Graduate Program in Composition

long at the forefront

of changes in the art, and act, of composition, Princeton’s Graduate Program in Composition considers it essential for composers to be non-classicists, and to engage in all musics – high and low, American and European, Eastern and Western, live and electronic, free and strict, college and club. The program builds on its rich modernist past – the lineage of composers as diverse as Milton Babbitt, Roger Sessions, James Randall, and Godfrey Winham – and it continues to be involved in electronic/computer music, as evidenced by the success, in the last decade, of Princeton’s Laptop Orchestra. The program also explores, as deeply as possible, indigenous traditions and repertoires, from jazz to Hardanger fiddle to Shakuhachi flute. The Princeton Sound Kitchen allows both faculty and graduate students to have their works (including works-in-progress) performed by some of the best professional musicians in a series of performances open to the community. The program also facilitates interaction with visiting composers through the colloquium series, and there are numerous opportunities for collaborations involving dance, theater, and film through the Lewis Center for the Arts

Composition glasses
Academic Program Overview
All composition students spend their first two years taking seminars from Music Department faculty, participating in the Princeton Sound Kitchen and Composition Colloquium Series, and preparing for their General Exam (given in May of their second year) while they pursue their creative work. After successful completion of the General Exam, students begin concentrated work on the PhD thesis, completing a dissertation proposal by the second semester of their third year. The PhD thesis comprises an original composition, developed in consultation with two advisors, as well as an essay. 
Aerial Campus
All Music Department graduate students receive tuition scholarship and a 12-month stipend for the full five years of the program. Additional resources include a research budget (the $5000 Bryan Fund), funding for summer language study, and subsidized private voice or instrumental instruction. After the five-year program, students are eligible to be nominated by the graduate school for sixth-year funding and may supplement their income with teaching as available.
Music Blackboard
All graduate students are required to serve as preceptors for undergraduate courses, typically teaching 2-4 semesters over the course of their enrollment, usually beginning the third year. Preceptors teach sections, grade papers, and work closely with faculty mentors, receiving additional fellowship. Whenever possible, the Music Department gives preference to DCE students to help supplement their income and defray tuition costs.