DMA in Composition

Application Requirements

  • Completed application for graduate admission to the College of Fine Arts
  • Non-refundable application fee of $80
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation from music professionals/educators. These may be submitted online using supplied Letter of Recommendation Form, or an offical letter from the recommender in a sealed envelope.
  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
  • Personal statement indicating the applicant’s purpose in pursuing graduate work, career objectives, and particular interest in BU
  • Current résumé
  • At least three original compositions in good manuscript form, reflecting a variety of instrumental and formal types, including at least one work for a larger group such as a chamber orchestra and/or chorus.  Recordings of compositions are helpful, but not required. Composition portfolios should be mailed to the College of Fine Arts at the address below along with a printed Composition Score Submission Form.
  • International applicants: please click here for special requirements

Application materials deadline: December 15

Apply OnlineApplication Instructions

Mailing address:
BU School of Music Room 246
College of Fine Arts
855 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

Detailed Program Information

For detailed information regarding specific degree requirements for the Composition major, please click here.

Financial Aid

All applicants with completed applications are considered for all available scholarships and assistantships. There is no financial aid application. For more information regarding financial aid, please visit the financial aid link.


The student must present a program, approximately one hour long, of original compositions. The student will submit the recital portfolio for faculty approval before beginning work on the thesis, and at least four weeks before the proposed recital date. The recital itself may be scheduled any time before graduation, as long as the portfolio is complete and approved. As an alternative, the student may choose to present a portfolio of scores, tapes, and programs documenting non-departmental performances. The faculty may determine that this performance portfolio meets partial or full requirements for the degree recital.


The doctoral candidate majoring in composition must write a large-scale composition in a demanding medium. The exact nature of the work will be proposed by the student and teacher and must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.

Post-baccalaureate DMA in Composition

Students who have completed the BA or BM degree may apply directly to the DMA program. Applicants must meet the general admission requirements for the MusM program, and must show evidence of strong academic performance as well as compositional talent and achievement. Students who move from the MusM degree prior to completion are subject to the same admissions requirements.

Review of Progress

Students in the post-baccalaureate DMA program will be carefully reviewed at the end of the first year of study. Faculty will consider the work in composition, academic record, and overall achievement of each student. Students who are not considered likely to complete the doctoral program successfully may be advised to apply for transfer into the MM degree program. Students whose work is considered unsatisfactory for any reason will be withdrawn from the doctoral program.


Students give two recitals during this degree program. During the second year of study, the student submits a recital portfolio for faculty approval. This portfolio must contain works totaling at least half an hour. Once the portfolio is approved, the student presents these works in a recital. If the works have all been publicly performed or read, this first recital requirement may be waived at the discretion of the composition faculty. Prior to work on the thesis, during the third or fourth year, the student must again submit a recital portfolio for faculty approval. These works, which may include pieces previously submitted, must make up a full-length program. Once the faculty has approved the recital, the student must present it publicly. This may be done at any time prior to graduation. Students are expected to register for Graduate Composition until the second recital portfolio is completed and approved.

Keyboard Proficiency

Students will be tested for keyboard skills. The test includes prepared works of medium difficulty, keyboard harmony, score reading, and sight-reading. Students may repeat portions of the test until all parts are passed.

Qualifying Examinations

Students who have completed at least 40 credits of coursework may take the qualifying examinations. The written examinations cover music theory (analysis, harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, and general knowledge) and music history of all periods. Students who pass the written examination proceed to the oral exam. A student may not begin the thesis until all qualifying examinations have been passed.


Doctoral candidates in composition will write a dissertation consisting of a large-scale work in a demanding medium. The exact nature of the work will be proposed by the student and teacher, and approved by the Graduate Studies Committee before the dissertation begins.