Master of Music (MM) in Composition

The Master of Music in Composition program at Boston University provides opportunities to study composition and allied topics within the robust environment of a professional music school within a college of fine arts. Collaborations with accomplished musicians and artists complement a strong curriculum in music theory, musicology, and performance. The Boston University School of Music and the Department of Composition & Theory are embedded in the vital international music scene through the multifaceted Center for New Music.

General Degree Requirements

The MM in Composition is granted upon successful completion of a program of study and terminal projects appropriate to the student’s field of specialization. Students must complete a minimum of 36 semester credits with grades no lower than B- in graduate-level coursework. All degree requirements must be completed within five years of the date of matriculation.

Proficiency Examinations

All entering Master of Music students are required to take proficiency examinations in music theory and music history. These examinations are given online before the start of classes. Accepted students are notified of the exam dates and contents in advance and are responsible for taking them by the specified deadline. Exam results are used for advisement and may establish prerequisite or required coursework. Material covered in these examinations is commonly presented in most undergraduate degree programs in music. Students in composition will additionally be examined in fugue.

Students with insufficient background in music theory and/or music history may be required to take the appropriate review courses, which may  earn elective credit. Descriptions of these courses appear in the School of Music Graduate Handbook.

Composition Program Outline

Attendance at the Composers’ Forum—an informal series of lectures presenting composers and authorities in various musical disciplines—is required each semester. All graduate composition majors must be enrolled in graduate composition lessons each semester of study until the recital portfolio is approved.

Music Research Techniques 2 cr
Graduate Composition 9 cr
Advanced Orchestration 3 cr
Advanced Tonal Analysis 3 cr
Advanced Post-Tonal Analysis 3 cr
Electronic/Computer Music 2 cr
Musicology 3 cr
Musical Organization 2 cr
Thesis 3 cr
Approved Electives 6 cr
Total 36 cr

Recital

Performance of a half-hour recital of original compositions approved by the composition faculty is required

Thesis

Students majoring in composition for the MM degree must compose a work for orchestra or other large instrumental or vocal group of approximately 15–20 minutes duration. Permission to undertake a thesis composition is dependent upon the caliber of the student’s work and recital as determined by the department. Students must be enrolled in CFA MU 799 Master’s Thesis during the semester in which the work is completed.

Master of Music Comprehensive Reviews

An oral review for each MM candidate will be administered by the department during the final semester of study and after the thesis is completed. The panel will comprise a minimum of three members of the composition faculty. Approximately one hour in duration, the review is in two parts: (1) a defense of the candidate’s master’s thesis, and (2) questions similar to a doctoral exam’s, by which the candidate should demonstrate a broad range of knowledge in composition and related fields such as music theory and critical issues.