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College of Creative Arts and Media: School of Music

Music Composition, BM

The Bachelor of Music in Composition is your gateway to becoming a versatile composer, proficient in both acoustic and electronic styles.

As a Music Composition student, you'll develop essential skills in:

  • Music editing, copying, arranging and transcribing to transform musical ideas into polished compositions.
  • Organizing, promoting and managing public events to showcase your work and connect with audiences.
  • Entrepreneurial aptitude to share your compositions with the world and forge your own path in the music industry.
  • Audio engineering and recording studio management to bring your compositions to life with professional quality.
  • Computer technology competency to harness the power of technology to enhance your compositions.

At WVU, we provide the platform for you to explore your passion for composition and develop the skills needed to thrive in today's music landscape.

Acceptance to the Music Composition Program requires admission to WVU and a successful audition and portfolio review. Your audition also may qualify you for a School of Music scholarship.

Your Degree Plan

Intro

Exterior and main entrance to WVU Creative Arts Center

Society's growing appreciation for the arts is opening up exciting opportunities for professional composers and educators.

Our program is designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge to thrive as a composer in both acoustic and electronic styles. Your coursework will include:

  • Private Composition Lessons: Composing is a combination of science and art. You'll learn the science of counterpoint, harmony, form, texture and melody. Your imagination takes craft and transforms it into beautiful artistry.
  • Music Performance: You’ll continue studying your principal instrument or voice and perform in various musical ensembles throughout your undergraduate degree.
  • Piano Skills: Even if piano isn't your primary instrument, greater study of it will add depth to your musical toolkit and opens doors to new creative possibilities.
  • Music Theory and Music History: Your required coursework will give you a solid foundation for placing your own musical creations in context.
  • Capstone: Your capstone project will center on composition, allowing you to demonstrate your creative vision and artistic voice.

Take advantage of special options related to this major:

  • Honors

    Expand your curiosity — and enhance your curriculum — through the WVU Honors College. Two programs are offered: Honors Foundations for first- and second-year students and Honors EXCEL for third- and fourth-year students.

    Explore Honors

The WVU Difference

What sets this program apart from its competitors?

  • Collaborate with students and faculty in the Game Design and Interactive Media Program.
  • Hear your compositions come to life through performances by fellow students and ensembles.
  • Access scores and compositions by Emmy and Grammy award-winning composer Jay Chattaway, a WVU alumnus best known for the Star Trek television series.
  • Weekly private lessons for personalized guidance and mentorship from experienced faculty.
  • World music exploration broadens your perspective and compositional palette.
  • Guest artists, travel opportunities, conferences and other professional experiences enrich your experience.
  • Partnerships with regional arts organizations and international universities expand your network and perspective.
  • Outreach opportunities to share your passion with diverse audiences.
  • The Creative Consultants program, which pairs you with accomplished alumni mentors for invaluable insights, advice and support.
  • State-of-the-art facilities, like the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre and Bloch Learning and Performance Hall, are ideal for rehearsals, performances and creative exploration.
Scholarships

Over 92% of WVU freshmen receive grants or scholarships (2022-2023).

Learn more

Learn by Doing

Learning happens outside the classroom. Get involved.

  • Library Resources: Explore a vast collection of printed and sound music resources at the Evansdale Library, including CD and LP collections. You’ll also have access to streaming music databases like Naxos Music Library, Met Opera on Demand and Smithsonian Global Sound.
  • State-of-the-Art Facilities: Canady Creative Arts Center rehearsal spaces, practice rooms, classrooms and an electronic music laboratory provide an optimal environment for creativity and innovation.
  • Private Lessons: Receive personalized instruction and guidance through private lessons in composition and on your major instrument, tailored to your individual goals and aspirations.
  • Performance Opportunities: Showcase your musical talents and compositions through a wide variety of performance opportunities, including large ensembles, such as band, orchestra, choral, jazz, and opera, as well as smaller chamber ensembles spanning various musical genres.

Connect with other students who share your academic interests as a member of:

View all of the student organizations you can join.

Attending college will prepare you for many things. The Music Composition major will give you the following skills:

  • Project Management and Leadership: Teamwork and collaboration, conflict resolution, decision making, budgeting, situational adjustment, attention to detail, accountability and responsibility
  • Communication: Ability to express an abstract idea jargon-free, effective/persuasive oral and written communication, public speaking, teaching/training, reaching diverse audiences
  • Analytical and Critical Thinking: Multi-tasking, time management, data analysis, organizational skills, critical thinking and problem solving, collecting, analyzing and interpreting information, pattern recognition
  • Personal and Emotional: Creativity, resilience/failure/open to constructive criticism, interpersonal skills, resourcefulness, empathy, adaptability, positivity, self-awareness, self-discipline, ability to listen well, flexibility, reflectiveness, emotional intelligence, patience/persistence/perseverance

Live, study and pursue outside-the-classroom learning in a residence hall community that shares your interests:

Outside of the Evansdale Crossing building.

What you learn outside of the classroom is just as important as what you learn during class. We’ll help you follow your curiosity.

Careers and Outcomes

How does this degree prepare students for a career?

Self-Enrichment Education Teachers

Teach or instruct courses other than those that normally lead to an occupational objective or degree. Courses may include self-improvement, nonvocational, and nonacademic subjects. Teaching may or may not take place in a traditional educational institution.

Has a Bright Outlook

Median Salary: $44,110

Possible job titles include: Ballet Teacher, Dance Instructor, Martial Arts Instructor, Piano Teacher.

Explore Career

Music Directors and Composers

Conduct, direct, plan, and lead instrumental or vocal performances by musical artists or groups, such as orchestras, bands, choirs, and glee clubs; or create original works of music.

Median Salary: $62,940

Possible job titles include: Choir Director, Composer, Conductor, Music Director, Music Minister, Orchestra Director, Music Composer, Music Producer, Producer, Songwriter.

Explore Career

Musicians and Singers

Play one or more musical instruments or sing. May perform on stage, for broadcasting, or for sound or video recording.

Median Salary: NA

Possible job titles include: Singer, Vocalist, Musician, Choir Member.

Explore Career

Freelance Opportunities

Our graduates have the skills and creativity to thrive in the competitive world. They often enter successful careers as freelance composers and arrangers, working with a wide range of musical groups and organizations.

Graduate Studies

Many of our alumni choose to pursue graduate degrees in music composition. Whether you aspire to delve deeper into your craft, explore new musical techniques or refine your artistic voice, you’ll graduate with a solid foundation for advanced studies in composition.

WVU graduate programs to consider:

Places and Spaces

Learn about all of the places and spaces you'll learn in.

Program Facility - Creative Arts Center

Canady Creative Arts Center

The Loulie, Valerie and William Canady Creative Arts center boasts 4 exhibition spaces, 5 performance spaces, 33 individual practice rooms and 50 classrooms and studios with plenty of space to create. The loading dock at the rear of the building is a wonderful open-air space with stunning acoustics.

Explore the Canady Creative Arts Center
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  • Student Life
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Admission Requirements

To be admitted to WVU's Music Composition major, first-time freshmen must meet WVU's first-time freshman admission requirements for the 2024-25 academic year. Interested in transferring? Review the transfer admission requirements.

Tuition and Aid

How much does Music Composition at WVU cost? And how can you save?

Tuition and Fees

Estimated rates are available on our tuition website. Anyone who is not a current West Virginia resident, including international students, will be charged non-resident rates.

View Tuition and Fees

Scholarships

Estimate your eligibility for merit scholarships at WVU Morgantown.

Find Scholarships

Net Price Calculator

Estimate your cost of attendance and eligibility for financial aid and scholarships at any WVU System campus.

Visit the Net Price Calculator

Ways to Save

Here are a few ways for you to save on the cost of attending WVU in addition to university scholarships.

Financial Aid

The most important step toward funding your future with financial aid for the Music Composition major is submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

How to Complete the FAFSA

Transfer Articulation Agreements

To simplify the transfer process, we have formal agreements with certain institutions. These agreements outline the courses you should take to prepare for transferring to WVU.

Review the full list of transfer articulation agreements to see if your institution is listed.

Learn How to Transfer Course Credits

Ready to take the next step?

Learn how to join the WVU family.

Request Info

Want to know more about Music Composition at WVU? Fill out our request form to receive more information.

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