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 will I take classes?

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]

This concentration prepares students for careers as professional composers, teachers of composition and preparation for doctoral programs in composition. Successful applicants have a portfolio of compositions representing a variety of media and techniques. Portfolio/recording review required.

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
  • Graduate Assistantships Available (Full Tuition plus Stipend)
  • The MM in Music Composition prepares students for continued graduate work at the doctoral level. Students from the Composition Program have gone on to such institutions at the University of Michigan, New York University, Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and the Curtis Institute of Music among others.
  • Graduates from the MM have received high level commissions from such ensembles as the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the American Composers Orchestra among others.
  • Alumnus Carlos Simon has garnered significant recognition in the field including a fellowship at the Cabrillo Festival for Contemporary Music, winner of the Underwood Emerging Composer Commission from the American Composers Orchestra, and the prestigious Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Award.
  • Alumni have had their music performed and 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.
  • Alumni hold teaching positions within the field including Georgetown University, Georgia State University, and Kennesaw State University among others.

Program Details

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.

School of Music Application Materials:

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

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.


Once application and portfolio materials have been submitted through the College Application link, the School of Music faculty and graduate committee will review them. All applicants for graduate programs will also be considered for any available graduate assistantships. Information on these assistantships may be found at the following website:

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

For detailed requirements, see the course catalog.

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.



The graduate programs at the School of Music prepare students for competitive careers in performance, conducting, composition and music education.

Highlights include one-on-one lessons and mentorship with an internationally acclaimed faculty, 100% job placement in the field of music education, successful placement in prestigious doctoral programs, the opportunity to network with high-profile artists, scholars and businesses, practical experience from conferences to international music festival participation, artist residencies, as well as assistantships to develop practical skills and garner pedagogical experience.

The graduate program leads students to career paths such as solo performance artists, composers, placement in prestigious professional classical, jazz and operatic ensembles, private, K-12, college music educators, scholars and entrepreneurs, among others.


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

The information shared provides an overview of Georgia State’s offerings. For details on admissions requirements, tuition, courses and more, refer to the university catalogs.