BM in Composition

The School of Music offers five majors in music composition:

  • Bachelor of Music in composition — harp/guitar/bass emphasis
  • Bachelor of Music in composition — keyboard emphasis
  • Bachelor of Music in composition — strings emphasis
  • Bachelor of Music in composition — voice emphasis
  • Bachelor of Music in composition — winds/percussion emphasis

Program Requirements

A minimum total of 120 credit hours is required for the BM in composition. With the exception of the ensembles required, the degree requirements are the same for each major. Please consult an advisor to determine which ensembles are needed for a specific major. In addition to meeting the requirements of the WSU General Education Program and the requirements of the College of Fine Arts, students must meet the following requirements:

Course Title Hours
General Education
Select courses to meet General Education requirements 134-35
Applied Music (20 credit hours)
Primary performance medium16
Class Piano/Secondary performance medium 24
Piano Class Level I - Music Majors
Piano Class Level II - Music Majors
Piano Class Level III - Music Majors
Piano Class Level IV - Music Majors
Required Music Core (13 credit hours)
MUSC 127Musicianship 12
MUSC 128Musicianship 22
MUSC 129Aural Skills 12
MUSC 130Aural Skills 22
MUSC 229Aural Skills 32
MUSC 113Introduction to Music Studies and Professional Skills3
Musicology Electives (6 credit hours)
Select 6 credit hours from the following6
Survey of the Western Musical Canon
History of Jazz
Topics in Musicology: Aesthetics
Topics in Musicology: Ethnography
Topics in Musicology: Gender
Topics in Musicology: Popular Musics
Theory/Composition Electives (14 credit hours)
Select 14 credit hours from the following14
Jazz Improvisation
Post-Tonal Music
Jazz Music Theory
Form and Analysis
Topics in Music Technology
18th Century Counterpoint
Jazz Arranging
Choral Arranging
Performance and Analysis
Topics in Analysis: Music in Media
Topics in Analysis: Popular Music Analysis
Composition Major Required Courses (26 credit hours)
MUSC 259Introduction to Music Composition2
MUSC 260Beginning Music Composition2
MUSC 560Applied Composition (repeatable)4
MUSC 660Applied Composition (repeatable)4
MUSC 641Orchestration2
MUSP 307Instrumental Conducting2
or MUSP 308 Choral Conducting
MUSP 651Advanced Conducting and Score Reading2
or MUSP 691 Advanced Choral Conducting
Ensembles 3, 48
MUSP 105Recital Attendance (four semesters)0
MUSP 400Senior Recital0
Open Electives (7 credit hours)
Select enough electives to reach 120 credit hours7
Total Credit Hours120

Required major courses may also count towards General Education requirements. Students will need to select additional electives to reach 120 credit hours required for graduation with assistance from an advisor.


If piano proficiency is met prior to using the allotted 4 credits, students should pursue a second performance medium.


See degree check sheets for specified ensembles.


Ensembles are counted by semester.

Composition majors are required to present a capstone recital or project featuring their original compositions, representing a variety of mediums. This should represent a minimum of 25 minutes of music. Scores of these compositions, where applicable, should be submitted in PDF form by the end of week one of the recital semester. These scores must be prepared in an approved professional music notation software. Works without scores should be submitted in some other form during week one as well. Since some compositions may not be suitable for recital performance, at the discretion of the supervising faculty, the following may be counted (in whole or in part) toward the 25-minute minimum, provided that it was presented publicly on campus within the year prior to the recital:

  1. Works performed by any of WSU’s large ensembles;
  2. Sound installations;
  3. Original compositions for media (film, game, etc.); or
  4. Other projects deemed relevant to composition study and comparable to recital performance by the supervising faculty.

Note: All music majors must pass a piano proficiency examination.

Applied Learning 

Students in the Bachelor of Music in composition program are required to complete an applied learning or research experience to graduate from the program. The requirement can be met by completing a senior recital of original compositions, MUSP 400.