Music: Composition (M.A.)

The master of arts1 in composition option offers the opportunity for in-depth study of music composition. Some graduates of the program will go on to earn a doctoral degree in composition or music theory, while others will seek careers as film and theater composers, sound designers, teachers, and freelance writers. The program is responsive to the individual ambitions of its students to prepare them for their professional careers in the best way possible.


Degree program has final approval from the National Association of Schools of Music.

Completion of the program requires a final project in an area of interest. Projects can take several forms (for example, a composition, a composition recital, a lecture recital, a research paper, etc.) and are usually proposed and developed in concert with the graduate studies coordinator and a faculty member who serves as the project adviser. A final oral examination assesses the candidate's ability to apply compositional skills, and/or to describe advanced independent work of particular interest.

All of the Master of Arts in Music options require 30 credit hours as well as a final project for completion of the degree.

MUSI 875
MUSI 876
and Composition
MUSI 877Advanced Composition3
MUSI 891Research Seminar1-4
Supportive Courses in Music
MUSI 865Introduction to Bibliography3
MUSI 894Theory Seminar3
MUSI 869Musicology Seminar 33
Electives 19
Select 9 credits from the following:
Music History Period Courses
Music of the Renaissance
Music of the Romantic Period
Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries
Survey of Opera
Advanced Instrumental Conducting
Applied Lessons Courses
Graduate Piano
Graduate Voice
Graduate Cello
Graduate Clarinet
Graduate Saxophone
Graduate Bassoon
Graduate French Horn
Graduate Trumpet
Graduate Tuba
Graduate Percussion
Other Courses
Special Studies 2
Musicology Seminar

Normally, electives will be chosen only from offerings within the Department of Music. Students wishing to enroll in electives outside the department are permitted to do so in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Music.


MUSI 895 Special Studies may be used to enroll in large and studio ensembles for a total of 6 credits.


MUSI 869 Musicology Seminar can be repeated for credit.

Concentration and Supportive Courses are required; other electives are possible with the approval of the department.

General Competencies for All Music MA Programs

  • Demonstrate advanced capacities to work independently and make effective artistic and intellectual judgments and professional decisions in the area of specialization by producing a final project or equivalent.
  • Demonstrate advanced competence in the area of specialization.

Additional Competencies, M.A. in Conducting

  • Demonstrate advanced competencies in conducting through studies in gestural technique, score analysis, repertoire, and regular conducting experiences with appropriate ensembles.
  • Demonstrate engagement with other fields of music outside of conducting.
  • Demonstrate professional capability by rehearsing and conducting a concert-length performance or the equivalent.
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply critical thinking to music literature and to have in-depth discussions regarding specific works in the repertoire.

Additional Competencies, M.A. in Composition

  • Demonstrate advanced competencies in composition.
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge and skills in one or more related fields of music.
  • Complete a faculty approved final project.
  • Manage an advanced performance of their original composition.

Additional Competencies: MA in Musicology

  • Demonstrate advanced competencies in musicology, theory, and criticism through written work and research papers in graduate-level music history and theory courses.
  • Demonstrate appropriate competency in music theory and analysis by using the analytical tools and research concerns in music theory and analysis appropriately in writing and research.
  • Demonstrate professional capability in the major area of study by completing a final project that demonstrates advanced competence and intellectual independence in research and writing in musicology.
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply critical thinking to music literature and to describe personal advanced independent work of particular interest.