Master of Fine Arts in Sonic Practice

The Master of Fine Arts in Sonic Practice is an interdisciplinary program for composers, artists and scholars working at the intersection of sonic arts and other disciplines including performance, design, technology, music theater, installation, cognitive neuroscience, computer science, improvisation and acoustics. 

Who is This Program For?

The Master of Fine Arts in Sonic Practice is best suited to makers and thinkers who might not fit into traditional conservatory or graduate school programs. The flexibility of the program creates a space for individuals who are working in multiple fields at once. The program's core faculty are composers reaching outside the scope of contemporary music, and into computer science, cognitive neuroscience, architecture, sculpture, music theater, and participatory performance. We see the program as a home for sonic misfits, oddballs and outsiders who are making work across the conventional boundaries of music and academia. The program works well as a prelude to a PhD or MFA program, but can also serve artists and practitioners who would benefit from time in the critical and intellectual environment of a graduate program in order to fortify a hybrid or non-traditional practice.

Program Structure

Dartmouth College operates on a quarter system, and graduate students in digital musics typically study on campus for seven 10-week terms over a two-year period. Each term, students enroll in the Graduate Seminar and two other courses of their choice. These can be courses from the undergraduate offerings at Dartmouth or independent directed research with Dartmouth faculty. At the end of the two years, students present a graduate thesis which can take a creative, academic or hybrid form.


Graduate Seminar

Each term the Graduate Seminar is taught by a member of the Sonic Practice faculty. These seminars focus on technical or critical areas of interest to the cohort, and also serve as a collaborative studio for sharing work, receiving feedback and engaging in critical conversation around shared interests. The Graduate Seminar is the consistent meeting place for the cohort, and it forms the academic spine of the students' two-year course of study.

Directed Research

Every term, students have the option to engage one-on-one with individual faculty members at Dartmouth through Directed Research. This may be focused on a particular topic or designed as a mentorship for a specific project. Directed Research is a flexible structure for graduate students in digital musics to build working relationships with mentors that have specific insight into a student's creative and/or academic trajectory.

Undergraduate Courses

Graduate students can take a wide range of undergraduate courses across the College, including but not limited to those in music, computer science, theater, engineering, studio art, philosophy, psychology, mathematics, languages, and women and gender studies. For a comprehensive list of courses, see Dartmouth's Course Catalog.

Student-Led Curation and Programming

In their second year, each student is asked to program a visiting artist, scholar or ensemble to visit the program and deliver a talk, performance or workshop. Funding for this is provided by the program, but the logistics and curation are student-led. 


Students are required to complete a thesis under the supervision of three Dartmouth faculty advisors, two of whom must be appointed in the Digital Musics program. A fourth committee member, who is external to Dartmouth, is allowed but not required. The thesis may take the form of a creative portfolio with supporting written and audio-visual documentation, applied research, or academic research.