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Advancing to Candidacy for D.M.A.s

A student may advance to candidacy after fulfilling all departmental coursework requirements and passing prelims. Programs submit the request for advancement to candidacy. An audit for advancing to candidacy includes verifying the following information:


The program name submitted must match the active program on the unofficial transcript.


18 credit hours (not RFTs) of non- 990, non-visit, graded (including courses for which a student receives a”S” – Satisfactory) graduate coursework registered as a Rackham student.


4 hours of graduate cognate coursework (grade B- or better). If the cognate requirement is met by a cross-listed course or “in spirit” from coursework outside U-M, please list on the cognate line on the form.

Time to Candidacy

If it’s been more than three years since the student started the program, a Petition for Modification or Waiver of Regulation asking for an extension for time to candidacy may be required.

Prelim Registration

Deadlines for prelims for each term are listed on our website. There must be a registration for the date that’s on the form in the Preliminary Date field. Exceptions:

If the student was registered full-time (8 hours, 6 if the student is a GSI, GSSA or GSRA) Fall and Winter they could have a prelim date in May or if the student was registered full-time Fall, Winter and either Spring or Summer (4 hours, 3 if the student is a GSI, GSSA or GSRA), they get the other term (Spring or Summer) to use for the prelim date.


There must be a bachelor’s or bachelor’s equivalent degree posted to the student’s unofficial transcript before a student may be advanced. The posting will have the dates of degree, institution name and the degree citation (B.A., B.S., etc.).


Student’s minimum cumulative GPA must be a 3.0 (B) or higher.

Required Fee Totals (RFTs)

36 RFTs are needed to advance to candidacy unless the student has a relevant master’s degree posted on their transcript, then they would require 18. A student can earn up to 9 RFTs per full term, and 5 per half term. If they register for 2 half terms, the total is the same as a full term (9). A student earns RFTs for courses registered in Rackham only.

Example Required Fee Totals Calculation
Term Credit Hours Required Fee Totals
WN 2017 Registered for 12 credit hours Received 9 RFTs
FA 2017 Registered for 15 credit hours Received 9 RFTs
WN 2018 Registered for 7 credit hours Receives 7 RFTs
SP 2018 Registered for 7 credit hours Received 5 RFTs
FA 2018 Registered for 9 credit hours Received 9 RFTs
Total 39 RFTs

If necessary, a student can “buy” RFTs. They pay the “additional hours” rate per hour, needed at the Rackham School of Music rate at the appropriate instate or outstate rate. The Registrar’s Office will determine whether the student is in state or outstate to establish the fee. If the department or student is buying the RFTs, they must notify their OARD contact who will then send a fee assessment to the Registrar’s Office so that the amount can be assessed to the student’s account.

Relevant Master’s Degree

A relevant master’s degree is a master’s degree from an accredited institution outside of Rackham that is relevant to the DMA degree.

Additional Candidacy Information


If a student is registered for 990 in the term they advance, the registration will be changed by the Registrar’s Office to 8 hours (in a full term) of 995. If they have not registered for 990 or 995 but have registered for any other course, 8 hours of 995 will be added to their record for that term. The Registrar’s Office makes these changes and tuition adjustments approximately the third week of class or monthly thereafter. It is not necessary for a student to be enrolled in the term in which they advance to candidacy unless the prelim was taken that term.


The Recommendation for Candidacy form is due to Rackham three weeks into the term for which the advancement is requested. We will accept the requests up until the last day of classes for that term, but often students need the candidacy on their academic record for visa purposes or financial/fellowship reasons. Advancement to candidacy will not be processed retroactively.

Candidacy Course Registration

Ph.D. candidates are registered in the fall and winter terms for 995, “Dissertation/candidate,” which consists of 8 credit hours for a full term or 4 credit hours for a half term. No part-time enrollment is possible. A student who defends in the spring and/or summer half-term must register for 8 credit hours of 995 for the spring/summer full term.

A candidate who registers for a course must seek prior approval from the faculty advisor and also register for 995. A candidate may elect either one course per term, or more than one course for a total of no more than four credits, without paying additional tuition. Courses may be taken for credit or as a visit (audit). A candidate who does not elect a course during a term of 995 enrollment may, in the next term, either register for courses for no more than 8 credits or register for no more than two courses that total more than 8 credits without paying additional tuition. An additional course may not be taken in anticipation of taking none in a future term of 995 enrollment. A candidate who takes courses beyond this limit will be assessed tuition.

When a candidate registers for a course during the fall, winter, or spring and summer half-terms but does not register for 995, the Registrar’s Office will add the 995 to the term and assess any required tuition

Contact Academic Records and Dissertations

0120 Rackham Building
915 East Washington Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070
Phone: 734.763.0171
Fax: 734.936.3335


Academic Records and Dissertations is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The office is closed Saturdays and Sundays and on the following holidays: Thanksgiving (Thursday and the following Friday), Christmas through New Year's, Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day.