Program Description

The composition degree program is designed for students who have an undergraduate emphasis in composition or those who show exceptional promise in composition techniques as demonstrated by a composition portfolio. Students in this program take core courses in music theory, history and research, study applied composition and theoretical compositional practice, and complete a thesis project that involves composing a significant work.

Research Opportunities and Assistantships

Composition students have many opportunities to present their original pieces, including concerts throughout the semester as well as state and regional conferences. Students have the opportunity to work and do research alongside faculty who have a national and international reputation. Graduate assistantships are offered on a competitive basis.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the composition program requires:

  • A bachelor's degree or equivalent;
  • an in-person interview (or video conference interview if distance prohibits);
  • a portfolio of compositions with scores and audio files;
  • three letters of recommendation; and
  • a writing sample.

Students applying for a graduate assistantship should also submit a resume and a cover letter stating their qualifications and duties they can perform.

Apply online at and submit additional materials listed above to:

Graduate Coordinator
School of Music 162
Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859

Graduation Requirements

Students are required to submit a thesis project or significant composition and an analysis paper of the work for graduation. Students also must pass a written comprehensive examination in music history and an oral examination in composition.


The composition degree is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

Career Outlook

For More Information

Keith Clifton
Graduate Coordinator

Or visit the School of Music's website for more information.

This master's degree program is housed within CMU's College of the Arts and Media.