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Applying for any music degree at NDSU is a multiple-stage process. In composition, students must apply to the University, the Challey School of Music, and to the Composition Program.

I just want to take composition lessons

Music students who want to pursue composition lessons as enrichment may do so if allowed by the instructor and if they have completed the prerequsites.

Applying to the Composition Major

Students who want to pursue composition as a major must:

  1. complete a performance audition (in voice or on a standard band/orchestral instrument)
  2. submit a portfolio of works for evaluation.
Here's how that process can work:

Current NDSU Students who aren't music majors
  1. Schedule a performance audition
  2. Submit a portfolio (see below)
Current NDSU Music Majors
  1. Submit a portfolio (see below) and a letter of intent to change your major.
Transfer Students
  1. Apply for Admission to NDSU
  2. Schedule a performance audition
  3. Submit a portfolio (see below)

The Composition Portfolio

Your composition portfolio should include the following items:
  • Three to five composed works, preferably notated in a standard notation program (Sibelius, Dorico, Finale, Musescore, etc.) or equivalent.
    • If your works are recorded but not notated, please submit recordings.
  • Recordings of your scores (if available)
  • a brief document describing
    • your past experience with composing
    • a list of past performances of compositions
    • career goals while studying composition at NDSU
  • For current NDSU Students: A letter of intention to change your major.
The portfolio may be submitted (choose one):
  • by mail to Kyle Vanderburg, PO Box 6050, Dept. 2540, Fargo, ND 58108
  • by PDF to
  • by uploading files to