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Curriculum: Composition Graduate Students

Life isn't an audition.

A number of music schools can make you a better composer. Our interconnected courses are built to transform you intellectually, artistically, professionally, and individually. You'll understand the roots of your music, freeing you to take it somewhere new. You'll see how your training broadens your options, rather than narrowing them. You'll find your voice. And you'll enter the world with the same confidence you bring to your compositions.

Required Courses

Curriculum: Master of Music in Composition
Credit total: 53

Rec. Course #/Title Cr.
Private Instruction
1st/2nd yr. PVL 600 Major Instruction 16
Performance Class
1st/2nd yr. PRF 402 Composition Seminar (2 credits or ½ credit every semester enrolled) 2
Musicianship and Music Theory
Credits earned for MMT 602/604 will not count towards the overall credit requirements for graduation, but will affect the student’s GPA.
1st yr. MMT 602 Musicianship Review 3
1st yr. MMT 604 Music Theory Review 3
  MMT 202 Advanced Musicianship 3
  MMT 230 Score-Reading at the Piano (taken with MMT 202) 1
  MMT 203 Advanced Musicianship 3
  MMT 231 Score-Reading at the Piano (taken with MMT 203) 1
Music History and Literature (12 credits total)
Students may pass part or all of the music history placement exam. Students who fail the first part must take MHL 602 and students who fail the second part must take MHL 603. MHL 602 and 603 will count towards the 12 credits required. Students will not receive credit by exam for placing out of MHL 602 or 603. MHL 300-500 are undergraduate courses and do not count for this requirement.
1st yr. MHL 602 Topics in Music History 3
1st yr. MHL 603 Topics in Music History 3
1st yr. Proseminar MHL 650-699 3
  MMT 702 or MHL 600-799 3-9
Career and Professional Development (2 credits)
Classes that fulfill the Career and Professional Development requirements include: APP 252, APP 272, APP 402, APP 404, APP 408, APP 410, APP 412, and APP 414. Students are encouraged to develop a focused Independent Study Project.
Ensembles (4 credits total)
Electives (9 credits total)
Courses numbered HMS 202-590, MMT 202-799, and courses in the APP, ENS, IND, MHL series that aren't used to fulfill core curriculum or major field requirements may be used to fulfill the requirements for the elective credits listed for individual majors.
Juries and Recitals
Graduate students are expected to produce a major work ("thesis") toward their degree. The thesis is to be of substantial length (15–20 minutes) and of a sustained and unified nature. The thesis is to be discussed with the instructor. One goal of the thesis is to demonstrate mastery of all compositional elements. Three copies of the thesis are to be given to the Department Chair before the graduation recital.


During the first year, at least 20 minutes of music must be completed and performed. ("Readings" may not be included, except of orchestral pieces.) During the second year, the candidate may present either one full recital in the final semester of work or two half-recitals within the last two semesters of work. (A full recital is defined as about 45–60 minutes of music.) Works performed must have been composed while the composer was a student at the Conservatory.

In both years, any pieces to be performed must be reviewed with the student's composition professor in advance and approved by the professor for presentation. At least one week before a performance, two scores for each work being presented should be given to the chair of the composition department. Criteria in evaluation of graduate composition recitals include versatility, imagination, and pleasure, as well as competence in working with musical materials. Also taken into account will be competence in aspects of modern musical technique such as orchestration, instrumentation, text setting, the use of electronics, and the preparation/presentation of the music.

2nd yr. RCTMM1 Graduate Recital