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Study composition abroad

An in-depth guide to studying composition as an international student.

Explore composition programs abroad

See other programs in composition

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

Alternative music degrees

How to study composition abroad

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Composition study abroad programs

Composition undergraduate programs

Bachelor's in composition

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    Theory and Composition (Composition) - BMus Arizona State University, USA

    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    30,134 USD
    Start date
    January, May, August
    Show program overview about Theory and Composition (Composition)
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    Music - Composition - BA University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA

    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    27,000 USD
    Start date
    January, June, August
    Show program overview about Music - Composition
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    Music - Music Theory and Composition - BM University of Kansas, USA

    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    26,960 USD
    Start date
    January, June, August
    Show program overview about Music - Music Theory and Composition
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    Music Composition - BM University of South Carolina, USA

    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    33,928 USD
    Start date
    January, August
    Show program overview about Music Composition
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    Music - Composition - BM Louisiana State University, USA

    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    28,700 USD
    Start date
    January, May, August
    Show program overview about Music - Composition
See all bachelor's degrees in composition

Composition graduate programs

Master's in composition

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    Music (Theory & Composition) - MA Long Island University Post, USA

    Program type
    Master's
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    44,100 USD
    Start date
    January, September
    Show program overview about Music (Theory & Composition)
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    Composition (Interdisciplinary Digital Media) - MM Arizona State University, USA

    Program type
    Master's
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    0 USD
    Start date
    August
    Show program overview about Composition (Interdisciplinary Digital Media)
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    Composition and Creative Music Practice - MMus University of Limerick, Ireland

    Program type
    Master's
    Duration
    1 year
    Tuition fees per year
    12,510 EUR
    Start date
    September
    Show program overview about Composition and Creative Music Practice
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    Music (Musicology, Composition, Performance, Technology) - MMus University of Hull, UK

    Program type
    Master's
    Duration
    1 year
    Tuition fees per year
    14,000 GBP
    Start date
    January, September
    Show program overview about Music (Musicology, Composition, Performance, Technology)
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    Rhetoric and Composition - MA Texas State University, USA

    Program type
    Master's
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    15,034 USD
    Start date
    January, August
    Show program overview about Rhetoric and Composition
See all master's degrees in composition

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.