Composition Division Information

Degrees Offered

The Following Degrees are offered through the Division of Composition Studies:

  • Bachelor of Music in Composition
  • Master of Arts in Music, Concentration in Composition (general track)
  • Master of Arts in Music, Concentration in Composition (computer music media track)
  • Master of Arts in Music, Concentration in Composition (interdisciplinary track)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Music, Concentration in Composition (general track)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Music, Concentration in Composition (computer music media track)

Both composition and computer music are offered as related fields of study for master's and doctoral students in other degree programs, subject to approval by the major area. Application procedures for the related field in composition are included in the Graduate Program section of this website; students interested in applying for the related field in computer music must contact the CEMI director.

The Bachelor of Arts degree in Music is also an option for undergraduates interested in pursuing composition but with greater curricular flexibility than what is possible in the Bachelor of Music degree. The BA degree is particularly suitable for students interested in supplementing their composition studies with courses in jazz studies, music education, radio/television/film, computer science, business, or any other areas not included in the curriculum for the BM degree in Composition. Please contact the Office for Academic Advising in Music for further information about this option.

Undergraduate Application Procedures

New Students

Undergraduate students interested in declaring composition as a major will audition on their concentration instrument or voice during one of the scheduled audition dates; application and audition procedures are available on the College of Music website. There is no portfolio requirement for new undergraduate composition students. Once accepted to the College of Music, prospective composition majors must meet with the academic advisor during one of the summer orientation sessions prior to admission. Any student accepted to the College of Music may initiate studies in the undergraduate composition program through open enrollment in Beginning Composition I-II (MUCP 1180-1190); prospective composition majors will be admitted to the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music, and may be considered for the Bachelor of Music degree in Composition once they have met the following requirements:

  1. Completion of MUCP 1180-1190 with no grade lower than B.
  2. Completion of MUTH 1400-1410 and 1500-1510 with no grade lower than B.
  3. Successful completion of the Freshman Barrier Examination.
  4. Acceptance at the concentration level on an instrument or voice.
  5. Continuous enrollment in a music laboratory.
  6. Regular attendance at composition division events, including Music Now.
  7. Consent of the composition faculty.

Students who meet all of the above requirements may be coded as "Music Composition" (MUCP), but are considered provisional composition majors until they have successfully completed the undergraduate composition jury at the end of the sophomore year.

Transfer Students

Students transferring from other undergraduate music programs must meet the same requirements as new and continuing composition students in order to qualify for the composition major. Because the Bachelor of Music degree in composition requires eight sequential semesters of composition courses/lessons (which are only offered during the fall and spring semesters), transfer students are strongly encouraged to consider the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music rather than the Bachelor of Music degree in Composition. This option typically allows the transfer student to graduate in a timely manner while still being able to take advantage of all available composition course offerings. Please contact the Office for Academic Advising in Music for further information about this option.

Required course work for transfer students interested in the Bachelor of Music degree in Composition will be determined in consultation with the academic advisor and composition division chair. Transfer students with at least two semesters of college-level composition courses who place into MUTH 2400-2410 or higher may be eligible for Intermediate Composition (MUCP 2180-2190). Consideration for Intermediate Composition is based upon the following criteria:

  1. Acceptance to the College of Music at the concentration level on an instrument or voice.
  2. Enrollment in MUTH 2400-2410 or higher; no grade lower than B in any transferred theory courses will be accepted.
  3. Submission of a completed application and portfolio to the College of Music Admissions Office. The portfolio must be submitted electronically with the application and will include:
    1. At least three scores demonstrating a variety of compositional approaches and techniques.
    2. Recordings (on CD) of representative works, preferable corresponding to the enclosed scores. MIDI realizations may be submitted in exceptional cases.
    3. A complete list of works: title, medium, date composed, duration, and performance information (dates, locations, and performers) for each work, where applicable.
    4. Letter of recommendation from previous composition instructor.
  4. Interview with the composition division chair.
  5. Successful completion of the Freshman Barrier Examination.

At the discretion of the composition division chair, students who fulfill requirements 1-4 above but do not pass the Freshman Barrier Examination may enroll in Secondary Composition I (MUCP 2080) and audit the lecture portion of MUCP 1180 and/or 1190. As with entering freshmen, transfer students interested in declaring composition as a major will be admitted as Bachelor of Arts (BA) students until meeting the requirements outlined above.

To be considered for Advanced Composition I (MUCP 3180) or higher, transfer students with significant composition and theory experience who have met the above requirements may, upon recommendation of the composition division chair, petition to take a jury at the beginning of the semester. However, this is an extremely rare occurrence, and most students transferring during the junior or senior year are encouraged to pursue the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music.

Graduate Application Information

Application to the graduate program is a two-part process, including application to the Toulouse Graduate School and to the composition program in the College of Music. Additional information is available on the College of Music Graduate Studies website. Both parts of this application process must be completed by the first Monday in December to ensure that the application will be evaluated.

Graduate students interested in requesting Composition, Computer Music Media, or Contemporary Music Performance as a related field should proceed to the Related Fields section of this website.

PLEASE FOLLOW ALL APPLICATION PROCEDURES CAREFULLY; late or incomplete applications may not be processed.
 

Applying to the University and the Toulouse Graduate School

Current guidelines regarding application to the University may be obtained as follows:

  1. U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens — refer to the Toulouse Graduate School website (http://www.tsgs.unt.edu).
  2. International students — refer to the International Admission and Programs website (http://international.unt.edu/international-graduate-application-checklist).

 

Applying to the Composition Program and the College of Music

Qualifications

Qualified applicants will be expected to have an undergraduate degree in music composition, a portfolio of works, a consistent record of performances, and a commitment to the field of composition as a profession. Applicants without a degree in composition will be considered if they can demonstrate competency and potential as a composer, and have successfully completed the following undergraduate courses:

  • Instrumentation
  • Electroacoustic/Computer Music
  • 18th-Century Counterpoint
  • Form and Analysis
  • Composition lessons (at least two semesters)

Demonstrated competency in the above areas may be determined during orientation, in lieu of actual coursework. These competencies are the minimum requirements expected of entering graduate students in composition; performance experience is not an application requirement, but is strongly encouraged. Applicants with undergraduate degrees outside of music are encouraged to obtain a second Bachelor's degree in Music, or take equivalent coursework, prior to application.

Application Procedures

Applicants to any of the graduate programs in composition must submit a completed application and portfolio to the College of Music Admissions Office by the first Monday in December to ensure consideration for acceptance in the following academic year. The portfolio must be submitted electronically with the application, and will include:

  1. Scores of three representative works.
  2. Recordings of three representative works, at least two of which should correspond with the scores submitted. MIDI realizations may be used in exceptional cases.
  3. A current résumé or vita, which includes the following:
    1. A list of original compositions, including title, medium, date composed, and duration.
    2. A list of performances of original compositions, including date, location, and performers.
    3. A list of prizes, commissions, grants, or other honors recently received.
  4. Academic transcripts; note that this is separate from the transcripts sent to the Toulouse Graduate School.
  5. Official GRE scores; note that this is separate from the GRE scores sent to the Toulouse Graduate School.
  6. Letters of recommendation from three persons qualified to evaluate the applicant's accomplishments and merits.
  7. Writing samples (e.g., research paper, thesis, etc.).
  8. Personal statement that addresses the following:
    1. Compositional aesthetics and influences.
    2. Statement of purpose: why are you interested in pursuing graduate studies at the University of North Texas?
    3. Long-range professional goals.

The portfolio materials may be submitted as attachments or linked by url to a personal website. Physical copies of portfolio materials will not be accepted.

Degree Requirements

Degree requirements for the MA degree and PhD degree in Music with a concentration in composition are listed on the UNT website.
 

General Application Information

  1. Please note that application to the Toulouse Graduate School is separate from application to the College of Music, and that admission to the Graduate School does not imply acceptance to the composition program.
  2. Applications are reviewed at one time each year for acceptance the following fall semester; new applications will not be considered for the spring semester. Applications received after the posted deadline may not be considered.
  3. Applicants who are selected after the first round of reviews will be notified by the end of January and are expected to schedule an interview at the UNT campus prior to the first Monday in March.
  4. Applicants will be notified by early April concerning the status of their applications.
  5. Applicants are expected to submit GRE scores at the time of application in order to be considered for graduate studies in composition. The Graduate Preparation Course (GPC), provided for international students by the Intensive English Language Institute (IELI), will not be accepted as a substitute for the GRE requirement.
  6. International applicants in composition must apply to the composition program prior to beginning studies at the Intensive English Language Institute (IELI). Acceptance to and/or studies in IELI in no way ensures acceptance to the composition program.
  7. No performance audition is required in order to apply to the graduate program in composition.

Graduate Related Fields

The Composition Division offers related fields in Composition, Computer Music, and Contemporary Music Performance for eligible students in other graduate music programs (MM, MA, DMA, PhD). Please contact your major field professor or area advisor to determine if this is an option for your degree plan; application guidelines and related field requirements are listed below:

 

Applying for the Related Field in Composition

Qualifications

Students interested in this related field are expected to have demonstrated compositional proficiency equivalent to a composition minor or concentration at the undergraduate level. Acceptance to this related field will be based on the student's talent, achievement as a composer, future potential, and availability of faculty studio spaces.

The following prerequisites apply for the related field in music composition:

  • A Bachelor's degree in music or the equivalent.
  • At least two semesters of composition lessons or the equivalent.
  • Evidence of compositional activity (e.g., performances, awards, etc.).

Applicants who do not meet the above criteria may be provisionally accepted as a related field student in composition at the discretion of the composition faculty, pending completion of recommended deficiency courses.

Application Information

Students interested in declaring a related field in composition must submit an application for review by the composition faculty that includes the following:

  1. Scores of three representative works.
  2. Recordings (CD and/or DVD only) of three representative works, at least two of which should correspond with the scores submitted. MIDI realizations may be used in exceptional cases.
  3. A list of original compositions, including title, medium, date composed, duration, and performance history.
  4. Complete academic transcripts (photocopies acceptable).
  5. Letter of recommendation from a person qualified to evaluate the applicant's accomplishments and merits in the area of composition.
  6. Writing sample (e.g., research paper, thesis, etc.).

Applications for the related field in composition will be accepted throughout the academic year; submit materials to Administrative Assistant Christopher Walker (MU 231). Applicants should allow up to four weeks for these materials to be reviewed by the composition faculty prior to notification of acceptance.

Degree Requirements

Master's Students (9 hours):
• 3-6 hours, MUCP 5185 (Concentration Composition).
• 3-6 hours selected from MUCP 5320 (Orchestration), MUCP 5460 (Contemporary Music), MUCP 5680 (History & Techniques of Electroacoustic Music), MUCP 5690 (Topics in Electroacoustic Music), MUCP 5580 (Contemporary Performance Practices), MUCP 5590/MUEN 5595 (Intermedia Performance Arts).
Prior to graduation, the student will submit a portfolio that includes scores and recordings of original compositions completed while in the program, an artist statement, and a complete list of original works and performances.

Doctoral Students (12 hours):
• 6 hours, MUCP 5185 (Concentration Composition).
• 6 hours selected from MUCP 5320 (Orchestration), MUCP 5460 (Contemporary Music), MUCP 5680 (History & Techniques of Electroacoustic Music), MUCP 5690 (Topics in Electroacoustic Music), MUCP 5580 (Contemporary Performance Practices), MUCP 5590/MUEN 5595 (Intermedia Performance Arts), MUCP 6465 (Topics in Contemporary Music).
Prior to candidacy, the student will submit a portfolio that includes scores and recordings of original compositions completed while in the program, an artist statement, and a complete list of original works and performances; this portfolio will serve as the related field portion of the qualifying examination.

 

Applying for the Related Field in Computer Music

Qualifications

Applied computer music research is an important element of many students' goals in performance, education, and music theory. This related field will allow students outside of composition to take advantage of the substantial opportunities and resources of CEMI and iARTA, and to have this research documented and integrated into their graduate studies. Students interested in this related field are expected to demonstrate proficiency with music technology through relevant coursework at the undergraduate level and/or independent projects that apply music technology in some manner.

Application Information

Students interested in declaring a related field in computer music must submit an application for review by the composition faculty that includes the following:

  1. A list of original applications of music technology, which may include musical works, software, hardware, code, etc.
  2. A sample of work(s) included on the list above.
  3. Complete academic transcripts (photocopies acceptable).
  4. Letter of recommendation from a person qualified to evaluate the applicant's accomplishments and merits in the area of music technology.
  5. Writing sample (e.g., research paper, thesis, etc.).

Acceptance to the related field area to be determined by the composition faculty as the result of a review of the student's academic work and thesis/dissertation research plans. Courses are to be chosen in consultation with the student's primary instructor and a representative from the composition division.
Applications for the related field in computer music will be accepted throughout the academic year; submit materials to Administrative Assistant Christopher Walker (MU 231). Applicants should allow up to four weeks for these materials to be reviewed by the composition faculty prior to notification of acceptance.

Degree Requirements

Master's Students (9 hours, selected from):
• MUCP 5680 (History & Techniques of Electroacoustic Music).
• MUCP 5690 (Topics in Electroacoustic Music): varied subjects; may be repeated for credit.
• MUCP 5590/MUEN 5595 (Intermedia Performance Arts).
Prior to graduation, the student will write an 8-10 page research paper on a topic to be provided by a representative from the composition division, based on the student's research interests within the field of computer music and their relation to his/her work in the major field of study. The paper will be evaluated by the composition faculty representative prior to the final oral examination.

Doctoral Students (12 hours, selected from):
• MUCP 5680 (History & Techniques of Electroacoustic Music).
• MUCP 5690 (Topics in Electroacoustic Music): varied subjects; may be repeated for credit.
• MUCP 5590/MUEN 5595 (Intermedia Performance Arts).
• MUCP 6200 (Advanced Research in Computer Music): may be repeated for credit.
The student will write a 10-15 page research paper on a topic to be provided by a representative from the composition division, based on the student's research interests within the field of computer music and their relation to his/her work in the major field of study. The paper will be evaluated by the composition faculty representative at the time of the student’s written qualifying examination. Approval of the research paper will fulfill the related field portion of the written qualifying examination.

 

Applying for the Related Field in Contemporary Music Performance

Qualifications

The Related Field in Contemporary Music is a selective program for performers and conductors who have demonstrated a serious commitment to studying and performing the music of our time. This related field provides a framework for advanced study of contemporary music extending beyond the scope of typical studio lessons. Its goal is to encourage intensive study of contemporary music at the highest level, helping students build unique sets of skills and repertoire that will distinguish their careers.

Only a limited number of applicants can be accepted into this program. Successful applicants will provide a clear record of performances that extend beyond the standard repertoire, as well as a strong proposal for future study within the related field. In some cases, applicants may be accepted provisionally in order to build a foundation of contemporary music experience.

Students in the program will be expected to include contemporary repertoire on degree recitals and departmental performances, as well as performances with Nova Ensemble and other Composition Division programs. The repertoire studied should embrace diverse styles of contemporary music, and can range from early twentieth century modern masters (for example, Edgard Varèse, Anton Webern, Ruth Crawford, or Henry Cowell) to composers writing today. Collaborations with living composers are an essential component of this related field. Works in each student's final portfolio will demonstrate an understanding of contemporary performance practice issues, and familiarity with a comprehensive range of major contemporary repertoire.

Prospective applicants with questions regarding qualifications should contact the Composition Division chair.

Application Information

Students interested in declaring a related field in contemporary music performance must submit an application for review by the composition faculty that includes the following:

  1. Complete academic transcripts (copies acceptable).
  2. Academic writing sample.
  3. Sample recording of contemporary solo and chamber music performed by the applicant.
  4. Repertoire list that demonstrates significant contemporary music performance experience; this list should include works programmed on solo and chamber recitals, not just works performed in organized ensembles (e.g., Nova Ensemble). This list should include composer dates and/or dates of composition.
  5. Sample programs including contemporary repertoire (copies acceptable).
  6. List of at least five proposed contemporary works/projects to be studied in the course of their degree. The proposals should be of significant contemporary repertoire; however, the projects should be practical with regard to scope and resources.
  7. Personal statement that addresses the student's interest and experience in the performance and study of contemporary music, and reasons for interest in this related field.
  8. Letter of recommendation from the major professor, or another person qualified to assess the student's background and potential in the area of contemporary music.
  9. Live audition for placement in Nova Ensemble; please note that a successful audition for the Nova Ensemble does not necessarily guarantee admittance to this related field.

Applications for the related field in contemporary music performance will be accepted throughout the academic year; submit materials to Administrative Assistant Christopher Walker (MU 231). Applicants should allow up to four weeks for these materials to be reviewed by the composition faculty prior to notification of acceptance.

Degree Requirements

Master's Students (9 hours):
• 3 hours, MUCP 5580 (Contemporary Performance Practices).
• 3 hours selected from MUCP 5460 (Contemporary Music), MUCP 5680 (History & Techniques of Electroacoustic Music), MUCP 5690 (Topics in Electroacoustic Music), MUCP 5590/MUEN 5595 (Intermedia Performance Arts), MUCP 6465 (Topics in Contemporary Music).
• 3 hours MUEN 5585 (Nova Ensemble).
Additionally, the student must demonstrate competency in the interpretation of contemporary music by performing at least one contemporary work each semester (in addition to performances with the Nova Ensemble) and including a substantial work composed since 1950 on the master's degree recital (to be determined in consultation with the major professor and related field representative). Prior to graduation, the student will submit a portfolio that includes recordings, programs, an artist statement (750-1250 words), and a complete list of contemporary projects and repertoire performed while in the program. This portfolio must be submitted to the related field professor at least one week prior to the scheduled oral comprehensive examination.

Doctoral Students (12 hours):
• 3 hours, MUCP 5580 (Contemporary Performance Practices).
• 6 hours selected from MUCP 5460 (Contemporary Music), MUCP 5680 (History & Techniques of Electroacoustic Music), MUCP 5690 (Topics in Electroacoustic Music), MUCP 5590/MUEN 5595 (Intermedia Performance Arts), MUCP 6465 (Topics in Contemporary Music).
• 3 hours Nova Ensemble MUEN 5585.
Additionally, the student must demonstrate competency in the interpretation of contemporary music by performing at least one contemporary work each semester (in addition to performances with the Nova Ensemble) and including at least two substantial works composed since 1950 on one or more of the doctoral degree recitals (to be determined in consultation with the major professor and related field representative). Prior to candidacy, the student will submit a portfolio that includes recordings, programs, an artist statement (1250-2000 words), and a complete list of contemporary projects and repertoire performed while in the program; this portfolio will serve as the related field portion of the qualifying examination, and must be submitted to the related field professor at the time the written qualifying examination is administered.

FAQs

Below are frequently asked questions about the composition program, for graduate and undergraduate students. If you are unable to find an answer to your questions below, please contact the composition division chair.

 

Undergraduate

  • What can I do to prepare for the composition program?

    Perhaps the most important preparation for the UNT composition program is to practice your primary instrument/voice! Because acceptance to the College of Music is based on the performance audition, demonstrated proficiency on an instrument/voice is imperative. It is strongly recommended that entering students study basic music theory—including harmony, counterpoint, and aural skills. Proficiency on the piano is also recommended, since it will be necessary for every music student to pass a piano proficiency exam as a graduation requirement. Beyond that, one may wish to study musical scores by a variety of composers. The Beginning Composition course website is a useful resource for prospective composition students.

  • Do I need to submit a portfolio of original compositions in order to be accepted to the program?

    A composition portfolio is not required for students entering the program at the freshman level; however, transfer students must submit a composition portfolio if they wish to be considered for composition lessons at the sophomore level or higher. While the composition portfolio is one of the key tools for evaluating prospective composition majors at many other institutions, acceptance to the undergraduate composition program at UNT is based on the performance audition, which has proven to be a much more effective indicator of potential success than the contents of a composition portfolio, and allows us to consider prospective composers with a wide range of background experience. Once accepted to the College of Music, entering composition students are given the opportunity to demonstrate their technical and creative skills during the first two years of study, as they begin building their composition portfolios and preparing for the sophomore jury.

  • May I submit a composition portfolio even if one is not required?

    Because all entering composition students are required to take the two-semester Beginning Composition course during the first year of study, the submission of a portfolio will not exempt a prospective student from this requirement. However, should a portfolio be submitted, it will be reviewed and placed in the applicant’s file.

  • As a transfer student, how will I be placed in the composition program?

    Depending on your past experience, coursework, and the content/quality of your portfolio, the faculty will place you in the composition program accordingly. To find out what is expected during the freshman year, please visit the course websites for Beginning Composition I, MUCP 1180 and Beginning Composition II, MUCP 1190; the Freshman Barrier Examination tests the content of these two courses. The next evaluation point is the undergraduate jury, typically administered at the end of the second year of study. This jury is required of transfer students who might be considered for placement in advanced composition lessons. The portfolio presented at the undergraduate jury should reflect an understanding and application of technical issues covered in the first two years in the program.

  • Will I be expected to write atonal music as a composition major?

    As composers living and working in the twenty-first century, we are able to draw upon a vast amount of music that is now part of our collective tradition, including many so-called “atonal”—as well as “arhythmic,” “atemporal,” “aleatoric,” etc.—styles from the last century. Those pursuing advanced studies in the field of composition are obligated to familiarize themselves with these contemporary approaches to composition and to address certain compositional challenges that arise with each. Achieving a requisite level of proficiency with these various styles and techniques will enable students to develop a personal language with a greater understanding of the aesthetic context.

  • Is it possible to double-major in composition and another area?

    While this is possible in exceptional cases, it is not generally recommended due to the demands and expectations of each area. As with other majors, studying composition at UNT is a full-time endeavor — and students who spread themselves too thin by declaring more than one major often find it difficult to work at an acceptable level in one (or more) area(s). That said, it is not uncommon — and is even recommended — to remain an undeclared major for the first year or two of study. This allows one to better understand the expectations of the various degree programs while taking the core courses required of all music students.

  • How do I choose a composition instructor?

    All composition students are encouraged to study with several composition faculty members during their time in the program. There is no expectation to remain in one particular studio, although more advanced students may wish to continue with a particular faculty member as they finalize their portfolios and prepare for their senior composition recitals. Undergraduate composition majors are able to request faculty studios once they have passed the Sophomore Jury, and have thus been officially accepted into the program; non-composition majors (including BA students) may request faculty studios when they are eligible to enroll in Advanced Secondary Composition (MUCP 4080). Students request their preference of composition faculty studios during registration period each semester. While every effort will be made to fulfill these requests, it is not always possible to do so; in such cases, priority is given to students at a more advanced stage in the program.

  • Will I be expected to compose computer music?

    Given the fact that technology affects nearly every facet of our lives—and music is no exception—it is absolutely imperative for composers in this day and age to be at least moderately proficient with music technology. Such experience is not limited to computer music notation, but includes recording, mixing, editing, synthesis, algorithmic composition, interactive technologies, and intermedia as well. All undergraduate composition majors are required to take the Introduction to Electroacoustic Music course (MUCP 4670), and will include at least one work in the final portfolio that applies technology in some way. One of the unique features of the composition program at UNT is the high degree of integration between acoustic and electroacoustic/computer music. All of the composition faculty members have experience in both of these areas, and the same is expected of the students working in the program as well.

  • Do you recommend any particular computer notation software?

    While no particular music notation software is endorsed over another, both Finale and Sibelius are supported in the College of Music computer labs. All students are expected to demonstrate proficiency with a computer notation program during their composition studies, though entering composition majors are required to notate their works by hand throughout the first year of study; music notation software may be used beginning in the sophomore year, once the student has demonstrated a thorough understanding of notational practices.

  • Are there opportunities to have my music performed?

    Such opportunities include over half a dozen student composition recitals produced within the composition division each year (Spectrum) as well as regular reading sessions (including those with the UNT Symphony Orchestra, UNT Chamber Orchestra, and the Nova Ensemble); but students are also encouraged to seek other opportunities outside of the composition division, such as departmental performances, student degree recitals, and even College of Music ensembles. As the largest accredited music program in the country, the UNT College of Music hosts a vast resource of outstanding performers. Because there are many demands on these musicians’ time and talents, it is necessary for composers to be industrious when recruiting performers for their works. Developing good “people skills” and providing performers with professional-quality work will go a long way towards cultivating successful collaborative relationships.

Graduate

  • How many graduate students do you accept each year?

    Depending on the number of openings are available in faculty teaching studios, we typically accept between three to six graduate composition students per year—which includes applicants to both the MA and PhD degree programs. This represents an average of 10-15% of the total number of graduate applications we receive each year. Although we review a large number of talented and highly qualified applicants each year, it is simply not possible to accept more than we can accommodate. Because the graduate composition program at UNT is very competitive, prospective students are strongly encouraged to apply to more than one graduate program.

  • Do I need to have an undergraduate degree in music in order to apply for a graduate degree in composition?

    As long as graduate applicants demonstrate the requisite level of technical, artistic, and academic aptitude, and have taken the requisite composition, theory, and aural skills courses equivalent to that in the undergraduate composition curriculum at UNT, the degree or major of the applicant’s undergraduate studies are of less importance than the courses taken, the quality of education at the applicant’s undergraduate institution, GPA, and the content of the graduate portfolio. For listing of required courses, please refer to the graduate admissions page of this website. Graduate students in the UNT composition program have held such varied undergraduate degrees as BA, BS, and BFA, with majors in philosophy, computer science, mathematics, and business, among others. The broad range of backgrounds represented by the composition students at UNT further enhance the rich educational experience in our program.

  • What are you looking for in a graduate composition application?

    The evaluation of graduate application portfolios is an involved process, requiring thorough review of all submitted materials and careful deliberation among the composition faculty members. We are not looking for any particular style characteristics nor do we apply any kind of aesthetic litmus test in our decisions. More generally, we are interested in well-rounded composers who demonstrate musical talent, creative and academic potential, professional drive, and the desire to learn and grow as composers and scholars. We look for students who can bring energy, ideas, and a fresh perspective to our program and who can contribute in a variety of ways to our community of composers.

  • Is it possible to get feedback from the faculty regarding my application portfolio?

    It is not our policy to provide comments or suggestions regarding graduate applications.

  • What is the difference between the various tracks within the MA and PhD degrees?

    Students in the Master of Arts program in Music with a Concentration in Composition have three options from which to choose: (a) general track, (b) computer music track, and (c) interdisciplinary track; PhD students have two options: (a) general track and (b) computer music track. It is not necessary to decide on a track prior to acceptance, though the faculty may recommend a particular track based on the student's experience and aptitude. In addition to different curricular requirements, students in the computer music track will be more actively involved in CEMI, while those in the interdisciplinary track will be involved in iARTA as well. During the first year in the program, the division chair and faculty advisors will counsel students as to which track may be most appropriate, and will tailor a degree plan accordingly.

  • How do I choose a composition instructor?

    All composition students are encouraged to study with a variety of composition faculty during their time in the program. There is no expectation to remain in one particular studio, although more advanced students may wish to continue with a particular faculty member as they prepare for doctoral qualifying examinations, thesis, or dissertation. Students request their preference of composition faculty studios during registration period each semester. While every effort will be made to fulfill these requests, it is not always possible to do so; in such cases, priority is given to students at a more advanced stage in the program.

  • Are there opportunities to have my music performed?

    Such opportunities include over half a dozen student composition recitals produced within the composition division each year (Spectrum) as well as regular reading sessions (including those with the UNT Symphony Orchestra, the UNT Chamber Orchestra, and the Nova Ensemble); but students are also encouraged to seek other opportunities outside of the composition division, such as departmental performances, student degree recitals, and even College of Music ensembles. As the largest accredited music program in the country, the UNT College of Music hosts a vast resource of outstanding performers. Because there are many demands on these musicians’ time and talents, it is necessary for composers to be industrious when recruiting performers for their works. Developing good “people skills” and providing performers with professional-quality work will go a long way towards cultivating successful collaborative relationships.

  • Are there opportunities to compose music for films?

    While the UNT composition program is not geared specifically toward film music careers, there are regular opportunities for advanced composition students to collaborate with students from UNT’s renowned Department of Media Arts. Many of these collaborative projects are publicly presented at the end of each academic year.

  • Do you recommend any particular computer notation software?

    While no particular music notation software is endorsed over another, both Finale and Sibelius are supported in the College of Music computer labs. All students are expected to demonstrate proficiency with a computer notation program during their composition studies.

  • Will I be expected to compose computer music?

    Given the fact that technology affects nearly every facet of our lives—and music is no exception—it is absolutely imperative for composers in this day and age to be at least moderately proficient with music technology. Such experience is not limited to computer music notation, but includes recording, mixing, editing, synthesis, algorithmic composition, interactive technologies, and intermedia as well. All graduate composition majors are required to take at least one advanced electroacoustic/computer music course during their studies—and it is possible to declare computer music as a specialization track for both the MA and PhD degrees. One of the unique features of the composition program at UNT is the high degree of integration between acoustic and electroacoustic/computer music. All of the composition faculty members have experience in both of these areas, and all students working in the program are expected to as well.

BA/BM Degree Comparison

Below is a comparative overview of the Bachelor of Music (BM) and Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees; for further information on these degree options, including degree plans for each, contact the Office for Academic Advising in Music

Bachelor of Music degree in Composition

 

Bachelor of Arts degree in Music

 

• 132-hour degree plan.   • 120-hour degree plan.
• 5 advanced elective credit hours.   • 30 advanced elective credit hours, at least 18 hours of which must be outside the College of Music.
• Audition required on concentration instrument or voice.   • Audition required on concentration instrument or voice.
• 4 semesters of secondary lessons; 4 semesters of 1000-level concentration lessons; Upper Divisional Examination; 2 semesters of advanced (3000-level) concentration lessons; Concentration Proficiency Examination.   • 4 semesters of 1000-level concentration lessons, Upper Divisional Examination; no advanced concentration lessons, secondary lessons, or Concentration Proficiency Examination required.
• No Foreign Language requirement.   • 2 semesters of Intermediate-level Foreign Language, plus six advanced hours, are required.
• Music Laboratory (MULB) required every semester of enrollment, for at least eight semesters.   • 6 hours of Music Laboratory (MULB) are required.
• A grade of B or higher is required in all theory and composition courses.   • Passing grade required for theory and composition courses.
• 16th-Century Counterpoint (MUTH 3410), 18th-Century Counterpoint (MUTH 3420), Form Analysis (MUTH 3510), Instrumentation (MUCP 4310), and Introduction to Electroacoustic Music (MUCP 4670) are required.   • 16th-Century Counterpoint (MUTH 3410), 18th-Century Counterpoint (MUTH 3420), Form Analysis (MUTH 3510), Instrumentation (MUCP 4310), and Introduction to Electroacoustic Music (MUCP 4670) are optional.
• Theory Proficiency and Piano Proficiency are required.   • Theory Proficiency and Piano Proficiency are required.
• Freshman Barrier Examination, Sophomore Jury, and Senior Recital Hearing & Final Portfolio Review are required.   • No composition barriers, juries, hearings, or portfolio requirements.