School of Music, Theatre and Dance at the University of Michigan

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


SMTD offers a wide variety of courses across all disciplines.

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.



Across all disciplines, students perform and study with their peers in studio classes and perform for the public in solo student recitals and studio recitals.


Collaborative Piano

Collaborative Piano students work with vocalists and instrumentalists throughout SMTD.

Chamber Music

Chamber Music

The thriving chamber music scene at SMTD offers students nearly limitless options to perform, innovate, and collaborate in small, self-driven, and diverse ensembles.

Large Ensembles

Large Ensembles

SMTD ensembles offer numerous concerts each season, performing notable works in the traditional canon as well as abundant newly commissioned works.

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 the “write HEAR / right NOW” Concert Series, the Midwest Composers Symposium (a forum for student composers from four schools), 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.