Bachelor of Music in Composition

128 units

General Education: 40 units
School of Music Core Requirements: 54 units
Composition Courses: 34 units

The Bachelor of Music in Composition is designed for students planning for graduate study in composition or work as a professional composer, helping them discover a distinctive voice and develop a portfolio of compositions. In addition to composition, courses in theory, music history, literature, conducting, and technology give the student thorough preparation in comprehensive musicianship.

Admission to the program is by audition and submission of previous compositions. Students with minimal compositional experience may be admitted at the discretion of the composition faculty, provided they show promise and strong general musicianship in other ways.

Applied composition students must submit their work to a jury at the end of each semester. Admission to upper-division status in the program is contingent upon:

  • Successful completion of the first two years of composition study as determined, in part, by the jury following the sophomore year, at which point significant compositional progress and output must be shown.
  • A grade-point average of at least 2.5 in the combination of courses in Music Theory, Practical Musicianship, Piano (class or applied), Introduction to Music Technology, and Applied Composition.
  • Adequate progress in acquiring specific keyboard skills suitable for composers.
  • Each student is required to have a composition performed in performance forum, studio recital, master class, reading session, or ensemble performance at least once per year. It is the student’s responsibility to recruit performers and schedule adequate rehearsal to produce an acceptable performance. The composition and performance context must be approved in advance by the composition instructor. The student and instructor should begin planning this early in each school year.

General Education Requirements for the Bachelor of Music in Composition

GE 100First-Year Seminar3
WRIT 110Writing 1: The Art and Craft of Writing3
Writing 23
Social Science3
Humanities: Literature3
Natural Science4
Biblical, Theological, and Philosophical Formation
MIN 108Christian Life, Faith, and Ministry3
UBBL 100Introduction to Biblical Literature: Exodus/Deuteronomy3
UBBL 230Luke/Acts3
PHIL 220Introduction to Philosophy3
or HUM 224 Core Texts in Philosophy
or HUM 324 Core Texts in Philosophy
Upper-Division Bible Elective3
Personal and Social Responsibility
Intercultural Competence
MUS 201Introduction to World Music (F/S)3
or MUS 302 Soul Music
Total Units40

School of Music Core Requirements

Piano Proficiency4
Music Theory12
Music Theory I (F/S, Fr, So) 1
Music Theory II (F/S, Fr, So)
Music Theory III (F/S, So, Jr)
Music Theory IV (F/S, So, Jr)
Practical Musicianship4
Practical Musicianship I (F/S, Fr, So)
Practical Musicianship II (F/S, Fr, So)
Practical Musicianship III (F/S, So, Jr)
Practical Musicianship IV (F/S, So, Jr)
Introduction to Conducting (F, Jr)
Choral Conducting (S, Jr)
Instrumental Conducting
Music History9
Ancient, Renaissance, and World Music Literature (F, Jr)
Writing 3: Baroque, Classical, and Early Romantic Music Literature (F/S, Jr) 2
Late Romantic and 20th-Century Music Literature (F/S, Sr) 3
Applied Music8
(Must be in one area; must be enrolled in applied lessons each semester until degree is complete, minimum of 8 units, F/S)
Ensemble Requirement 48
Other Requirements
MUS 296Introduction to Music Technology (F/S, Fr)2
MUS 441Music in Worship (F/S, Jr, Sr)3
MUS 210Performance Forum (F/S, 8 semesters)0
Total Units54

Meets the General Education Humanities: Fine Arts Requirement


Meets the General Education Writing 3 Requirement


Meets the General Education Humanities: History Requirement


See details on the APU website.

Composition Requirements

Composition Core Requirements
MUS 321Counterpoint (S, Jr, Sr)3
MUS 423Orchestration I (F/S, Jr, Sr)3
Composition Courses
MUS 1C1Applied Composition Class (F- Total of 8 units)1
MUS 1C2Applied Composition Class (S - Total of 8 units)1
MUS 349Intermediate Logic Pro3
MUS 42220th Century Compositional Techniques (S, Jr, Sr)3
MUS 481Orchestration II3
MUS 491Senior Recital (F/S, Sr) 10
Select one of the following3
Arranging and Rehearsal Technique (F/S, Jr, Sr)
Form and Analysis (F, Jr, Sr)
Total Units34

Meets the General Education Integrative and Applied Learning Requirement

Music Theory Proficiency

The Music Theory Placement Examination is given to incoming students who are not transferring credit for Music Theory I from another college or university. This examination measures the student’s background in music theory and ensures placement at the appropriate level. The examination may be taken online. Students who are not ready for Music Theory I take MUS 120, and upon successful completion of MUS 120 , begin the music theory sequence in the next semester. Music theory is taken in sequential order (I, II, III, IV). Before advancing to the next level, a grade of C or better is required. If a C or better is not achieved at any level, the course must be repeated.

Practical Musicianship

Practical musicianship is taken in sequential order (I, II, III, IV). Before advancing to the next level, a grade of C or better is required. If a C or better is not achieved at any level, the course must be repeated.

Piano Proficiency

Each student must register for a piano class or Applied Piano until the Piano Proficiency Examination is passed. Examination fact sheets are available in the School of Music office. Students will not be cleared to graduate until they have passed the proficiency examination; students in the Bachelor of Music in Composition program have an extended Piano Proficiency Examination that is usually met at the conclusion of MUS 108.

Grade-point Average

Music students must maintain a 2.5 GPA for all upper-division music classes (those classified as 300 and 400 level). Students with a cumulative GPA lower than 2.0 or who are on probation are not eligible to participate in a performing group other than Masterworks Chorale.

Performance Forum

MUS 210 meets every Monday at 4:20 p.m. and features a variety of presentations including student recitals, guest artists, and lecturers. Music students must be continuously enrolled in Performance Forum for eight semesters. This class is graded pass/fail based on attendance. Students who do not pass the course will be required to take MUS 353 Concert Music to make up the deficiency. Transfer students must enroll in MUS 210 and an approved ensemble every semester in attendance, up to eight semesters. Composition master classes that occur during Performance Forum are required for Bachelor of Music in Composition students, and suggested for all students taking applied composition lessons.

Student Attendance

Students are required to attend a minimum of eight concerts/recitals per year. This requirement must be met under the following criteria: two Artist Concert Series performances and six other recitals or concerts selected from the following: junior recitals, senior recitals, or any School of Music ensemble concerts (excluded from these options are any Bel Canto Women’s Choir and Men’s Chorale concerts). The School of Music office maintains careful attendance records, but students should keep a copy of all programs of recitals they attend for their own records. To help track recital attendance, students may obtain a Recital Attendance Form from the School of Music office. To receive attendance credit, students must fill out and submit an attendance card at the recital. Workshops, off-campus concerts by APU performing groups, or performing in a concert as a member of an ensemble may not qualify for recital credit. Students who do not meet these requirements will be required to take MUS 353 Concert Music to make up the deficiency.

Concert Music

MUS 353 Concert Music offers redemption for students who have not met the requirements of recital attendance or have failed MUS 210. In extenuating circumstances, students may petition in advance to make up attendance by registering for Concert Music. If this petition is granted, students making up recital attendance in this manner must adhere to the course requirements. Students negligent in fulfilling the requirements of MUS 353 may be called to appear before the School of Music faculty and are subject to disciplinary action and eventual dismissal from the program.

Recital Performance

Composition students must present a solo performance annually in either a studio recital (arranged by the applied teacher) or performance forum student recital. In the case of a student who is taking instruction in more than one applied area, recital performance is required only in the primary applied area.

Composition students giving senior recitals should follow the guidelines in the Azusa Pacific University School of Music Recital Confirmation Packet available through the School of Music office.

Applied Music

  1. Students are required to take at least 16 units in one applied area. 
  2. Students must take at least 1 unit of applied lessons each semester, even if the minimum number of units for their emphasis has been met. Students must take 2 units of applied lessons the semester of their senior recital.
  3. Jury examinations are required each semester for all students taking private lessons. Presentation of a junior or senior recital fulfills this requirement.
  4. All students, in conjunction with the instructor, are responsible for selecting an accompanist for juries by the indicated deadlines. There are three ways to select an accompanist:
    1. Faculty may request an accompanist with the Accompanist Request Form available in the School of Music office by the indicated deadlines.
    2. Faculty may request a specific accompanist by submitting an Accompanist Request Form available in the School of Music office by the indicated deadlines.
    3. If no Accompanist Request Form is submitted, or is requested after the published deadlines, faculty members are responsible to make arrangements for their students.
  5. Private lessons:
    1. Grades for private lessons are issued based on a minimum of 12 lessons per semester. The grade will be lowered if the student attends fewer than the minimum of 12 lessons. Additionally, if the student does not meet the mandatory annual solo performance requirement, an F will be assigned for the spring semester applied grade.
    2. The area director will assign an instructor.
    3. When the student is ill and notifies the teacher in advance, a makeup lesson will be rescheduled if possible. “No-show” students do not receive makeup lessons.

Voice Class

All music majors without voice as their major performance area must take one semester of Voice Class or Private Voice.

Upper-division Concentration

Bachelor of Music in Composition students must earn a grade of C or higher in all of their upper-division concentration classes. Otherwise, the course(s) must be repeated.

Ensemble Requirement

In each of eight semesters as a music major, a student must meet the designated performance requirements as listed by emphasis below. Transfer students must participate each semester until they graduate or accumulate eight semesters. Membership in multiple ensembles in a given semester counts as only one semester toward the ensemble requirement. All ensembles listed require audition except Masterworks Chorale.

Performance Area Required Ensemble Remaining Semesters Ensemble Choices
Brass, Strings, Winds, and PercussionSelect four years from:
Masterworks Chorale MUS 170Studio Orchestra MUS 195
Symphonic Band MUS 142, MUS 143, MUS 244, MUS 245, MUS 342, MUS 343, MUS 449, MUS 450N/A
Symphony Orchestra MUS 271, MUS 272, MUS 371, MUS 372N/A
Wind Ensemble MUS 187, MUS 188, MUS 289, MUS 290, MUS 387, MUS 388, MUS 489, MUS 490N/A
Piano, Guitar, and Electric BassMasterworks Chorale (one year) MUS 170Select remaining ensemble registration from:
Chamber Singers MUS 281, MUS 380
Ensemble Accompanist1
Guitar Ensemble (guitar only) MUS 270
Jazz Ensemble MUS 182, MUS 183, MUS 382, MUS 383
Masterworks Chorale MUS 170
Studio Orchestra MUS 195
Symphonic Band MUS 142, MUS 143, MUS 244, MUS 245, MUS 342, MUS 343, MUS 449, MUS 450
Symphony Orchestra MUS 271, MUS 272, MUS 371, MUS 372
Wind Ensemble MUS 187, MUS 188, MUS 289, MUS 290, MUS 387, MUS 388, MUS 489, MUS 490
VocalMasterworks Chorale (two years) MUS 170Bel Canto Women’s Choir2 MUS 144, MUS 145, MUS 246, MUS 247, MUS 344, MUS 345, MUS 437, MUS 438
Chamber Singers MUS 281, MUS 380
Gospel Choir2 MUS 146, MUS 147, MUS 248, MUS 249, MUS 346, MUS 347, MUS 478, MUS 479
Masterworks Chorale MUS 170
Men’s Chorale2 MUS 173, MUS 174, MUS 275, MUS 276, MUS 373, MUS 374, MUS 475, MUS 476
Studio Orchestra MUS 195
Symphonic Band MUS 142, MUS 143, MUS 244, MUS 245, MUS 342, MUS 343, MUS 449, MUS 450
Symphony Orchestra MUS 271, MUS 272, MUS 371, MUS 372
University Choir2 MUS 140, MUS 141, MUS 242, MUS 243, MUS 340, MUS 341, MUS 435, MUS 436
Wind Ensemble MUS 187, MUS 188, MUS 289, MUS 290, MUS 387, MUS 388, MUS 489, MUS 490

Ensemble accompanists are assigned by the director of piano studies. 


Maximum one year for credit in these ensembles.

Course Requirement Availability: Recommended Year:
F = Offered every fallFr = Freshman
S = Offered every springSo = Sophomore
E = Even YearJr = Junior
O= Odd YearSr = Senior