Bachelor of Music (BMus) Degree with a Major in Composition

Program Learning Outcomes for the BMus Degree

Upon completing the BMus degree, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate technical and musical competence in solo performance, composition, or music-historical research appropriate to the standards of a four-year undergraduate program.
  2. Possess intermediate analytical skills in music theory and an understanding of how those skills inform music performance.
  3. Acquire a fundamental understanding of the relationship between music history and music performance.
  4. Develop superior technical collaborative skills in the student’s major area through a combination of practice, coaching, and rehearsal in large and small ensembles.

Requirements for the BMus Degree

For general university requirements, see Graduation Requirements. Students pursuing the BMus degree must complete:

  • The requirements for one major offered by the BMus degree program
  • A minimum of 120 credit hours to satisfy degree requirements

All students pursuing the BMus degree in any major must participate in core music, applied music, and other required music courses as well as in chamber music and large ensembles, plus electives. These students are entitled to one hour of private lessons each week of each semester they are enrolled as a music major; private or group lessons beyond this may result in additional fees. 

The courses listed below satisfy the requirements for this major. In certain instances, courses not on this official list may be substituted upon approval of the major’s academic advisor (or official certifier). Students and their academic advisors should identify and clearly document the courses to be taken.

Summary

Total Credit Hours Required for the Major in Composition96-101
Total Credit Hours Required for the BMus Degree with a Major in Composition120

Degree Requirements

Music Theory
MUSI 211THEORY I3
MUSI 212THEORY II3
MUSI 311THEORETICAL STUDIES III3
MUSI 312THEORETICAL STUDIES IV3
MUSI 403BASIC ELECTRONIC MUSIC3
or MUSI 404 ELECTRONIC MUSIC COMPOSITION
MUSI 416ORCHESTRATION3
Select 1 from the following:3
ANALYTICAL SYSTEMS
MODAL COUNTERPOINT
TONAL COUNTERPOINT
Aural Skills and Performance Techniques
MUSI 231AURAL SKILLS AND PERFORMANCE TECHNIQUE I2
MUSI 232AURAL SKILLS AND PERFORMANCE TECHNIQUE II2
MUSI 331AURAL SKILLS AND PERFORMANCE TECHNIQUES III2
MUSI 332AURAL SKILLS AND PERFORMANCE TECHNIQUES IV2
MUSI 431AURAL SKILLS AND PERFORMANCE TECHNIQUES V2
Music History
MUSI 222 / MDEM 222MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE ERAS3
MUSI 321BAROQUE AND EARLY CLASSICAL ERAS3
MUSI 322CLASSICAL AND ROMANTIC ERAS3
MUSI 421THE MODERN ERA3
Composition Study
MUSI 401COMPOSITION FOR MAJORS (minimum of 8 semesters and 24 credit hours)3
MUSI 303UNDERGRAD COMPOSITION SEMINAR (minimum of 8 semesters and 8 credit hours)1
Piano Study (minimum of 8 semesters) 116
SECONDARY PIANO
CONCENTRATION PIANO
Ensemble (minimum of 5 semesters)
Select a minimum of 5 semesters from the following:5-10
UNDERGRADUATE CHORUS
UNDERGRADUATE ORCHESTRA
Senior Recital
MUSI 441SENIOR RECITAL0
Piano Proficiency Exam
Students must complete and pass the Piano Proficiency Exam 1
Total Credit Hours Required for the Major in Composition 96-101
University Graduation Requirements *19-24
Total Credit Hours 120

Footnotes and Additional Information 

Policies for the BMus Degree

Admission

An audition, in person, is required of each undergraduate applicant. A recorded audition may be considered in lieu of a live audition in extreme circumstances. The Shepherd School faculty and the university’s Committee on Admission jointly determine admission, the latter basing its evaluation on successful academic achievement and other standards of college admission. Transfer applicants from other colleges, conservatories, and universities also must provide an audition, and take placement exams in both music history and music theory. Once admitted, their prior preparation in music is assessed, which may reduce the required period of study at Rice.

Academic Standards

Curriculum and Degree Requirements

Further information on curricular requirements for all majors and degree programs is available from the Shepherd School of Music.

Grading Policy

A minimum grade of “B-“ is expected of all music students in their major applied area. A grade of “C+” or lower is considered unsatisfactory and will be evaluated in the following manner:

A music major who receives a grade of “C+” or lower in their major applied area will be placed on music probation. Music probation signifies that the student’s work has been sufficiently unsatisfactory to preclude graduation unless marked improvement is achieved promptly. A student on music probation may be absent from class only for extraordinary reasons and may not represent the school in any public function not directly a part of a degree program.

If a student receives a second semester of “C+” or lower in their major applied area, whether for consecutive semesters or not, the student will be discontinued as a BMus degree seeking student and merit scholarship from the Shepherd School will be discontinued.

Note: For music history and musicology majors, a grade of “C+” or lower in any music history course is considered unsatisfactory and will be evaluated as noted above. For music theory majors, a grade of "C+" or lower in any advanced music theory course is considered unsatisfactory and will be evaluated as noted above.

Leaves of Absence and Voluntary Withdrawal

Music majors must obtain permission in writing from the dean of the Shepherd School before requesting a leave of absence from the university. Requests must be in the dean’s office before the first day of classes in the semester for which leave is requested.

Music majors taking voluntary withdrawal from the university are not guaranteed readmission into the Shepherd School and may be asked to reapply/reaudition. Students should explain the reasons for their withdrawal to the dean before leaving campus.

Transfer Credit 

For Rice University’s policy regarding transfer credit, see Transfer Credit. Some departments and programs have additional restrictions on transfer credit. The Office of Academic Advising maintains the university’s official list of transfer credit advisors on their website: http://oaa.rice.edu. Students are encouraged to meet with their academic program’s transfer credit advisor when considering transfer credit possibilities. 

Examinations

At the end of each semester, a jury examination in applied music may be given over the material studied during the semester. All degree candidates except BA students must demonstrate keyboard proficiency by examination. If students have little or no knowledge of the keyboard, they should enroll in secondary piano at the beginning of their first semester and continue study until they can meet the examination requirements.

Performance

Students are expected to perform frequently during their residence at Rice. Performance majors must present at least two full recitals. Composition and conducting students should present recitals as specified by their degree programs. Students are expected to attend both faculty and student recitals. In addition, all music majors must participate in the school’s conducted ensembles as assigned.

For additional information, please see the School of Music website at: http://music.rice.edu

Opportunities for the BMus Degree

Academic Honors

The university recognizes academic excellence achieved over an undergraduate’s academic history at Rice. For information on university honors, please see Latin Honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude) and Distinction in Research and Creative Work. Some departments have department-specific Honors awards or designations.

BMus/MMus Honors Program

Shepherd School students who demonstrate truly exceptional musical and academic accomplishment may apply for the BMus/MMus five-year coordinated program. This program, often referred to in the school as the BMus/MMus Honors Program, allows for the completion and awarding of both the BMus and MMus degrees concurrently. Application to this program is made in the student’s fifth or sixth semester of undergraduate studies.

The same general university requirements apply, but students seeking the combined BMus/MMus degrees must complete a total of at least 150 semester hours by graduation. The number of required hours varies according to major area.

The first five semesters of course work in this program parallel the core curriculum of the bachelor's degrees. The sixth semester is a transitional semester during which students qualify for admission to the combined program. For further information, including application procedures, see the Shepherd School Student Handbook.

Other Musical Opportunities

Lectures and Performances

A visiting lecture series, a professional concert series, and numerous distinguished visiting musicians contribute to the Shepherd School environment. The Houston Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Chorus, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, Houston Masterworks Chorus, Da Camera, Context, and Chamber Music Houston, as well as the activities of other institutions of higher learning in the area, also provide exceptional opportunities for students to enjoy a wide spectrum of music. 

For additional information, please see the School of Music website at: http://music.rice.edu