A student sitting at a baby grand piano, with a guitarist playing in the foreground.

Music - Composition (BM)

Music Composition Major

As a student in the Music Composition Bachelor of Music (BM) degree program, you’ll be able to create your own path toward becoming a professional music composer. Learn music composition for every genre of music, and specialize in the genre that most interests you—including big band, classical, gospel, alternative rock, electronica and more. Small class sizes ensure you get proper attention and the opportunity to grow, and an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration allows you to work creatively with Film, Animation, Theater and Dance students. In UArts’ four-year, 120-credit Music Composition BM degree program, you’ll find your own distinct voice and receive instruction from different teachers with their own unique expertise.

In 2020, the School of Music was ranked #2 in The 10 Best “Hidden Gem” Music Schools by Music School Central.

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Composition majors have composed music for live performances and studio recordings; re-scored films using virtual instruments and samples; designed soundscapes for citywide light shows; and collaborated with ProJazz in Santiago, Chile, and the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts in the U.K. 

Each semester, visiting artists—including a professional chamber music ensemble—visit UArts to perform, record or discuss working as a professional musician. Students learn how to bring their creations to life.

Curriculum

The Music Composition degree program is designed as a launching pad for students interested in writing and arranging music for film, games, animation, theater, dance and multimedia projects. The curriculum provides a foundation in jazz, popular, commercial and contemporary classical genres, with a focus on emerging technologies. You’ll have the opportunity to compose arrangements for UArts’ instrumental and vocal ensembles to perform and record.

Students graduating from the Music Composition program will:

  • demonstrate outstanding aural skills;
  • demonstrate outstanding theoretical knowledge;
  • understand the historical and sociological context of influential pieces and movements;
  • express understanding of music in verbal and written form;
  • be musically literate and technically proficient performers and composers;
  • possess knowledge and experience in diverse musical styles and cultures;
  • acquire the skills to use and integrate current technology  with their musical efforts;
  • compose original scores for solo artists and ensembles;
  • develop a unique compositional voice;
  • master the fundamentals in composition, orchestration, harmony, counterpoint, etc.;
  • rehearse, record and perform original pieces; and
  • use all of the above as the basis for creative output.

Sample Curriculum

Duration: four years, full time
Credits: 120 credits

Major requirements: 69 credits
Discipline history: 9 credits
Critical Studies: 33 credits
Free electives: 9 credits

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First Year

Fall semester: 15 credits
Composition Instruction (3c)
Chorus (1c)
Fundamental Music Theory I, Music Theory I or Advanced Music Theory I (3c)
Fundamental Musicianship I, Musicianship I or Advanced Musicianship I (3c)
Class Piano (1c)
Writing I Placement (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (1c)

Spring semester: 15 credits
Composition Instruction (3c)
Chorus (1c)
Fundamental Music Theory II, Music Theory II or Advanced Music Theory II (3c)
Fundamental Musicianship II, Musicianship II or Advanced Musicianship II (3c)
Music Technology Survey (1c)
Writing II Placement (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (1c)

Second Year

Fall semester: 15 credits
Composition Instruction (3c)
Fundamental Jazz Theory I, Jazz Theory I or Advanced Jazz Theory I (3c)
Fundamental Jazz Musicianship I, Jazz Musicianship I or Advanced Jazz Musicianship I (3c)
Class Jazz Piano I (1c)
Thinking Through Science (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (2c)

Spring semester: 15 credits
Composition Instruction (3c)
Fundamental Jazz Theory II, Jazz Theory II or Advanced Jazz Theory II (3c)
Fundamental Jazz Musicianship II, Jazz Musicianship II or Advanced Jazz Musicianship II (3c)
Class Jazz Piano II (1c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (2c)

Third Year

Fall semester: 16.5 credits
Arranging (1.5c)
Orchestration (3c)
Composition Instruction (3c)
Comprehensive Musicianship (3c)
Discipline history (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Spring semester: 15.5 credits
MIDI Orchestration (1.5c)
Composition Instruction (3c)
Basic Conducting (2c)
Discipline history (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Fourth Year

Fall semester: 15 credits
Analysis & Composition of Commercial Music (2c)
Composition Instruction (3c)
Discipline history (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (1c)

Spring semester: 13 credits
Senior Recital
Composition Instruction (3c)
Business of Music (2c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (2c)

Facilities

The School of Music offers a robust set of performance spaces, recording studios, rehearsal rooms and music labs.

  • two state-of-the-art recording studios

  • seven production suites

  • eight rehearsal rooms

  • 16 individual practice rooms

  • two dedicated drum practice rooms

  • four smart classrooms that double as rehearsal spaces

  • one circuitry lab

  • one electronic music lab featuring the 4th Moog analog synthesizer, built specifically for the School of Music at UArts

  • two computer labs with keyboard controllers and audio interfaces

  • two drum teaching and practice studios

 

Laurie Wagman Recording Studios

In November 2019, UArts celebrated the grand opening of the Laurie Wagman Music Studios on the 11th floor of Terra Hall. The two recording studios are equipped with state-of-the-art, 24-channel API consoles and Antelope interfaces. There is a surround sound system in Studio A, while Studio B has a pair of Adam reference monitors. Both studios have a number of outboard compressors, equalizers and other effects processors. Studio A will also function as a fully analog space equipped with a 16-track tape machine.

Faculty Spotlight

The Music Composition (BM) program boasts renowned, award-winning faculty members who have performed across the world with artists including Aretha Franklin, the Four Tops, Patti Labelle, Wynton Marsalis, Joel Frahm, the Philly Pops and more. As a Composition student, you’ll have the opportunity to form close connections with faculty members through one-on-one lessons and collaborations.

At UArts, you'll be taught by faculty who are all in-demand, working professionals.

Micah Jones
Micah Jones

Dean

Bassist and producer who has performed with Terence Blanchard, Randy Brecker, Patti LaBelle, Tiffany Jones, Patti LaBelle and others
UArts Pre-College Creative Jazz Institute Faculty Randy Kapralick
Randy Kapralick

Assistant Dean

Performer, composer and educator who has played with Aretha Franklin, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, the Four Tops, the Philly Pops and others
A headshot of Composition Program Head David Thomas.
David Thomas

Composition Department Chair

Music - Composition (BM)
Composition program director whose works have been performed throughout the U.S. and in China, Europe, Israel and South America
A photo of Tom Hedden holding a guitar.
Tom Hedden

Music - Composition (BM)
Emmy Award-winning composer who's written music for film, major orchestras, radio, television and video games
Charles Peck leaning on a piano.
Charles Peck

Music - Composition (BM)
Award-winning composer whose chamber music and orchestral works have been performed internationally at Carnegie Hall, the Beijing Music Festival and more.

Profiles & Careers

 

Career Opportunities

Throughout your studies in the Composition program, you’ll have opportunities to explore emerging technologies and the business side of composition, as well as the academics and theory behind it. You’ll be able to pursue a variety of music composition careers in TV and radio; with orchestras or chamber ensembles; and composing soundscapes for video games, events or industrial applications. You’ll have the option to complete internships, which could include a variety of roles, from administrative positions at music organizations to assistant roles at recording studios.

UArts’ study-away programs encourage students to explore the borderless and timeless language of the arts. Students will be immersed in a new culture, providing historical, intellectual and technical enrichment as they broaden their worldview. With a variety of locations and areas of study, students can meet their artistic and academic goals by studying abroad.

Common careers students could obtain after graduation include

  • Arranger/orchestrator
  • Composer
  • Concert band member or director
  • Entertainment booking agent
  • K–12 music educator
  • Military ensemble member
  • Music copyist
  • Music editor
  • Music director
  • Music teacher
  • Music supervisor
  • Orchestral musician in a major ensemble
  • Producer
  • Publicist
  • Recording engineer
  • Studio musician
  • Touring musician

Alumni Spotlight

UArts Composition students are set up for success inside and outside the classroom. Graduates are equipped with the experiential knowledge, well-rounded skills and new connections necessary for careers in the music industry.

My time at UArts gave me a ton of knowledge in a lot of different areas, but the biggest thing it did for me was help me to find my niche. Because of that, I have the privilege to make a living in music.

– Reed Bodenstein BM ’16 (Composition) MAT ’17 (Music Education)

 

In the foreground drawn music notes, through a clear whiteboard a man in the background draws the notes.
Mark Samani

BM '20 (Composition)

Music - Composition (BM)
Film score composer, audio editor, music copyist
A man with a mustache and bears sits in the foreground. In the background a piano.
Reed Bodenstein

BM '16 (Composition) MAT '17 (Music Education)

Music - Composition (BM)
Co-director and founder of Pinelands Music Academy in Medford Lakes, NJ
Headshot of jackson Teeley
Jackson Teeley

BM '16

Music - Composition (BM)
New musical 'Arrowhead' was recently produced in New York City and Boston
Kevin Korn headshot
Kevin Korn

BM '07

Music - Composition (BM)
Los Angeles agent representing major film and video game score composers
Michael Winstanley headshot black and white
Michael Winstanley

BM '15

Music - Composition (BM)
Won the Ensemble de la Belle Musique competition for one of his compositions

How to Apply

UArts offers recommended priority deadlines; students who apply and submit all required materials by the priority deadline will receive first consideration for scholarship aid from UArts. Applications received after the priority deadline will be reviewed on a rolling, space-available basis. 

International students requiring an F-1 visa for study in the U.S. might be subject to earlier deadlines to provide time for completion of the visa process. Contact Admissions for guidance if you are an international student who wishes to apply after the priority deadline.

Spring 2022 priority deadline: Dec. 4, 2021

Fall 2022 priority deadline: Feb. 15, 2022

We cannot accept spring 2022 applications after Jan. 10, 2022, and cannot accept fall 2022 applications after Aug. 12, 2022.

The following materials are required for your application.

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A completed application for admission
$60 application fee
  • If you qualify for a fee waiver from NACAC, CollegeBoard, UArts or another source, indicate that on your application. If the cost of the application fee is a barrier, contact Admissions to request a fee waiver code.

Official high school transcripts
  • Official transcripts must be sent directly from your school by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

  • International transcript requirements 

  • Transfer student transcript requirements

    • High school transcripts may be waived for transfer applicants who have completed a minimum of 24 credits of college-level coursework, including a minimum of 18 academic, non-studio credits.

    • Official college(s)

      • Official transcripts must be sent directly from all the colleges you have attended by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

      • If you’ve attended college outside the U.S., you are required to have an official course-by-course evaluation of your college coursework sent to UArts. Additional guidelines for international transcripts are available. 

Audition
International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency. 
Optional letters of recommendation
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors are optional and may be submitted by the recommender via email to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu or by your high school through a secure electronic document-delivery service. 


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