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Explore creative techniques to compose new music for classical, contemporary, jazz, film, and new and emerging genres. 


Master the endless adaptations of lyrics, melodies, harmonies and rhythms and how to apply them in the creation of new music. Through individual lessons, group seminars, and special events with guest composers, you will obtain in-depth knowledge of compositional techniques and styles across multiple genres. Applying these principles to your own work, you will have the incredible experience of seeing your composition performed live by School of Music ensembles.

Our NASM-accredited program is centered on outcomes designed to prepare graduates for successful careers as educators, music directors, film, television or video game composers, recording companies and a host of positions in the music industry.

You will enjoy state-of-the-art music facilities, and work with a large and diverse community of faculty, students, and industry professionals. You’ll have the opportunity to attend numerous concerts, clinics, and master classes given by students, faculty, and visiting artists that will broaden your experience. Additionally, the University’s location allows limitless opportunities to plug into a vibrant music city.

Undergraduate scholarships available.

Graduate assistantships and scholarships available.

Admission + Audition Requirements

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What degrees do we offer?


Composition majors study contemporary composition approaches, analysis, orchestration, harmony, counterpoint, and music history. The composition program prepares you to enter the contemporary music field by building strong fundamentals, developing your own individual compositional voice, and interacting with the vibrant and vast contemporary concert music field of today. 

Program graduates are ready to gain entry to a graduate program in composition and pursue a career as a professional composer, orchestrator, music director, teacher, scholar, or practitioner of music composition.

Outcomes: 

  • Composition students will compose original scores of solo and chamber music, vocal and choir music, and full symphony orchestra
  • Composition students will acquire technical skills requisite for artistic self-expression in at least one major performance area 
  • Composition students will understand, apply, and integrate foundational concepts of musical study in theory, aural skills, history, composition, improvisation, and keyboard competency, and do so independently and cooperatively
  • Composition students will develop artistry, technical skills, collaborative competence and knowledge of repertory through regular ensemble experiences.

Map out your college experience!

View Bachelor of Music in Composition required courses for degree completion.

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Composition majors study specialized areas of interest in instrumental, vocal, and composition, provide training in performance, conducting, improvisation, arranging and composition, and recording techniques, and prepare students for professional careers in the field of jazz. Emphasis is placed on jazz improvisation, jazz performance styles, jazz arranging/composition, and jazz pedagogy. Students receive in-depth private instruction and many ensembles develop students’ abilities as improvising musicians. Additionally, the University’s location allows almost limitless opportunities to secure performances in a variety of venues. 

The composition program prepares you to enter the jazz music field by building strong fundamentals, developing your own individual compositional voice, and interacting with the vibrant and vast contemporary concert music field of today. 

Outcomes: 

  • Composition students will compose original scores of solo and chamber music, vocal and choir music, and full symphony orchestra
  • Composition students will acquire technical skills requisite for artistic self-expression in at least one major performance area 
  • Composition students will understand, apply, and integrate foundational concepts of musical study in theory, aural skills, history, composition, improvisation, and keyboard competency, and do so independently and cooperatively
  • Composition students will develop artistry, technical skills, collaborative competence and knowledge of repertory through regular ensemble experiences.

Map out your college experience!

View Bachelor of Music in Jazz and Studio Composition/Arranging required courses for degree completion.

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Studying the aesthetics and craft of composition, students gain valuable professional skills by working with performers, leading rehearsals, conducting and performing new music, and producing their own performances. You will have opportunities to gain skills as orchestrators, arrangers, conductors, and assistants. Most classes in the major utilize composition as a learning tool, giving students robust opportunities to develop their writing skills. Collaborations with accomplished musicians and artists complement a strong curriculum in music theory, musicology, and performance. 

You will enjoy state-of-the-art music facilities, and work with a large and diverse community of faculty, students, and industry professionals. 

Graduate assistantships and scholarships are available.

Outcomes

  • Composition students will master the fundamentals in composition, orchestration, harmony, counterpoint, contemporary techniques, analysis, and history.
  • Composition students will synthesize and apply historical knowledge of compositional practices to the creation of original musical works.
  • Composition students will manage rehearsals and conduct a performance of an original composition.
  • Composition students will be able to articulate the historical, social, and cultural context of musical compositions.

Map out your master's experience!

View the Master of Music in Composition sample degree plan. 

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Students who wish to continue from the MM into a DMA program of the same concentration have the option, with the audition and approval of the major professor, of following an accelerated track. This four-year track can save students two semesters of coursework compared to the traditional five-year MM to DMA path. Students will earn the MM degree after the fourth semester of study.

Our program prepares students to enter the profession as highly qualified teachers with the potential for long-term professional success.

Graduate assistantships and scholarships are available.

Outcomes: 

  • Composition students will develop musical craft and creativity at the highest professional level, using critical thinking, analysis and technology to inform stylistic choices and artistic expression.
  • Composition students will master specialized studies, to demonstrate expertise and an ability to synthesize knowledge in areas of interest that enhance their required curriculum and/or professional goals.
  • Composition students will utilize and apply appropriate research methods to explore a focused research topic and to contribute original perspectives to discipline-related knowledge, communicating their research findings clearly and professionally in written or oral forms.

View the Accelerated MM-to-DMA in Composition sample degree plan.

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Designed for students seeking the highest degree in the field, the D.M.A. is a rigorous three-year course of study culminating in a doctoral dissertation. This program offers you an opportunity to bring creative and performance achievement to a high level while enriching individual backgrounds with academic studies, including specialized training in music history and theory, and other areas. 

Graduate student composers work closely with faculty in composition and music theory, and are expected to compose major works for public performance in addition to fulfilling course requirements.

Graduate assistantships and scholarships are available.

Outcomes:

  • Composition students will develop musical craft and creativity at the highest professional level, using critical thinking, analysis and technology to inform stylistic choices and artistic expression.
  • Composition students will master specialized studies, to demonstrate expertise and an ability to synthesize knowledge in areas of interest that enhance their required curriculum and/or professional goals.
  • Composition students will utilize and apply appropriate research methods to explore a focused research topic and to contribute original perspectives to discipline-related knowledge, communicating their research findings clearly and professionally in written or oral forms.

Map out your doctoral experience!

View the Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition sample degree plan. 

APPLY NOW >

Student + Alumni Success 


  • Juan Sebastian Cardona-Ospina (DMA '21) 2019 National Composition Competition winner  I  2017 Bogotá Philharmonic Prize in Composition
  • John Kuntz (MM '21) Classical Minnesota Public Radio’s Minnesota Varsity Competition Composer
  • Ali Yunus Gencer (MM '13, DMA '16) Assistant Professor,Mimar Sinana Fine Arts University, Istanbul, Turkey. 
  • Daniel J. Ward (BM In progress) wrote a song cycle called Songs of Artful Resistance which was choregraphed and performed by Ballet Memphis for their 2020-2021 virtual season. 
  • Bryan Pallotta (DMA In progress) 2020 University of Missouri Composition Seminar, guest speaker
  • Adam Benefield (DMA In progress) Iris Orchestra's Collegiate Composers Competition, finalist

 

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commencement Ensembles  
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commencement Scholarships
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