Music connects people from different backgrounds across time. By studying composition at The Catholic University of America, you will have the opportunity to write music that will inspire people for generations to come.
Catholic University's composition major will allow you to explore your interests in multiple disciplines while also developing your compositional technique and academic skills. Classes in music theory, orchestration, and conducting, along with core liberal arts courses in theology and philosophy, will help you to use your creativity and passion to enrich the world around you.
Here you will acquire the technical proficiency necessary for a career in composition in addition to gaining valuable performance experience. You will be encouraged to develop practical professional development skills that will help you to find your niche in the composition world after graduation.
The Bachelor of Music in Composition is a four-year program which introduces you to the discipline of composition and prepares you either for a professional career involving composition, or for continued graduate study in the field. Because the BM program is often the first step beyond secondary school study, it is an important time of growth and transition, and our curriculum is designed to prepare you for the transition from relative novice to accomplished composer.
Our BM program features an extraordinarily strong curriculum designed to develop your compositional technique and academic skills. Featuring two semesters of counterpoint, orchestration, form and analysis, and conducting, as well as two semesters of private study on a principal instrument or voice and eight semesters of private composition lessons, composition students are provided with a rigorous and thorough grounding in the compositional craft and in performance, both of which are typically integral parts of a compositional career.
In addition to technical training, we also emphasize practical professional development skills, helping you to define and develop your place in the large, dynamic world of composition. Our weekly Composition Seminar devotes at least one session each semester to such topics as the preparation of strong competition entries, creation of legible scores and parts, and rehearsal etiquette. Other sessions provide introductory information about performance rights, copyright, royalties, negotiation commissions, and other aspects of the business of composition.
More broadly, you are both invited and expected to explore the musical landscape by attending as many performances and productions as possible, both of contemporary and traditional repertoire, on campus and in the vibrant Washington, DC metro area. Familiarize yourself with all styles of music through regular listening and score study; be conversant with the most prominent current compositional trends, personalities, and literature, by regularly visiting online and hard-copy news sources such as the New York Times, American Music Center's New Music Box, the American Composers Forum and SCI newsletters, and others. Develop good professional habits by striving to see and hear as much as possible; gain the broadest possible perspective of the field so that you, in time, may discover your own place within it.
The Senior recital (MUS 499) of original compositions (30-45 minutes of music); the candidate must participate in the recital either as performer or conductor. Completed scores for the graduation recital must be submitted to the Composition faculty for approval no later than 30 days in advance of the recital date.
Liberal arts component of the Rome School
The Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art as a dedicated professional school within The Catholic University of America, requires a central core of music and non-music courses related to the university-wide undergraduate study of the liberal arts.
Please note that initial admission to the Rome School as a Composition major does not automatically admit you formally to the BM degree program in Composition. Typically, at the end of the first two years of study, Composition majors apply for formal admission to the BM degree program. This formal admission is made by notifying your composition teacher of your intent to apply for formal admission, who in turn informs the chair of the composition division. At the final Composition jury in the relevant semester, your submitted portfolio of work (representing your work in all prior semesters at Catholic University) is evaluated for formal admission to the BM degree program. The Composition faculty, during this jury, reviews your submitted work as well as your overall academic progress to determine whether or not these factors warrant your formal admittance to the degree program.
If you are not formally admitted on a first attempt, you may make a second attempt. If you are not formally admitted on your second attempt, you will no longer be eligible for formal admission to the B.M. Composition program, although you remain a student in the Rome School and may apply for admission to other majors within the School.
At the conclusion of each semester of private composition study, you submit a portfolio of your compositional work done during the semester to the Composition faculty for a jury, during which the semester grade is assigned by the faculty.
For at least the first year of study in the Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art you will also pursue instruction on the principal instrument or voice (3 credit hours): a jury will be required at the end of each semester of applied study to be eligible for credit to be awarded. Note: if your principal instrument is piano, you must pass a keyboard proficiency establishing you as having attained Piano Level VI in order to graduate. In satisfying the music elective requirements listed in the curriculum abode, you may, with your advisor's approval, elect additional private instruction in piano.
National Average Salary for Music Composers or Directors
The median pay for music composers or directors in 2018 was a salary of $49,630, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A music composer or director’s salary can vary based on the industry in which they work, such as schools, performing arts companies, or religious, civic, and professional organizations.
Catholic University Bachelor of Music Outcomes
The estimated average salary of recent graduates with a bachelor of music from The Catholic University of America is $74,572, according to a study done by Emsi, a labor market data research company. The report also shows that 85% of alumni graduating with a BM are employed in an occupation related to their field of study.