students using piano keyboards and computers to write music

Music Composition

Composition studies focus on helping students develop their individual creative voices within an environment dedicated to musical excellence, broad academic inquiry and strong professional skills. 

What to Expect

Students work closely with our distinguished composition faculty, whose work has been performed around the world in venues and by ensembles such as Carnegie Hall, the San Francisco Symphony, the National Cathedral, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Mannheimer Philharmoniker, the Minnesota Orchestra, Alarm Will Sound, Imani Winds and the Wet Ink Ensemble.
Our composition graduates have found positions composing concert music and music for film, television, and games, working in audio production, recording, radio broadcast, arts management, teaching music and more. In addition, composers who have graduated from the School of Music have received a Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, nominations for multiple Grammys and the Pulitzer Prize in Music, as well as performances by the New York Philharmonic, Washington National Opera, Brussels Philharmonic, and Spektral Quartet, among other distinctions. And our undergraduate composers have been accepted into prestigious summer music festivals and graduate composition programs both nationally and internationally. Whatever creative path you choose, our goal is to help you succeed.

Our composition program webpage has more information for interested students, such as specific degree program requirements, compositional opportunities, financial assistance details and graduate assistantship opportunities.


Undergraduate Degree

B Bachelor of Music (B.M.) — Composition Emphasis

Offered by the School of Music, this degree provides an excellent general education combined with rigorous training in music composition.

The following courses fulfill some of the requirements for a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis in composition:

  • Music Theory I-IV
  • Aural Skills I-IV
  • History of Western Music I-III
  • Recital Class (and laboratory)
  • Music Advocacy I: Understanding the Power of Your Music
  • Music Composition
  • Orchestration
  • Introduction to Computer Music
  • Ensembles

Apply for Undergraduate Admission

Our Office of Undergraduate Admissions provides the most current information on the application process so you can check the requirements based on your current status and find university scholarships.

The School of Music’s supportive and collaborative atmosphere has made my time here a vibrant, enriching experience. I’ve had opportunities to explore new interests, develop special projects and work with artists across multiple disciplines.

Rachelle Armstead
Photo of Rachelle Armstead

Graduate Degrees

One-on-one training with world-class faculty members and visiting artist/teachers and diverse performance opportunities prepare our graduates for the challenges of a career in music. The School of Music offers both a Master of Music with a composition concentration, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in music composition.

Graduate Director: Clifford Leaman, 803-576-5893,
Program Contact: Traci Hair, 803-777-4106,

Application information for this degree is available through The Graduate School.

Graduate Director: Clifford Leaman, 803-576-5893,
Program Contact: Traci Hair, 803-777-4106,

Application information for this degree is available through The Graduate School.

Apply to Graduate School 

Learn more about The Graduate School, degree options and how to apply for admission to doctoral, master’s, certificate and combination degree programs at South Carolina.