Music: Musical Composition, PhD

The Ph.D. program in Composition stresses training in the craft of composition, contemporary repertory, and theory and analysis. Instruction in composition comprises much of the course requirement; such instruction takes the form of private lessons. Participation in the concert life of the department and attendance at Composers’ Forum events complement that instruction. Students are assigned to particular instructors for composition lessons by the Director of Graduate Studies on the advice of the composition faculty. Composition instructors are assigned on a rotating basis to assure that all students are exposed to a variety of approaches and have the opportunity to work with each member of the composition faculty during the period of coursework.

The Department of Music at the University of Pennsylvania offers Ph.D. programs in three other fields of study besides Composition: Musicology, Theory, and Ethnomusicology. The goal of the graduate program is not to entrench these disciplinary distinctions, but rather to seek out productive and innovative means of placing them in dialogue with each other. This orientation toward holding all of the sub-disciplines in view is reflected in the graduate curriculum as well as in the multiple colloquium series that animate departmental life. The curriculum is designed with flexibility in mind—designed specifically to offer students the freedom to craft a path of study that best addresses the research needs and methodological concerns of their particular dissertation projects. It combines the wide range of courses offered by the world-class faculty in the music department with the possibility of enrolling in seminars in other Penn departments and taking classes at consortium schools such as Princeton, Yale, and Columbia. Our colloquium series provides another means of engaging in both disciplinary and interdisciplinary conversations. In addition, workshops, public performances, and working papers presented by graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and faculty offer a wide range of perspectives on musical practice and scholarship, focusing variously on public lives in music, current research, craft and compositional issues.

View the University’s Academic Requirements for PhD Degrees.

Required Courses

The total course units required for graduation is 20. A minimum of 12 course units must be taken at the University of Pennsylvania.

Core Requirement
MUSC 508Advanced Musicianship1
MUSC 508Advanced Musicianship1
MUSC 515Analysis of Twentieth-Century Music1
MUSC 520Composing with Instruments1
MUSC 530Composing with Electronics1
MUSC 622Analytical and Theoretical Approaches1
MUSC 998Independent Study in Composition4
Select two electives 12
Concentration Requirement
MUSC 516Analysis of 20th Century Music II1
MUSC 700Seminar in Composition1
MUSC 801Teaching Music Theory (or elective)1
MUSC 998Independent Study in Composition2
Select two electives 12
Select one free elective1
Total Course Units20

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2020 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.