Master of Music, Music Education – Composition Specialization


This hybrid program is open to students with bachelor’s degrees in either music education or composition and equips students to pursue a career in the field of educational composition. Students take advanced coursework in scoring and arranging for educational ensembles, curriculum development for composition in K-12 classrooms, music theory and history, and applied composition lessons. Students in the program will have multiple opportunities to have their works performed and recorded by local student ensembles.

Why Music Education and Composition?

The collaborations between composers and music educators have been a cornerstone of American music life since the country’s inception. Every year, thousands of original compositions are created expressly for K-12 music students, and countless professional composers have created substantial careers writing for this market. However, many students who have completed degrees in music composition have little training in writing for younger musicians or the types of ensembles found in American schools.

Similarly, many music education programs lack training in composition skills, despite composition being an important national standard for music education. This degree program is designed to help composers and educators better utilize composition and related skills in the classroom. Students completing the degree will be able to both create original works for the classroom and utilize composition as a teaching resource in K-12 music settings.

Who Should Apply?

This degree is primarily intended for two types of applicants:

  • students who hold an undergraduate degree in music composition and wish to compose for educational ensembles, or
  • students who hold an undergraduate degree in music education who wish to better utilize composition and related skills in the classroom.

Students who hold other music degrees will also be considered, assuming all other qualifications are met including the submission of a composition portfolio and prior teaching experience.

Admissions Process

In addition to the admissions processes for the Graduate School and the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, applicants will submit a portfolio of three original compositions with recordings, at least one of which is composed for an educational ensemble (choral, orchestral, or wind band work at an appropriate difficulty for secondary schools). Select applicants will complete an on-campus or video interview with the composition and music education faculty.


Study With

James David

Associate Professor of Music; Composition, Music Theory

(970) 491-4154

Erik Johnson

Associate Professor of Music; Music Education (Instrumental)

(970) 491-4806

Seth Pendergast

Assistant Professor of Music; Music Education (Choral)