Composition at NDSU

North Dakota State University offers the first and only Bachelor of Music in Composition program in the Dakotas, and one of the few in the region. Our professional undergraduate degree combines the robust educational opportunities available at a large research university (13,000 students) with a program that feels much smaller. The Challey School of Music hosts about 100 undergraduate students, so personal attention is the rule rather than the exception.

Some of our current and upcoming new music initiatives include:

  • A student-run music press, for real-world work in self-publishing music.
  • A student composer-in-residence program for NDSU ensembles.
  • Thundering Heard, a new music series.

The Music Composition Major

The BM Composition program is designed for students who are self-starters and who are looking to pursue professional careers as composers, arrangers, publishers, or music technologists. Our program is flexible yet thorough, and includes study in Music Theory, Music History, Instrumental or Vocal Performance, and Piano in addition to Composition.

In addition, students are required to pick courses and credentials that support their future career goals. Some examples include

  • If business is your thing, you can get a minor or certificate in Entrepreneurship, or minors in Accounting, Business Administration, or Management Information Systems.
  • If you're interested in music and software design, you might consider minoring in Computer Science.
  • If you're interested in sheet music, you can pursue publishing work with the NDSU Press.
  • If graduate school is in your future, you might take additional music theory and history classes
  • If you're interested in writing music AND lyrics, or if you have your eye on Broadway, minoring in Creative Writing, English, or Theatre Arts might be for you.

If you're interested in the composition major at NDSU, let's talk. Request a Lesson, or sign up through the NDSU Music website.

Opportunities for all music majors

I'm interested in composition, but I'm also interested in [something else]. Can I do both?

While it's possible to double-major in Music Composition and another field, the BM in Composition is geared toward students pursuing one degree, and adding to that may take more than the 4-5 years needed for a bachelor's degree. However, NDSU also offers the Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) in Music as well.

The BA requires two years of a foreign language, while the BS requires a minor or a second major. Students can minor in Entrepreneurship through NDSU’s The Nice Center (which accepts credit from MUSC 385: Music Entrepreneurship), or pick from NDSU’s catalog of majors/minors.

But what if I'm not interested in majoring in music composition? Can I still take composition lessons?

We keep the composition program artificially small—around 10% of the population of the Challey School of Music. However, we do allow non-composition music majors to take composition lessons depending on how much room is available in the studio.