Graduate Admissions

Music Composition for the Screen MFA

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Be Enrolled Part-Time?
No. 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. 
When Do Classes Meet?
Almost all classes meet on weekdays between the hours of 9:30am and 6:00pm. Courses are scheduled in three-day blocks with the aim of freeing up four-day weekends for part-time work, performance and writing assignments. 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 MFA program 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. For a complete listing of College-wide scholarships, click here.
What Facilities Are Available to Your Students?
The 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 the Core Faculty?
For a listing, click here.
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.

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