The Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) is a doctoral academic degree in music. The DMA combines advanced studies in an applied area of specialization (usually music performance, music composition, or conducting) with graduate-level academic study in subjects such as music history, music theory, or music pedagogy. The DMA degree usually takes about three to four years of full-time study to complete (in addition to the master's and bachelor's degrees), preparing students to be professional performers, conductors, and composers. As a terminal degree, the DMA qualifies its recipient to work in university, college, and conservatory teaching/research positions. Students seeking doctoral training in musicology or music theory typically enter a PhD program, rather than a DMA program.
A thesis is the name given to document (often under 100 pages of writing) that is a part of the student's graduation requirement for a DMA along with other capstone projects usually in performance.
A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil) is the highest university degree that is conferred after a course of study by universities in most countries. PhDs are awarded for programs across the whole breadth of academic fields. As an earned research degree, those studying for a PhD are usually required to produce original research that expands the boundaries of knowledge, normally in the form of a thesis or dissertation, and defend their work against experts in the field. The completion of a PhD is often a requirement for employment as a university professor, researcher, or scientist in many fields.
A dissertation is the name given to the only capstone work of a student's graduation for a PhD and is usually several hundred pages of scholarly study on a musical topic.