Degree Requirements

Master of Music


The two-year Master of Music (M.M.) degree in Composition trains students to create music and convey their musical ideas through a variety of performance media. Students are expected to exhibit a thorough knowledge of the theoretical and historical basis of music and to develop strong pedagogical skills. A comprehensive general curriculum and optional concentrations in various areas of specialization help to prepare students for advanced careers as composers and teachers.




Administrative Contacts
Role Contact Person
Director of Graduate Studies, Graduate Advisor  James Buhler
Graduate Coordinator Marina Martinez
Graduate Admissions Coordinator Daniel Seriff
Scholarships & Assistantships Coordinator Anne Hall
Registrar Stephen Wray
HR Coordinator Aaron Pyle
Operations & Scheduling Page Stephens


Composition Division Contacts & Faculty
Role Contact Person
Division Head Robert Hatten
Area Head Yevgeniy Sharlat
Area Counselor Donald Grantham
Faculty Omar Thomas
Faculty Russell Podgorsek
Faculty, Film Scoring Sam Lipman
Faculty & Director, Experimental & Electronic Music Studio Januibe Tejera de Miranda



Degree Requirements

The M.M. in Composition requires 31 hours of registered coursework, a comprehensive examination, and a recital. 

Major Coursework 

Major Coursework for the M.M. in Composition
Hours Course Number Course Title/Description
6 MUS 388C  Composition (2 semesters) 
3 MUS 388 T  Analytical Techniques 
3 MUS 388  Other than Composition 
6 MUS 698A and
MUS 698B 
Thesis and Recital 

The master’s composition recital must be approximately 30 minutes in length, must consist of works approved by the student’s composition instructor, and must be given no later than the student’s last semester in residence. Find recital scheduling procedures on the Butler School Operations website. 

A comprehensive examination is required of all master’s degree candidates, usually in the final semester. 

Supporting Work 

Supporting Coursework for the M.M. in Composition
Hours Course Number Course Title/Description

MUS 387L or 
Mus 380 

Advanced Studies in Music Literature 
Advanced Studies in the History and Culture of Music 

2 ENS 18x  Problems in Performance Practice (2 semesters) 

Semester hours chosen from any of the following areas: conducting, electronic/computer music, jazz, musicology/ethnomusicology, Music & Human Learning, music theory, or performance. 

The student has the option of declaring one of these areas as a concentration, in which case at least eight hours must be taken in that area. In order to pursue this option, the student must propose a list of courses within the area of concentration to the Theory/Composition faculty for approval. 



At the end of each semester, all composition majors except those students enrolled in thesis or dissertation courses or who have given a degree recital during the semester must appear before a jury of the composition faculty. The jury session will last approximately 15 minutes during which the student will present their work and answer any questions the jury may ask. The jury will assign the grade for the semester’s work. The instructor will assign the course grade.

Factors the jury considers when determining the final grade include: the quality and quantity of the music written during the semester, the difficulty of the medium composed for, the number of performances of original music during the semester, growth and improvement, the quality and quantity of work relative to other students’ work at the same level, and participation in the life of the division (attendance at composition forums, CLUTCH concerts, student degree recitals, New Music Ensemble concerts, Electronic & Experimental Music Studio concerts, etc).



Advising & Registration

For information about course registration, deadlines, adding and dropping courses and other policies, visit the Graduate School Academic & Registration Policies webpage.

Students who wish to take an independent study course need to fill out a Consent Form. Once the faculty member and Graduate Coordinator have approved your request, the bar to register for the course will be lifted.

To be eligible for fellowships, scholarships and assistantships, graduate students are required to be enrolled full-time (at least 9 hours).

All international students are also required to be enrolled full-time during each long semester, regardless of whether they receive funding from the Butler School of Music.

Transferring Coursework

A new master’s student may petition to transfer up to six credits of graduate level coursework completed at another institution, subject to approval by both the Butler School of Music Graduate Studies Committee chair and the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Detailed transfer regulations and forms for master’s students are maintained by the Graduate School.



Graduation Timeline

Semester-by-Semester Overview

Prior to 1st semester

  • All students must take the diagnostic examinations in music history and music theory. Additional diagnostic exams are administered for students in composition, voice, jazz and music theory.

Semester 3

  • Registration for the following if required – MUS 698RA, 698A.
  • M.M. Piano Performance students take their group comprehensive exam.
  • With the approval of their studio teacher, some performance area students may perform their thesis recital.

Semester 4

  • Students must submit a completed M.M. degree check form to verify their completion of coursework.
  • Students must apply to graduate – check graduate school website for deadline.
  • Registration for the following if required – MUS 698RB, 698B, 398M.
  • M.M. String students take their group comprehensive exam.
  • All other students take individual comprehensive exams as arranged by their studio teacher (for performance area students) or their supervising professor (for academic area students).
  • Most performance area students perform their thesis recital.
  • M.M. Music & Human Learning – Non-Thesis Track complete their master’s project.
  • M.M. Music Theory, M.M. Music & Human Learning – Thesis Track and M.M. Composition students complete their master’s thesis or master’s report and submit it to the Graduate School.
  • M.M. Ethnomusicology and M.M. Musicology students complete their master’s report and submit it to the Graduate School.



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