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Performing Arts

BA in Music

American University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). 


Admission to the Program

Formal admission to the music major requires demonstrated ability through an audition and interview arranged with the department, preferably prior to beginning university studies. However, a student may enter as an intended major and audition/interview during the first year. Students will be accepted based on programmatic approval and written declaration of major. 


University Requirements

  • A total of 120 credit hours 
  • 6 credit hours of college writing 
  • 3 credit hours of college mathematics or the equivalent by examination 

General Education Requirements

  • A total of ten courses, consisting of two courses from each of the five foundational areas
  • At least one course from Area Five: The Natural and
    Mathematical Sciences must include a laboratory science
    component
  • No more than two courses may be taken in the same
    discipline

Major Requirements

  • 53 credit hours with grades of C or better 
  • Applied Music Lesson requirement: all students must successfully complete a minimum of four semesters of MUS-122 Private Instrumental or Vocal Study on a principal instrument or voice; music majors must enroll for a one-hour lesson each week and attend the weekly music performance lab (MUS-001). 
  • Jury examinations must be undertaken at the end of each semester except when the student is presenting a recital in MUS-334 or MUS-434. 
  • Performance Ensemble requirements: All students must successfully complete a minimum of four semesters of approved performance ensembles. Music majors must enroll in a performance ensemble in all semesters in which they are enrolled in applied music lessons. 

Music Prerequisite Courses

These courses are waived for students with equivalent music experience: 

  • PERF-111 Class Piano Level I (1) 
  • PERF-112 Class Piano Level I I (1) 
  • PERF-120 Music Fundamentals (3) with a grade of B or better 

Course Requirements

  • PERF-124 Music Theory I (3) 
  • PERF-125 Music Theory II (3) 
  • PERF-227 Musicianship I (3) 
  • PERF-228 Musicianship II (3) 
  • PERF-322 Music History I: From Antiquity to 1750 (3) 
  • PERF-323 Music History II: 1750 to Present (3) 
  • PERF-324 Form and Analysis (3) 
  • PERF-325 Counterpoint (3) 
  • PERF-445 Senior Capstone: Music (3) 
  • A minimum of 8 credit hours in
    MUS-122 Private Instrumental or Vocal Study (2) 
  • A minimum of 4 credit hours in performance ensembles: 
  • PERF-142/542 University Chorus (1) 
  • PERF-143/543 University Singers (2) 
  • PERF-144/544 University Orchestra (1) 
  • PERF-145/545 Chamber Ensembles (1) 
  • PERF-146/546 Jazz Orchestra (1) 
  • PERF-147 Symphonic Band (1)
  • PERF-161/561 Gospel Choir (1) 

Area of Concentration

  • A minimum of 14 credit hours in an area of concentration. Students may select from the following or design an individual area of concentration with approval of their academic advisor and the director of music. Examples of individually designed areas include music production, international arts management, and music criticism. 

Arts Management (15 credit hours)

  • ACCT-240 Principles of Financial Accounting (3) 
  • ACCT-241 Principles of Managerial Accounting (3) or ECON-200 Microeconomics (3) 
  • ECON-100 Macroeconomics (3) 
  • MKTG-300 Principles of Management (3) 
  • PERF-570 Survey of Arts Management (3) 

Composition (16 credit hours)

  • MUS-122 Private Instrumental or Vocal Study:
    Composition (2) three semesters for a total of 6 credit hours 
  • MUS-434 Private Instrumental or Vocal Study:
    Senior Recital (4) 
  • PERF-326 Orchestration (3) 
  • PERF-435 Topics in Music (3) (approved topic) 

Jazz Studies (16 credit hours)

  • MUS-122 Private Instrumental or Vocal Study (2) three additional semesters for a total of 6 credit hours 
  • MUS-434 Private Instrumental or Vocal Study:
    Senior Recital (4) 
  • PERF-226 Improvisation (3) 
  • PERF-321 The Evolution of Jazz and Blues (3) 

Performance (16 credit hours)

Vocal Performance 

  • MUS-122 Private Instrumental or Vocal Study (2) three additional semesters for a total of 6 credit hours 
  • MUS-434 Private Instrumental or Vocal Study:
    Senior Recital (4) 
  • PERF-251 Fundamentals of Acting I (3) 
  • PERF-356 Diction for Singers (3) 
  • German, Italian, or French language courses are recommended 

Instrumental Performance 

  • MUS-122 Private Instrumental or Vocal Study (2) three additional semesters for a total of 6 credit hours 
  • MUS-434 Private Instrumental or Vocal Study:
    Senior Recital (4) 
  • PERF-435 Topics in Music (3) (approved topic) 
  • PERF-550 Chamber Ensembles (1) three semesters for a total of 3 credit hours 

History and Literature or Anthropology of Music
(15 credit hours)

  • HIST-100 History, Memory, and the Changeable Past (3) 
  • HIST-xxx or ANTH-xxx approved course (3) 
  • PERF-435 Topics in Music (3) (approved topic) (two courses for a total of 6 credit hours) 
  • PERF-491 Performing Arts: Internship (1–6) or PERF-435 Topics in Music (3) (approved topic)
  • Senior thesis written project submitted for PERF-445 Senior Capstone: Music  

Theory (15 credit hours)

  • PERF-326 Orchestration (3) 
  • PERF-435 Topics in Music (3) (approved topic) (three courses for a total of 9 credit hours) 
  • PERF-585 Creative Theories and Criticism in Performing
    Arts (3) 
  • Senior thesis written project submitted for PERF-445 Senior Capstone: Music 

University Honors Program

To graduate with University Honors, students must be admitted to the University Honors Program, maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.50, and receive grades of B or better in all University Honors course work. There are three levels of University Honors course requirements: Level I (100-200-level); Level II (300-level and above); and Level III (Honors Capstone Project). The department Honors coordinator advises students in the University Honors Program regarding requirements for graduating with University Honors in the major. For more information, go to the University Honors Program.


Combined Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees

American University offers students the opportunity to earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees through its accelerated bachelor’s/master’s programs. Undergraduate students may complete up to 3 credits for every 9 credits required for the graduate degree that may be applied to the requirements for both degree programs.  The department that oversees the graduate program the student enters will determine if the courses the undergraduate student completes will satisfy master’s degree requirements. 

Bachelor’s/master’s students must complete at least 18 in-residence credit hours at the graduate level after the bachelor’s degree is earned and  maintain continuous, sequential enrollment in the two programs. Students must finish the master’s degree requirements within three years from the date of first enrollment in the master’s program.