MFA

2-Year Program

The MFA Program in Music is designed to enable students to acquire the multiple skillsets that will empower them to stake out their own, unique, career pathways to success. The program of study is designed to be a stimulating and challenging, collaborative learning environment, in which music and sound artists can refine and perfect their already distinctive voices to reach the highest levels of professional practice, while simultaneously exploring new and inspiring, creative territories.

About the Specialization

MFA Composition and Experimental Sound Practices studies fosters a radical and visionary creativity that obeys no particular stylistic or methodological constraint. In this context, the curriculum aims to provide the technical skills, contextual foundation and creative opportunities for each student to develop and project her or his own distinctive artistic voice into the world of creative music. Beyond a foundation of private lessons and forums that regularly convene the vibrant community of graduates, students can choose from an extensive array of advanced courses in composition, experimental sound practices, theory, technology, history and literature, performance and pedagogy, as well as explore the more radical branches of contemporary audio art.

Coursework provides a strong foundation in the theory and application of digital media as well as the critical issues surrounding it; in addition, making work and presenting it in concert or installation or site-specific context is key. Its creative impulses and critical discourses take students in many directions, with the spirit of collaboration producing a rich environment for sonic experimentation. Students in Composition and Experimental Sound Practices have produced innovative sonic works via circuit-bending, experimental opera, instrumental modifications and deconstructions, chamber and large ensemble works, new forms of notation, random sound-effects, database surfing, field recordings paired with ionic filters, and terrain-to-sound mappings.

MFA candidates are required to pass a Graduation Portfolio Review to complete the degree.

Full Curriculum

Detailed curriculum and academic requirements can be found in the online course catalog.

View Curriculum Requirements


Interdisciplinary Opportunities

In addition to CalArts' rich and diverse community and naturally collaborative atmosphere, the Institute provides several programs of study that can be pursued concurrently with a student's chosen metier.

Integrated Media

The Integrated Media concentration is designed specifically for MFA students whose creative use of technology—in particular digital media—goes beyond their primary areas of study.

Integrated Media

Interschool Degree

This option is available to a small number of graduates and advanced third- and fourth-year undergraduates whose skills and artistic interests warrant pursuing a degree in more than one School.

Interschool Degree


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