Undergraduate FAQ

Music Major and Minor FAQs

Study Abroad
Independent Studies
Transfer Students
AP Credits
Admissions & Financial Aid

Music Major and Minor

When writing to the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), please maintain the string of messages in your e-mails. This will help the DUS attend to your questions promptly. Please address all initial inquiries to music.dugs@nyu.edu. 

Q: What undergraduate courses are currently offered in the CAS Department of Music?

Current Course Offerings 

Q: How do I obtain a permission code to register for a class?

Permission codes can be obtained from Pauline Lum (pl56@nyu.edu). If you are not a music major, some courses may require permission of the instructor in order to enroll.

Q: How do I obtain a permission code for a class with pre-requisites?

If you have fulfilled the pre-requisites for a course, you will be able to register once you obtain an access code. 

If you have not fulfilled the pre-requisites but would still like to register for the course, you must contact the instructor for permission. If he or she waives the pre-requisite for you, you must then contact Pauline Lum (pl56@nyu.edu) and she will register you for the course. Please cc the instructor on any correspondence with Ms. Lum.

Q: How long will it take for changes in my major/minor status to appear on ALBERT?

Once you have met with the DUS to discuss your plan for the major/minor, Lawren Young (ly332@nyu.edu) can officially declare your major or minor in Albert. It should appear in Albert immediately.

Q: When do I declare a music major/minor?

Ideally, a major/minor is declared between at the end of your sophomore or beginning of your junior year. This means that you should be making contact with the department and DUS during your sophomore year to look at requirements and how the courses would fit into your schedule over your remaining years. Many students choose to take at least one music course during their freshman or sophomore year to get a feel for the department and its curriculum.

Q: Can I have two or more majors/minors?

Yes, you can.

If you intend to have two majors, you must decide on your "primary major" and let the department know so it can be entered into Albert correctly. 

It is also important to note that, with two majors, combined with the general CAS requirements, it is more challenging to study abroad. The department can guide you toward NYU locations that offer music courses that will fulfill department requirements, but we suggest that you contact the DUS as early as possible if you are a double major and want to study abroad. 

Q: How do I declare a music major/minor?


  • Majors and Minors are declared through the Department of Music, by meeting with the DUS to discuss your proposed course plan and ensure that you are on track to complete all of the requirements. 
  • If you have questions about whether or not a particular class counts toward the major/minor, please e-mail the DUS.
  • Once the DUS approves your major/minor, you or the DUS may inform Lawren Young (ly332@nyu.edu), and she will enter your major/minor into the system. 
  • Note: If you have a very straightforward plan for your minor, the approval to declare the minor can often be done over e-mail. 
  • All majors, however, must meet in person with the DUS in order to declare the major and every semester thereafter for advising in the weeks prior to registration.
Q: What is required to 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.

Q: What is required to minor in music?

The minor consists of 16 course credits, usually distributed across four classes of four credits each.

  • One course in Music Theory
  • One course in Music, History, and Cultures
  • One course in Music, History, and Cultures OR Sonic Art
  • The fourth course may be chosen from any area of study. Alternatively, up to four ensemble or performance credits may be applied toward the minor as your fourth course.

*Note: You may take Elements of Music if you are completely new to theory and music. If you can already read music, know the basic rudiments such as scales, key signatures, intervals, chord construction principles, meter signatures, and basic rhythmic notation, you can take Theory I, a more advanced class. Both courses are offered every semester. Theory I requires a permission code in order to register. To get a permission code for this course, please e-mail Freeman Williams (fw15@nyu.edu) or Lawren Young (ly332@nyu.edu) to request one.

Q: Can I place out of Harmony and Counterpoint I?

In order to place out of Harmony and Counterpoint I, you must take a diagnostic exam. This exam can be scheduled by contacting the Pauline Lum (pl56@nyu.edu). The one and a half hour exam will be taken in the department and students will not have access to a piano during the exam. Exam results will be available one week after completing the exam.

Q: Do I get credit toward the major/minor if I place out of Elements of Music?

No, you must take another class instead, typically the first Harmony and Counterpoint class.

Q: Do I need to pass a piano proficiency exam in order to major/minor in music?

No. This not a requirement of the major/minor. 

Q: Do honors classes fulfill major/minor requirements?

Yes, but permission to register must be obtained from the instructor, and an access code requested from Pauline Lum (pl56@nyu.edu).

Q: Can I take graduate level courses in order to fulfill major requirements?

A student will be permitted to enroll in a graduate level course only in the most exceptional circumstances. The student must first obtain permission of the instructor of the course and then notify the DUGS,

Q: If I am a transfer student, how do I get credit for music classes taken outside of NYU?

Send an e-mail to the DUS that includes as much detail about the course as possible (description and syllabus if possible) as well as the number of credits the course is worth. The DUS will decide whether or not the course can count toward our major/minor. 

At least half (20 credits) of the courses that count toward your major must be taken within the CAS Department of Music. 

Q: How many credits can I get toward the minor from schools other than CAS?

No more than eight credits. 

Q: May I take instrumental or voice lessons for credit toward a music major or minor?

You can receive a maximum of four credits for lessons taken at Steinhardt (they can be two-, three- or four-credit lessons).

Please visit Steinhardt's Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions web site for details on how to enroll in lessons.

Q: May I participate in performance ensembles for credit toward a music major/minor?

You can receive a maximum of four credits for participation in ensembles (choir, orchestra, jazz band or combo, chamber music, etc.) through Steinhardt or ensembles organized within the Department of Music.

Please visit Steinhardt's Ensembles & Auditions web site for more information. 

Q: How do I cancel my music major or minor?

Write an e-mail to the DUS, stating that you would like to cancel your major or minor. Lawren Young (ly332@nyu.edu) can then remove it from the system. 

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Study Abroad

Credits toward the major and minor can be taken while studying abroad. Typically, students take one or two classes toward the major, one in music history and one elective. 

You must obtain preapproval from the DUGS for classes that you plan to take while abroad. 

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Independent Studies

Independent studies are usually taken during your senior year, although exceptions may be made for juniors. 

To propose an independent study:

Typically, students who enroll in independent studies also apply to graduate with honors.

  • Write to the DUGS with a proposal for the study that includes:
    • A brief description of the topic
    • A brief description of the status of research on the topic (who has said what, when, on the topic of your choice)
    • why you would want to pursue this topic at this stage
    • A list of the reading materials along with a schedule for completing the reading
    • The name or names of professor with whom you may have discussed your ideas for the independent study (indicate whether or not you have asked a professor to sponsor your independent study)
  • Independent studies can be taken for one or two semesters.
  • Independent studies beginning in the fall semester are proposed mid- to late-spring semester. 

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The department sponsors internships only for music major and minors.

To propose an internship:

  • Write to the DUS with your internship proposal. You will need to provide the DUS with a letter from the sponsoring company that describes the duties to be assigned, and the number of hours to be worked per week. The internship may be paid or unpaid, and may be taken for 2 or 4 points credit. For a four-point internship, 10 hours of work per week is a general guideline. The sponsor must also state in the letter that they will submit an interim report and a final report on your work.
  • The student should contact Lawren Young (ly332@nyu.edu) to sign up for the internship.
  • The sponsor's obligations to the university during the time of the internship will include supervision of the intern and the two evaluations mentioned above. The first report can be an e-mail simply stating whether or not you are satisfactorily fulfilling your duties. The second report must be on letterhead and signed by your sponsor. It should evaluate your performance in more detail than the mid-term report.
  • At the conclusion of the internship, the student should submit to the DUS a detailed paper (written by the student) describing his or her work and how it relates to the academic program at NYU. It should describe what has been accomplished, and discuss the value of the internship as it relates to the student's future career. 
  • It is your responsibility to make sure that the two reports and your final paper are sent in time for the DUS to submit your grade to the registrar.
  • Students may apply up to 4 credits of internship towards music major credit.

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Only students with a Grade Point Average of 3.65 or above are eligible to graduate with honors. The requirements are as follows:

  • Two honors-level courses, at least one of which must be an Honors Seminar (V71.0901), taken during the junior or senior year. The other may be an additional honors seminar or an indepedent study, approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
  • A capstone project, which is an extended, original research project carried out through the senior year
  • For guidelines as to how to propose a project, please refer to the guidelines for proposing an independent study (see above).
  • Submission of the honors portfolio to the DUS by April 1 of the student's senior year, or November 20 if graduating in January.

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Transferring Students

There is a procedure that must be followed in order for the registrar to transfer credits. This applies to students transferring internally (between NYU schools - for example, from Steinhardt to CAS or from Tisch to CAS) or externally (from another university or college to NYU).

  • After meeting with the DUS, the student will receive a memo from the DUS (addressed to CAS advising and Graduation Services) stating which transfer credits can be applied toward the music major or minor, and which requirements they fulfill.
  • The student must take this memo to CAS advising. The advisor will write a memo to Graduation Services, stating how many credits the student may transfer overall.
  • Graduation Services will enter this information into the system so the credits appear on the student's transcript.

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Advanced Placement Credits for Entering Freshmen

Usually, high AP scores in music theory translate into being able to register for Harmony and Counterpoint I. If you feel qualified to be exempt from this class, you may take a diagnostic exam that is equivalent to the final exam for Harmony and Counterpoint I. If you pass the exam, you may then register for Harmony and Counterpoint II. Please note that Harmony and Counterpoint II is only offered in the Spring semester.

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Admissions and Financial Aid

Students seeking admission to the University should apply to:
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
New York University
665 Broadway
New York, NY 10011

The University sponsors and administers a wide variety of financial aid programs. Awards are based on the student's record of academic achievement and test scores as well as on financial need.