What Are the Different Types of Music Degree Requirements?

Lee Johnson

Many different music degree requirements exist across the world, but these can generally be broken down into performance ability requirements, educational requirements, and requirements specific to the type of degree. Some degrees, like jazz studies, for example, require a basic understanding of musical theory and method as an entry requirement. Performance-related music degree requirements are often assessed through an audition, and some can be illustrated by the musician’s mastery of his or her chosen instrument. Educational requirements generally include some previous music classes, especially those emphasizing music theory, composition, and performance in some way. Some universities also require a certain level of general educational achievement.

To achieve a bachelor of music degree, most colleges require students to complete a final musical performance.
To achieve a bachelor of music degree, most colleges require students to complete a final musical performance.

Most music degree requirements fall into the category of performance ability. This can be assessed by an audition or by the standard music grading system. Many degree courses are only interested in students with a grade eight in their chosen instrument, or those who are approaching this grade. If the student doesn’t have any specific grades for his or her proficiency, an audition may be required. This audition allows the instructor to determine whether the student is skilled enough to undertake the course.

Some music degree requirements also relate to the potential students’ educational ability. Generally, music courses will only look at students' previous education in music. Potential students require a basis in music education, because they are essentially proposing to continue that education for their Bachelor of Arts (BA). Universities will occasionally accept a grade eight certification in both performance and music theory as a replacement for a specific music course provided by an educational institution.

General educational success will also be required by some institutions. Although music degree requirements are usually only really interested in musical qualifications, some do require a general proficiency in other subjects such as mathematics and language arts. This isn’t specifically requested by some institutions, but some do require a certain level of success in previous education. Students with a history of failing most courses are not the best candidates for a degree program.

Specific additional music degree requirements may also be requested, depending on the course being studied. Some universities offer courses in music composition and jazz studies. Both of these courses are within the general field of music, but require some specialist knowledge. Universities will often request some form of proof of proficiency in these areas. Students hoping to study music composition may have to present a recording of one of their compositions, for example.

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