For More Information
Graduate Program Chair in Composition and Theory, Yu-Hui Chang
Graduate Program Chair in Musicology, Eric Chafe
Joint MA Advisor in Music & Women's and Gender Studies, Allan R. Keiler
For more information about admissions, financial aid, and student services, please visit the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Composition and Theory MA/MFA
The Brandeis Music Department is unique in offering both a one-year M.A. program and a two-year M.F.A. program in composition and theory. The one-year M.A. program provides an opportunity for students to engage in beginning graduate study without making a multi-year commitment. The two-year M.F.A. program offers more in-depth study, including the writing of a masters thesis in the form of an original composition. Students are given the opportunity to have their compositions performed and recorded on the graduate student composers concert series New Music Brandeis. They may also have their compositions read by the Lydian String Quartet, whose members are Professors of the Practice in the music department, and by ensembles-in-residence that are invited to Brandeis by the music department. Ensembles have included the New York New Music Ensemble, NotaRiotous, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and Speculum Musicae. The Slosberg Music Center houses the Brandeis Electro-Acoustic Music Studio (BEAMS) where composers can work with analog and digital equipment. There is also an extensive collection of period instruments including two harpsichords and an historic Viennese fortepiano, which are kept in the Jencks Early Music Room.
Students who are successful in the one-year M.A. program often choose to continue for a second year in order to complete the M.F.A. Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact the Graduate Program Chair in Composition, Yu-Hui Chang, to discuss which of the two options would be appropriate.
The basic requirements for the one-year M.A. in composition and theory include:
- Six courses at the graduate level: seminars in composition, proseminars in tonal writing; proseminars and seminars in tonal and nontonal analysis.
- A composition that is begun during the first semester, completed in time to be performed in the spring graduate composers' concert (New Music Brandeis).
- One year of residency.
- Attendance at departmental composition colloquia.
The basic requirements for the two-year M.F.A. include:
- Twelve courses at the graduate level: proseminars and seminars in composition, seminars in tonal and nontonal analysis, a course in electro-acoustic music (or demonstrated proficiency).
- Examinations: demonstration of competence by means of a portfolio review and written general examination at the end of the second year of study.
- Thesis: an original composition, the scope to be approved by the faculty in composition, to be performed on one of the graduate composers' concerts (New Music Brandeis).
- Two years of residency.
- Attendance at departmental composition colloquia.
Boston Area Graduate Consortium: for cross registration at other institutions
This consortium allows for Brandeis graduate students to take graduate level courses at Boston College, Boston University, and Tufts University as part of their tuition at Brandeis. A full-time graduate student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is permitted to enroll in no more than one graduate cross-registered course each term. This should be viewed as an opportunity to enhance their graduate experience, and not as a substitute for courses already offered at Brandeis. Graduate students wishing to consider this option must first discuss it with their Graduate Program Chair. For compete information about the consortium, go to: www.brandeis.edu/gsas/teaching_and_learning/cross.html.
Partial need-based tuition scholarship is available from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Information about this may be found on the GSAS website: www.brandeis.edu/gsas/financing/index.html The Music Department may also recommend additional merit scholarship, determined on a case-by-case basis.
Applicants are asked to apply directly to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences using the online application procedure Apply Online, or by paper application. The deadline for applications for admission to the fall semester is January 15. Application for mid-year admission may also be considered. GRE scores are recommended, as well as TOEFL scores when applicable.
Application Fee: check the GSAS Admissions site for the fee, which must accompany the application. Applications will not be considered without payment of the application fee. Current Brandeis students are exempted from paying the application fee.
Statement of Purpose: in essay form, state reasons for undertaking graduate study. Please describe your qualifications for the academic program to which you are applying and your objectives in undertaking this program.
Applicants should clearly outline their research interests. The statement should also indicate how the applicant’s research interests would complement those of the faculty. Applicants should discuss their plans for their academic and professional career and how the particular graduate program will help them attain their goals.
Written Work: a selection of original scores and recordings should be mailed directly to GSAS.
Music Composition Exam: the department of music employs an informal testing procedure designed to assist the admission committee in reviewing applications to the graduate programs in Music Composition and Theory. There are two short exercises in tonal music. (Download Exam) You are asked to spend up to, but under no circumstances more than, four hours (including copying time) in the preparation of your answers. Please note that the application will not be considered complete without this.
Upon completion of the test, you are asked to sign the appended statement affirming that you have received no outside assistance in preparing your answers. The exam is to be mailed directly to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences along with any other application materials or email in .pdf format only to email@example.com. It is highly advised that you keep a copy of your exam for your own personal records.
Two Letters of Recommendation: the members of the admissions committee prefer to receive electronically letters written in support of your application for admission. Please include the complete contact information, including e-mail address, for your referees in your application. GSAS will then contact the referees directly with the electronic link for submission of their letter.
GSAS will continue to accept hard-copy letters of recommendation from those referees who prefer this method. All letters should be mailed directly to GSAS.
Transcripts: applicants must provide a final transcript indicating successful completion of an undergraduate degree program before registration. Transcripts for any graduate study should also be provided.
Graduate Record Examinations General Test: the GRE General Test is recommended, but is not required. The ETS code for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is 3092. For more information about the GRE, visit www.ets.org/gre.
Non-native Speakers of English: international students should visit the international admission section of the GSAS website for information on TOEFL and IELTS requirements. The GSAS TOEFL school code is 3261.
Sending the Application: although it is preferred that all required supporting credentials be received in one package, GSAS will certainly accept credentials mailed separately. Please send all credentials to:
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
MS 031 Brandeis University
PO Box 9110
Waltham, MA 02454-9110
Application Deadline: the deadline for M.A. and M.F.A. applications is January 15. Admission to the program is for the following fall semester. Applications submitted after this deadline or for mid-year admissions may be considered on a case-by-case basis. This should be discussed with the GSAS Director of Admissions.
Tracking the Application: GSAS will provide information for tracking the application online in the form of a checklist. Data is updated daily.
Visiting Brandeis: applicants are welcome, but not required, to visit Brandeis and interview with faculty during admissions time, or at another time during the academic year if more convenient. Interviews can be arranged directly with the individual faculty members by email or telephone. Attending seminars and meeting with current graduate students can also be arranged. A complete list of concerts is available online at www.brandeis.edu/arts/concerts. Tours of the Brandeis campus are conducted daily.