Music Composition (BMus)



The Composition BMus degree focuses on developing your creative voice as a composer/performer and sharpening your ability to create music for various media, theater, dance, film, and the concert stage. You learn up to date compositional skills in all styles in a collaborative environment to create a significant body of original work.

Learn to produce your compositions with industry-standard technology and equipment, master current music notation and production software, learn digital and acoustic orchestration, gain practical studio skills such as mastering multitrack recording as well as acoustic and digital music creation so you can make your work ready for sharing it with the world. You complete ensemble requirements and take instrumental or vocal and composition private lessons, which are taught by our faculty of professional musicians.

Composition coursework includes the necessary opportunities to create a professional portfolio of recordings, scores, and promotional materials from your individual and collaborative projects. In your last semester, you will prepare and present a senior recital project to highlight your work through live and digital performance, allowing you the opportunity to express your singular artistic vision.

The undergraduate program closely interacts with the Music Composition for the Screen MFA program and collaborates with majors in other programs, such as Cinema and Television, Dance, Game Design, and Musical Theatre. You will complete coursework on film scoring, music for video games, and compositions for the concert stage.

No matter your style interests, you will prepare to make your mark as a 21st-century composer by learning to create and assess music and by exploring your interests across a variety of classical, contemporary, jazz, and popular genres.


Benefits of the BMus Degree:

The BMus is the first professional degree in Music.

  • Offers specialized music coursework and advanced workshops.
  • Prepares to pursue a career in composition, production, or performance.
  • Enhances eligibility for graduate studies in Music.
  • Connects you to an extensive creative network.

NOTE: If you plan to apply directly to the BMus programs, you will need to include some additional materials. Course requirements.

Other Degrees Available

Curriculum Highlights

photo of group of students in ensemble

All Music majors (instrumentalists and vocalists in the BA and BMus programs) perform in ensembles as part of their coursework. You’ll gain skills and experience in collaborative music-making. We offer a wide range of ensemble courses in contemporary, urban, and popular styles. Genres covered in ensemble courses include pop, rock, jazz, R&B, fusion, and gospel. All ensembles are directed by our faculty of professional musicians. Columbia also has ensembles dedicated to creating original music, allowing you to gain experience in arranging, rehearsing, recording, and performing.

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photo of person playing cello
Private Lessons
As one of your degree requirements, you’ll take private lessons with faculty members who are experienced professional musicians. The lessons are available across a range of vocal and instrumental genres and styles. During this dedicated time with faculty members, you’ll master your performance skills and hone your distinctive sound.

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Performance Opportunities

Chicago is a great place for students studying the performing arts. You’ll have many performance opportunities in a variety of settings, both on campus as part of your coursework and in Chicago’s vibrant music scene. Columbia’s Music Center hosts more than 200 student, faculty, and artist-in-residence performances and workshops each year.

Learn more.



We bring professional composers to Columbia College Chicago for week-long residencies every semester.  They lead workshops and master classes with student ensembles. They also lead recording sessions and public performances. Through your interactions with them, you’ll gain valuable experience and insight into possible career paths.

In 2023-2024, the composer in residence is Jongnic “JB” Bontemps (photo above), a modern film composer tapped by Paramount Pictures to score the blockbuster, sci-fi action movie Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. JB is known for his fusion of contemporary sound with timeless emotion. 

Some recent composers-in-residence include Joel Goodman, Chance Thomas, and Emmy Award-winning composers Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis and Kristopher Carter, collectively known as Dynamic Music Partners.

Learn more.

Program Snapshot





Columbia College Chicago’s Music faculty is a diverse group of professional musicians, renowned as composers, performers, and music educators. They have released solo recordings, written original compositions and arrangements, and toured with well-known bands. They are Grammy, Emmy, and Dove Award winners and nominees. In private lessons with them, you’ll hone your individual skills and techniques in your primary performance area and gain mentoring experiences essential to achieving your career goals.


View all Music Department faculty.

Faculty by Instrument

Music Facilities


With access to rehearsal space, concert halls, and recording gear, you’ll have the space and tools you’ll need to make your music. You can also rent professional equipment for your creative and artistic pursuits.

Take a look at our music facilities.

Alumni Success

Many Music alumni work and perform together, building lifelong relationships and a strong Columbia presence in the Chicago music scene. Many alumni also mentor and collaborate with enrolled students. Music graduates are performers, composers, educators, and music business professionals. Many Music grads also have successful careers in other industries.

Learn more about Music Columbia College Chicago alumni.

Listen to Music at Columbia

Visit our YouTube page to hear music created by Columbia students, faculty, and alumni. ​

Many Music students explore other interests and broaden their career preparation by pursuing a minor. Our innovative Hip-Hop Studies minor will connect you with the local hip-hop community, and our Music Business minor will give you managerial and entrepreneurial experience. Some students explore other passions like cultural studies, photography, acting, or fashion.

Explore all minors.