Student hand writing music on composition notebook.

Composition, M.M.

Finding Your Voice

The Greatbatch School of Music is committed to fostering the active participation of gifted and well-trained Christian composers in the life of contemporary society, inside and outside of the Christian community. To that end, we offer a program of study for composers of demonstrated talent and accomplishment who aspire to excellence in the writing of music of various types, including symphonic and chamber music, opera, and other instrumental and choral/vocal works for the concert hall and/or the church, as well as music for film, television, and other media.

Admission to the Master of Music program in composition is highly selective. Candidates are expected to have completed a bachelor of music degree in composition, or have an equivalent level of compositional ability as demonstrated by a significant portfolio of original works. Substantial proficiency on a major instrument is required.

Program Objectives

Each student will be encouraged:

  • to explore a wide variety of compositional techniques and methods, with an eye toward further developing strong compositional craft.
  • to develop a personally unique compositional style or language.
  • to consider stylistic eclecticism as the dominant compositional ethos of the postmodern world.  At least some compositional assignments will deliberately demand the learning of new musical languages.
  • to become involved in the activities of professional compositional societies.
  • to articulate a personal plan of action concerning establishment as a composer within Christian worship and fellowship communities, as well as to consider and articulate any unique contributions of music composed from a Christian worldview to wider musical and cultural communities.

Degree Requirements

Major Area

MHS 520: Research and Bibliography

2 credits

Electives in Major Area

5-8 credits

In consultation with your Academic Advisor, you will choose electives in an area of interest that combine to create a coherent principal focus designed to materially deepen your expertise and understanding of the area selected. Possible options might include music education, music in Christian worship, or some other specific combination of courses with a coherent structure and goal. You will either prepare a capstone project, paper, thesis, or other approved approved research/performance combination, that summarizes and synthesizes the principal focus of your work. The final project should be considered at the time the principal focus is developed.

MUS 598: Thesis

3-6 credits - Final Project

Your must prepare a project or thesis (or other approved research/performance combination), in conjunction with the major professor, that summarizes and synthesizes the principal focus of your work. The finished project or thesis will be evaluated by the graduate studies committee.

Other Studies in Music

MUS 501: Graduate Assistants' Forum

0 Credits

Required of all Graduate Assistants; open, but not required of, all other graduate students

MUS 54X: Graduate Ensemble

0 Credits

You must enroll in an appropriate major ensemble (or accompanying) each semester of resident, with or without credit, in consultation with the directors of choral and instrumental activities.

Choose from among the following for a total of 6 credits:
Choose one or two from MHS and one or two from MTH; no more than one may be 4XX.

MHS 590: Seminar in Music History

3 credits
Topics vary by semester

MHS 595: Special Topics in Music History

3 credits

MTH 567: Systems of Analysis and Contemporary Art Music (3 credits)

3 credits

MTH 566: Advanced Orchestration

3 credits

MTH 558: Sixteenth Century Counterpoint

3 credits

MTH 563: Form and Analysis

3 credits

MTH 475: Synthesizer/Computer Applications

3 credits

MTH 595: Special Topics in Music Theory

3 credits


MHUM 501: Seminar: Music, Worship, and Culture in Christian Perspective

3 credits


Music courses* numbered 500** or above

7 credits

*No more than 2 credit hours or ensemble may count as music elective hours toward degree

**A limited number of music courses numbered 400 or above may also be taken as electives, with the approval of the graduate advisor

What Graduates Say:

Discover if a Graduate Assistantship is right for you.

Graduate assistantships are available each year to MA and MM students in the Greatbatch School of Music. Generally, these positions are awarded to students within their major field of study or for services in which they hold special expertise.

Learn more about graduate assistantships