Study composition abroad

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Find your perfect composition programs abroad

Find composition programs you love that match your needs and aspirations, where you stand a high chance of acceptance.

Composition degrees abroad

If you are an aspiring composer, a degree in composition will help you develop the musicianship skills and professionalism you’ll need to succeed. Your program will focus on both the creative and commercial aspects of being a composer, and prepare you for the future challenges that face the music industry.

Most composition programs will have an emphasis on practice-based learning, and you may get the opportunity to take part in public concerts with professional soloists, ensembles, and orchestras. You’ll also get the chance to develop your own compositions and ideas, and perform them as part of your course.

Music is a truly international language, and by studying and living abroad you’ll be able to experience different musical influences first-hand. Music composition is available to study in universities and conservatoires all over the world, including cities and countries with long and fascinating musical histories.

Composition program structure

You can study composition at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The most common option for undergraduate students is a BMus (Bachelor of Music), which can be studied over three or four years.

For many programs, you’ll be asked to select an instrument specialism that you will study during your course. Some programs allow you to choose a primary and secondary instrument, but others may only allow you to study one.

If you already hold a bachelor’s degree in a related subject like music, you can choose to study an MMus (Master of Music) in composition over one or two years. These programs are often more focussed, for example, composition for screen, so could be an ideal option if you want to specialize in a specific area.

Although rare, doctorate level degrees are available at some music schools or conservatoires. These can take between four and seven years and will consist of your own unique research and the creation of a doctoral dissertation.

Learning will be through a combination of one-to-one tutoring sessions, performance classes, workshops, masterclasses with experienced composers, seminars, and lectures. The content of your program will depend largely on where you study and what you choose to specialize in, but common areas of study include:

  • Orchestration
  • Music and narrative
  • Composition and harmony
  • Language of music
  • Score reading
  • Music for media
  • Interactive composition
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Best countries to study composition

Best universities to study composition

Composition study abroad programs

What are the top composition undergraduate programs abroad?

  • Western Washington UniversityMusic: Composition - BMus

    • 4 years
    • On campus
    • Full-time
    • Jan, Sep
    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Subject area
    Composition
    Location
    Bellingham, USA
    Next start date
    January 2025 +2 more
    Annual tuition fee
    26,562USD
  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical UniversityMusic: Electronic Music Composition - BA/BSc

    • 4 years
    • On campus
    • Full-time
    • Jan, May, Aug
    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Subject area
    Composition
    Location
    Tallahassee, USA
    Next start date
    January 2025 +2 more
    Annual tuition fee
    17,940USD
  • North Central CollegeMusic Performance: Composition - BA

    • 4 years
    • On campus
    • Full-time
    • Jan
    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Subject area
    Composition, Music Performance
    Location
    Naperville, USA
    Next start date
    January 2025 +1 more
    Annual tuition fee
    45,446USD
  • Murray State UniversityMusic: Composition - BM

    • 4 years
    • On campus
    • Full-time
    • Jan, Aug
    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Subject area
    Composition
    Location
    Murray, USA
    Next start date
    January 2025 +1 more
    Annual tuition fee
    14,742USD
  • Colorado State UniversityMusic: Composition - BMus

    • 4 years
    • On campus
    • Full-time
    • Jan, Aug
    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Subject area
    Composition
    Location
    Fort Collins, USA
    Next start date
    January 2025 +2 more
    Annual tuition fee
    34,751USD

See all undergraduate degrees in composition abroad

What are the top composition postgraduate programs abroad?

  • BIMM UniversityPopular Music Practice: Composition (London Campus) - MA

    • 1 year
    • On campus
    • Full-time
    • Sep
    Program type
    Master's
    Subject area
    Composition
    Location
    London, UK
    Next start date
    September 2024 +1 more
    Annual tuition fee
    15,450GBP
  • Arizona State University (in partnership with Kaplan International)Music Composition (Tempe Campus) - MM

    • 2 years
    • On campus
    • Full-time
    • Aug, Jan
    Program type
    Master's
    Subject area
    Composition
    Location
    Phoenix, USA
    Next start date
    January 2025 +1 more
    Annual tuition fee
    38,526USD
  • Bath Spa UniversitySound: Composition and Sonic Art - MA

    • 1 year
    • On campus
    • Full-time
    • Jan, Sep
    Program type
    Master's
    Subject area
    Composition, Filmmaking
    Location
    Bath, UK
    Next start date
    January 2025 +1 more
    Annual tuition fee
    17,065GBP
  • William Paterson UniversityMusic Jazz Studies and Arranging - MM

    • 2 years
    • On campus
    • Full-time
    • Aug, Jan
    Program type
    Master's
    Subject area
    Composition
    Location
    Wayne, USA
    Next start date
    January 2025 +2 more
    Annual tuition fee
    23,921USD
  • DePaul UniversityComposition - MM

    • 2 years
    • On campus
    • Full-time
    • Jan, Mar, Sep
    Program type
    Master's
    Subject area
    Composition
    Location
    Chicago, USA
    Next start date
    January 2025 +2 more
    Annual tuition fee
    22,800USD

See all postgraduate degrees in composition abroad

Future composition careers

Composition degrees are vocational programs that aim to prepare you for a successful career in the music industry, and there are a number of exciting roles you could pursue. Here are some of the roles composition graduates have taken up:

  • Composer
  • Orchestrator
  • Orchestra musician
  • Music director
  • Music editor
  • Music teacher
  • Arts critic

Roles in the music industry are notoriously competitive, so putting in extra work outside of the classroom could help give you the edge. Joining your university music societies or playing in local orchestras can give you valuable experience that employers value.

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