Bachelor of Music in Composition

Designed for students who wish to become composers and/or pursue academic careers, this degree teaches time-honored techniques and developing new innovations. Students will learn to compose for various ensembles and instruments and styles, both traditional and non-traditional, the practical aspects of their craft, and also expand their aesthetic awareness to reach beyond these aspects. Collaboration is encouraged. Weekly seminars provide opportunities for sharing of community insights. Applicants should have an extensive background in piano or another instrument/voice and evidence of creative capacity in composition.


The Bachelor of Music in Composition requires a minimum of 120 credits: coursework is 75% within SMTD and 25% within the liberal arts. SMTD coursework to include:

  • Private study in Composition
  • Music Theory
  • Musicology
  • Ensemble participation
  • Piano

Silent Advisor

Degree requirements and term-by-term layout for current students.


Erik Santos

Chair of Composition and Associate Professor of Music

Bright Sheng

Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Music

Performance Opportunities

From large ensembles in celebrated concert halls to chamber groups in intimate recital spaces, performance opportunities across all disciplines abound, with nearly 900 student performances each academic year. Whether your focus is on early, classical, or contemporary music, whether your passion is for jazz, electronic, or world music, there is an ensemble—or in many cases, multiple ensembles—to suit your interests, including specific opportunities for percussion, piano, and organ & carillon. For students in theatre & drama, musical theatre, dance, and opera, opportunities abound in both professionally produced and student-run presentations.


Organ Performance

Students perform and study with their peers in studio classes and perform for the public in solo student recitals and studio recitals. In addition, the Organ Department organizes several recitals each term in local churches in the communities surrounding Ann Arbor and Detroit.


Carillon Performance

The University of Michigan has two world-class carillons. Half-hour recitals are given on weekdays throughout the academic year and are open to the public to view. Intermediate and advanced carillon students may perform for the campus regularly on these recitals.

Early Music Ensembles

Early Music Ensembles

Students interested in historically oriented performance have opportunities to explore music from across the centuries, performed on authentic period instruments and high-quality replicas.



Organ students have opportunities to perform with the University of Michigan orchestras, bands, and choral ensembles, and can gain extensive experience in continuo playing on organ and harpsichord with the Baroque Chamber Orchestra.

Composition students regularly collaborate with their performer colleagues. Composers in both undergraduate and graduate programs receive premieres of their works at a variety of venues, including 5-6 Student Composer Concerts, and concerts by U-M ensembles. Each term, the William Bolcom Residency in Composition hosts renowned guest artists who spend a week on campus, interacting with students and faculty through lessons, workshops, meals, lectures, and performances.