Undergraduate Composition

Undergraduate Composition

The Undergraduate Composition degree program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts is dedicated to giving you the tools and opportunities you need to develop your language. Nestled in a community that values a vibrant arts culture and on a campus where the focus is nothing but the arts, UNCSA is a haven for creative innovation.

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

Bachelor 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, 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.

First–Second Years
In your first two years of study in the undergraduate composition program, you will begin private lessons and monthly seminars, while studying the foundations of music theory, aural and keyboard skills and musical styles. Courses also include Orchestration and Counterpoint. You will pursue liberal arts courses in English, math or science and the humanities. Twice a year during each of your four years, you will present your work to the composition faculty for feedback and commentary. In your freshman through junior years, you are also required to attend a weekly Performance Hour, where you will hear your peers perform music from throughout the ages — including works by student composers.

Third–Fourth Years
Your undergraduate music composition degree studies will continue in your third and fourth years with additional liberal arts courses, career development, conducting and film composition. Music Technology courses in your junior year focus on synthesis and multimedia, digital audio and recording. In your senior year, as a graduation requirement, you will also produce a recital of your works.

Meet the Composition Studio

Related Programs


Composition Faculty
Dedicated to creating artists, entrepreneurs and leaders.