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About The Program

As a Music Composition student at UNC, you will study with a variety of students from a variety of backgrounds, musical interests and talents. We encourage you to find and develop your own creative voice as a composer. Faculty members in the composition section have premiered works at festivals and concerts all over the United States, Europe, South Africa, Australia and Asia.

  • Degree Overview

    Undergraduate and Graduate Studies

    UNC’s undergraduate and graduate degrees with emphasis in Music Composition provide innovative, 21st-century training for undergraduate, master's, and doctoral students to prepare for careers in arranging and composing. We offer excellent opportunities to showcase original compositions through performances of your work. In addition, you’ll develop superior aural skills, while deepening your understanding of musical form and analysis.

    Our outstanding School of Music is led by distinguished faculty who have achieved career success in composition and musical scholarship. They’ll encourage you academically and artistically, providing a supportive environment in which to develop your creative voice. You’ll have access to state-of-the-art sound studios and technology, allowing you to work on innovative compositions and experiment with new sounds. You’ll graduate with outstanding preparation for further education or employment as a composer in the broader field of music.

    Meet the Faculty

  • Beyond the Classroom

    Open Space Festival of New Music

    Each year the Composition Section sponsors the Open Space Festival of New Music. In the past we have featured composers Christian Wolff, Alvin Lucier, Gabriela Ortiz, Jean-Claude Risset, Kyle Gann, and Paul Rudy. Interpreters have included the Callithumpian Consort, the Jake Schepps Quintet featuring mandolinist Matt Flinner, pianist Stephen Drury, French electric guitarist Jean-Marc Montera, saxophonist Raphael Imbert and composer Chen Yi. 

    Visit the Open Space Festival of New Music

  • Curriculum

    Bachelor of Music in Composition Concentration

    The Bachelor of Music, Composition Concentration, requires 120 credit hours. It includes foundational music coursework such as music theory, aural skills, class piano, history of music and the opportunity to attend recitals and concerts by other students and faculty. Degree specific studies include instrumentation, digital composition, instrumental and choral techniques and conducting and individual instruction in composition.

    Learn more about the Bachelor of Music,  Composition Concentration

    Master of Music in Composition Concentration

    The Master of Music, Composition Concentration, requires 33 credit hours of coursework. It includes an introduction to music scholarship and research, individualized instruction in composition, seminars in music history and music theory with faculty-mentors and a culminating recital performance.

    Learn More about the Master of Music, Composition Concentration

    Doctor of Arts in Composition Concentration

    The Doctor of Arts, Composition Concentration, requires 70 credit hours of coursework. Through creating a plan of study, students will be able to pursue academic interests in preparation for comprehensive exams, participate in building scholarly and/or creative areas of pedagogical expertise, and present a recital of composition and complete dissertation research credits. Doctoral students will also choose a secondary concentration and complete appropriate graduate-level coursework.

    Learn More about the Doctor of Arts, Composition Concentration

    Performance Opportunities

    It is a practice of the composition area to offer regular opportunities for students to hear their compositions through readings and in performance; readings are the lab experience for composers to find out what works and what doesn't. The composition section offers two recitals during  the final sessions at the end of the semester in which students are required to produce at least one recently-composed work in live performance. Once a year other performance ensembles such as the UNC Symphony Orchestra, the Prima Voce Singers, or the UNC Concert Band give readings of compositions by students.

  • Auditions and Scholarships


    Auditions for undergraduate and graduate composition degrees will include primary instrument in addition to submitting composition samples in the application process. To learn more about the audition process visit the music composition page.


    The College of Performing and Visual Arts awards over $1.8 million in scholarships annually to undergraduate and graduate students in the arts. There are multiple scholarship types offered to students, including talent scholarships and foundation scholarships. To learn more, visit the PVA Scholarship page.


Questions? Get In Touch!

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Application Dates
  • Fall semesterAugust 1*
  • Spring semesterJanuary 1*
  • Summer semesterMay 1*
*Note: Application dates may vary depending on student status. Learn more.

Open Space Festival of New Music with UNC Faculty and Pipa Artist, Gao Hong

Open Space Festival of New Music: UNC Faculty with Composer & Pipa Artist, Gao Hong, SPring 2023

Dr. Lei Weng, Open Space Festival of New Music, Spring 2023

Dr. Lei Weng, Open Space Festival of New Music, Spring 2023