Students work closely with their advisors to fulfill all curricular requirements, although it is the student's sole responsibility to ensure that his or her course schedule complies with the degree program's curricular requirements. Actual course sequence and, in some cases, content may vary. In addition to the specific courses listed in our curriculum, pleaes note the following policies and components of our Undergraduate program: 

The Senior Recital (MUS 499B): The work of a senior composition major is directed toward their senior recital. Senior composition majors register for MUS 499B in the semester in which the recital takes place. This recital consists of original compositions, using a variety of instrumentation, with a combined duration of between 30 and 45 minutes; the candidate must participate in the recital either as performer or conductor, and one work on the recital should feature or be constructed using electronic elements. The program for the recital is always constructed in close consultation with a student’s studio teacher, and should reflect the highest quality work the student has completed during their study (all works are typically composed after the process of formal admission). Students should book their recital date with the production office as early as possible during the fall semester of their senior year (email to book a date). Students must notify the entire composition faculty of the date as soon as it is booked.

Once the program for the recital is settled between the student and their studio teacher, the student must email their proposed program (title, duration, and instrumentation in the body of the email, along with PDF attachments of all scores in their final form) to the entire composition faculty no later than 45 days in advance of the recital date. Faculty reserve the right to request changes to the program, and therefore students are urged to submit their work as early as possible, rather than waiting for the 45-day deadline.

The Junior Project: Composition majors in their junior year, who have passed their second year review, will pursue a special project (in lieu of a junior recital) that will consist of a six-to-eight minute work, cast in a single movement, for a small chamber ensemble (minimum trio) drawn from the standard fl-cl-vln-vc-perc-pno chamber ensemble. This project should be started in the fall, with a goal of completion for possible performance and/or reading close to the end of the spring semester.

Liberal arts component of a Departments of Music B.M. degree: The Departments of Music require a central core of music and non-music courses related to the University-wide undergraduate study of the liberal arts.

Formal Admission: At the undergraduate level, the student’s freshman and sophomore year of study are directed towards the application for formal admission, which is typically made at the end of the sophomore year. The student’s work at the time of this application should consist of some finished pieces that show a clear development of the student’s technique and a growing awareness of style and aesthetics. At least one of these works should have been performed on a composition recital. The pieces should show some contrast in instrumentation, ranging from solo works to small chamber groups; the entire collection of works should total around twenty minutes of music. The application for formal admission itself consists of a special jury portfolio representing the student’s work in all prior semesters at CUA. It is prepared in close consultation with the studio teacher. All scores should be carefully engraved in notation software.

The scores should be preceded by documentation for each piece that shows: title/instrumentation/duration, dates of composition (as specific as possible), the name of the studio teacher(s) with whom the student worked on the piece, the dates of any performances or readings, and a program note for each piece that contextualizes that piece in the student’s compositional development. The composition faculty, during this jury, reviews the submitted work as well as the student’s overall academic progress to determine whether or not these factors warrant formal admittance to the degree program.

Minimum Grade Requirements: As an additional condition of the BM Composition program, grades of B- or higher are required in all required courses offered by the Composition and Theory Area. If the student does not obtain a B- or higher in any of the required courses offered by the Composition and Theory Area, she/he will be required to repeat the course until the requisite grade is attained.

Regular Jury Requirement: At the conclusion of each semester of private composition study, the student submits a portfolio of their compositional work done during the semester to the Composition faculty for a jury, during which the semester grade is assigned by the faculty. Music contained in the portfolio must have been worked on during lesson meetings. Students also submit a listening journal, with entries for 28 pieces each semester. Student have the option of requesting comments from the composition faculty. 

Primary MUPI instruction: composition students enroll in MUPI 440, 3 credits of private instruction (1 hour per week, starting in week 2 of the term), for all 8 semesters of study. These composition lessons are considered your "primary instrument" during your study.

Secondary MUPI instruction: For at least the first year of study in the Departments of Music, the student will also pursue private instruction on a secondary instrument or voice (1 credit hour each term; this is most often the instrument the student auditions on as part of their admission requirements). a jury will be required at the end of each semester of this study to be eligible for credit to be awarded. Note: if the student's principal instrument is piano, they must pass a keyboard proficiency establishing him/her as having attained Piano Level VI in order to graduate. In satisfying the music elective requirements listed in the curriculum abode, the student may, with their advisor's approval, elect additional private instruction in piano.

Major ensemble requirement: composition students also participate in a major performing ensemble for all eight semesters of study in the BM program. Each ensemble holds auditions at the start of the fall semester; students typically perform on their secondary instrument. Vocalists and pianists are most often placed into one of the vocal ensembles. If awarded a performing scholarship on an instrument, participation in a specific major ensemble is often part of the scholarship agreement. 


Read more about studying music composition at CUA here. Read our guidelines for applying to CUA in music composition here