Scott Wheeler was born in Washington DC. He studied at Amherst College, New England Conservatory and Brandeis University (PhD 1984), where his principal teachers were Lewis Spratlan and Arthur Berger. He pursued further study at the Tanglewood Music Center (with Olivier Messiaen), the Dartington School (with Peter Maxwell Davies) and privately with Virgil Thomson. He teaches at Emerson College in Boston, where he co-directs the BFA program in musical theatre. In 1975 he was a founding member of the new-music ensemble Dinosaur Annex.