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Topic: Affording Doctoral Studies?

  1. #1

    Affording Doctoral Studies?

    Anybody here take time off to get a DMA or phD in Composition?

    I'd like to find a way to do it, but with a new wife and new mortgage, I can't really imagine how I could do without my salary for a 2-3 years while I study, and there don't seem to be a lot of "night school" options for composing. Even if I can get a full scholarship and teaching assistantship somewhere, I don't know how I would keep up with my mortgage, etc.

    Has anybody managed to "take time off" for graduate study while still maintaining a family's worth of financial committments? Any advice on how to make it happen?


  2. #2

    Re: Affording Doctoral Studies?

    Hmm ...

    do you think it will be of use then? Maybe it depends on the circumstances.

    I spent 7 years for a non-finished PhD in physics in university. First it was fine but the last three years I had to live from gigs because my university contract was expired but the result was not there yet. Nevertheless I worked full-time there. At the end I was completely burned out, financially and in regards of health. I had my results but no power any more to finish the thesis.

    Nevertheless I learned a lot in that time that I would not have learnt elsewhere.

    So if I would have your choice I would ask myself for what it should be good for. Is the tuition that you can get there so much better than to develop your own style? Will it help or could it hinder? Could you have better chances to get a job as a resident composer or a professor for composition by that or would it be more of use to have a good list of published and performed works plus maybe some awards?

    Just my 2c.

    All your strings belong to me!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Orcas Island

    Re: Affording Doctoral Studies?

    Dr. Zoot,

    Pursuing a doctorate with a family and a mortgage is tough. You will need the support of your wife and other family members. Perhaps teaching while in the doctoral program is one way to defray expenses and get credit toward the doctorate. Grants and scholarships are another way. Watch out, however, for the student loan trap. If there is a will, there is a way to do it.

    I hope you go for it and wish you well in this pursuit.

    Gary Garritan

  4. #4

    Re: Affording Doctoral Studies?

    DMA here, and I did not pay a cent. Look for assistantships and such. Temple University has a great program where they pay for your course work and give you a monthly stipend as well. I had to teach a couple of classes, but it was well worth it! No student loans for this guy! I know that there are many universities that offer similar programs

    My 2-cents!



  5. #5

    Re: Affording Doctoral Studies?

    I just completed my DMA in composition at the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri-Kansas City under the guidence of Chen Yi. I have been blessed, however, to be working full time as a concert composer. Every work I composed for my doctoral studies was a commissioned work. This allowed me to kill two birds with one stone; I more than fulfilled the composition requirements set by the conservatory and at the same time was working in my choosen profession. In fact, my dissertation was commissioned by the Turtle Creek Chorale, the largest (300 voice)/most recorded male chorus in the world, the Texas Boy's Choir, and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Because of it's length (one hour), it took me a bit longer than the standard dissertation required. But, this composition will allow me to live for about a year and half. So, to answer your question, doctoral studies are within reach. Also, if you want to teach on the college level a doctorate is almost always required. If I can make one more suggestion. Most folks feel that they need to attend a Juilliard or an Eastman when they pursue doctoral studies in music. While the instruction is good, it can be quite expensive. What I suggest is finding the teacher that you want to study with and attend that school. That is why I went to UMKC; Chen Yi teaches there. Just my two cents. Good luck on your doctoral endeavors!

    James G. Eakin III
    Turtle Creek Chorale
    Assistant Director-Film Scoring program,
    Aspen Music Festival & School

  6. #6

    Re: Affording Doctoral Studies?

    I got a PhD and had a nice fellowship the first year. I didn't have to work, and got a modest (VERY) income. This allowed me to get all of the coursework done that year. I then had an assistantship for two years, mostly to gain conducting experience. My wife had a full time job and we didn't have a mortgage, but we lived pretty comfortably. After those three years, I resumed full time work while working on my thesis, and my wife went part time to get her Master's.

  7. #7

    Re: Affording Doctoral Studies?

    LEt me give you my (current) story in case it can help.

    I'm doing a PhD in composition right now (2nd year), in the UK.
    I have 2 kids, and no mortgage. But then again isn't rent the same thing? If nothing else with a mortgage you can sell the house, or make lower payments for some time, or maybe no payments.

    Ive got a scholarshpi which covers the tuition fees (a great burdon of 6000$ per year), and gives an extra 1000$ per month. A great help. But hardly enough. I have to admit that my folks also help by sending money in every month (they love their grandchildren and I'm greek, what can I say?)

    But even with these our very first expenses go up to at least 4000$ (2000 for the rent and 2000 for the nurseries), so...

    But then again my wife also works and gets a good salary and also the UK goverment is very helpful at a lot of occasions. And more over I'm starting to get contracts as a composer which will add to the whole lot.

    It's difficult and actually if I hadn't secure the scholarhip I would never've even considered doing a PhD. I find it a little...weird... for music adn especialyl composition. My idea of PhD is research in a lab and doing something original. Writting musical composition is not something original. But this depends on the univeristy you are.

    Just make sure you want to do it. I had plenty of reasons to go through and I was being paid to do it (oh btw I get assistanship and will teach this year).

  8. #8
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Talking Re: Affording Doctoral Studies?

    Doctoral Studies, eh? Wouldn't it be more fun studying a nurse?

  9. #9

    Re: Affording Doctoral Studies?


    Hannes makes an excellent point.

    Don't do it just to hang it on your wall and feel good about yourself. If you have a path as JamesIII has taken or if you would like to teach then you will need it.

    If you just want to learn, there are more efficient and affordable ways to do that.

    I never aspired to be a 'real' composer so keep that in mind. I just write for Rock records and Cartoons....nobody ever asked me for my transcripts
    It seems that is it impressive enough that I can read.


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