Composition & Computer Technologies

Program Details

This program emphasizes the study and integration of acoustic and computer-based music composition, with ample opportunities in multimedia. Students work with individual faculty and participate in seminars that develop analytical, critical, theoretical and technological approaches. Computer-based and multimedia projects are supported by the Virginia Center for Computer Music (VCCM), which houses a wide variety of commercial and in-house software and hardware. Annual residencies by professional ensembles provide professional performance opportunities, and annual composer concerts provide forums for new work. Students also pursue research projects such as the development of software for interactive dance and internet-based art, and have been well represented in national and international conferences.

The Ph.D. requires 54 credits of course work, up to 18 credits of dissertation research, and successful completion of a dissertation project. Students who successfully complete two years (36 credits) of course work and the projects appropriate to their concentration will be granted an M.A. at the end of their second year. Those entering with an M.A. degree may petition the department's graduate committee to transfer up to 24 graduate credits.

Students ordinarily register for private composition instruction for 6 semesters, changing instructor each year in order to draw upon varied approaches. During the first two years, students normally take two seminars per semester in addition to composition lessons, including at least one semester of MUSI 7547 (Materials of Contemporary Music), and two semesters of digital media (such as MUSI 7540 and 7543). Other seminars may be chosen from music or other areas of interest, such as cognitive science, computer science, or philosophy. All students must demonstrate proficiency in one foreign or computer language.

During each of the first two years, students create a substantial piece to be performed in the spring semester. During the second year they also produce a critical or analytical research paper based on a seminar project. Successful completion of these first- and second-year projects is required for continuation in the program. By the end of the third year, students must pass a written qualifying examination showing their capacity for research and teaching. The examination covers three fields chosen in consultation with the student's advisor and examination committee. Following passage of the qualifying examination and all other degree requirements, students begin work on the dissertation, which consists of an extended composition for acoustic, electroacoustic or digital media as well as an essay appropriate for publication as an article. The completed projects are defended in a public examination before a committee of four faculty, at least one of whom will be from another department.

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at

For requirements/coursework, visit the Ph.D. CCT Chronology page.

For forms, visit the Graduate Forms page.


McIntire Department of Music
112 Old Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176