Graduate Composition

Graduate Composition

The graduate composition program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts is dedicated to helping advanced composers refine their artistic languages as they prepare to enter the profession.

Program Features

  • Individualized instruction stemming from an outstanding student-to-teacher ratio: 6-1
  • UNCSA Wind Ensemble commissions 2-3 student works a year
  • Performance faculty sponsor annual competitions for student composers for professional premieres
  • Annual Orchestra Premieres concert of student compositions
  • Access to and guidance in the latest developments in technology
  • Recording sessions with guest ensembles. Recent ensembles include eighth blackbird, Daedalus String Quartet, ICE, Prism Saxophone Quartet, yMusic and Cassatt String Quartet
  • Annual professional premiere of a student orchestra piece by the Winston-Salem Symphony
  • Regular performances of student works by UNCSA String Orchestra, UNCSA Opera Scenes, UNCSA Cantata Singers
  • Skype sessions with major guest composers. Recent sessions with Vijay Iyer, Chen Yi, Andrew Norman, Kati Agocs, Gabriel Kahane, Missy Mazzoli, Steve Mackey

Master of Music

This is a great time to be a composer. More and more performing musicians are including new works on their programs, and the standard of playing has improved dramatically over the last few decades. New innovations in technology are extending our understanding and capabilities in composition. Composers are collaborating with dancers, actors, filmmakers and designers to create innovative artistic events. The range of viable styles of new music has never been broader, from the most intimate songs to the most complex multimedia productions.

Where do you fit in? At UNCSA, as a graduate music composition degree student, you are engaged in answering this question on a daily basis – honing your craft, expanding your horizons, engaging in constant creative inquiry – under the guidance of established, experienced mentors. Our Composition Seminars are lively opportunities for you to gather, sometimes with special guests, to discuss some of the most important issues facing all of us.  With professional training schools in dance, design, drama and filmmaking, in addition to music, UNCSA provides a special environment for collaboration and artistic exploration.

In addition to the wide range of artistic possibilities, our graduate curriculum provides specially designed courses to enhance your career perspectives in a contemporary, market-sensitive approach to educating musicians.

Professional Artist Certificate

If you already have a graduate degree, you may also choose to pursue a Professional Artist Certificate. This post-master’s program is designed to advance your career potential as a young professional composer. If you are interested in independent studies offered through this program, you are encouraged to propose a one-year course of study that is tailored to your interests and experience.

Meet the Composition Studio

Related Programs


The School of Filmmaking also offers a graduate degree in Film Music Composition:


Composition Faculty
Dedicated to creating artists, entrepreneurs and leaders.