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Music Composition

Your study will encompass every facet of contemporary music composition—concert music, digital synthesis, film/video scoring, and interactive media.

The Setnor School of Music creates an environment where you can focus on your passion for music and continue to pursue your other interests—your portfolio of musical, pedagogical, and business skills like grant writing, contract negotiation, and marketing—to better prepare for a diversified career in music.

About VPA

Home to the visual and performing arts at Syracuse, VPA supports the creative process and professional development. The College is divided into seven areas: the School of Art; the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies; the School of Design; the Department of Drama; the Rose, Jules R. and Stanford S. Setnor School of Music; the Department of Film and Media Arts; and the Department of Creative Arts Therapy.


Sample courses for music composition majors include: 

  • Ear Training
  • Composition I
  • Orchestration
  • Basic Conducting
  • Analysis of Contemporary Music
  • Electronic Music Composition

View official major requirements .

Practical Experience

You’ll have opportunities to have your compositions performed in concert and at performance recitals of fellow students. You’ll also enjoy a great deal of collaboration with student performers and composers. In your senior year, you’ll prepare a full composition recital of your own works.

Access the Syracuse Society for New Music—a professional, non-profit music organization that presents concerts and invites one music composition student to intern with them each year.

The Setnor School of Music is located in Crouse College, where you’ll find the 700-seat Rose and Jules R. Setnor Auditorium, featuring a 3,823-pipe Holtkamp Organ. Some 200 recitals are held here each year. Classrooms and rehearsal spaces are located in Crouse College and Shaffer Art Building, and a recording studio is located in the Belfer Audio Archives.

Study Abroad

Syracuse Abroad also offers more than 100 programs in 60 countries.

Today’s musicians must prepare for careers on a global level. The Setnor School has designed study abroad programs that not only broaden your perspective and enhance your resume, but also maximize your international experience and coordinate with your graduation timeline. 

Music composition majors most often go abroad to the Syracuse University Strasbourg Center. 

Life After Syracuse University

As a College of Visual and Performing Arts graduate with a major in music composition, you can explore such careers as:

  • Composer
  • Conductor
  • Elementary, middle, or high school music teacher
  • Music arranger
  • Music critic