Academic Programs Catalog

College of Music

Graduate Study

Music Composition - Master of Music

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Music students must meet the requirements specified below.


To be considered for admission to the Master of Music degree program in music composition, an applicant must submit to the College of Music at least two original compositions representative of the applicant's creative work.  Applicants are encouraged, but not required, to include in the application portfolio, audio CD or video recordings of performances of all musical scores they submit. "Live" recordings are preferred but MIDI realizations are acceptable.

To be admitted to the program on regular status, an applicant must have a bachelor's degree in music composition from a recognized educational institution, or have completed the courses in music composition that are required for the Bachelor of Music degree in composition at Michigan State University or their equivalents.

Requirements for the Master of Music Degree in Music Composition

The program is available only under Plan A, for which an original composition is required in lieu of a thesis.  A total of 32 credits is required for the degree.  The student's program of study must be approved by the student's academic advisor.  The student must meet the requirements specified below:

1. Complete all of the following courses (20 credits):
MUS 422 Music of the 20th Century 2
MUS 871 Advanced Tonal Counterpoint 3
MUS 880 Composition 4
MUS 881 Seminar in Composition 4
MUS 892A Seminar in Music History 1
MUS 899 Master's Thesis Research 4
MUS 978 Late 20th-and 21st-Century Techniques 2
2. Complete 8 credits from the courses in group a. and group b. below with at least 2 credits but not more than 4 credits from group b.:
a. MUS 870 Advanced Modal Counterpoint 3
MUS 872 Tonal Forms 2
MUS 873 Early 20th Century Techniques 2
MUS 874 Schenkerian Analysis 2
MUS 877 Scoring for Orchestra and Band 2
MUS 878 Advanced Scoring for Orchestra and Band 2
MUS 879 Tonal Literature and Analysis 3
MUS 970 Pedagogy of Theory 3
MUS 971 Pedagogy of Theory II 3
MUS 977 Schenkerian Analysis II 3
b. MUS 442 Advanced Techniques in Real Time Performance 2
MUS 883 Advanced Computer Music Projects 2
Either Music 970 or 971, but not both of those courses, may be used to satisfy the requirements referenced in item 2. a.
Either Music 874 or 977, but not both of those courses, may be used to satisfy the requirements referenced in item 2. a.
3. Complete 4 credits in music performance at the 800–900 level or 2 credits in music performance at the 800-900 level and 2 credits in conducting at the 800-900 level.
4. Participate in music activities during 2 semesters of enrollment in the program.  The activities must be approved by the student's academic advisor and must be selected from chamber music, chorus, jazz band or ensemble, orchestra, wind ensemble, or new music ensemble.
5. Complete and submit an original music composition under the guidance of a member of the composition faculty that is acceptable to the student’s final oral certifying examination committee consisting of two members from the composition area and a faculty member from either the music theory or musicology area. The composition must be submitted to the office of the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and will be retained by the College as part of the permanent degree record.
Academic Standards
A grade of 3.0 or higher is required for Music 899.