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The Wind Ensemble playing music
School of Music

Master of Music in Composition

composition lesson with guest artist

Contemporary art music of every style and genre are the heart of our composition program.  The MM in Composition is a writing intensive degree, with numerous opportunities to write, perform, teach, and collaborate, resulting in a professional body of work that reflects our students’ newly expanded musical vocabulary and high level of craftsmanship.  Butler University offers numerous performance opportunities for our student composers, including readings by all of the large ensembles and performances by the JCA Composers Orchestra, along with high quality performances by the students of the entire Jordan College of the Arts.

How to Apply

Important Dates:

January 1: Application deadline for fall entry, including pre-screening materials for voice applicants.

March 1: Interview and audition deadline for fall entry.

Steps for Applying:

Step 1: Complete the Application for Graduate Admission. NOTE: To submit a graduate application, you need to have previously completed a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university and be seeking an advanced degree. Your Application for Graduate Admission should include:

  • Butler Application
  • ​​A Professional Statement
  • Official transcripts or copies of official transcripts from all colleges and universities where candidates:
    • Earned a degree
    • Earned more than 15 credits (undergraduate and graduate)
    • Completed any program prerequisite (regardless of number of credit hours)
    • Completed courses for which candidates are applying for transfer credit
  • Resumé
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • International applicants must take the TOEFL as well as submit additional financial documentation. See International Student Application process.

Transcripts: 

Copies of official transcripts may be uploaded in the online application for application review only. Applicants who receive an offer of admission will be required at that time to submit official final transcripts issued directly from the institution(s) for verification prior to enrollment. More information is available in the application for admission.

Step 2: Complete the JCA Graduate Music Supplement. The supplement will appear on your application status page after submitting your Application for Graduate Admission. The supplement is required in order for your application to be considered complete.

Step 3: Submit Pre-screening materials. The Pre-screening should include three original scores and recordings of representative compositions. Submit scores and recordings as a compiled online portfolio or as separate links to the materials via email to music@butler.edu. The subject line of the email should include your full name and "Comp Pre-Screen".

Step 4: Complete an interview with appropriate Composition faculty. Interviews will be scheduled through the School of Music office in mid-January. You must receive approval of your Pre-screening materials before being invited to interview. If you have any questions or have not been contacted about the results of your Pre-screening or to set up an interview, please email music@butler.edu.

Degree Overview

Total Credit Hours: 30 credit hours
Anticipated Duration: 2 years
Degree requires a composition recital, thesis, and final oral comprehensive exam

Required Courses:

  • Advanced Composition lessons
  • Ensemble
  • Research in Music
  • Music History Elective
  • Professional Topics in Music Composition
  • Composition Seminar
  • Music Theory Electives including Intro and/or Advanced Electronic Music if not taken as undergrad
  • General Music Electives
  • Composition Recital
  • Thesis
  • Final Oral Examination

Download full degree guide as a PDF: MM in Composition

Graduate Assistantships and Tuition Waivers

We offer a limited number of graduate assistantships, fellowships, and tuition waivers to graduate music students in the fall of every academic year. Graduate awards are reviewed and renewed annually. Below is a list of positions related to the MM in Composition degree; click here to view a full list of graduate assistantship positions or email music@butler.edu. NOTE: New students applying for entry in the spring semester will not be eligible for a graduate assistantship, fellowship, or tuition waiver, but may apply for the following academic year.

New Music Ensemble Tuition Waiver

Eligibility: Full-time, degree-seeking graduate students seeking fall-term entry. Students pursuing any degree plan are welcome to apply.

How to apply: Select the New Music Ensemble assistantship when prompted on the Graduate Application. An audition and interview may be required.

Award Details: Includes either a half or full tuition waiver of graduate tuition for 7.5 or 15 credit hours per year.

Duties: Perform in JCA Composer’s Orchestra (New Music Ensemble) and possibly another approved ensemble as well. A student may be offered a waiver for 7.5 credit hours of tuition to perform in the JCA Composer’s Orchestra and may also be offered a waiver for an additional 7.5 credit hours (for a total of 15) for performing in a second ensemble.

Faculty supervisors: Frank Felice, Professor of Composition and Director of New Music Ensemble.

Music Theory Assistantship (Music Theory Tutor)

Eligibility: Full-time, degree-seeking graduate students seeking fall-term entry. Students pursuing any degree plan are welcome to apply.

How to apply: Select the Music Theory Tutor position when prompted on the Graduate Application. An interview is required.

Award Details: Includes a full tuition waiver of graduate tuition of 15 credit hours per year plus a stipend.

Duties: Tutor undergraduate music students in one-on-one sessions and lead review sessions for exams in written theory, aural skills, and keyboard skills classes. This position will likely also include other duties within the School of Music. Position will require 10-20 hours of service per week. Schedule, specific duties, and exact number of hours per week are to be determined. 

Faculty supervisors: Dr. Jeff Gillespie, Professor of Music Theory and Coordinator of Music Theory. Dr. Andrew Farina, Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Theory.

Musicology Assistantship (Music History Tutor)

Eligibility: Full-time, degree-seeking graduate students seeking fall-term entry. Preference is given to MA in Musicology students, but students pursuing any degree plan are encouraged to apply.

How to apply: Select the Music History Tutor position when prompted on the Graduate Application. An interview is required.

Award Details: Includes a full tuition waiver of graduate tuition of 15 credit hours per year plus a stipend.

Duties: Tutor undergraduate music students in one-on-one sessions and lead review sessions for exams in music history classes. This position will likely include other duties within the School of Music. Position will require 10-20 hours of service per week. Schedule, specific duties, and exact number of hours per week are to be determined.  

Faculty supervisors: Coordinator of Musicology

Faculty

Michael Schelle, Professor of Composition, Artist-in-Residence, Coordinator of Composition
Frank Felice, Associate Professor of Composition, Electronic Music

Contact Us

For application or general questions, contact the School of Music office at music@butler.edu or 317-940-9065.