M.A. On Campus


Mills College

24 months
34832 USD/year
34832 USD/year
Tuition fee
Apply date
Start date


Learn composition in a free-thinking environment that encourages creative work in a wide variety of styles with the Composition program of Mills College. Work with world-renowned composers at the vanguard of contemporary music.


About the Music Composition Program

The Composition program of Mills College has trained generations of composers from all over the world in the American experimentalist tradition. In addition to taking courses in orchestration, tonal and post-tonal analysis, and contemporary music criticism, you’ll be encouraged to cross disciplinary boundaries and to pursue studies in special areas of interest that may include improvisation, indeterminacy, and environmental sound composition, as well as composing for dance and film.

Our core composition faculty, Fred Frith and Roscoe Mitchell, have won international renown as composers and performers across the musical spectrum, from conventionally notated work to a wide range of experimental practices. We regularly invite distinguished guest composers to teach at Mills—most recently Hilda Paredes and Zeena Parkins. You can study electronic and computer music with faculty from the Center for Contemporary Music. Also teaching in the Composition Program are scholars David Bernstein, a specialist in the music of John Cage and the tonal theories of Arnold Schoenberg, and Nalini Ghuman, whose interests include post-colonial perspectives on musical Orientalism, nationalism, and cross-cultural musical exchange.

To enhance our students’ learning experience, Mills sponsors at least one visiting composer each year.

Programme Structure

Courses include:
  • Selected Issues in Contemporary Performance and Improvisation
  • Seminar in 20th-Century Literature and Theory
  • Contemporary Instrumentation and Orchestration
  • Post-Tonal Theory and Analysis
  • Tonal Analysis
  • Individual Instruction in Performance and Composition

Key information


  • Full-time
    • 24 months

Start dates & application deadlines


44 alternative credits


On Campus

Academic requirements

We are not aware of any academic requirements for this programme.

Other requirements

General requirements

  • Complete the Mills application online and submit the $50 application fee.
  • Statement of Purpose.
  • We ask that you send us official transcripts (with grades) from the college or university from which you earned your bachelor's degree. Students who earned their bachelor's degree outside of the United States will need to have their transcript evaluated by a NACES member organization.
  • Three letters of recommendation are required.
  • English Proficiency.
  • Your portfolio must include: three scores and, if possible, high-quality audio recordings of your most recent compositions, MIDI versions of scores are permitted, but not encouraged, program notes for the works submitted, annotated representative list of your works

Tuition Fee

To alway see correct tuition fees
  • International

    34832 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the tuition of 17416 USD per semester during 24 months.
  • National

    34832 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the tuition of 17416 USD per semester during 24 months.

Living costs for Oakland

1055 - 1962 USD /month
Living costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

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