What is the application deadline?
The application deadline is in January of each calendar year for admittance during the following Fall semester. Please contact the program director for the specific date.
I have a bachelor’s degree in music, but not in composition. Should I apply for the program?
Yes. Your BA in Music should give you the foundation in theory, analysis and musical construction that you will need to progress through the program. Your work samples, letters of recommendation and interview, however, will determine your acceptance.
I have an undergraduate degree in sound, not music. Could I be a candidate for the program?
If your undergraduate degree is from an accredited college or university and your cumulative earned grade point average is 3.0, you could be considered for the program if your work samples show good compositional instincts and sound musicianship. You may be asked to undertake a private tutorial prior to admission or required to take concurrent remedial classes in music, at the discretion of the Committee on Admissions and the program director. Rudimentary keyboard skills are considered essential for entry to the program.
I’m a self-taught musician with my own studio, but don’t have an undergraduate degree. Should I apply for the program?
Columbia’s graduate programs require an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university, and an earned cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better (on a 4-point scale). However, we recognize that many of the finest screen composers are self-taught musicians. If your degree is in a field related to screen composition, such as drama, film, or television, you may be considered, subject to the terms above.
Why should I apply to Columbia College’s MFA degree program, and not somewhere else?
Columbia College Chicago offers one of only two MFA-level programs of this type in the country. Moreover, Columbia’s MFA program offers an interdisciplinary curriculum that includes five of our academic departments (Music, Film/Video, Audio Arts & Acoustics, Television and Theater). Columbia College Chicago is one of the world’s largest film schools, with over 2,000 Film/Video majors. Coursework includes a focused balance of aesthetics, historical background, and hands-on training with industry-standard equipment.
Does Columbia offer a certificate program in Music Composition for the Screen?
No. Columbia’s MFA in Music Composition for the Screen is designed for full-time students to be able to complete the program in two years. It is an intense, thorough education in the art of composing and producing music for film, television and new media. You’ll be honed and ready to enter the industry with a professional portfolio by the time you complete the program. A certificate program can’t do that.
I want to apply for the Music MFA program. What do I do first?
You may download all necessary application materials by visiting www.colum.edu/graduate. You may also contact the Graduate Admissions Office for an online application or for any other questions at 312-369-7260, or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Can I be enrolled part-time?
At this time, the graduate program in Music Composition for the Screen accepts only full-time students who are able to complete studies within the delineated two-year period. Average class load per semester is ten credit hours, amounting to nine to ten classroom hours per
week plus necessary lab time. Classes are scheduled in three-day blocks with the aim of freeing up four-day weekends for part-time work, performance and writing assignments.
When do classes meet?
Almost all classes meet on weekdays between the hours of 9:30 and 6. There are periodic exceptions for special weekend workshops or evening master classes, but in general, we try to keep those times free for writing. Occasionally, a class may need to be scheduled in the evening due to instructor conflicts or space issues, but this is rare.
How is the program structured?
Music Composition for the Screen is a two-year, 54 credit program leading to the creation of a thesis film score and the earning of an MFA degree, the terminal degree in this field. Studies
are completed in four sequenced and rigorous semesters in Chicago and a final, five-week
thesis semester in Los Angeles, at the conclusion of which many graduates opt to remain in L.A. and launch their careers. The program accepts just twelve new students each fall, and these students progress through the course sequence as a cohort, sharing experiences
and assignments, and ultimately, working as a team once they reach Los Angeles. There are currently no elective offerings in the program, but students are not restricted from taking additional coursework or private lessons if they so desire. Extracurricular writing, performing, and research are strongly encouraged.
What kind of background does a successful applicant typically have?
The masters programs strives to reflect the profession in its diversity and range of backgrounds, but the typical applicant has a bachelor’s degree in music composition or performance, or in a related field such as film, theater, or audio engineering. Applicants must demonstrate a proficiency in music theory and harmony equivalent to two years of undergraduate study, and may be asked to undergo a written assessment to gauge their skills in these areas. Instrumental virtuosity is not expected, but minimal keyboard proficiency is an essential. The key criterion, however, is demonstration through work samples of a strong, authorial voice, innate musicality, and a passion for visual music.
Are there any special scholarship opportunities available?
Not at this time.
What facilities are available to your students?
The masters program maintains a fully staffed and equipped, professional grade composers
lab to which all MFA candidates have access during building hours. The MFA lab has 13 digital
audio workstations outfitted with iMac computers, M-Audio controller keyboards, external drives and M-Boxes, and running Apple Logic Pro, ProTools LE, and Vienna Symphonic
Library, Finale and Sibelius notation software, and related applications.
Who are some noteworthy alumni?
The program has only been in operation since Fall 2006, but already its graduates are making
themselves known in the film and television music community. Beth Caucci (’08) and Victor
Chaga (’10) work as composer’s assistants to John Powell; John Fee (’08) is a composer’s assistant to Jeff Danna; Elon Arbiture (’09) scores “The Legend Of Neil” for Comedy Central
and Joseph Cooper scores “DigiVangelist” for Reelz Network and Christopher Coppola; Duncan
Blickenstaff (’09) assists Mychael Danna; Victor Hernandez Stumpfhauser orchestrates and
copies for Javier Navarrete; Alexa Ramirez (’10) is an assistant for Danny Elfman.
What do I need to prepare for the MFA's Committee on Admissions?
• A work sample is required. Applicants must submit a CD or tape with 15-minutes of their own original music, composed within the last 3 years. The emphasis should be on orchestral music with a dramatic or program-matic style (MIDI acceptable). Please include an 8 1⁄2 x 11 hand-written or computer-generated score for each recording on the CD/tape.
• For those who reach the final stage of the admissions process, an interview will be required. Those selected for the interview will be contacted directly by the Music Department. During the interview, the student will meet with the program director to critique the submitted work samples.
• Basic proficiency on at least one musical instrument and a working familiarity with the piano keyboard.
How long will it take before I know I’m admitted to the Music MFA program?
In most cases, within about six weeks, you will receive written formal notice from the Graduate Office of the Committee's admission decision.
Why is the Music MFA Program’s last semester in LA?
Music Composition for the Screen culminates its program in Los Angeles for very specific reasons; the most obvious being that it is the heart of the industry you’re entering. Columbia College Chicago owns facilities on the CBS lot in Studio City, where students will complete their thesis/practicum projects. Each student will compose and arrange a score for a professional orchestra, and conduct that orchestra in real time to a film. This semester also includes an Internship/Apprenticeship that can be arranged in LA. This is your opportunity to make industry contacts and show your work. The entire semester is engineered to be your segue into the business.
Is the LA semester covered in the tuition?
Tuition covers only the credit hours for the coursework. Students are responsible for their own transportation there (and, if desired, back), lodging, and necessities.
How much extra will the LA semester cost?
That depends on the student’s choice of transportation and other preferences. A general approximation based on current tuition costs is:
• Tuition for twelve credit hours $8,796
• Estimated room, per diem, air fare, etc: $2,000-2,300
• Estimated total: $11,000
Is there an alternative to taking the Program’s last semester in LA?
It is strongly recommended that students complete the Music MFA Program in Los Angeles. If this is not feasible, you must notify the Program Director and present a comparable Thesis/Practicum Final Project proposal for consideration and approval.
Where can I apply for financial aid for the Music MFA Program?
Information on graduate scholarships and financial aid is included in the “Financing Graduate Education” booklet, which is available from the Graduate Admissions Office (312-369-7260) or to download from the website at www.colum.edu/graduate (Follow the download links.) You may also visit the Student Financial Services website at www.colum.edu/sfs for details about tuition, graduate budgets and applying for the FAFSA.