Major in Music

The Major in Music requires a total of ten 4-point courses (40 points) completed with a grade of C or better. It is designed to give the student a broad understanding of the various issues currently being discussed in musical thinking and research, as well as a theoretical background and the opportunity to engage in creative work. Qualified students can undertake advanced supervised research or composition in their senior year, leading to a thesis and the award of a degree with honors.

For students matriculating in CAS in or after fall 2016, the ten 4-point courses for the major are as follows:


  • Music Theory I and II (formerly Harmony and Counterpoint I and II; MUSIC-UA 201 and 202)
  • Aural Perception (MUSIC-UA 193), offered every fall
  • Two courses in the area of "Music, History, and Cultures"
  • Two courses in the area of "Sonic Art"
  • Three electives, one of which must be designated as an "Advanced Course." The advanced course is taken in the fall of senior year.


Students may count up to four credits of performance classes (in the Steinhardt School's Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions or in our department's Collegium Musicum) toward the music major.


Highly motivated students may take part in the department's honors program, which culminates during the senior year with an "Advanced Course" and an independent study supervised by a faculty member. Students must have a 3.65 GPA both in the major and overall to pursue honors. Students register for a semester or more of Independent Study (MUSIC-UA 997 or 998) in which they complete a capstone project in musicology or music history, ethnomusicology, analysis, or composition. This might take the form of an analytical or historiographical study of a major work or group of works, the writing of a musical composition of substantial dimensions, or a bibliographical study of a composer, all under the guidance of a faculty member. A student wishing to pursue departmental honors should apply to the Director of Undergraduate Studies. There are also three departmental prizes that the department awards to exceptional students. These are listed in the awards and prizes section of the CAS Bulletin.