Master of Music in Composition

Hannah AzcunaPictured | Hannah Azcuna | Master of Music, Composition | Wheaton, Illinois (hometown)

Master of Music in Composition

Curriculum Requirements (37 cr.)

The Master of Music in Composition curriculum is 37 credit hours total, not counting remedial music nor English courses. 

All courses are 3 credit hours, unless otherwise noted.

Applied Music Courses (12 cr.)
  • MUS-K 910 Composition Graduate Majors (3-3-3-3 cr.)
    Composition applied instruction for four semesters
  • MUS-I 711 Masters Recital (0 cr.)
  • One required outreach activity

Students shall submit a brief written proposal (at least a month prior to the event) that describes a community involvement project that has an element of service. It must be completed prior to the graduate recital.

With the approval of the graduate music faculty, a student may substitute a formal thesis, including an oral defense, for MUS-I 711 Masters Recital.

Core Music Courses (16 cr.)
  • MUS-G 571 Master’s Advanced Orchestral Conducting
  • MUS-I 503 Graduate Residency (4 semesters, 1 credit each)
  • MUS-K 505 Projects in Electronic Music I
  • MUS-M 530 Contemporary Music
    (by recommendation of the advisor, another course may be substituted if this course was taken in the undergraduate degree.)
  • MUS-M 539 Introduction to Music Bibliography

Electives (6 cr.)
  • BUS-M 301 Introduction to Marketing Management
    No pre-requisites subject to approval of the Marketing Department. Other marketing classes as approved by advisor.
  • One additional elective (students may substitute courses at the 300– or 400–level as a graduate elective if approved by the Coordinator of Graduate Studies

Supporting Course(3 cr.)
  • MUS-U 530 Seminar on Current Topics in Music Studies

Keyboard Proficiency
  • Final Project
    The keyboard examination is given at the end of each semester. Students who fail the examination must register in piano until the requirement is met.
  • Designed to ensure the student’s ability to use the piano as a tool within the framework of professional activities, the requirements vary according to level and area of music study. Students are to discuss specific requirements with their music advisors. Other examinations pertaining to specific degrees may be required as appropriate.

Final Project

The student must complete a final writing project prior to the graduate recital. This project may take one of three forms: a thesis, extended program notes, or a performance-lecture. Students must present a proposal for their project by October 1 for completion in the spring semester and by March 1 for completion in the fall semester. Proposals should include the student’s name, degree program, a working title for the project, a 1-2 page single-spaced narrative providing background and significance of the project, and the semester in which the project will be completed. An additional MUS-I 711 Masters Recital may be substituted for the final project.

Students choose one of the following three project options.
1. Master's Thesis

The master’s thesis is an extended research paper on a subject in music history or music theory chosen in consultation with and under the direction of a member of the academic faculty. The thesis must present an original idea and argument that is supported by extensive research in a document generally 50-75 pages in length.

2. Extended Program Notes

With this option, the student will prepare extended, comprehensive program notes that address the repertoire chosen for the student’s graduate recital. The notes must be based on substantive research in order to provide contextualization and analysis for each piece on the program. This project has two parts: extended program notes for review by the advisor (approximately 15 pages) and condensed program notes for printing in the recital program (approximately 5 pages).

3. Lecture–Recital

The student will prepare a 45-60 minute performance lecture that will be given before the recital program. During the lecture, the student should provide the audience with historical contextualization and analysis of the pieces to be performed and demonstrate musical examples where appropriate.

Graduate Qualifying Examinations

Students must pass final examinations in music history, theory, and major area before the graduate recital. A student may attempt the examinations at any time during the degree program but must successfully complete each segment within a maximum of two attempts or be dismissed from the program.

  • Each oral examination will be about 50 minutes.
  • There will be a committee of three faculty members—including the studio teacher—and at least one academic faculty member.
  • Two questions will be asked four weeks prior to the oral examination. One question will relate specifically to the area of study, and one question will relate to the final writing project, with a focus on music history and music theory. The student will prepare a 15 minute answer for each question, with additional time allotted for follow-up.

Sample question | Composers often engage with political and social issues through their music. Choose two pieces, one choral and one symphonic, by two different American composers and compare and contrast the ways in which each addresses a specific contemporary problem. Be prepared to discuss and cite relevant scholarly literature.

Academic Bulletins

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2023-2024 Campus Bulletin
2022-2023 Campus Bulletin
2021-2022 Campus Bulletin
2020-2021 Campus Bulletin
2019-2020 Campus Bulletin
2018-2019 Campus Bulletin
2017-2018 Campus Bulletin
2016-2017 Campus Bulletin
2015-2016 Campus Bulletin
2014-2015 Campus Bulletin

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