The Theory & Composition Division offers graduate programs leading to the MA and Ph.D. degrees in Music Theory, and the MM and DMA degrees in Composition. At the undergraduate level, the division offers the BM in Composition and BM in Theory.
In addition to studies in music composition, course offerings include advanced orchestration, Schenkerian analysis, theory and analysis of atonal and twelve-tone music, and jazz theory, as well as graduate seminars on a range of topics. Recent offerings include Analysis of Works by Twentieth-Century American Composers; Masterworks of the Twentieth Century (1900—1950); Postmodernism in Music; Seminar in Advanced Analysis; Theory in Analysis; and Theories of Rhythm, Meter, and Temporality.
Graduate Programs in Music Theory
The Master of Arts (MA) in Music Theory requires a minimum of 30 credit hours with six in thesis research. The curriculum includes coursework in Schenkerian analysis of tonal music and analytical approaches to atonal and twelve-tone music, plus a selection of electives and special topics graduate seminars that help prepare the student for thesis research.
The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Music Theory consists of a minimum of 70 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate, with 12 devoted to dissertation research. Required coursework includes Schenkerian analysis, theory and analysis of atonal and twelve-tone music, and music theory pedagogy, plus a selection of electives and graduate seminars. In addition the student will be required to demonstrate a reading knowledge of German or another foreign language relevant to his/her research.
Applicants to graduate programs in theory submit a completed application form, three letters of recommendation, and at least two papers or thesis chapters that demonstrate their most advanced work in music theory. Materials will not be returned.
Graduate Programs in Composition
The Master of Music (MM) in Composition requires a minimum of 30 credit hours with 10 devoted to studio instruction. Required courses include Advanced Orchestration or Advanced Conducting, a course in tonal analysis, a course in twentieth-century analysis, and two electives selected from a list of offerings in the Division.
The Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Composition consists of a minimum of 70 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate with 12 devoted to the dissertation&mdash a major musical work that represents a significant advancement of the candidate's career as a composer. Required courses include Advanced Orchestration or Advanced Conducting; Music Theory Pedagogy; a course in the analysis of 20th century music; and two additional graduate courses selected from a list of offerings in the Division.
Applicants for a graduate program in composition submit a completed application form, three letters of recommendation, and three completed compositions (with recordings of performances, if available). Materials will not be returned.
Activities and Events
Students in the Theory and Composition programs enjoy a wide range of musical events organized by the Theory/Composition Division, School of Music, and University of Maryland. Our convenient location just outside the nation's capital provides easy access to a wealth of additional cultural opportunities including concerts at the Kennedy Center, Strathmore Hall, Library of Congress, National Cathedral, and Smithsonian Institution; contemporary music concerts by the 21st Century Consort and the PostClassical Ensemble; and much more.
Within the Division and the School, events on the biweekly Composition Colloquium include visits by guest composers and performers, and student and faculty presentations. The Music Scholars Lecture Series brings six nationally-recognized speakers to campus each year, two each in Music Theory, Musicology, and Ethnomusicology. Each year our three New Music at Maryland concerts provide ample opportunities for composers to hear their music performed. The student-organized new music ensemble TEMPO also has close ties to the Composition program.
Students in Composition work regularly with performers in the School of Music. In recent years they have enjoyed readings by the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra, staged readings by the Maryland Opera Studio, and collaboration with students in the School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies. Every other year, the Walsum Competition recognizes excellence in composition with public performances and recordings by distinguished artists or one of the School's large ensembles. The biennial Patton Award recognizes exemplary work in Composition by an undergraduate or graduate student. The School of Music's close relationship with the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center affords still more opportunities, in the form of concerts, residencies, and readings.
Located within the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, the Michelle E. Smith Performing Arts Library has an extensive music collection in books, scores, recordings, periodicals, and special collections. Students can also easily access materials in any of the University of Maryland campus libraries and or University of Maryland system. Composers and theorists also have ready access to the latest music technology, in our 16-station Music Technology Lab and electronic music studio.
Students and Alumni of the Theory/Composition Division
Alumni of the Theory/Composition Division have gone on to graduate studies in Composition at schools from coast to coast including New York University, Cornell University, the University of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati College—Conservatory, University of California at San Diego, and University of Southern California. Graduates of our doctoral programs hold tenured or tenure-track university positions around the country at institutions including the University of Vermont, Berklee College of Music, Lawrence University, Arizona State University, and California State University, Northridge. To read more about current students and alumni of the Theory and Composition programs, click here.