Undergraduate Program Music: Composition

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Music: Composition Bachelor's Degree Overview

Are you curious about new sounds, contemporary styles, and exploring your own musical voice? A music degree in composition through PSU’s School of Music & Theater will give you the individualized instruction and community collaboration crucial to building your skills as a composer.

The Bachelor of Music in Composition provides a thorough music foundation with specialized coursework in composition, analysis, orchestration, counterpoint, and computer music. You’ll receive individualized instruction in composition lessons and prepare live performances of your music in concerts and recitals.

Completing this degree will give you the necessary skills in composition and supporting curriculum to prepare you for continued graduate study, or to pursue professional work in composition, generally with teaching or performing as a secondary area. Our alumni are accepted into top composition graduate programs and have a wide range of career paths to choose from. Join them in this competitive field.

Prospective music majors must apply to PSU, submit a secondary application to the School of Music & Theater, and pass the entrance audition. Learn more about our application process.

Degree Details

Music Composition Bachelor's Degree: Why PSU?

As a music composition major, you will gain real-world experience composing and leading performances of your own work. Prior to your first year, you will audition to become a music major. Upon acceptance into the program, your study will start with a focus on applied lessons on your instrument and foundational music classes. In your second year, you will officially begin learning how to compose music in your classes. Following a successful portfolio submission at the end of your second year, you will receive applied lessons in composition and begin to hear your music performed by peers in concerts.

We are proud to be a national College of Distinction for our commitment to helping students to succeed. At PSU, you will gain the experience and knowledge you need to make a difference in your career and community.

What can I do with a bachelor's degree in Composition?

Most of our alumni go on to grad school or combine a career as a freelance composer with teaching, performing, and conducting. Others pursue related careers: arts administrator, arts writer, arts consultant, band manager, choral conductor, music producer, and publisher.

Recent graduates have been accepted to graduate programs at Portland State, University of Missouri, Syracuse University, Bard College’s Longy School of Music, Queen’s College, University of Oregon, and other universities across the country.

Featured Courses

  • MUS 113 Music Theory III
  • MUS 116 Sight-Singing/Ear Training III
  • MUS 213 Music Theory VI
  • MUS 116 Sight-Singing/Ear Training VI
  • MUS 242 Composition III
  • MUS 293 Advanced Class Piano III
  • MUS 306 Music History: 20th Century
  • MUS 312 Orchestration
  • MUS 313 Counterpoint
  • MUS 320 Fundamentals of Conducting
  • MUS 421 Analysis of Contemporary Music
  • MUS 476 Computer Music Composition

Featured Electives

  • MUS 394 Gamelon Ensemble
  • MUS 377 World Music: Latin American & the Caribbean
  • MUS 445 Business of Music


Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

PSU's Music programs are fully accredited National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and holds the All-Steinway School designation.