Undergraduate degrees awarded by the Bienen School of Music are the Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Arts in Music, and Bachelor of Science in Music.

Degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Degree Requirements section of our website and are also available from the Office of Student Affairs. Undergraduate students will find information on all Northwestern majors and degree requirements in the Undergraduate Catalog.

Bachelor of Music

The bachelor of music degree focuses on the performance and study of music. The conservatory-level curriculum can be enhanced with hundreds of courses found across the University.

The Bienen School of Music offers the BM degree in the following majors:

  • Performance (piano, strings, voice, winds and percussion, and jazz studies)

  • Music Studies (composition, musicology, music cognition, music education, and music theory)

  • Ad Hoc (as second major only)


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Bachelor of Arts in Music, Bachelor of Science in Music

The bachelor of arts in music and bachelor of science in music are non-performance degrees that offer a broad liberal arts education with a major in music.

The Bienen School of Music offers the BAMus and BSMus degrees in:

  • Music Studies (with optional concentrations in composition, musicology, music cognition, music education, and music theory)

  • Ad Hoc

Distribution and foreign language requirements for the bachelor of arts in music are essentially identical to those for the BA in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to core courses in music, students may choose a major concentration in one of the existing academic music programs in composition, musicology, music cognition, music education, or music theory. Alternatively, students may petition for an ad hoc concentration that combines more than one area in their concentration, such as cross-cultural musicology, music and film, or web design and technology for music.

The bachelor of science in music degree is a non-admitting degree identical to the bachelor of arts in music degree, with the exception that the foreign language requirement is replaced by electives.


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Graduate degrees awarded by the Bienen School of Music are the Master of Music, Doctor of Musical Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy.

Master of Music

The Master of Music degree combines the study of performance, pedagogy, music theory, music history, and scholarly research and writing. Individualized programs, developed in consultation with an advisor, may be developed through the use of electives.

  • One-year MM programs are available in music education (for those entering with certification), music theory, or musicology.
  • Two-year MM programs are available in brass, conducting, jazz studies, music education (for those entering without certification), music education and piano pedagogy, percussion, piano, piano and collaborative arts, piano and pedagogy, strings, voice and opera, and woodwinds.
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Doctor of Musical Arts

The Doctor of Musical Arts at the Bienen School of Music is designed to foster the development of both musical artistry and scholarly achievement. The intense, two-year residency requires students to study their instrument or composition for the entire period and to complete a rigorous course load that provides a strong background in supporting academic areas. In preparation for future career opportunities, the doctoral student typically is expected to develop teaching skills through structured experiences or individualized internships. All programs require at least 18 units of study.

  • Courses of study leading to the Doctor of Musical Arts degree include brass, percussion, woodwinds, strings, voice and opera, piano, conducting, piano performance and the collaborative arts, and piano performance and pedagogy.
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Doctor of Philosophy

The Bienen School of Music's distinctive PhD program is structured to take full advantage of the many and varied academic opportunities available at Northwestern University. Students in this integrated program design a course of study incorporating their individual interests and a broad-based approach to contemporary music research. Specializations are offered in composition, music theory and cognition, music education, and musicology.

A unique aspect of this program is a cognate area requirement in a non-music field such as cultural studies, social sciences, learning sciences, humanities, arts, or communication studies. Each student pursues a major field of study in close consultation with a faculty advisor.

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Explore our Performance and Academic Music Programs

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