How Do I Get a Doctor of Arts Degree?

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  • Written By: Bobby R. Goldsmith
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 08 August 2019
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To earn a Doctor of Arts degree, plan your educational path so that you complete a bachelor's degree in your chosen area of the arts with a competitive academic record. A superb academic record opens all available avenues to a Doctor of Arts degree on a timetable that is suitable to your educational and occupational goals. Upon the completion of your bachelor's degree program, you can choose to apply directly to a PhD program and study one aspect of the arts, or you can apply to a master's degree program first. There are many arts and humanities programs that combine the master's and doctoral degree program, conferring the master's degree at some point before completion of the entire program.

Your first step is to obtain a bachelor's degree program with a focus on the arts and humanities. At this early stage, you do not need to select the specific aspect of the arts that you want to focus on as you will be exposed to a breadth of subjects and courses of study during your time in college. The best course of action is to complete the lower division portion of the program, which includes approximately 60 to 80 credit hours of introductory arts courses and general education classes, with the highest grade point average possible. Once you complete the lower division portion of the bachelor's degree program, you will automatically transition into the upper division portion of the program.


In your third and fourth year of college, begin looking for programs that offer a Doctor of Arts degree in an area that you want to study. Compile a list of three to five prospective programs before you begin compiling your application packet and before you get too far towards completion of your bachelor's degree program. If the college or university that you attend also offers a Doctor of Arts program, it should be included on your list. Remember that even when you apply to a post-graduate school where you already have an academic record, you will still need to compile a complete application packet.

Request all admissions requirements for each school on your list, then make sure you meet each requirement. You may have to take additional courses that are not required to complete your bachelor's degree in order to qualify for a Doctor of Arts program. When you complete your bachelor's degree, send your completed application packets to each school to which you wish to apply. The requirements may vary for each program, but each packet will likely contain a statement of purpose, a formal admission application for the specific school, three letters of recommendation, and official copies of your transcripts.

Once admitted to a Doctor of Arts program, you will need to complete roughly 30 to 36 credit hours of post-graduate study and to complete a final project, dissertation or exit exam. Some programs may require only one or two of these. You may also be required to teach undergraduate courses as a graduate assistant, but you will generally earn a stipend for such work.



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