Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television

Graduate Certificate (GCRT)

All applicants must have an undergraduate degree in composition or the equivalent in professional experience along with an undergraduate degree. Previous education and experience in working with film is not mandatory, but the selection process does favor those applicants who demonstrate the ability and/or potential to compose and produce music to picture.

Required submission materials:

  • A 1-3 minute video introduction of yourself at your work-station. On this video, please tell us about your prior experience with musical instruments and music technology; provide a description of your private studio work-space; and relate your experience, if any, of producing recordings. Video Introductions will not be accepted via mail or email for this program.
  • Three original compositions (full scores with optional sketches) in .PDF format, to be uploaded to the USC Thornton DecisionDesk Portal (see below). Compositions will not be accepted via mail or email for this program.
  • Three audio recordings of the written scores mentioned above, to be uploaded to the USC Thornton DecisionDesk Portal (see below). Movie files (Quicktime) may be included if the work was scored to picture (see below). Total running time of all works should not exceed 30 minutes. Recordings will not be accepted via mail or email for this program.

The Video Introduction, Compositions, and Recordings must be submitted online through the “Fall DecisionDesk portal” by the December 1st deadline. Any application not complete by December 1 may be removed from consideration.

To access the Fall portal to submit your recording click on the following link:

USC Thornton Fall DecisionDesk

The three original scores should convey the applicant’s ability to capture mood, color, action and panorama for film through both composition and orchestration. The selection committee will appreciate receiving live recorded works whenever possible; however midi-generated recordings, as well as hybrid recordings (i.e., midi combined with live recordings) are permissible. In any case, it is important that all submitted scores be professionally rendered in either Finale or Sibelius and that they accurately reflect the recordings.

If any of the 3 submitted compositions has been scored to picture, we encourage–but do not require–the inclusion of movie files. In such cases, the movie files must be clearly marked for matching the scene to the score. Applicants are permitted to submit only one cue per any one film. In other words, an applicant may submit up to three scored scenes, but those 3 scenes must be from three different films.

Although it is not mandatory, the selection committee will appreciate receiving the sketches (in .PDF format) for scores that were prepared prior to their rendering in the notation program (this enables us to gain insight into the applicant’s orchestration process).

Note for international applicants

In addition to the application materials required of all applicants, international applicants must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), certified translations of any transcript or diploma not issued in English, and a statement of financial support. There is a minimum TOEFL score of 83 on the internet-based test for admittance into the SMPTV program.

Additional information

The creation and production of music for visual media involves the use of sophisticated technological tools and expertise; therefore, only students comfortable in using such technology should apply for participation in this program. Finally, admission to the SMPTV’s program is limited to fall semesters only.

Read more details about the program