Introducing the NEW Electronic Music Program at Carnegie Mellon University

Published October 30th, 2020

You may know Carnegie Mellon University from its reputation as a world-renowned technology institute that is home to an outstanding conservatory-style School of Music. But have you ever considered a degree that combines engineering and computer science with composition and performance practice? We’re thrilled to introduce our new BFA in Electronic Music!

What is Electronic Music at CMU?

The Electronic Music major (BFA) at CMU combines instruction in emerging practices for sound design, computer-based music generation, and electronic/electro-acoustic/intermedia performance, together with a rigorous education in traditional music subjects. Our students’ exploration of emerging modes of sound synthesis, creative coding, and electronic instrument design are grounded with courses in music theory, history, solfege, and conducting. The Electronic Music major combines studies in electronic music composition, performance, production, and sonic art to form an imaginative approach to the future of music-making.

How is it different from Music & Technology?

Electronic Music is a BFA program, meaning it’s housed in the School of Music and is an arts-based practice. The Music & Technology program is an interdisciplinary tri-college initiative that combines work in the School of Music, School of Computer Science, and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Students pursuing the Music & Technology program earn a BS (Bachelor of Science) degree, even if they pursue the music track. Electronic Music majors complete more unit hours in the music core curriculum, and have double the amount of studio and ensemble requirements that a Music & Technology Music Track student completes. Music & Technology has a larger program core curriculum that involves more coursework in computer science and engineering, regardless of track, whereas Electronic Music has a smaller program core curriculum and allows for a more personalized elective schedule. Music & Technology is designed for musicians who want to explore the musical applications of technology, like recording and audio engineering. Electronic Music students think creatively about intersections of sound synthesis and music creation, using both traditional and experimental designs.

How do Electronic Music majors perform?

Does performing in a mine or in an event called Snoozefest intrigue you? Electronic Music majors write and perform music with CMU’s ground-breaking Exploded Ensemble, a group dedicated to multimedia performances of new experimental music. Working in state-of-the-art facilities for immersive sound, visuals, and immersive interaction, the Electronic Music major culminates in an ambitious capstone, which may take the form of an evening-length performance, an interactive experience, or a multimedia recording project.

What makes Carnegie Mellon’s Electronic Music major different from the rest?

No other institution can claim the access and availability of the leading technology programs that Carnegie Mellon can. And most other schools only focus on one aspect: sound production and design. Carnegie Mellon’s Electronic Music program goes beyond the basics of sound design and production, pushing students to reach their creative potential as musicians, performers, and innovators. The Electronic Music major is nestled among renowned music performance, composition and technology programs, creating the perfect hotbed for visionary music making.

This sounds perfect, how do I apply?

You can find application requirements and instructions on our School of Music website. All students applying to the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University are required to complete two applications: a Common Application and a School of Music application on Acceptd. Both applications are due December 1. You will also need a portfolio of three projects that showcase your best work - the portfolio is due January 4, 2021.

If you have any questions about your application, you can always reach us at

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