The Department of Music accepts applications for the fall quarter only. Admission to the department is based on acceptance by the UCLA Graduate Division and a faculty review of the applicant's work. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited US institution or comparable international institution, with a minimum GPA of 3.0 for the last two years of upper-division coursework. A major in music is not required as long as the applicant has the necessary background and musicianship to pursue graduate study. While the portfolio and interview carry the most weight, the entire application is evaluated in making admission decisions.

In the MA and PhD programs, the department offers two specializations: one in the field of composition and one in the field of composition for visual media.  In consultation with their faculty adviser, students will select their area of specialization in the second or third quarter of their first year of study. Applicants interested in either specialization apply to the MA or PhD in Composition, as the specialization is declared after beginning the program.


Applicants must submit the UCLA Graduate Division Application for Graduate Admission by December 1 at 11:59 PM PST.  The application includes the following components:

  • Unofficial transcripts: Upload unofficial copies of transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended.  Community college transcripts are not necessary, as the coursework will be reflected on the undergraduate transcript.
  • Statement of Purpose: A statement discussing your reasons for applying to this program and your academic and musical goals.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Three letters of recommendation are required.  Applicants must enter the names and contact information of three recommenders within the application.  An electronic recommendation request will be sent to recommenders, and recommendation letters must be submitted via this request.
  • Writing Sample (PhD applicants only): Provide a scholarly/research paper on a subject in the field of music of a level of intellectual and critical engagement appropriate to graduate level work.
  • Pre-Screening Portfolio: Applicants are required to upload a composition portfolio for pre-screening purposes.  Please see the Pre-Screening Information for detailed instructions about the portfolio requirements.
  • Personal History Statement (optional): A statement describing your background, accomplishments, and life experiences that led you to pursue this degree.  Applicants should only complete a Personal History Statement if there are elements of their personal history that they feel are not adequately addressed elsewhere in the application.

Interview and Assessment Examination

Those applicants who advance beyond the pre-screening round will be invited to UCLA for a 30-minute interview with the composition faculty. All applicants will be notified whether they have been invited to interview by the end of December; click here for interview dates. In addition to an interview, applicants will be asked to take the composition assessment exam as detailed below. Applicants invited to interview are strongly encouraged to come to campus for the interview and assessment exam; however, applicants who are unable to visit campus can complete the interview via video call and arrange to take the assessment exam in absentia. 

The exam consists of:

  • Harmony: Writing standard 4-part harmony from a given figured bass
  • Counterpoint: Writing counterpoint in your choice of 16th C. specie, 16th C. Imitative or 18th C. styles
  • Dictation: Taking 2-part melodic dictation and taking harmonic dictation by writing chord symbols of a given progression
  • Analytical Essay: Writing an essay on an analytical/stylistic topic
  • Diagnostic tests in sight singing and keyboard sight reading (Applicants who take the exam in absentia will have the diagnostic tests as a deficiency upon admission.)

International Applicants

Academic Records: Please see the Graduate Division website for information about the official academic records you are required to submit with your application.

English Language Requirements: All applicants are required to demonstrate English language proficiency in order to be eligible for admission.  Proficiency can be demonstrated in two ways:

1) Holding a bachelor's or higher degree from a university located in the United States or in another country in which English is the primary spoken language of daily life (e.g., Australia, Barbados, Canada, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, United Kingdom) and the medium of instruction


2) Submitting scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

If admitted, applicants may also be required to confirm their English language proficiency upon arrival.  Please see the Graduate Division website for more information.


Official transcripts are not required at the time of application.  All applicants must submit unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended within the UCLA Graduate Division Application for Graduate Admission.  Applicants who are admitted and submit a Statement of Intent to Register to UCLA must submit official transcripts.  Official transcripts should be sent from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended either electronically to , or by mail to 

Graduate Admissions - Music
2520 Schoenberg Music Building
445 Charles Young Drive East
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1616

Music Graduate Admissions Frequently Asked Questions