BM in Composition & Theory

Degree Type

  • Undergraduate


  • In-Person


  • On-Campus
Link to the bulletin

The Bachelor of Music (BM) in Composition & Theory at BU School of Music is for students looking to attain a personal compositional aesthetic and the techniques to express it through sound. Through performance opportunities, comprehensive training, and collaborations with accomplished musicians and artists, undergraduates are presented with an array of opportunities to hear and discover diverse musical styles and develop the skills necessary to navigate the professional world.

Curriculum requirements for the BM in Composition & Theory can be found on the Academic Bulletin.

Anaís Azul writes a piece for the Chamber Orchestra of Boston.

Program of Study

Students receive one-on-one instruction in both composition and on an instrument/voice for all four years. Rigorous courses in music theory and music history are offered, and a broad curriculum provides an excellent foundation for further studies. Students are encouraged to find their own voice in a collegial environment where all viewpoints are welcome.

The weekly Composers’ Forum is an opportunity for visiting guests to present their music and for students to share their own music with each other.

Annual award opportunities include the Composition Competition for Performance with Orchestra, the two Wainwright prizes, and Departmental Honors.

A small department, the Composition & Theory program encourages an open, collaborative, entrepreneurial sense both inside and outside the classroom. The outstanding quality of faculty and students in both the Department and the entire School of Music. Openness of colleagues to be collaborative and entrepreneurial both in and outside of the classroom.

Students join an international community of faculty and alumni who are music theorists, performers, conductors, and composers. This is an environment that encourages individual creative work and collaborative projects.

A performance of Lyle Davidson’s interactive piece “Centering” by CFA’s new music ensemble Time’s Arrow in the marble entryway of Tsai Performance Center. Photo by Cydney Scott

As part of a top-tier Music school in a major University, students have an expanse of opportunities including participating in Time’s Arrow, the new music ensemble, as both composer and performer, as well as collaborating with the College’s theatre and visual arts programs, such as in dramatic productions and installations. Boston’s vibrant music community offers countless possibilities to work with ensembles as well as in Lenox at Boston University Tanglewood Institute.

BU School of Music regularly uses three performance spaces: the Concert Hall, the Tsai Performance Center, and the School of Music Marshall Room. It also has state-of-the-art practice rooms.

More about Venues & Facilities

Situated within a large, top-tier research institution, students can in music studies while also pursuing additional majors and/or minors in other fields such as humanities, sciences, and health. Participation in University Hub courses with a vast array of options offered by nearly every college, school, and department on campus.

Flexibility to pursue additional academic areas of study, including rigorous academic minors or concentrations, or a dual degree.


Composers’ Forum

At the weekly Composers’ Forum students have the opportunity to share their own music and interact with visiting composers who are presenting work. For more information please contact department chair Martin Amlin at

Center for New Music

Located at the heart of a thriving music school, the BU Center for New Music enhances the presence of cutting-edge music within the curriculum while encouraging awareness of new music within the BU arts community. To widen the conversation among the greater University, the center hosts lectures, demonstrations, and performances that are open to the public, providing a forum for broader interdisciplinary involvement.

Center for new music

Electronic and Computer Music Studio

The electronic and computer music studio contains state-of-the-art software and equipment.

Opening Doors

Missy Mazzoli (CFA’02) Speaks Out For Women In Classical Music

They are determined to use their experience, influence, and positions to help make their business, organization, and world more inclusive. They are breaking barriers—and then reaching back to help those behind them overcome the same hurdles. They are BU alumni, faculty, and staff—of every race, ethnicity, age, and gender—and they are “Opening Doors” for the next generation.

Missy Mazzoli began playing piano when she was seven.

“I knew instantly that I wanted to dedicate my life to music; it had such a profound effect on me,” says Mazzoli (CFA’02). “I started writing when I was 10. I made the decision to be a composer before I knew what that meant.”

Now, she is one of America’s preeminent composers—Time Out New York calls her “Brooklyn’s post-millennial Mozart.” Recently composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Mazzoli is writing an opera based on George Saunders’ novel Lincoln in the Bardo for the Metropolitan Opera, and she rattles off new works that are performed or about to be performed by the National Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, and others. Musical America named her its 2022 Composer of the Year

Read more

Missy Mazzoli (CFA’02) is one of America’s preeminent composers, and she’s fighting to improve the path for women in classical music. Photo by Marylene May

Next Steps for Applicants

The best way to determine if BU is right for you is to visit us in-person or remotely. Observe classes. Faculty members are available to meet with you and to discuss your educational interests, individual learning needs, and career goals.

Explore our admission requirements, financial tools, and resources to determine if the program is the right match. Reach out to with any questions along the way.

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