Graduate opportunities

The graduate Composition program at the University of North Texas is one of the largest and most diverse in the nation — with 70 composition students and six faculty composers representing a wide range of compositional aesthetics approaches. One of the distinctive features of the UNT Composition program is the way that state-of-the-art music technology is integrated with acoustic composition within the curriculum, which provides both artistic flexibility and academic rigor, allowing you to refine your craft, develop your own personal voice and prepare for a career as a professional composer.

We offer course work leading to a Master of Arts degree in Music with a concentration in Composition or a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Music with a concentration in Composition. In addition to the general Composition track, students can specialize in computer music media (M.A., Ph.D. degrees) and interdisciplinary arts (M.A. degree).

Our faculty members have been recognized for their acoustic, electroacoustic and intermedia work through grants, fellowships, commissions and performances throughout the world. Educational and artistic experiences are enriched through regular guest residencies, including composers and other new music specialists, as well as dozens of other events during the academic year.

Alumni of the program have achieved national and international success. They enjoy careers as university professors, commercial and media composers, arrangers and arts administrators.

The College of Music is one of the nation's most comprehensive music schools and is recognized internationally for its artistic and academic excellence.

The college is a vital component to the region's arts community, presenting more than 1,000 formal and informal concerts annually. Its facilities include more than 300 practice rooms, seven performance halls, numerous classrooms and rehearsal rooms, and computer labs.

Composition opportunities and activities

There are many performance opportunities available at UNT for composition students. These include the Spectrum concert series that features new instrumental works, vocal works and works utilizing new technologies by faculty and student composers. There are also regular opportunities for students to have new works read by large ensembles, including the UNT Symphony Orchestra and Nova Ensemble.

The Composers Forum student organization brings new student works to the public's attention, coordinating performances of UNT composers' works on and off campus. The weekly Music Now forum encourages the exchange of ideas and information about the creation, performance and understanding of recent music.

Students are also encouraged to submit their works for performances at conferences and festivals. The division has access to a national network of professional composers through the Society of Composers, Inc. and an institutional membership to the American Composers Forum.

The Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia provides a unique environment to explore time-based arts and is internationally renowned for its long history of innovation, particularly in electroacoustic music. Students, faculty members, guests and collaborators from a variety of disciplines engage in research, creation and performances in CEMI's four production studios and the Merrill Ellis Intermedia Theater.

Technology and the arts come together in the Initiative for Advanced Research in Technology and the Arts (iARTA). Faculty and students across the arts, engineering and science disciplines explore new media applications based on shared expertise and evolving technologies. Experimental process and inquiry energize research and lead to new frontiers. The use of new technologies in art often acts as a laboratory for subsequent industrial and commercial applications.

Attending UNT

Admission requirements

Admission to the Composition program is through the Toulouse Graduate School® and the College of Music. The graduate school's admission requirements and procedures are outlined in the catalog. The college requires:

  • Current résumé or curriculum vitae
  • GRE scores
  • Personal statement that addresses compositional aesthetics and influences, long-range professional goals and reasons for pursuing a graduate degree at UNT
  • Recordings of three representative works
  • Scores of three representative works
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts
  • Writing sample

Degree requirements

Master of Arts degree

General or computer music media track
  • 15 credit hours of core music courses
  • 3 credit hours of a master's composition course
  • 9 credit hours of music courses in a specific degree track
  • 9 credit hours of music-related electives
Interdisciplinary track
  • 15 credit hours of core music courses
  • 12 credit hours of interdisciplinary courses
  • 9 credit hours of music-related electives

Doctor of Philosophy degree

General track
  • 36 credit hours of core music courses
  • 9 credit hours of a doctoral composition course
  • 15 credit hours of composition courses
  • 6 credit hours of music theory courses
  • Comprehensive oral exam
  • Dissertation defense
Computer music media track
  • 36 credit hours of core music courses
  • 3 credit hours of a doctoral composition course
  • 15 credit hours of computer music courses
  • 6 credit hours of music theory courses
  • 6 credit hours of composition or performance courses
  • Comprehensive oral exam
  • Dissertation defense

Financial assistance

The composition studies division provides scholarships, teaching assistantships and teaching fellowships to help you pursue your degree. For more information on scholarships and graduate assistantships, visit our website. Information about other financial assistance opportunities is available at the graduate school website or the Financial Aid website.


Kirsten Broberg, Assistant Professor; D.Mus., Northwestern University. Spectral music; orchestration; extended instrumental techniques; musical process; text setting and music for dance.

Joseph Klein, Professor and Division Chair; D.Mus., Indiana University. Postmodern aesthetics; the role of the composer in society; contemporary notational practices; composition pedagogy; the work of Frank Zappa.

Panayiotis Kokoras, Associate Professor; Ph.D., University of York (United Kingdom). Sound-based composition (instrumental and electroacoustic); mixed music; transcontextuality; music information retrieval compositional strategies; timbre studies.

Andrew May, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia (CEMI); Ph.D., University of California-San Diego. Chamber music with live interactive computer systems; statistical analysis of real-time music data; extended notations and improvisation.

Elizabeth McNutt, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Nova Ensemble; D.M.A., University of California-San Diego. Performance of experimental and virtuosic new repertoire including computer music; collaboration in development of new works.

Jon Christopher Nelson, Professor and Associate Dean for Operations in the College of Music; Ph.D., Brandeis University. Software synthesis; digital signal processing; set-theoretical compositional strategies.

David Stout, Professor and Coordinator of the Initiative for Advanced Research in Technology and the Arts (iARTA); M.F.A., California Institute of the Arts. Live cinema performance; generative systems; video-dance; animation; sound art; telematic video works.