MA in Composition
Learn composition in a free-thinking environment that encourages creative work in a wide variety of styles. Work with world-renowned composers at the vanguard of contemporary music.
About the Program
The master of arts (MA) in composition at Mills College has trained generations of composers from all over the world in the American experimentalist tradition. In addition to taking courses in orchestration, tonal and post-tonal analysis, and contemporary music criticism, you’ll be encouraged to cross disciplinary boundaries and to pursue studies in special areas of interest that may include improvisation, indeterminacy, and environmental sound composition, as well as composing for dance and film. View the music composition degree requirements.
Our core composition faculty, Fred Frith and Roscoe Mitchell, have won international renown as composers and performers across the musical spectrum, from conventionally notated work to a wide range of experimental practices. We regularly invite distinguished guest composers to teach at Mills—most recently Hilda Paredes and Zeena Parkins. You can study electronic and computer music with faculty from the Center for Contemporary Music. Also teaching in the Composition Program are scholars David Bernstein, a specialist in the music of John Cage and the tonal theories of Arnold Schoenberg, and Nalini Ghuman, whose interests include post-colonial perspectives on musical Orientalism, nationalism, and cross-cultural musical exchange.
To enhance our students’ learning experience, Mills sponsors at least one visiting composer each year. Learn more about opportunities to work with composers-in-residence, perform, and hear new work and ideas at Mills and beyond.