Music Composition, MM

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Are you interested in working with renowned faculty who have diverse musical specialties? Expand your knowledge and advance your skill set in a wide variety of genres, from chamber to orchestral and from acoustic to electronic.

The MM program in composition focuses on the development of skills required for a career in music composition.

Composers learn through experiential opportunities, including composing for fellow student performers leading to performances of their works in venues on campus and off. Project-based experiences include working with the Visiting Quartet Residency program and creating new works for student string quartets.

Students develop advanced skills such as orchestration, electronic studio techniques, film and video scoring, and jazz composition in the degree program. Collaboration with music scholars, theorists, performers, educators and other composers under the guidance of renowned composition faculty provides students with a broad and well-rounded foundation for advanced careers in music.

At A Glance

Music Composition, MM

Plan of study

The Plan of study is the required curriculum to complete this graduate level program.

View Plan of Study

Application requirements

Application procedures + requirements

Application deadlines
Spring 2022: October 1, 2021
Fall 2022: December 1, 2021

Curriculum check sheet

Check sheets break down the course requirements for each degree program.

Music composition (MM) 

Affording grad school

Music scholarships
All applicants are automatically considered for merit based scholarships, with priority given to those who audition and/or interview on-campus.

Teaching assistantships
Teaching assistantships are offered to graduate students who convey exceptional ability. Learn more about TA benefits, eligibility and application procedures.

Financial aid
ASU has many financial aid options. Almost everyone, regardless of income, can qualify for some form of financial aid. In fact, more than 70 percent of all ASU students receive some form of financial assistance every year.

Degree requirements

The credit hour requirements for the degree are distributed as follows:

composition (9 credit hours)
electives (8 credit hours)
music theory and music history (9 credit hours)
thesis (6 credit hours)

The thesis is an original composition that demonstrates mastery of composing for the selected performance medium and the coherent organization of musical material.

Additional Curriculum Requirements
Completion of diagnostic exams in music history and music theory is required of all new graduate music students prior to enrollment in the ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre.

Additional information about degree requirements for all graduate music programs may be found on the check sheets: https://musicdancetheatre.asu.edu/degree-programs/music/graduate.

Admission requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a U.S. bachelor's degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution or the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree from an institution in another country that is officially recognized by that country.

Applicants must have achieved a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours of their first bachelor's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. School of Music, Dance and Theatre application (including a resume and personal statement): https://musicdancetheatre.asu.edu/admissions/music/graduate-steps-to-apply
  3. official transcripts
  4. prescreening portfolio
  5. three letters of recommendation
  6. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of current residency: https://admission.asu.edu/international/graduate/english-proficiency. The School of Music, Dance and Theatre does not offer conditional admission under any circumstances. In order to meet English proficiency requirements, students must have a TOEFL score of at least 550 (PBT) or 80 (iBT), or an IELTS overall band score of at least 6.5, or a Pearson Test of English score of at least 60.

Although a bachelor's degree in music is not required to be eligible for admission, applicants who do not hold an undergraduate degree in music may wish to take foundational courses in music theory and history as recommended by their advisor.

Applicants should see the program website for application deadlines. After receipt of complete application materials, including recommendation letters, transcripts and English proficiency, and review of prescreening materials, an applicant may be invited for an interview. Information on the interview may be found at https://musicdancetheatre.asu.edu/admissions/music/graduate-auditions.

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