The bachelor of music (B.M.) degree program in composition offers committed composers opportunities to develop a wide range of musical skills through performance, training in music theory and music history, and a comprehensive study of instrumentation and orchestration.

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As a composition major, you will study all aspects of contemporary composition, including concert music, digital synthesis, scoring for film and video, and working with interactive media. You’ll also learn how to develop your career path and the essentials of grant writing.

You will study with all of our prestigious full-time faculty composers. Both students and faculty meet weekly in the Composer’s Seminar to discuss current issues and to meet a variety of nationally established guest composers.

The Setnor School offers a rich variety of opportunities for young composers. Each semester you may have works performed on the student composers’ concert, and you often have works performed on fellow student junior, senior, and graduate performance recitals. All students in the school are required to play works written in their own lifetime, which results in a great deal of collaboration between student performers and composers. Finally, all composition majors (seniors and graduate students) are required to prepare one full composition recital of their own works before they graduate.

Other opportunities include concerts by the nationally acclaimed Syracuse Society for New Music (SNM); additionally, each year one student from the department works with the SNM to see how a professional, not-for-profit new music organization works from the inside.

Most students in the program enter careers as composers or arrangers and as teachers of music at colleges, universities, or conservatories. Students interested in other careers such as performance, conducting, teaching, or music criticism often major in composition to develop the technical abilities to supplement their professional skills. We have a high success rate of placing our undergraduate students in distinguished composition programs at the master’s and doctoral levels around the country.


View official major requirements.

Performance Honors

The performance honors program is intended for Setnor School of Music students in the B.S. music and B.M. composition, music education, music industry, and sound recording technology degree programs who wish to maintain a level of performance at or near that required of students in one of the performance majors. The program’s purpose is to give tangible curricular and moral support to those students who see themselves as performing musicians first and foremost.

Students are eligible to apply for the program at the end of their sophomore year. Students accepted into the program take an hour of applied instrumental or vocal instruction per week and give both a junior and senior recital commensurate with the requirements for degree recitals in the performance majors. Official recognition of program participation and completion appears on student transcripts but does not appear on the diploma.