articulating thoughts about music in a scholarly written format;
  • Provide requisite skills to manage the non-performance aspects of a career.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will demonstrate proficiency in musical and academic presentation skills necessary to support a professional career as a leader in the music industry.
  • Students will demonstrate understanding and application of jazz scholarship on an approved research project related to the major area of study.
  • Students will develop individual instrumental performance skills necessary to be competitive in jazz and contemporary music professions. Students will be able to prepare difficult musical performances without assistance.