Graduate Bulletin

Music Composition, M.M.


Admission Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadline:

Fall: January 15                            [December 15 for international applicants]

Spring: October 15                               [August 1 for international applicants]

Decisions regarding admission are rendered after the admissions application is complete and after all required credentials have been submitted.

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 2

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from individuals who can speak toward the applicant's ability to undertake graduate-level work in music and who can comment on the applicant's character as a potential graduate student.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

The equivalent of the appropriate Bachelor of Music degree at Temple University, which is based on a curriculum of 124 to 135 hours.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A degree in music is expected.

Statement of Goals:

The Statement of Goals should include special interests within the discipline and expectations for the program.

Standardized Test Scores:

Minimum TOEFL score or range of scores needed to be accepted: 575 paper-based, 233 computer-based, or 90 internet-based. Any students admitted with a TOEFL score below 600 on the paper-based, 250 on the computer-based, or 100 on the internet-based examination must pass an English skills course during their first semester at Temple University.


The composition portfolio should demonstrate the student's skills in music composition.


A resume is required.

Transfer Credit:

Students who wish to transfer credit should speak with their academic advisor and obtain a transfer of credit form, available at Transfer credits must be approved by the Advisor, the Department Chair, and the Associate Dean. The maximum number of credits a student may transfer is 6.


Due to the large number of applications for admission and the competitive nature of its music programs, the College admits only a portion of its applicants. In addition to the general admissions credentials required of all Temple University graduate applicants, Boyer College of Music specialized admission criteria (i.e., auditions, portfolios, interviews, recommendations, departmental term papers, and standardized examinations) are very heavily weighted in Boyer College of Music admission decisions. Applicants may be rejected for admission for failing to obtain the required level of proficiency in any one area of the specialized admission criteria regardless of the level of success in meeting the Temple University general admission criteria. In addition to the level of success demonstrated in the above-mentioned criteria, a final admission factor is the College's Optimum Enrollment Policy. This Policy may preclude the admission of any student who meets the minimum requirements.

Program Requirements
General Program Requirements:

Number of Didactic Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 30

Required Courses (23)

Music Studies 508-513 (9) Seminar in Theoretical or Stylistic Analysis

                          540 (12) Composition Seminar

                          (2) Digital Synthesis

Elective Courses (9)

Select from Music, Music Education, Music Studies, or other graduate departments.


                       Music Studies 514 (3) Canon and Fugue

                                                 700 (3) Research in Music

                                                 701 (3) Aesthetics in Music

All elective courses must be approved by advisor.

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination:  A language examination is required. Reading knowledge of a foreign language is expected. If a deficiency exists, students may be required to take up to two semesters of a foreign language.

Additional Requirements:

Independent Study Courses:

Independent study courses provide a special opportunity for graduate students to work in a highly individualized setting with one or more faculty members. All such study must receive the approval of the faculty member providing the instruction, the students' major adviser, and the Associate Dean. Approval will be granted only after the student has presented a detailed description of the intended independent study project. Approval of independent study projects will be granted only for students whose academic and musical record provides substantial support for the benefits of this type of study. In no case may more than 20% of a graduate student's curriculum be taken as independent study. Private lessons beyond those required in the curriculum are not an appropriate form of independent study.

Except as noted, all degree credits are to be earned at Temple University.

All incomplete grades and keyboard proficiencies must be completed by the 1st day of the month in which the student expects to graduate.

With special permission, graduate students for whom there is no ensemble requirement, or where previous ensemble credits exceed the graduation requirement, may participate in choral and instrumental ensembles without cost, with prior permission from the ensemble director, the department chair, and the Associate Dean.

All entering Master of Music students are required to take Diagnostic Examinations in Harmony, Counterpoint, Aural Skills, and Music History prior to the first semester of graduate study. The purpose of these examinations is to determine weaknesses in undergraduate preparation. Depending on the examination results, students may be required to take one or more remedial courses. In these instances, the remedial courses will be graded on a "Credit / No Credit" basis and the official university transcript will indicate "CR" (for "Credit", meaning that the deficiency has been satisfied) or "NC" (for "No Credit", meaning that the deficiency has not been satisfied). Students must have a "B-" or better average in any remedial course or section thereof to earn the grade of "Credit" and to satisfy the requirement. Students who earn a grade of "NC" (that is, having a class average below "B-") must retake that course or section until an average of "B-" or higher is achieved and a grade of "CR" is recorded on the official university transcript. Remedial courses are offered for undergraduate credit only, and may not count toward graduate degree requirements.

1. All entering MM students must take the harmony, counterpoint, and aural skills examination prior to the first semester of graduate study unless conditions for exemption have been met (see below). Students may take the test only once, and if they do not pass the test or any portion thereof, they must enroll in the remedial course(s) during their first semester of study. Depending on which section(s) of the examination are failed, the examiners will stipulate which sections of remedial coursework the student must take. The courses are "Diatonic Harmony Review" (Music Studies 201), "Chromatic Harmony Review" (Music Studies 202), "Counterpoint Review" (Music Studies 203), and "Graduate Aural Theory Review " (Music Studies 240).

2. Music History All entering MM students are required to take Diagnostic Examinations in Music History prior to registering for their first semester of graduate student, unless conditions for exemption have been met (see below). If the student is unsuccessful in passing any portion of the Music History examination, the student may select one of two options.

(Option A): Register to take Music History Review (Music Studies 253 for 1 to 5 undergraduate credits, with 1 credit assigned to each of the following five periods: Renaissance, Baroque, Classic, Romantic, and Twentieth Century. Students may register for a maximum of 3 credits of Music History Review in any semester; thus, it is possible to extend the remediation over two semesters.

(Option B): Students may study independently and retake the failed sections of the examination at the end of the first semester of study. Students may retake the examination only once, and if any section is failed a second time, they must take the assigned remedial sections in their second semester of study.

3. Conditions for Exemption The requirement to take the Examination in any of these areas is waived only for graduates of the Boyer College of Music who:

a. matriculate and enroll in the semester immediately following completion of all undergraduate degree requirements, and

b. received grades of "B-" or better in every undergraduate course taken in each individual examination area to be waived.

Professional Development Policy:

All students in the Boyer College of Music, in addition to the required subjects toward their degrees, are obliged to serve in a number of capacities in order to enrich their academic and musical expertise. The Boyer College believes that such experiences give impetus to successful professional careers. Among the duties that may be required are conducting laboratory classes, tutoring, teaching private lessons, coaching, participating in the distribution and inventory control of University-owned musical instruments and instructional materials, participating in ensembles, accompanying, performing at admissions and open house events, supervising performance classes, and other academically related activities.

As an additional part of the entrance Diagnostic Examinations, Composition majors also must pass a functional piano proficiency encompassing the following points:

1. Score Reading: To be prepared in advance of the examination.

2. The exposition of the first movement of a symphony by Haydn or Mozart. Suggested scores are the 12 "London" symphonies by Haydn or one of the last six symphonies by Mozart. If the student wishes, s/he may play a more difficult score by a later composer.

3. Sight Reading: A Bach chorale; realization of a figured bass.

Acceptable English:

All students, including those for whom English is not the native language, are expected to present all written work in acceptable English. No double standard exists to differentiate students on the basis of proficiency in the use of the English language. Students are also responsible for becoming familiar with the College's statement on plagiarism and academic honesty.

Culminating Events:

Comprehensive Examination:

Upon the imminent completion of a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate study and with the approval of the major adviser, the candidate may request permission of the Associate Dean of the Boyer College of Music to take the written qualifying examination. This request must be made in writing at least one month before the scheduled date of the examination. If s/he wishes to do so, the candidate may take this examination during the final semester of graduate study. The master's qualifying examinations will be given once each term.

Composition majors take a five-hour written examination. They are also required to submit a portfolio of their work completed during the time they participated in the Master of Music program. The final part of the examination is either an oral examination, a special project defined by the department, or a combination of both, as determined by the candidate's diversity of skills including critical and analytical insights and abilities.

Upon the imminent completion of a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate study and with the approval of the major adviser.

At least two faculty members grade the written Comprehensive Examination.

Students should contact the Associate Dean at least one month prior to the requested administration date.

Comprehensive Examination in Music Literature and Theory:

All candidates for the Master of Music degree are required to take a one-hour comprehensive examination in music literature and theory. A list of 100 musical works of the standard literature from the Middle Ages through the 20th century is available to the student when admitted to the College. It is suggested that this examination be taken in the penultimate term of study. The list is intended as an aid to preparation for the examination. The examination is in three parts: Identification of specific selections from a list of 100 works, identification of a "mystery" selection, and score analysis.

Students should plan to take the examination in the penultimate semester of study. The examination is in three parts: identification of specific selections from a list of 100 works, identification of a "mystery" selection, and score analysis. The examination is administered approximately ten times each year. Students notify the music graduate secretary no later than one week prior to the requested examination administration date. For examination dates, visit the Graduate Music Examination Schedule page on Boyer's website.

Members of the graduate music history and music theory department select the music scores and musical selections. Two graduate faculty members grade the examination. Students must pass all three sections. A score of 70% or better must be achieved in the identification section, and a "pass" or "weak pass" must be achieved in the "mystery" selection and the score analysis section.

Program Contact Information:

Department Information:

Dept. of Music Composition
Boyer College of Music and Dance
2001 North 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122


Department Contacts:


James Short


Program Coordinator:

Professor Maurice Wright


Graduate Chairperson:

Professor Michael Klein



Professor Michael Klein

About the Program

The Master of Music in Composition is a regimen of professional training spanning the gamut of traditional academic studies such as counterpoint to experimental studies in subjects such as software synthesis. The Master's program encourages the composer of demonstrated accomplishment to develop a personal voice through private study with at least two members of the composition faculty.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 6 years

Campus Location:

Main Campus

Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

Students are required to complete the degree program through classes offered before and after 4:30 p.m. Students are also able to complete the degree program on a part-time basis (8 credit hours or less per semester).

Department Information:

Dept. of Music Composition
Boyer College of Music and Dance
2001 North 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122


Interdisciplinary Study:

Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Study Abroad:



Boyer College has been ranked among the top 30 music schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report.


This degree program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

Areas of Specialization:

Not applicable.

Job Placement:

The program prepares students for various careers related to music, and for further academic and musical training at the doctoral level.


Not applicable.

Non-Degree Student Policy:

With permission from the Dean's Office, students may be granted permission to enter the College as a non-matriculated student, taking up to 9 graduate credits (excluding private lessons) before applying for admission to a program.

Financing Opportunities

Boyer College offers a number of assistantships and academic internships to matriculated graduate students. Full awards carry a cash stipend plus full tuition remission for the fall and spring semesters. Partial awards also are available in values of 1/4 or 1/2 of a full award. Duties for assistantships and internships vary, but typically include teaching, tutoring, classroom assistance, research, artistic performance, and/or direct service related to academic programs. Applicants must submit an assistantship/internship application by March 1 to obtain priority consideration for an award. Applications are available online at the Graduate Financial Aid page of Boyer's website. Typically these awards are made only in the fall semester for up to two semesters, fall and spring. Awards may be renewed on an annual basis (typically up to one additional year for Master's students and up to three years for Doctoral students) based upon departmental needs as well as satisfactory academic and musical progress by the recipient.

February 2006