Earn your BM in Composition Studies

In order to be considered a composition major that will lead to a Bachelor of Music degree, students must first be accepted into a performance studio.

The audition process for the composition program consists of submitting a portfolio of original compositions that includes at least three works, in addition to arranging an interview that evaluates general musical knowledge (form and repertoire), aural and sight-reading skills, and piano competency. The portfolio can be submitted in either the first or second year to the area head.

In order to prepare undergraduates for entrance into composition, the area offers individual lessons (MUS:1139:0IND). Please contact the area head for the appropriate instructor assignment.

Requirements and program planning

Download course checklist

Course Offerings

  • Musicianship and Theory I (MUS:1201)*, 4 semester hours
  • Musicianship and Theory II (MUS:1202), 4 semester hours
  • Musicianship and Theory III (MUS:2203), 4 semester hours
  • Musicianship and Theory IV (MUS:2204), 4 semester hours
  • Group Instruction in Piano I (MUS:1211)**, 1 semester hour
  • Group Instruction in Piano II (MUS:1212)**, 1 semester hour
  • Recital Attendance (MUS:1210), 6 semester hours
  • History of Western Music I (MUS:2301), 3 semester hours
    • Also meets General Education Requirement: LVPA and HP
  • History of Western Music II (MUS:2302), 3 semester hours
    • Also meets General Education Requirement: LVPA and HP
  • Techniques of Conducting (MUS:3625), 2 semester hours

*Entering students who do not have Advanced Placement (AP) or transfer credit should enroll in MUS:1201:0002, and take Placement Exam A, administered online in the summer before the start of the fall semester, to determine readiness for the sequence. Learn more about this process.

**Students will take a piano placement exam and may place out of one or both Group Piano classes based on their proficiency.

Select one of the following:

  • Jazz Cultures America and Abroad (MUS:1009), 3 semester hours
    • Also meets General Education Requirement: VSD and LVPA
  • World Music (MUS:1310), 3 semester hours
  • Music of Latin America and Caribbean (MUS:2311), 3 semester hours
    • Also meets General Education Requirement: VSD and LVPA
  • Advanced Jazz History (MUS:4350), 3 semester hours

    • Applied lessons (MUS:20--), 6 semester hours*
    • Secondary piano lessons (MUS:1121), 2 semester hours (2 semesters)
    • Major Ensemble (MUS:----), 8 semester hours

    *A maximum of 6 semesters (12 semester hours) in lower-level applied instruction is allowed. If piano is your instrument, then a total of 8 semester hours are required.

    • Composition Seminar (MUS:3230), 1 semester hour
      • 0 to 1 semester hour, co-requisite with MUS:2220; register for 1 semester hour at least one semester, usually when presenting
    • Composition (MUS:2220), 8 semester hours
      • Individual lessons, at least 4 semesters at 2 semester hours each
    • Composition: Electronic Media I (MUS:4250), 3 semester hours
    • Bachelor's Thesis (MUS:4910), 1 semester hour

    • Counterpoint Before 1600* (MUS:4200) or Counterpoint After 1600* (MUS:4201), 3 semester hours
    • Instrumentation (MUS:3220), 2 semester hours
    • Post-total Analysis (MUS:5230), 3 semester hours

    *This course cannot count for both the required supportive courses and elective courses.

    Choose from any music (MUS) courses, except those closed to music majors.

    Recommended for composition majors:

    • Laptop Orchestra at the UI (MUS:3190), 1 semester hour
    • Composition: Electronic Media II (MUS:4251), 3 semester hours

    Note: These are the current requirements for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Please consult your advisor for the requirements you will be held to based on your entry year.
    • Communication and literacy
      • Rhetoric, 4 semester hours
      • Interpretation of Literature, 3 semester hours
      • World Language, 0 to 16 semester hours
    • Natural, qualitative, and social sciences
      • Natural Sciences, 7 semester hours
      • Quantitative or Formal Reasoning, 3 semester hours
      • Social Sciences, 3 semester hours
    • Culture, society, and the arts*
      • Diversity and Inclusion, 3 semester hours
      • Historical Perspectives, 3 semester hours
      • International and Global Issues, 3 semester hours
      • Literary, Visual, and Performing Arts, 3 semester hours
      • Values and Culture, 3 semester hours

    *Music majors may use up to three music courses (MUS) toward completing the General Education Requirements.

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    View General Catalog

    Current course list

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    Composition studies faculty

    Joshua Albrecht

    Joshua Albrecht

    Music Theory
    Assistant Professor
    Portrait of Matthew Arndt

    Matthew Arndt

    Music Theory
    Associate Professor
    Portrait of Jean-François Charles

    Jean-François Charles

    Composition, Digital Arts
    Associate Professor
    Composition/Music Theory Area Head
    Portrait of David Gompper

    David Gompper

    Director of Center for New Music
    Interim Director of Orchestras
    Kati Meyer

    Kati Meyer

    Music Theory
    Visiting Assistant Professor
    Portrait of Sam Young

    Sam Young

    Assistant Professor of Instruction

    Practice and perform

    Need to book a music room, request an accompanist, check out audition information, rent a locker, or use a recording studio? Visit the Music Callboard for all scheduling and policy information.