Music, BA

Degree: Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Major: Music

Program Overview

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Music is for students who want to major in music while receiving a comprehensive, liberal arts education. Many undergraduate students combine musical study with another area of study through a double major or dual degree. The BA in Music offers excellent preparation for graduate work in music or for professional studies in other fields.

Double Major, Dual-Degree, and Secondary Major OpportunitiesThe department encourages qualified students to consider a double major in music and another BA degree program. Most music majors at CWRU also pursue a second major. Once the SAGES and General Education Requirements have been met, a BA student can add another major within the College of Arts and Sciences by meeting the course and credit unit requirements found in this bulletin under the appropriate department. In most cases, it is possible to finish a double major with music in four years.

It is also possible to receive two degrees, although this may take more than four years. Typical combinations of dual degrees include the BA in music (College of Arts and Sciences) with the BS in engineering (School of Engineering). All admissions requirements must be met for each school, and course and credit unit requirements for each degree must be fulfilled. Students interested in dual degrees should declare their intent as early as possible and receive advice from faculty about both degrees.

Finally, students completing a BS in a unit other than the College of Arts and Sciences (for example, a BS in engineering) can choose music as a secondary major within that BS degree. Students pursuing music as a secondary major only need to meet the SAGES and General Education Requirements of the school in which they are earning their degree.

After completing the BA in Music, students are able to do the following:

  • Demonstrate technical and artistic proficiency on a primary performance medium (instrument or voice)
  • Contribute positively to musical ensembles of various sizes and types, and collaborate effectively with fellow ensemble members and ensemble directors
  • Demonstrate facility with the major concepts and techniques of tonal and post-tonal music theory and analysis
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the major musicians, musical thinkers, musical styles, techniques, procedures, and cultural trends of all periods in the history of Western music
  • Draw on knowledge and skills in performance, music theory, music history, and/or music education to write a substantial critical assessment of musical works, concepts, and/or practices in the Western classical and/or popular traditions


The BA in Music requires submission of the Common Application with corresponding Music Arts Supplement (digital questionnaire and video audition) on an acceptable primary instrument or voice for entrance to the major. Students may pursue the minor in music or participate in ensembles and lessons as non- majors without passing an audition. However, all students applying for music scholarships must submit a Music Arts Supplement with the Common Application. 

Incoming undergraduate music majors are expected to enter CWRU with a fundamental working knowledge of and proficiency in reading of treble and/or bass clef, key signatures, and major and minor scales, along with the ability to vocally match pitches played on the piano. These skills are necessary for music theory courses taught through the Cleveland Institute of Music, which are a significant part of the required music major curriculum. Incoming undergraduate students are placed into a music theory course based on a diagnostic exam and a sight singing placement exam that are administered online prior to orientation. 

More information about the undergraduate admission and audition process is provided on the Department of Music Undergraduate Application Procedures webpage.

For students who do not major or minor in music but want to participate in musical activities on campus, our many ensembles are open to all CWRU students (regardless of major), and we offer music lessons through the Joint Music Program with faculty from the Cleveland Institute of Music. 

Music Handbook and Advising

Current undergraduate music majors should review departmental policies and procedures in the Undergraduate Music Handbook, and use the Advising Forms as a tool to track academic progress in all course requirements.

Additional resources and forms are available on the Department of Music Resources for Current Undergraduate Music Majors webpage.

Undergraduate Policies

For undergraduate policies and procedures, please review the Office of Undergraduate Studies section of the General Bulletin.