The composition curriculum helps student composers develop their skills regardless of prior experience. Students can receive compositional training and performances in a wide variety of genres, from the avant-garde to classical tonality, from jazz arranging to electronic music. Advanced students participate in a composition seminar, which includes opportunities for readings (informal performances) by professional ensembles and the MIT Symphony Orchestra.  Composition is also an integral part of many other music subjects, from Jazz Composition and Computer Music to the Harmony / Counterpoint sequence, where students compose original pieces in various period styles.

The theory curriculum covers an equally wide range and accommodates all skill levels, giving students a solid grounding in the harmonic and contrapuntal techniques of tonal music, as well as expanding into contemporary practices in both classical music and jazz. Our composition faculty includes Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Harbison, and highly regarded and widely performed, distinguished composers Evan Ziporyn, Peter Child, Keeril Makan, Elena Ruehr and Charles Shadle.