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Composition & Music Theory M.A., Ph.D.

Composition Studies

The composition faculty teach individual composition lessons at two levels: undergraduate composition for students working toward the Bachelor of Music degree and graduate composition for composers in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs.

The Center for New Music, directed by Professor David Gompper, presents a number of concerts of contemporary music each semester, often including thesis compositions by student composers.

The Henry and Parker Pelzer Prize in Composition is awarded annually to a graduate student in composition who demonstrates substantial creative achievement. See also: Composition Resources

Master of Arts in Composition (M.A.)

Specific Admission Requirements
  1. A minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0, documented by official copies of transcripts.
  2. Three letters of recommendation.
  3. A current resumé including a list of compositions with instrumentation, performances of compositions, and a summary of composition study listing composition teachers.
  4. In addition to the UI Graduate College application
  5. Applicants must submit three scores along with recordings (mp3/wav/aiff) of original compositions; materials should be sent directly to David Gompper.

Admission to the composition degree program requires a favorable evaluation of the portfolio by the composition faculty, and approval by the Head of the Composition/Theory Area and the Director of Graduate Studies. Students applying for fall admission must submit a complete application by the application deadline; later applications will be considered if openings remain.

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Doctor of Philosophy in Composition (Ph.D.)

Admission Requirements
  1. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 in previous graduate study, documented by official copies of transcripts.
  2. Three letters of recommendation.
  3. A current resumé, including a list of compositions, performances of compositions, and a summary of composition study listing composition teachers.
  4. In addition to the UI Graduate College application
  5. Applicants must submit a portfolio of three scores and recordings (mp3/wav/aiff) of original compositions; materials should be sent directly to David Gompper.

Admission to the composition degree program requires a favorable evaluation of the portfolio by the composition faculty, and approval by the Head of the Composition/Theory Area and the Director of Graduate Studies. Students applying for fall admission must submit a complete application by the application deadline; later applications will be considered if openings remain.

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Music Theory Studies

As a small department within a large School of Music, we offer graduate students the best of both worlds: excellent access to research libraries, stimulating performance opportunities, and ample teaching opportunities, all with a maximum of individualized attention from faculty. 

In addition to advanced studies leading to the M.A. or Ph.D. in music theory, we offer a theory pedagogy minor that prepares graduate students specializing in music performance to teach college-level music theory. Our weekly Colloquium lecture series brings distinguished guest speakers to campus as well as provides a forum for our own faculty and graduate students to share their recent research.

The theory area at the University of Iowa comprises a small group of scholars doing cutting-edge research in areas such as transformational theory, popular music, critical theory, modal theory, and history of theory. Our research expertise spans the Renaissance era through the early 21st century.

Master of Arts in Theory (M.A.)

Admission Requirements

Applicants must submit the following items to the Office of Admissions:

  • Application for Graduate Admissions
  • Official academic records documenting a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 (4.0).
  • Official TOEFL score report, if applicable

Applicants must submit the following items to the departmental section of the graduate application:

  • Official academic records
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • CV/Resume
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Two papers demonstrating theoretical training, analytical skills, and focused critical interpretation

Students applying for fall semester admission should submit a complete application by the application deadline. Late applications will be considered only if openings remain. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact members of the theory faculty with questions about the program, to discuss the applicant’s interests and prior training, or to arrange meetings and observe classes during a campus visit.

Financial aid for graduate students in theory typically takes the form of a 25% teaching assistantship that involves working ten hours per week in freshman or sophomore theory classes, which meet daily. The duties include grading papers, attending theory lectures, and teaching aural skills and sight-singing to a section of ten to fifteen students twice a week. TAs are automatically eligible for in-state tuition. Non-native speakers of English must be certified for teaching assistantship duties by passing an on-campus English speaking and comprehension test.

Before classes begin in fall semester, the music theory faculty tests the keyboard proficiency of newly appointed TAs. TAs with insufficient keyboard facility for teaching aural skills must enroll in MUS:4210 Keyboard Harmony. The faculty tests the TAs concerned again at the end of fall semester. Those whose skills remain insufficient will be removed from aural skills teaching duties.

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Doctor of Philosophy in Theory (Ph.D.)

Admission Requirements

Applicants must submit the following items to the Office of Admissions:

  • Application for Graduate Admissions
  • Official academic records
  • Official TOEFL score report, if applicable

GRE scores are desirable but not required.

Applicants must submit the following items to the departmental section of the graduate application:

  • Official academic records
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • CV/Resume
  • Statement of Purpose
  • MA thesis or the equivalent demonstrating theoretical training, analytical skills, and focused critical interpretation

Students applying for fall semester admission should submit a complete application by the application deadline. Late applications will be considered only if openings remain. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact members of the theory faculty well in advance of applying with questions about the program, to discuss the applicant’s interests and prior training, or to arrange meetings and observe classes during a campus visit.

Financial aid for graduate students in theory typically takes the form of a 25% teaching assistantship that involves working ten hours per week in freshman or sophomore theory classes, which meet daily. The duties include grading papers, attending theory lectures, and teaching aural skills and sight-singing to a section of ten to fifteen students twice a week. TAs are automatically eligible for in-state tuition. Non-native speakers of English must be certified for teaching assistantship duties by passing an on-campus English speaking and comprehension test.

Before classes begin in fall semester, the music theory faculty tests the keyboard proficiency of newly appointed TAs. TAs with insufficient keyboard facility for teaching aural skills must enroll in MUS:4210 Keyboard Harmony. The faculty tests the TAs concerned again at the end of fall semester. Those whose skills remain insufficient will be removed from aural skills teaching duties.

Applicants who wish to be nominated for a University of Iowa Presidential Graduate Fellowship must submit all application materials December 1. GRE scores are desirable but not required. 

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Contacts

For more information on the theory and composition area at The University of Iowa, please contact:

Please visit http://academicmusiciowa.com to learn more about our recent scholarly activities, our current students and alumni, colloquium series, and other events.

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