No two music careers are exactly alike, and as a Composition student at UArts, you'll have the opportunity to create your own path toward becoming a professional music composer. You'll learn composition for every genre of music, but you'll also get the chance to specialize in the genre that most interests you—from big band, classical and jazz, to gospel, alternative rock, electronica and more. At UArts, you'll have lots of opportunities to mix your creative juices and collaborate with Film students, Animation students, Theater students, and Dance students, among others. If you're open to all genres of music and you've written your own compositions, it's time to consider applying to the University of the Arts' Composition program.

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

Our Composition majors have composed for live performances and studio recordings. They've re-scored films and recorded them using virtual instruments and samples. They've designed soundscapes for city-wide light shows. And they've collaborated with ProJazz in Santiago, Chile, and the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts in the U.K. Each semester, a professional chamber music ensemble visits UArts to perform and record students’ work, which is a great way to learn how professional musicians bring your creations to life.

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

Spotlight: UArts' Matt Davis is a jazz guitarist based in Philadelphia. In addition to performing, Matt is an active composer, teacher and arranger. Hailed as "brilliant" by the Philadelphia Daily News, Matt’s original 12-piece "modern chamber jazz ensemble," called "Matt Davis’ Aerial Photograph" performs regularly in and around town. 

Click the image below to read more.

A headshot of Composition Program Head David Thomas.
David Thomas

Music - Composition (BM)
Program Director whose works have been performed throughout America and in Europe, Israel, South America and China.
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.
Norman David headshot with soprano saxophone
Norman David

Music - Composition (BM)
Director, performer and composer of the adventurous jazz ensemble, The Eleventet.

Sample Courses in the Composition Major

First Year
Applied Composition Instruction
Chorus
Music Theory
Musicianship
Creative Practices

Second Year
Applied Composition Instruction
Jazz Musicianship
Jazz Theory
Classical Jazz Piano
Music History

Third Year
Arranging
Applied Composition Instruction
Jazz Musicianship
Jazz Theory
MIDI Orchestration

Fourth Year
Analysis and Composition of Commercial Music
Applied Composition Instruction
Advanced Musicianship
Creative Composition
Senior Recital

About the Curriculum

The Composition Program is designed as a creative launching pad for students interested in writing and arranging for film, game music, 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. Instrumental and vocal ensembles perform and record student compositions and arrangements. In addition to composing for the University’s ensembles, there is an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration.

Students graduating from the Composition program will:

  • Demonstrate outstanding aural musicianship;
  • Demonstrate outstanding cognitive musicianship and theoretical knowledge;
  • Understand music in its historical and sociological context;
  • Express understanding of music in verbal and written form;
  • Be musically literate and technically proficient performers and composers;
  • Possess knowledge and experience in a diversity of musical styles and cultures;
  • Acquire the skills to use and integrate current technology in support of their musicianship;
  • Use all of the above as the basis for creative output.

Explore the full curriculum

Thanks to a curriculum that stresses emerging technologies and the business side of composition as well as the academics and theory behind it, our students are able to pursue a variety of music composition careers: in radio and television, with orchestras or chamber ensembles, and even composing soundscapes for video games, events or industrial applications.

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

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