The Composition Department offers a major in composition and a minor in conducting.

The Composition Department provides a thorough course of study in traditional and contemporary musical composition, orchestration, and score preparation. The department also offers advanced training in instrumental, choral, and musical theater conducting.

A faculty of over 50 active composers and conductors guide you in preparing for a career as a professional composer and conductor.

The Composition Department supports the creation of concert music by developing the craft of notating musical ideas. The department also works with creative multimedia, from traditional opera, dance, and theater to contemporary electronic and mixed media. 

The composition major encourages students to synthesize their diverse influences with new styles in contemporary concert music and express themselves in ways unbound by conventions and stylistic parameters. The conducting minor offers valuable podium time in different orchestral and ensemble settings.

Every year the Professional Writing and Music Technology Division and the Composition Department organize a series of concerts showcasing faculty and student compositions with recent guest performers including the JACK Quartet, Tony Arnold, Mivos String Quartet, Loadbang, Sound Icon, New Thread Saxophone Quartet, String Noise, PUBLIQuartet, the City of Tomorrow, and Margaret Lancaster. Recent visiting artists include Maria Schneider, George Lewis, David Lang, Andrew Norman, Tania León, Chaya Czernowin, Anthony Davis, Du Yun, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Anthony Coleman, Sean Shepherd, and Michael Starobin.

Alumni from the Composition Department have received many accolades including the Toru Takemitsu Award, the Koussevitzky Foundation Commission, and the Fromm Foundation Commission, among others.

For further information about the Composition Department, please email or call 617-747-6484.

Learn more about studying composition at Berklee: 

Our Programs

Watch Performances of New Works by Composition Majors

Berklee's vibrant Composition Department offers students unique opportunities to compose in a wide variety of styles, either for our student performers or for the many acclaimed guest ensembles that visit the college each year.

In previous years, students have had the chance to write for Sound Icon, the JACK Quartet, Tony Arnold, Mivos String Quartet, Loadbang, New Thread Saxophone Quartet, String Noise, the City of Tomorrow, Margaret Lancaster, and many more.

This hands-on experience with professional performers allows our students to gain valuable skills that not every institution can provide, and whether it's with our guest ensembles or student performers, our composers are able to create a portfolio of high-quality recordings of their work while at Berklee. 

Visiting Artists

Each year the composition department hosts some of the most well known composers in our field for masterclasses, interviews, private lessons, and workshops that give students a glimpse of what it's like to work as a professional in this field.