student writing on music sheet
What does it cost?

Check out our cost calculator or visit student financial services for information on estimated costs.

How long will it take?

Minimum of 36 semester hours of graduate coursework must be completed in 4 semesters (2 years)

Where can I take classes?
Atlanta Campus

Am I required to take classes at a specific location?
Atlanta Campus

Application Deadlines View Admissions Requirements

  • Spring admission: November 15  (All concentrations except Conducting)
  • Summer admission: March 1 (Music Education and non-degree programs only)
  • Fall admission: February 1 (Conducting concentrations)
  • June 1 (All concentrations except Conducting) 

Master of Music, Concentration in Composition, M.Mu.

Graduate Director
Dr. Lara Saville Dahl
[email protected]
404-413-5965 

The Georgia State University Composition Concentration offers aspiring composers a comprehensive and immersive experience. The curriculum is designed to develop students’ artistic expression and compositional skills across various musical genres and styles. Through individualized instruction, students work closely with experienced faculty, honing their composition techniques and exploring their unique creative voices.

The program emphasizes traditional and contemporary composition approaches, fostering a well-rounded understanding of music theory, orchestration and electronic music. Students have access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources, including cutting-edge recording studios and composition software, allowing them to bring their musical ideas to life with professional-level production quality.

The mission of the Georgia State School of Music is to preserve, promote and advance humanity’s rich and expanding tradition of artistic music-making through performance, composition, education and research in accordance with the urban and global initiatives of the university.

The graduate programs in the School of Music offer unparalleled opportunities in one of America’s most vibrant urban centers. The school enrolls about 90 students in Master of Music degree programs, Artist Certificate programs, and Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs in music education.

Students have the opportunity to work with an internationally acclaimed faculty of 40 full-time and 24 part-time faculty in concentrations such as performance, pedagogy, music education, conducting, composition and jazz studies.

Program Highlights

Unique Opportunities

Composition students are provided with unique opportunities to showcase their work, with regular performances by highly talented students within the School of Music, creating a vibrant and inspiring environment for creative expression.

Vibrant Location

The downtown location fosters connections with local music ensembles and venues like Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Red Light Cafe, City Winery, Atlanta Opera, nearby theaters, schools and churches. Alumni, faculty and students actively participate in the thriving music scene, performing in various professional groups within the city.

Guest Artists and Ensembles

The School of Music hosts renowned educators and professional musicians who offer concerts, workshops and masterclasses for students. We also have three resident ensembles: Bent Frequency, Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra of Atlanta and Ensemble ATL.

College to Career

Alumni have had their music performed at national and international festivals such as the soundSCAPE Festival in Italy as well as performances at Society of Composers, Inc., College Music Society and National Association of Composers-USA National Conferences.

MTM Standard

Students oversee all aspects of MTM Standard, from recording to marketing to pitching and licensing. We serve as an incubator for aspiring artists, producers, visual creators, managers and music executives, providing career opportunities alongside higher education. Collaboration is central to our mission and we invite talented GSU students from all campuses to join us as we establish the music standard.

Career Outlook

Graduates of the Master of Music in Composition program at GSU are well-prepared for diverse career paths in the music industry, including composing for film, television, video games and multimedia, as well as pursuing further studies at the doctoral level. The program’s emphasis on artistic development, practical experience and networking within the music community sets graduates on a path towards success and creative fulfillment in the world of composition.

Composer with a guitar

Program Details

Please note: You must apply to both the Georgia State Graduate School and the School of Music.

Required University Application Materials:

  • Transcript(s): Upload unofficial copies of transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended. The institution logo and your name must be present on the copies. Official transcripts will be required upon acceptance into the program.
  • Official TOEFL/IELT Scores (international applicants only): Institutional code 5251 should be used for reporting TOEFL scores.
  • Personal/Goal Statement: Please provide a statement of your educational and career goals (be as specific as possible).
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae: Upload within the online Slate application.
  • Writing Sample: Provide a scholarly/research paper on a subject in the field of music of a level of intellectual and critical engagement appropriate to graduate-level work.
  • Portfolio: Refer to Step 2 below for Portfolio requirements.
  • Letters of recommendation: 2 letters of recommendation are required. Applicants must enter the names and contact information of the 2 recommenders within the application. An electronic recommendation request will be sent to recommenders, and recommendation letters must be submitted via this request. It is strongly advised that letters of recommendation are completed before the application deadline and are written within the last year. Recommendations submitted after this date are not guaranteed to be reviewed.
  • GPA: Students considered for admission into the graduate program generally have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Get started on the Graduate School Application.

School of Music Application Materials:

  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae: Upload within the online Acceptd application.

Applicants must have a Bachelor of Music degree. Applicants without a Bachelor of Music degree will be considered by the graduate committee on a case-by-case basis. All graduate applicants will be considered for a graduate assistantship (except for Low-Residency Conducting MM applicants) based on their audition, their application materials and their academic transcripts.

Step One – Prerequisites
Applicants are expected to have a bachelor’s degree in music with evidence of strong training in composition. Students must have completed the fourth semester of undergraduate theory and aural skills or equivalent in transfer credits from another institution. Students must also have a minimum cumulative 3.0-grade point average from their undergraduate program for consideration of admission into the Master of Music Composition Concentration.

Step Two – Portfolio
Prospective graduate students must upload to Slate, the graduate application platform, a portfolio consisting of a minimum of five scores. These scores may be drawn from (but are not limited to) the following:

  • solo for single line instrument
  • solo for piano
  • vocal work with piano or small chamber accompaniment
  • choral work (with or without accompaniment)
  • small mixed or standard chamber ensemble
  • large ensemble work (orchestra, chamber orchestra, band, wind ensemble)
  • electroacoustic work for fixed media and at least one acoustic instrument
  • work for fixed media alone

The faculty is interested in a diversified and balanced compositional background. Therefore, it is highly encouraged that students refrain from submitting different works with the same instrumentation (i.e., three piano solos, three fixed media pieces, etc.). If a fixed media work (or works) is submitted, it is expected that the applicant would also include acoustic compositions in the portfolio (even if the student is interested in the Computer Music / Electroacoustic Music emphasis).

The scores turned in as part of the portfolio must represent a total minimum duration of 25 minutes of music. All pieces must be fully and neatly notated with computer notation software. Recorded performances of submitted works are highly recommended for inclusion with the portfolio. MIDI realizations are acceptable but there is a strong preference for performance recordings. Works for fixed media alone must provide a written overview of the work either in a graphic or narrative format in lieu of a traditional score. Recordings of works without a score or written overview in the case of fixed media alone pieces will not be considered.

Step Three – Transcripts
There will be a thorough examination of undergraduate transcripts with careful attention to undergraduate composition and theory grades.

 

For questions about this concentration, please contact the composition area coordinator, Dr. Nickitas Demos: [email protected]

The graduate composition concentration at GSU offers an immersive and advanced curriculum for composers seeking to refine their artistic voice. Students in this program engage in a range of courses that delve into advanced composition techniques, contemporary music theory, orchestration, electronic music and interdisciplinary collaborations. Through individual composition lessons, seminars and workshops, students receive personalized guidance from distinguished faculty members who are accomplished composers themselves. The program emphasizes creative exploration, experimentation and the development of a distinctive compositional style. Students also have the opportunity to have their works performed by professional ensembles and participate in interdisciplinary projects. Graduates of our Master of Music Composition program emerge as innovative and accomplished composers, well-equipped to pursue careers in composition, film scoring, multimedia, academia and other artistic endeavors.

For detailed requirements, see the course catalog.

At Georgia State, we understand that students come to our institution from a range of financial backgrounds. We value the investment our students make in their education, and we aim to provide access to scholarships and aid opportunities that can support students through their academic journey.

Learn more about tuition rates or use Georgia State’s cost calculator to determine the investment required for your course of study.

Fees

There is an applied music fee of $350 per semester for a one-hour (8000 level) lesson and $200 per semester for a half-hour (6000 level) lesson. Additional lab fees for certain courses may apply.

The Georgia State School of Music provides unparalleled opportunities to study and work among an inspiring community of musicians in one of America’s most vibrant urban centers. Students receive exceptional training, are provided with meaningful opportunities and begin serious careers no matter what type of music drives their passion. The goals and outcomes from a graduate degree include:

  • Ensuring comprehensive exposure to an array of perspectives as represented by the various faculty approaches to music performance, music history, music theory and teaching styles.
  • Honoring the continuing traditions of music making and pedagogy while exploring new forms and contemporary issues within the various musical fields.
  • Developing pedagogical skills and strategies through teaching assistantships for undergraduate-level courses.
  • Preparing students for a professional career in music through rigorous performance preparation, exposure to important repertoire and attention to practical business aspects of various musical careers.

Contacts

Graduate Director
Dr. Lara Saville Dahl
[email protected]

Administrative Specialist, Graduate
[email protected]

School of Music
75 Poplar St, 5th floor
Atlanta, GA 30303

35 Broad St., 4th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30303