In the world of graduate studies, a doctor of arts degree is a good alternative for the more rigorous research-based Ph.D. This particular program is a terminal teaching degree established to provide more extensive training for college and university teaching. The Doctor of Arts (D.A.) degree is both offered on-campus and online across the United States.

Some schools take the hybrid approach where students can take many courses online but are still required to attend some classes on-campus at a particular time of the day. There are also a few colleges and universities that offer the course 100% online, a perfect method for those who want to advance their education while building their career.

Teaching is a vocation that requires in-depth knowledge of the subject matter and the ability to communicate and impart it to students. If you wish to follow this path, then a D.A. degree on your chosen field can enrich your knowledge and experience.

What is a Doctor of Arts degree?

Often considered a pragmatic approach to a doctorate, a doctor of arts degree is the best step for someone who wishes to concentrate and master a particular field of study but with emphasis on teaching it. It is an academic degree of the highest level. Doctor of Arts degrees are also conferred as an honorary degree with the added designation of honoris causa.

Unlike a traditional Ph.D., it requires less research. Instead, most D.A. degrees revolve around teaching internships, teaching methods, and curriculum design coursework. It is instrumental in equipping scholars with the necessary breadth and diversity to become teachers in their chosen field.

But while it is usually described as a “teaching doctorate,” a D.A. degree is not the same as a Doctor of Education degree which is more concerned for issues in education and a theoretical and practical preparation in pedagogy.

Most Doctor of Arts degrees have a concentration in music, history, or literature. There are also D.A. degree programs which focus on political science, mathematics, economics, biology English, chemistry, and physical education. In general, Doctor of Arts programs provides extensive training in pedagogy, with the goal of demonstrating a variety of pedagogical techniques and skills. Doctor of Arts students are also expected to craft a distinct teaching philosophy.

How do I earn my Doctor of Arts degree?

Aspiring Doctor of Arts students must file an application to the graduate school of their choice where the said degree program is offered. Most D.A. degree programs require applicants to acquire a master’s degree from an accredited college or university. Some stipulate a specific cumulative GPA, usually of 3.00 or better. Application forms are generally available online. Students may be asked to give a non-refundable application fee.

Some of the additional requirements include an official transcript of records from universities or colleges where they earned their bachelor’s and master’s degree.

In specific fields, like that of music, performance and audition are required. Schools often have a list of accepted instruments for audition so checking their websites can make your application for admission easier.

Once admitted, D.A.students are taught and trained in several areas including college-level teaching, research, and the specific field of their study. Aside from the coursework, students need to complete a thesis (usually around 50,000-80,000 words). Generally, the thesis for Doctor of Arts candidates is focused on questions of professional practice. For example, a D.A. in social sciences degree program tackles policy analysis and advice.

A thesis requirement can be replaced by a significant creative project. It can be a novel, biography, and memoir, poetic works, plays, or video works.

Do I need a Doctor of Arts degree to work in the academe?

The short answer is yes. This degree is especially valuable if you want to be prepared for faculty positions within higher education. It makes a strong impression on hiring committees. A D.A. degree provides hands-on experience as a college teacher, preparing students to acquire a well-rounded set of professional skills.

What career paths do graduates in Doctor of Arts usually take?

The most common career path for Doctor of Arts degree programs is in the academe. Holding a teaching position in colleges and universities is made easier with acquired teaching skills in a particular field that few faculty candidates possess. D.A. degree holders can also work in industries that require research and writing skills on one specific area of study. They can become scholars in their fields.

D.A. programs prepare graduates in their essential role in developing and enhancing departmental programs that help mentor students and faculty when it comes to disciplinary teaching and learning. D.A. graduates take up faculty and leadership positions in higher education, filling a niche that Ph.D. graduates cannot fulfill.

What salary range can I expect with my Doctor of Arts degree?

Doctor of Arts degree holders who enter the world of academe usually receive an average salary of $25,000 to $68,799 a year, excluding bonuses. Their pay can vary depending on the institution where they teach, whether it is in public or private colleges and universities. Their salary can also depend on their area of expertise. Music teachers can earn as much as $83,401 per year.

Other faculty position that D.A. degree holders can explore include curriculum advisor and curriculum developer. These positions require specialized knowledge of their particular field of study with a median salary of $62,270.

What schools offer online and traditional Doctor of Arts programs?

Numerous colleges and universities are offering the Doctor of Arts program on-campus. It includes the University of Northern Colorado, Ball State University in Indiana, George Mason University in Virginia, and Idaho State University. In Pennsylvania, Holy State University offers the program online.

When seeking to advance your career and expertise in higher education, earning a Doctor of Arts degree is something you will not regret. It will not only ensure your competitiveness when it comes to employment, but this degree program will also help shape you into a scholar of your chosen field, deepening and expanding your knowledge and skills on a particular area of study with the aim to apply it in pedagogy.

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UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN COLORADO

northern colorado

DOCTOR OF ARTS PROGRAMS IN MUSIC

School Highlights: The University of Northern Colorado offers a Doctor of Arts in Music that has six concentration options and a Doctor of Arts in Music Performance. The general core curriculum allows students the flexibility to explore numerous elective options in arts and music. The Doctor of Arts in Music Performance provides students the opportunity to personalize their approach to meet individual needs and career goals. The UNC School of Music has internationally renowned for its academic achievements and success, as well as for its impressive doctorate grads. Both doctoral programs and each concentration include major research components that pair students with faculty members. They benefit tremendously from this one-on-one guidance and establish a massive array of networking contacts at UNC.

Coursework Sample:

  • Collaborative Piano
  • Composition
  • Conducting
  • Education
  • History and Literature
  • Jazz Studies
  • Music Performance

Campus Location: Greeley, CO

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois 60604
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7440
  • Commission on Accreditation of the National Association of Schools of Music

Acceptance Rate: 91% Retention Rate: 72% Graduation Rate: 48%

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN COLORADO’S DOCTOR OF ARTS PROGRAMS IN MUSIC

BALL STATE UNIVERSITY

ball state

DOCTOR OF ARTS IN MUSIC

School Highlights: One of the many reasons that make Ball State University’s Doctor of Arts in Music is the concentration option that allows students to personalize their approach in an area outside of music. This curriculum has an overall design that gives students (who choose primary and secondary fields of study) as much education and flexibility as possible. The degree requires an internship, an externship, a dissertation, a comprehensive examination, an oral examination, and teaching pedagogies. Ball State is hugely supportive of all students. For example, the school supplies a huge amount of financial aid opportunities to all Doctor of Arts students, such as the 500 scholarships available to incoming students. BSU maintains partnerships with 329 employers that are an outstanding resource for students and alumni alike, giving them an excellent standing outside the doctorate.

Concentration Options:

  • Performance
  • Piano Chamber Music/Accompanying
  • Conducting
  • Music Education
  • Theory Composition
  • Music History and Musicology
  • Music Theory and Composition
  • Entrepreneurial Music
  • Personalized Approach

Campus Location: Muncie, IN

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois 60604
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7440
  • Commission on Accreditation of the National Association of Schools of Music

Acceptance Rate: 65% Retention Rate: 78% Graduation Rate: 57%

LEARN MORE ABOUT BALL STATE UNIVERSITY’S DOCTOR OF ARTS IN MUSIC PROGRAM

GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

george mason

DOCTOR OF ARTS IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP

School Highlights: This Doctor of Arts program from George Mason University provides a major in Educational Leadership with an optional concentration in Higher Education. GMU is one of only twenty universities in the nation to offer a degree of this kind. It is a 60-credit doctorate that, outside of the required coursework, is broken down into knowledge areas and electives, as well as the consortium courses that take place at the Consortium of Universities of Washington Metropolitan Area. Students can choose from numerous options to create a degree that meets their individual career goals. This educational institution allows students to transfer up to 12 credits from another accredited college or university. All of these facets are an excellent indicator of the phenomenal quality of this school and doctoral program.

Coursework Sample:

  • The Community College
  • Technology in Higher Education
  • The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Campus Location: Fairfax, VA

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois 60604
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7440
  • National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education

Acceptance Rate: 81% Retention Rate: 87% Graduation Rate: 69%

LEARN MORE ABOUT ABOUT GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY’S DOCTOR OF ARTS IN HIGHER EDUCATION PROGRAM

IDAHO STATE UNIVERSITY

idaho state

DOCTOR OF ARTS IN BIOLOGY

School Highlights: Idaho State University’s Doctor of Arts in Biology was designed and implemented due to an overwhelming desire for a biological sciences degree that is geared toward undergraduate teaching at the college and university level. The curriculum provides an incredibly broad approach to this area of study and heavily emphasizes methods of instruction in biology. Applicants must have completed a master’s degree that included an independent thesis project in biological research. It is a four year program, but allows enough flexibility for some students to complete their studies in as little as two. There are eight outstanding Doctor of Arts fellowship opportunities at Idaho State, and the entire program is funded by support from the first D.A. degree established at Carnegie-Mellon University in 1967.

Coursework Sample:

  • Careers in Life Science
  • Seminar
  • Biometry

Campus Location: Pocatello, ID

Accreditation:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
    8060 165th Avenue NE, Suite 200
    Redmond, Washington 98052
    www.nwccu.org, (425) 558-4224

Acceptance Rate: 100% Retention Rate: 63% Graduation Rate: 56%

LEARN MORE ABOUT IDAHO STATE UNIVERSITY’S DOCTOR OF ARTS IN BIOLOGY

HOLY STATE UNIVERSITY

holy state

DOCTOR OF ARTS – ONLINE

School Highlights: Holy State University provides a tremendous amount of variety and flexibility in its online Doctor of Arts program. Students at this distance education institution undergo an accelerated doctoral curriculum that allows them to choose from over forty different concentration options. Three exciting examples can be found in the Program Sample below. The degree is 100% online and in no way affects individuals’ personal or professional lives. An international university, Holy State is an extremely inclusive virtual academic environment that attracts students from all across the globe. The dissertation and thesis requirements of the DA can even be completed in the students’ native languages! Students living in the United States who’s second language is English have a highly supportive home at HSU.

Program Sample:

  • Art of Decorations
  • Sculpture Art
  • Modern Advertising

Campus Location: Philadelphia, PA

Accreditation:

  • Accreditation Council for Educational Standards of Schools and Universities
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (full address available upon request)
    www.acessu.org/index.html, acessue@acessu.org

Acceptance Rate: –% Retention Rate: –% Graduation Rate: –%

LEARN MORE ABOUT HOLY STATE UNIVERSITY’S ONLINE DOCTOR OF ARTS PROGRAM