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 an acceptable 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 carries the most weight, the entire dossier 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.


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: Enter the names and contact information of three recommenders and send them electronic recommendation requests within the online application.
  • 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.

In addition to the unofficial transcripts included in the online application, applicants must submit official transcripts as part of their application.  Please request an official transcript be sent from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended either electronically to Zoe Ashmead, Director of Enrollment and Recruitment, at  or by mail to  

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

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, semi-finalists will be asked to take the composition assessment exam as detailed below. Semi-finalists unable to visit campus can request a video call interview 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.

Music Graduate Admissions Frequently Asked Questions