The Western Michigan University School of Music offers both a Bachelor of Music in Music Composition and a Master of Music in Music Composition. The basic information regarding applying for each degree appears below; however, you are strongly encouraged to contact the composition faculty at WMU and communicate your interest in the composition program prior to submitting your application: For questions regarding the program or to schedule a meeting with faculty please complete this form: https://forms.gle/fxwCg7iLBxvKYHEq5
Undergraduate applicants to the School of Music
For students who have not been admitted to the School of Music, please follow the instructions below. For students who have already been admitted to the School of Music, please refer to the next section.
- 1) WMU Application: Submit an application to the University during the initial filing period (if already a student at Western Michigan University, you must still complete steps two and three below).
- 2) Submit an application to attend a School of Music New Student Admissions Day at least two weeks prior to the New Student Admissions Day that you wish to attend. Even though you are not required to do so until two weeks before your interview date, please submit this application as soon as you decide that you would like to interview on a specific day.
- 3) Submit a portfolio: Students who have previously composed works for acoustic instruments and/or digital media should submit a maximum of three examples of their work. For each work both a recording, if available, and a score, if applicable, should be submitted. Recordings should be formatted as mp3, aif, or wav files and scores should be formatted as PDF files. This portfolio must be submitted at least one week prior to your New Students Admission Day. Go to the WMU Music Submissions website for specific instructions on uploading portfolio materials. Your portfolio may contain:
- 4) New Student Admissions Day: On the New Student Admissions Day of your choice, you attend the information session presented by the composition faculty. You will receive the time and place for this meeting prior to your arrival. You will also have a 20-minute audition with Dr. Coons, during which you will be asked questions about your portfolio, your interest in the program, your knowledge of music theory, and your goals. If you are auditioning remotely, we will schedule a phone interview. (Note that if you intend to take private instrumental lessons during your time at WMU, you are also required to complete an instrumental audition.)
Following the final New Student Admissions Day, the composition faculty will assess each student’s potential for success in the program. Then each student will receive a letter. The possible outcomes of this process are below:
1) Admitted to the School of Music: The applicant can begin to register for classes within the School of Music that are applicable to the B.M. in Music Composition degree. Note that following your initial coursework in the two music composition classes, you will undergo another evaluation to advance in the program; all WMU music degrees require similar sophomore-level competency reviews. The process for this evaluation is the same process as described below for undergraduate applicants who are already admitted to the School of Music. Admitted students fall into one of two categories.
- a) You are allowed to register for Composition I class your freshman year: Composition faculty determine whether or not students are prepared to take Composition I class in their freshman year. This determination is based on previous theory and compositional experience. This group is allowed to register for Composition I before completing the two music theory prerequisite courses.
- b) You must register for Composition I class in your sophomore year: This group is required to complete the first two music theory courses prior to registering for Composition I class. This does not delay graduation; it just insures that all participants are prepared for Composition I class before they enroll.
2) Not Admitted to the School of Music to Pursue Music Composition: This means that the composition faculty members do not feel that you are prepared to study music composition at this time. This does not impact your ability to audition into the School of Music on an instrument. You can audition twice for any program at the School of Music .
Undergraduate applicants already admitted to the School of Music
If you are already admitted to the School of Music and attending WMU, please follow the process below to apply for the undergraduate program in music composition.
The criteria to determine eligibility for admission to the composition program appear below. Materials are due by March 1st for admission the following fall semester.
1. GPA and Minimum Grade Requirements: Admission to the composition major requires at least a 2.5 GPA in the music core (no grade less than C), as well as a 3.25 GPA in the sophomore-level courses in composition. Make certain you understand all that will be expected to fulfill the degree requirements as listed in the catalog.
2. Portfolio Review and Submission: Students must submit two to three scores, if applicable, and recordings, if available. Most students submit the work that they have completed in the composition classes. You will be submitting these works while enrolled in MUS 2630: Composition II. The faculty will review submitted works to determine admission. Student work will be evaluated based on notation, clarity of compositional ideas, cohesion of musical ideas, and structure. Acceptance is based on the quality of work and space availability. Your portfolio should be submitted via the Dropbox function on Elearning connected to the Music Composition Studio Elearning page. The folder is labeled "Undergraduate Composition Application Files." If you have not already been added as a member of the music composition studio Elearning group, please contact Dr. Biggs: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Optional: You can also submit a brief statement regarding your interest in and your reasons for applying to be a composition major. Not submitting such a letter will not negatively impact your application, but, if you feel that your portfolio might be lacking, you can show your enthusiasm and goals in this statement.
Following the evaluation of your work, there are three possible outcomes:
- a) Accepted: You are accepted as a composition major and can register for private lessons the following year.
- b) Provisionally Accepted: You are accepted provisionally and can register for private lessons the following year. Students who are accepted provisionally must demonstrate marked improvement in their first year of private composition study in order to continue. Students who are admitted provisionally must submit an updated portfolio the following March 1st. At that time they will either be admitted or dismissed from the program.
- c) Not Admitted: You are not admitted to the composition major at this time, but can reapply next year. For students who are not admitted, there are other degree options within the School of Music, such as the B.A.
Graduate applicants should begin by reviewing the relevant information available on the School of Music site. Applicants to the graduate program in music composition must submit three to four completed works that best exemplify their compositional abilities, experiences, and interests. Scores should be submitted in PDF format and recordings, if available, should be in MP3 format for audio works and MP4 format for audiovisual works (recordings of MIDI instruments are acceptable). Go to the WMU Music Submissions website for specific instructions on uploading portfolio materials. Note that in order to be considered for the graduate assistantship you must submit these materials by Feb. 1st for the following fall semester; however, we do accept applications for the composition program after that date.