Music Composition (MM)


Admission Requirements 

  1. Applications for admission to a graduate program require the following:
    1. Completed graduate application and application fee
    2. Official transcripts for all previous post-secondary course work (all transcripts not in English must be certified as authentic and translated verbatim into English)
    3. At least two letters of recommendation
  2. Applications to specific degree programs require evidence of preparation for advanced study as follows: 
    1. In performance, an acceptable audition
    2. In academic specializations (music composition, music history, music theory), a portfolio of work appropriate to the field of study
    3. In music education, evidence of classroom teaching experience
  3. Applicants whose primary language is not English must show English language proficiency in one of the following ways:
    1. Minimum TOEFL examination score of 213 on the computer-based test, or 79-80 on the internet based test, IELTS scores of at least 6.5 overall band score from the academic module exam or official Duolingo overall score of 105.
    2. Documentation of the award of a degree from a recognized English language institution.
  4. Applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution in the area to be pursued in advanced studies, or they must present evidence of equivalent preparation.
  5. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 2.75 on a 4-point scale.

Applicants who meet the requirements listed in items 1-5 will be considered for conditional admission for graduate study at the School of Music. For additional entrance requirements specific to the degree of interest, consult the section relevant to the degree program below. Entrance examinations in music history, theory and, if appropriate, jazz, will be administered before the first term of study. The School of Music provides guidelines to assist in preparing for the entrance examinations.

Any exception to the above expectations will be evaluated individually and will require a statement indicating criteria to be met in a specified time frame with provisions for monitoring progress and performance. Justification must be provided in writing and must be accepted by the faculty of the student's proposed program, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Dean of the School of Music. Students who fail to meet performance standards or who do not meet other requirements as outlined in the letter of admission, program of study, or the catalog of the University of Louisville are subject to dismissal from their programs.


  1. Bachelor of Music degree or equivalent.
  2. A demonstration, by examination, of skills and capacities in the following fields:
    1. Written, aural, and keyboard harmony
    2. Melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic dictation
    3. Elementary counterpoint
    4. History and literature of music, and analytic understanding of musical forms and genres
  3. Evidence of preparation for advanced work in the area, as follows:
    1. Applicants for the track in Music Composition must submit original works to indicate ability and technical facility in the field of composition.
    2. Students should have a thorough and practical knowledge of piano, as well as a thorough knowledge in the areas of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments.

Program Requirements


MUS 500Music History Review 10
MUS 400Theory Review 10
MUS 600Graduate Oral Exam Preparation0
MUS 607Bibliography and Research Methods3
Music History Seminar (600 level)3
Music Theory 26
Additional Music Theory or Music History Seminar (500 or 600 level) 33
Select one of the following: 3
Advanced Chromatic Harmony and Analysis
Advanced Post-Tonal Theory and Analysis
Schenkerian Analysis
Advanced Analysis
Ensemble 43
Concentration Requirements (see tab)13
Thesis 4
Minimum Total Hours38

Other Requirements

All students must pass an oral examination after all coursework is completed.


These courses may be satisfied by passing the entrance examinations in these areas


Students should take MUS 667 Introduction to Electronic and Computer Music and MUS 668 Advanced Topics in Computer Music.


Students in Electronic Music Composition Track should take AUDI 606 offered by Heuser Hearing Institute and Audiology Department in lieu of an additional Theory or History Seminar.


Three semesters of major ensemble or MUS 551 Studies in Improvisation (two (2) credit hours) and one (1) elective credit hour, which can be satisfied by a major ensemble or two semesters of minor ensemble, but may also be satisfied by an academic or applied elective at the 500 or 600 level.


Co-requisite for MUS 667/MUS 668 sequence.

Concentration Requirements

Music Composition Concentration

MUS 643Advanced Private Instruction in Composition and Orchestration I 13
MUS 644Advanced Composition and Orchestration II 13
MUS 645Advanced Composition and Orchestration III 13
MUS 669Graduate Composition Seminar 20
Applied Music 32
Total Credit Hours (Concentration)11
Minimum Total Hours (Degree)36

Graduate composition majors are required to present public performances of their works within at least two semesters of their enrollment, for a total of at least 20 minutes of music. The graduate thesis will not be granted final approval until this requirement is met.


Four semesters required (Co-requisite for MUS 643MUS 644MUS 645, or MUS 646).


500 level or above; minimum of two semesters; may include Conducting or Seminar in Conducting MUS 659/MUS 660 (sections designated for students who are not conducting majors);may include Composition for Digital Media (MUS 683); but excludes additional semesters of Applied Composition.

Electronic Music Composition Concentration

MUS 688Applied Acoustic Composition2
MUS 683Composition for Digital Media I 12
MUS 684Composition for Digital Media II 12
MUS 685Composition for Digital Media III2
MUS 669Graduate Composition Seminar 20
Applied Music 32
Computer Music or New Media Elective 41
Total Credit Hours (Concentration)11
Minimum Total Hours (Degree)36

Graduate composition majors are required to present public performances of their works within at least two semesters of their enrollment, for a total of at least 20 minutes of music. The graduate thesis will not be granted final approval until this requirement is met.


Co-requisite for MUS 643.


500 level or above; may include Conducting or Seminar in Conducting MUS 659/MUS 660 (sections designated for students who are not conducting majors); may include additional semester of Applied Composition.


Must be approved by the Director of Computer Music Studies.