Music — Composition

Program Type
Master’s Program
Master of Music (MM)
Mode of Study
In person

Tuition & fees

Costs include tuition & fees. Tuition rate varies depending on residency. New England residents may qualify for a tuition break. See cost details

Credit hours

30 required credit hours. Most courses are equal to 3 credit hours. Browse course list

Financial aid

Over 150 graduate assistantships available with stipend & tuition assistance, plus scholarship, fellowship & research opportunities. Explore aid


No GRE required. Apply for fall, spring, or summer term. View application process & deadlines

Program highlights

  • Earn your degree on your terms: Study full-time and finish in as few as 2 years or study part-time and finish in 4 years.
  • Take advantage of a flexible program schedule that is designed for working adults.
  • Learn from a faculty of nationally and internationally distinguished performers, teachers, scholars, and mentors with experience in a comprehensive range of genres.
  • Benefit from community partnerships with esteemed organizations such as the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Casco Bay Wind Symphony, Portland Jazz Orchestra, Opera Maine, and others.
  • Prepare for a wide range of careers in composition and in music leadership roles across the nation.
  • Study in a program that is accredited by the National Association of Schools and Music (NASM).
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Faculty of distinguished performers

The Osher School of Music offers a personalized and opportunity-based approach to educating musicians, featuring a faculty of distinguished performers (nationally and internationally), teachers, scholars, and mentors with experience in all styles of music.

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Program requirements

Our composition graduate program includes a two-year residency where you’ll focus on chamber music, bibliography and research, music theory, history, and applied music ideas. You’ll culminate your studies with a recital of original music for a variety of instrumentation composed during your residency.

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Professional preparation

Upon graduation, you’ll join an alumni network of successful composers, performers, conductors, and music educators who hold positions in music leadership across the U.S. and internationally.

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Graduate student support

Our Office of Graduate Studies connects you with opportunities for professional development, scholarships, and graduate assistantships. They also foster our graduate student community through Peer Mentorship and the Graduate Student Board.

Browse resources
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Our performance season

Attend and engage in our Faculty Concert Series; the Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra; Scholarship Gala; Chamber Singers; University Chorale; Concert Band; our annual musical; opera; ensembles of jazz, vocal jazz, winds, and composers; as well as student recitals, masterclasses and performances by internationally known guest musicians.

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Scholarship opportunities

Scholarships offer financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. We encourage students in graduate degree programs to apply for scholarship opportunities.

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Do you live in New England?

You may be eligible for a reduced tuition rate, as part of the NEBHE Tuition Break Program.

Check eligibility
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Connect with us

Our monthly Graduate Information Sessions are an excellent way to learn more about the benefits of our program, as well as our admissions and financial process.

Register today
Next Steps

Our graduate admissions counselors are here to answer your questions about the admissions process, our academic programs, and student support services.

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Admission information: Masters of Music in Composition

Application deadlines

We accept applications on a rolling basis and review them continuously.

Application deadlineFall term startSpring term startSummer term start
FinalAugust 1December 15April 15
International applicantsJune 1October 15Not available

Applicants to the Osher School of Music graduate program in Composition must fulfill the following requirements prior to enrollment:

  • A baccalaureate degree or its equivalent in music or music education.
  • An interview and portfolio review (by invitation only; see details below).
  • Submission of work, see details below in application requirements.

Music Interview and Portfolio Review

Once the application in the Office of Admissions is complete, the Osher School of Music Graduate Studies Committee will review the materials and make a recommendation to the School’s coordinator of graduate studies. The program advisor for composition will contact applicants selected for an interview. Due to the intensive and individualized nature of a graduate program in music, admission in specific areas will be limited.

Applicants are required to provide the following materials:

General requirements

  • Application: Online application
  • Application fee:
    • In-state, out-of-state, and Canadian applicants: Free to apply
    • International applicants: Submit US $50 fee to apply
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, excluding the seven campuses of the University of Maine System (UMS transcripts are accessible to USM). A transcript is official when sent directly from the institution.
  • Resume: Submit a resume or CV that outlines professional, volunteer, and community experience.
  • Students whose first language is not English may be required to take one of the following: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Pearson Test of English (PTE) or Duolingo. Applicants must submit official scores as part of the application process. See additional information regarding test scores and requirements.

Additional requirements

  • Essay: Personal statement discussing your reasons for pursuing graduate study, your professional goals, and how you think this program of study will contribute to these goals
  • Two letters of recommendation: Recommendations should be from individuals who are qualified, through direct experience with your academic or professional work, to comment on your ability to undertake graduate study and your chosen profession.
  • Applicants in composition must also submit the following items to the separate Get Acceptd application platform:
    • Scores of three representative works from three different performance media showing originality and technical competence.
    • Recordings (CD, mp3, or url link) of three representative works (to correspond with scores above, if possible).
    • Complete list of works with first performances arranged chronologically.
  • Interview with faculty: See details above in the Applicant Qualifications section.

International student instructions

View additional application requirements

English proficiency test scores

View test requirements

Where to send application materials

Get our mailing address and email address