Music Composition, B.M.

Degree Program

The Bachelor of Music degrees are offered upon completion of the University baccalaureate and major requirements. The major requirements include completing a basic core of 30 credits of music and specific degree requirements of an additional 50 credits for Composition. Total credits: 80.

Students interested in pursuing this degree must demonstrate a high level of performance potential and commitment to music as a profession.

Special Programs/Opportunities


The Conservatory provides opportunities for experience in several types of vocal and instrumental ensembles, including the Biola Chorale, Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Winds, Jazz Ensemble, Women's Chorus, Men's Chorus, Vocal Jazz Ensemble and Chamber Music Ensembles. All are open to non-music majors as well as music majors by audition.

Concert Series

The Conservatory concert series features outstanding guest artists and student ensembles.

Masterclasses and Artist-in-Residence Program

Opportunities for participating in masterclasses with guest artists are available annually. Of special note is the ongoing series of masterclasses and recitals by world-renowned artists, including Menahem Pressler, pianist, Artist-in-Residence.

Local Opportunities

The Southern California area provides exceptional opportunities for hearing the world's leading artists, as well as outstanding college and church music performances.

Service Opportunities

The Los Angeles metropolitan area offers many opportunities for remunerative service in music. There are frequent openings for competent church choir directors, soloists, accompanists, instrumentalists, and organists.


Music awards in varying amounts are available to qualified students. Complete information is available by emailing or by writing:

Director, Conservatory of Music
Biola University
13800 Biola Avenue
La Mirada, CA 90639-0001

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Bachelor of Music in Composition, students will be able to:

  1. Apply historical and theoretical understanding to the analysis of musical forms, processes, and structures found in masterpieces from the western art music tradition (ULO 1).
  2. Describe how they intend to integrate their faith in their anticipated future professional activities (ULO 2).
  3. Demonstrate basic musicianship skills in sight-singing, dictation, conducting, voice and piano (ULO 3).
  4. Evaluate basic form, harmony, meter, rhythm, voice-leading and developmental techniques found in excerpts and entire pieces from the Western art music tradition, and will experiment with writing music in the same styles (ULO 3).
  5. Apply their knowledge of compositional techniques and the musical elements (form, melody, harmony, etc.) to write original compositions (ULO 2).
  6. Demonstrate artistic maturity in terms of their craft creativity, clarity of expression on the written page, and efficiency in writing for established deadlines (ULO 3).

Each Program Learning Outcome (PLO) listed above references at least one of the University Learning Outcomes (ULO 1, 2, 3), which may be found in the General Information section of this catalog.

Admission Requirements

All students seeking admission must demonstrate musical background and performance strengths necessary for successful completion of the stated curriculum. Admission into Biola University does not guarantee admission into the Conservatory as a music major. A student will be admitted to the Conservatory of Music after:

  1. Meeting requirements for University admission.
  2. Completing a Conservatory application with the required number of references.
  3. Completing a Conservatory audition, including a basic musicianship examination designed to demonstrate university level music study readiness.

After acceptance and upon entrance, students will be given placement examinations and auditions in music dictation, keyboard skills and performance. These examinations are given for the purpose of validating prior study and determining proper placement in music courses. Specific information concerning the content of these examinations and suggestions for preparation are available by contacting the Conservatory Office.

Transfer of Credit/Advanced Standing

With the exception of courses in music theory, sight-singing and dictation, keyboard skills, and individual performance, courses taken at other regionally accredited colleges and universities in the United States will be accepted on a comparable course basis.

Prior study in the areas of music theory, sight-singing and dictation, keyboard skills, and individual performance will be validated through placement examinations.

Advanced standing may be gained through placement examinations in the areas of music theory, sight-singing and dictation, keyboard skills, and individual performance; however, no credit(s) will be given for waived courses. Waiver of courses on the basis of placement examinations without comparable prior course credit will increase elective credits required.

Credit for courses taken at a non-accredited college or university will be granted only through placement or challenge examinations.

Applied Music

In order to graduate, music students must reach primary applied proficiency level standards designated for each degree program. Applied Music lessons are guided by faculty or studio artists who have expertise and professional experience in the voice or instrument under study. Studio artists are affiliated with Biola via independent contracts and thus do not undergo the same process for hire as do faculty. The studio artists are all highly competent individuals who appreciate Biola and endorse the goals of the Conservatory, but their theological conceptualization has not undergone the same close review as that of the faculty. For more information, see the Conservatory Office.

GPA Requirements

Students in the degree program must maintain a 2.0 GPA in the major and receive a minimum grade of "C" in each required course.

Integration Seminar Requirement

Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Music degree program are required to take BBST 465 as "Redeeming Culture through Music" (this course fulfills the integration seminar Bible requirement).

Curriculum Requirements

Program-Specific Core Curriculum (GE) Courses
Candidates for the Bachelor of Music degree are exempt from the Core Curriculum (GE) requirement in foreign language, literature, and fine arts.
Program Courses
MUSC 102Voice Class1
MUSC 118Keyboard II1
MUSC 119Keyboard III1
MUSC 120Keyboard IV1
MUSC 141Applied Music (Primary Instrument) 14
MUSC 142Applied Music (Composition) 26
MUSC 153Sight-Singing and Dictation I2
MUSC 154Music Theory I2
MUSC 163Sight-Singing and Dictation II2
MUSC 164Music Theory II2
MUSC 181Introduction to Composition 2, 32
MUSC 200Concert Music 40
MUSC 300Concert Music 50
MUSC 307Music History and Literature: Medieval Through Early Baroque2
MUSC 308Music History and Literature: Mid-Baroque Through Classic2
MUSC 309Music History and Literature: Late Romantic Through Early 20th Century2
MUSC 312Music Theory/History and Literature of the 20th Century3
MUSC 323Basic Conducting2
MUSC 340Special Studies: Theory/Composition2
MUSC 341Counterpoint2
MUSC 342Orchestration2
MUSC 343Form and Analysis I2
MUSC 344Analysis of 20th Century Music2
MUSC 347Music Technology and Production2
MUSC 353Sight-Singing and Dictation III1
MUSC 354Music Theory III2
MUSC 363Sight-Singing and Dictation IV1
MUSC 364Music Theory IV2
MUSC 410Music Cultures of the World3
MUSC 422Applied Music (Composition) 68
MUSC 490Senior Recital2
MUSC 211Improvisation for Non Keyboardists: Concepts/Practices2
or MUSC 217 Improvisation for Keyboardists: Concepts/Practices
Select 6 credits from the following courses. 2 credits must be from Music Education (356-359), 2 credits must be from Composing for New Media (371-374), and the remaining 2 credits may be from either category:6
Music Education: Brass
Music Education: Percussion
Music Education: Strings
Music Education: Woodwinds
Composing for New Media I: Film, TV, and Audio Production
Composing for New Media II: Sound Design, Recording Techniques
Composing for New Media III: Advanced Orchestration, Score Preparation
Composing for New Media IV: Scoring for Film and Video Games, Audio Production
Ensemble Courses
Select 6 credits from the following:6
Biola Chorale
Chamber Music Ensemble
Symphony Orchestra
Chamber Choir
Jazz Ensemble
Symphonic Winds
Handbell Choir
Vocal Jazz Ensemble
Women's Chorus
Men's Chorus
Total Credits80

Must be taken for a total of 4 credits through proficiency level: 224.


Must be taken for a total of 6 credits through proficiency level: 234.


MUSC 181 covers proficiency level 131.


Must be taken for a total of four semesters.


Must be taken for a total of three semesters.


Must be taken for a total of 8 credits through proficiency: level 438.