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Graduate Orchestral Conducting

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Degrees in Orchestral Conducting

KU offers first class MM and DMA programs in Orchestral Conducting. These competitive programs offer students the opportunity to conduct a broad range of repertoire in preparation for a professional conducting career. The art of conducting is examined from the perspective of gesture and movement, score study/analysis/ear training, and rehearsal techniques and strategies. In addition, students learn a broad range of orchestral repertoire within social and historic contexts. A secondary focus is placed on the operatic and theatrical experience as part of the path to becoming a well-rounded conductor.

General Information

It is preferred that all applicants for the Master of Music in conducting degree have a bachelor’s degree in music performance or one year of successful professional-level conducting experience that can be documented. It is preferred that all applicants for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting have a masters degree in orchestral conducting or two years of successful professional-level conducting experience that can be documented. This may include public school or university teaching, directing a professional or semi-professional ensemble, or other equivalent professional arenas.

Deadline for Applications

The Graduate Orchestral Conducting studio is currently full. The next anticipated opening will be Fall 2021.  

Music Application: Submit preliminary audition materials (detailed on the Audition tab), and the GTA Application to the Graduate Student Services Coordinator at musicgrad@ku.edu.

Apply online through the Graduate Application Process »

Preliminary Audition Requirements

  • A complete application and the applicant’s resumé.
  • For DMA applicants: a dvd or web link that shows the applicant conducting at least two compositions in performance and two compositions in rehearsal. For MM applicants: a dvd or web link that shows the applicant conducting at least one composition in performance and one in rehearsal. In both cases, the conductor must be in frontal or a partial frontal view and at least part of the ensemble must be in view. The repertoire selected for the video must be appropriate to the musical and technical abilities of the ensemble. Audio should be high quality, if possible. For rehearsal video, it is require that the conductor's speech be audible.
  • A written statement describing your reasons for wishing to pursue conducting as a career, your career goals, and your reasons for choosing KU.
  • A list of three references who can speak to the applicant’s musical abilities, intellectual abilties, and career potential. Include name, professional title, relationship to applicant, phone number with area code, and e-mail address.

Faculty Review of Materials/Invitation to Audition

Upon faculty review of the materials that are submitted, a limited number of finalists will be invited to audition and interview at the University of Kansas on a scheduled audition date. If an applicant has been selected as a finalist, they will be notified four weeks prior to the scheduled audition date.

Formal Audition

The required audition piece for applicants in Orchestral Conducting will be an orchestral work to be determined by the Director of Orchestral Actitives.

The live audition will include three parts:

  1. An interview with Dr. Watson discussing the applicant’s experience and professional goals
  2. A musical skills and knowledge diagnostic including aural skills, score recognition, and knowledge of orchestral instruments and musical terminology.
  3. A twenty minute audition with the KU Symphony Orchestra adjudicated by the heads of the conducting divisions. The audition will begin with a run-through to assess non-verbal communication and gesture. The audition will conclude with the candidate rehearsing the piece in the remaining time.


The applicants will be notified of their status within three weeks of the audition.

Assistantships and fellowships notifications will come from the Dean of the School of Music and Graduate Studies offices.

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