Information for Applicants in Music Composition
Thank you for your interest in Princeton's graduate program in music composition.
We have a lively, dynamic and diverse composition program here at Princeton, with a busy concert season, thought-provoking seminars, and a strong sense of community. This website contains much information that you will find of use, including profiles of faculty members and current graduate students, information on course offerings, and listings of events such as the Princeton Sound Kitchen (PSK), the Composition Colloquia, PLOrk, and ffmup.
The focal points of graduate work at Princeton are music history and composition; prospective students must choose to apply to one of these two programs. Work in related subjects, including music theory, is available through specific courses offered both by musicology and composition faculty. Rather than a set curriculum, we offer a cluster of seminar areas; the specific topics vary from year to year, depending on faculty and student interest. As you will have gathered from the website, there are no degree programs in performance or music education; the department does, however, maintain a non-degree program in musical performance instruction available to both graduate and undergraduate students.
If at all possible, please plan to visit Princeton during the semester before your application is due. This gives you a chance to speak informally with one or two faculty members in order to discuss whether our program is a good match for you. The Department of Music will be scheduling three Open House events for prospective Composition Ph.D. applicants between Oct and Dec. Please contact Greg Smith as far in advance as possible if you would like to schedule a visit.
Applicants often ask how many compositions to submit. A good ballpark number is three, with both scores and recordings for each if possible. If the nature of your work suggests that you should arrange things differently, follow your instinct. Do keep in mind, though, that if you send a large volume of material, the faculty will need to choose how to focus their time and attention; in other words, take advantage of being the “disc jockey” and put some effort into guiding their listening experience.
Consider submitting a writing sample as part of your application. This would be a paper or essay of some sort, written for an academic requirement or not, in addition to the required personal statement. This additional sample is not strictly required, but since our program is a Ph.D. and all students complete a two-part dissertation including both a composition and a substantial essay, this gives the faculty the opportunity to get to know your writing or analytical side.