2014-15 Catalogs

MM in Composition

Advanced study of composition at the master's level.

Composition requires a minimum of 30 credit hours

     MUS 506 Chamber Music (Composer's Ensemble)1
     MUS 510 Bibliography and Research in Music3
     MUS 520 Seminar in Music History3
     MUS 530 Seminar in Music Theory3
     MUP 603 Applied Music (composition)12
     MUP 690 Recital0
     Electives–Any MUS, MUP or MUE 500- or 600-levelcourses.8
     A two-year residency is required. 

Information for Matriculated Students

Graduate Competency Exams

All incoming School of Music graduate students must pass competency exams in music theory/ear training and music history and literature prior to enrollment in MUS 520 Seminar in Music History and MUS 530 Seminar in Music Theory. These exams will be graded pass/fail. Each exam may be taken no more than three times. Students unable to pass after three attempts must withdraw from the program.

Special Requirements and Standards

All music graduate programs must be completed within six years from the date of matriculation.

Students must maintain a B average in all course work and must have no grade lower than B-. Students who receive grades lower than B- will be reviewed for retention in the graduate program.

Each program requires that students demonstrate mastery in their primary area of study. Composition students meet this requirement through the presentation of a recital.

The following conditions will apply to all graduate recitals:

  • Required recitals must be performed after successful completion of the comprehensive exams
  • Grading of the recital will be by a committee of no than three jurors. The jurors will be drawn from the graduate faculty, the degree candidate's graduate advisor, and the degree candidate's private instructor.
  • The candidate must receive a grade of B or higher on the recital. If the grade of B is not achieved, the candidate must perform another recital that contains at least 50 percent new material. If the grade of B or higher is not achieved at this recital retake, the candidate must petition the faculty to remain in the degree program.
Transfer credit

Six graduate credits may be transferred to USM from another NASM-accredited college or university.

Admissions credit

Additionally no more than six graduate credits for work earned at USM in the five years prior to matriculation may be credited to the master's degree.


Composition requires a two-year residency.

Exit Requirements

Composition majors must present one sixty-minute lecture/recital in which program notes and compositional process are shared with the audience as verbal introductions to each work. The recital comprises forty minutes of original music for a variety of mixed media composed while in residency for the degree. The composer will participate as performer on at least one work on the recital. In addition to the recital, the composer is encouraged to seek performances for his/her work elsewhere; only in exceptional cases might any part of this recital be substituted for outside work.

Contact the USM Office of Graduate Admissions for an application and instructions. Visit Graduate Admissions online at: http://usm.maine.edu/graduateadmissions.

Every applicant for admission must submit:

  • An application form
  • The application fee
  • Official transcripts of all previous college and university work
  • An essay of 300-500 words on your professional goals
  • A professional résumé

In addition, applicants to the 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).
  • Applicants in composition must also submit:
  • 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.
Music Interview and Portfolio Review

Once the Office of Graduate Admissions application is complete, the 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 interview.

Each degree program has specific audition requirements. Acceptance into an area of study is exclusive to that area, and a separate application and audition is required for each area. Due to the intensive and individualized nature of a graduate program in music, admission in specific areas will be limited.