Woman playing the piano and a man playing the cello
Degrees Offered: BAMus BMusEd MMusEd BMus MMus DMusA DmMusA PhD

The College of Music boasts a highly active faculty of professional performers, composers and scholars, all of whom are committed to helping students develop their talents, refine their passions and ultimately succeed in their musical endeavors. The college offers seven degrees in over 23 fields of study, with specialties in performance, composition, music education and musicology. Students benefit from an extensive array of classes and ensembles that complement the highly­individualized instruction offered throughout the college.

Curricula combine tradition with innovation and are designed to offer students the flexibility to reach a number of professional goals. Students gain intensive musical training while also gaining a solid liberal arts education.

Undergraduate Opportunities

The undergraduate degrees in music emphasize knowledge and awareness of: solo performance and technique, including the various musical styles used in compositions for students’ musical instruments or voice; ensemble performance, including familiarity with major composers in the student’s performance medium and the techniques necessary to blend a number of individual musicians into an ensemble; concert and recital opportunities, including literature composed for different performance forces; theoretical studies, including tonal harmony, counterpoint, voice­leading and notation; formal principles and analytical techniques for tonal music; and instruments in score, including the concert pitch of transposing instruments and nomenclature used in scores; and historical studies, including representative works in the canon of musical literature from chant to the present, the general outlines of the history of music from the middle ages to the present, music in the United States and musical cultures other than those of Europe.

Undergraduate students can choose from a range of degree plans and programs, for which they qualify by audition. Bachelor of Arts degrees are available with concentrations in music, musicology, world music and music in conjunction with an engineering degree. For a Bachelor of Music degree, students select from one of eight sub­disciplines, each of which includes sub­specialities. The BMus degree in Brass and Percussion can focus on brass performance, percussion performance or brass performance with a secondary emphasis in jazz studies (trumpet and trombone). The BMus in Jazz Studies can focus on jazz studies alone or jazz piano. Students pursuing a BMus in Keyboard concentrate on either harpsichord performance, organ performance or piano performance. The BMus in Strings offers a focus on classical guitar performance, harp performance or string performance, and the BMus in Voice can emphasize voice performance or voice performance with an elective in music theatre. The BMus in Woodwinds offers specialties in woodwind performance and performance with a secondary emphasis in jazz studies, and there is also a BMus in Composition and Musicology. 

In addition to these undergraduate degree programs, students can earn combined Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Music Education dual degrees. These are offered in a number of combinations, including brass, percussion, string, voice and others, and BMusEd degrees in instrumental band, instrumental strings and choral.

Graduate Studies

The College of Music offers a Master of Music, a Master of Music Education, a Doctor of Musical Arts and a PhD in Music. 


The MM degree programs at CU­Boulder are modeled after the guiding principles outlined by the National Association of Schools of Music. The purpose of Master of Music degree work is to refine skills in music performance, music composition, research and writing and pedagogy. There are numerous fields of study within the Master of Music program, such as: composition, conducting, music theory, performance and performance with pedagogy. The Master of Music degree provides advanced studies in performance, performance/pedagogy, composition (with an optional emphasis in technology), music theory and conducting (choral, orchestral and wind). Areas of emphasis in performance and performance/pedagogy include all band and orchestral instruments, guitar, harp, harpsichord, jazz, organ, piano and voice. Each of the MM degrees incorporates studies in the major area, support courses in music electives and thesis/recital work. 


Students in this degree program complete advanced studies that are designed to refine their teaching philosophy and practices. These studies include courses in historical and philosophical foundations of music education, psychological theories of music learning, basic research methods, curriculum development and assessment. The college also offers a Master of Music Education degree coupled with certification for K­12 teaching. This is for students who have completed an undergraduate degree in music, but in a major area other than music education. Course work leads to a master’s degree and a Colorado K­12 music teaching license. 


The PhD in Music emphasizes research in the principal areas of music education or musicology. Each program plan is developed through collaboration between student and advisor, keeping the specific goals of each individual student in mind. The objective is to prepare the student for a career in research and college teaching. For the musicology student, the Doctor of Philosophy degree program emphasizes research in music history, music theory, ethnomusicology or some other aspect of music in culture. The musicology faculty encourage students entering the graduate program, whether from the bachelor’s or master’s level, to pursue the PhD, which is the benchmark of professional education within the field. 


The DMusA degree programs at CU­Boulder are modeled after the guiding principles outlined by the National Association of Schools of Music. As defined by the NASM, the Doctor of Musical Arts degree is intended for those seeking “the highest level of professional practice emphasizing the creation or performance of musical works and the application and transmission of knowledge about musical works, or pedagogy...creation, performance and teaching are highly disciplined efforts; inquiry and investigation, and often research and scholarship, are components of performance practice” (NASMHandbook, 2009­10: 116).

This professional degree is intended for composers, conductors and performers who possess both creative and scholarly abilities. Graduates of this program go on to careers as composers and performers in solo, chamber music, opera, jazz or orchestra, or as choral, jazz, band and/or orchestral conductors. A particular focus of the DMusA is the preparation for a career as a college, conservatory or university teacher. Students work closely with an advisor in developing a degree plan that reflects their needs and interests.

Research Opportunities

The College of Music has a number of impressive performance halls, including the 2,000­seat Macky Auditorium, the 500­seat Grusin Music Hall, the 270­seat Music Theatre and the 120­seat Chamber Hall. The home of the college is the Warner Imig Music Building, which is a large complex of practice rooms, faculty studios, offices, ensemble rehearsal areas, seminar facilities and classrooms. An addition to the building features a 4,300 square foot space with a 35­foot ceiling and acoustical draping. 

The college features extensive facilities for music technology and electronic music study, including the Computer­Assisted Music Laboratories, which are multi­purpose labs with Musical Instrument Digital Interface; the CRUNCH lab, a fully­featured electronic music project studio; and the Class PIano Laboratory, which houses 12 digital pianos.

The college also boasts the Howard B. Waltz Music Library, which is considered among the nation’s most comprehensive music libraries, housing over 150,000 volumes, scores, recordings and periodicals. The library also contains computerized facilities that allow students to listen to recordings and perform computer­based reference searches.

Finally, the College of Music presents over 400 concerts by students, faculty and guests. Students have a wide range of opportunities for performance, from individual performances to collaborations with outstanding visiting ensembles, bands, choirs, orchestras and groups. Recitals by students and faculty are supplemented with visits from world­class guest artists.