Graduate Composition

Master of Music Composition (M.M.)

The Master of Music Composition (M.M.) degree at UofL is a two-year program of study designed to further the expertise and experience of students who have already completed an undergraduate degree in music composition (or its equivalent). While most students who are admitted into the M.M. Composition program have received undergraduate degrees in music composition, students without an undergraduate degree in music composition may be accepted in the M.M. composition program if they (1) demonstrate compositional skills and experience approximately equivalent to an undergraduate degree in composition, and (2) hold an undergraduate degree or its equivalent, preferably (but not necessarily) in some area of music.

Graduate Application Requirements

  • 3 to 4 original scores with recordings - midi acceptable (See below for more information.)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Official Transcripts
  • At least 2 letters of recommendation
  • GRE scores (ETS Code 1838)
  • Application Fee – $60

Application materials should be received by Feb. 1 for full consideration.

Admissions Counselor
School of Music
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY  40292

Composition Portfolio

Graduate composition majors audition by submitting a portfolio. The composition portfolio is one of the primary tools for evaluating financial support. The portfolio should contain three or four samples of original compositions, along with recordings for the same works, if possible. Evidence of experience using various instrumental and/or vocal combinations is helpful. Submit your most advanced and sophisticated work. If you have any questions about what to submit in the portfolio, feel free to ask questions before submitting.

Curriculum Vitae

Students should also submit a curriculum vitae detailing education, any relevant work or teaching experience, and achievements, especially with regard to their compositional work. Excellent performance skills may also be valuable in obtaining financial support, through scholarships for performance in School of Music ensembles. For more information, please visit the School of Music financial aid information page.

Financial Support Suggestions

If you wish to be considered for a Bomhard Composition Fellowship, submit a letter addressing this. If you wish to be considered for a theory teaching assistantship, please visit the Music Theory webpage. If you have excellent performance skills and wish to be considered for a performance award for participation in School of Music ensembles, please visit the School of Music Scholarship page.

Graduate Music Theory Entrance Exam

During the first days of the first semester of study, graduate students take both a Graduate Music Theory Entrance Exam and a Music History Entrance Exam. The topics of the Graduate Theory Exam include: instrumentation, written harmonic analysis, both written and aural structural analysis, written harmonization of a melody, and the aural skills of melodic and harmonic error detection. The exam is divided into Aural and Written components, each of which is assigned a separate grade. Students whose test scores reflect either "rustiness" or a lack of preparation will be required to register for Graduate Theory Review, a course that is designed with one goal: passing the Graduate Theory Exam. Please note that all M.M. students are required to pass both the Aural and Written components of the exam before graduation.

Performance Opportunities for Compositions

There are many opportunities for performances of new compositions, and students will be encouraged to present their work regularly. There is at least one, and often two or more, student composer recitals each semester. There are also other UofL sponsored opportunities for performances. Frequently, students will have works performed on recitals of performance majors, at school-wide assemblies (called Convocations), or on concerts of student or faculty ensembles. Student pieces are selected by competitive submission for inclusion on the annual New Music Festival. There are often other opportunities for performances in the broader Louisville community.

Thesis Review

The program requires a thesis composition, which is typically a work for large ensemble (usually orchestra, but other ensembles will be considered). Bomhard Fellows are required to produce a thesis composition that features solo voice(s) with large ensemble or a dramatic work such as a one-act opera or its equivalent. The finished thesis composition is submitted near the end of the final semester of study (usually near the end of the second year of study).

The thesis composition is reviewed and must be approved by the student's three-person thesis committee of two composition faculty (one of whom is the student's composition teacher) and one other School of Music faculty member from outside the Theory/Composition Department. Members of the student's thesis committee must also be members of the UofL Graduate Faculty.

Thesis Guidelines PDF Document

Graduate Oral Exam

After approval by the thesis committee of the thesis composition, each student meets for about 30 minutes with the Graduate Committee of the School of Music, a six person committee that includes a representative of each School of Music department. This meeting, called the Graduate Oral Exam, is a free-ranging question and answer session in which the student is given the opportunity to demonstrate a broad base of knowledge about music. There may be some degree of focus on the following: orchestration, music history and literature (particularly as these relate to the thesis composition), and the subject matter of any music course taken while a M.M. student at UofL.

For More Information

If you have questions related to music composition at UofL, please contact Dr. Steve Rouse:

View the Graduate Catalog for Program Information & Degree Requirements

School of Music Graduate Degree Information