Undergraduate Study FAQ

Here you will find answers to most of the questions you might have about the department's undergraduate offerings. Please read it fully.

Degrees


How do I become a music major?

At Chicago, music is studied within the rich environment of a liberal arts education, with exposure to a wide range of academic disciplines. Majors are declared in consultation with the student’s College advisor and with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Music Department, Professor Jennifer Iverson. Note that the decision must be formalized with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in order for the student to be officially be considered a music major. Completing a music major requires twelve course credits and participation in a performance organization approved by the Department of Music for at least three quarters. For a full description of the requirements to attain the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music, please refer to Music Major Program Requirements. For more information on selecting a major field of study, please refer to the College’s page on Choosing a Major.

When should I declare a music major?

At Chicago, students usually declare a major at the end of their second year or the beginning of their third year of study; the deadline for declaring a major is spring quarter of a student’s third year. However, in the case of music, the required sequences of introductory and advanced courses typically take three years to complete. Therefore, it is highly advisable for a student to declare a music major at the end of the first or beginning of the second year.

Can I double-major in music?

Yes, although there is no official “double major” designation at Chicago. No matter how many majors one has, the University will grant only one bachelor’s degree per student. In addition, most or all free electives are then used to pursue the second major, and many programs of study do not allow students to use one B.A. thesis for two majors. One way to take advantage of interdisciplinary study at the University is to pursue a minor. For more information, please refer to the College’s page on Choosing a Major.

Can I minor in music?

Yes. Minors permit students to use free electives with intellectual effectiveness; that is, to take a cohesive set of courses in a single subject area. The deadline to declare a minor is the end of spring quarter of a student’s third year. Declaring a minor is also done in consultation with the student’s College advisor and with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Music Department, Professor Jennifer Iverson. Completing a music minor requires seven course credits and participation for at least three quarters in a performance organization approved by the Department of Music. For a full description of the requirements for a minor in music, please refer to Music Minor Requirements.

Can I get a music degree with honors?

Yes. Many students choose to attain departmental honors status by writing a large-scale B.A. paper or composition; such projects are developed through close relationships with one or more faculty members.

Can I take music courses if I am not a music major or minor?

Yes. Students pursuing other majors are welcome in music classes. Please note, however, that certain music classes have prerequisites, and these must be completed before enrolling in more advanced classes.

 

Courses


What kinds of music courses are offered, and what topics do they cover?

There are three categories of undergraduate courses: those that fulfill general education requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences, those for students interested in music but not necessarily planning to make it their major, and those that are a part of the required curriculum for the music major. General Education classes provide introductions to the history of Western music (MUSI 10100), to World music (MUSI 10200), to the basics of music composition (MUSI 10300), and to the analysis and criticism of music (MUSI 10400). Other classes explore harmony and voice leading, topics in music history and popular music, computer music, and other topics depending upon the specialties of visiting faculty members. Advanced undergraduates can register for certain graduate courses and seminars with the consent of the instructor and approval from the Director of Undergraduate Studies. A full listing of courses is available in the College Catalog, and current courses are listed by department on the quarterly time schedule.

Which music courses fulfill Common Core requirements?

Students seeking to meet the general education requirement in dramatic, musical, and visual arts with music courses can choose from among the following: Introduction to Western Music (MUSI 10100), Introduction to World Music (MUSI 10200), Introduction to Music: Materials and Design (MUSI 10300), or Introduction to Music Analysis and Criticism (MUSI 10400). Students seeking to meet the general education requirement in civilization studies may select the two-quarter sequence Music in Western Civilization (MUSI 12100 - 12200). More information can be found here and in the College Catalog. Additional questions about core curriculum classes should be addressed to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Jennifer Iverson

Who teaches the music classes?

Most music courses are taught by professors in the Department of Music. Faculty represent the highest level of current scholarship, including: opera, aesthetics, criticism, tonal and atonal theory, jazz, blues, film and pop music; internationally recognized composers with interests in the performance and analysis of contemporary music, and world leaders in ethnomusicology, including musical cultures of Europe, America, and South Asia. Visiting faculty members, including post-doctoral fellows, occasionally offer special classes encompassing particular areas of expertise. A portion of core curriculum classes are taught by advanced graduate students in the Department.

Can I take composition lessons?

Yes. Once you have met the prerequisites of the program, you can enroll in one-on-one lessons with a faculty composer for credit. Students interested in composition should work with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to determine an appropriate series of courses to meet the student’s skills and needs.

 

Resources


What kinds of resources are available for research in the city?

The famed Newberry Library, housing a superb collection of manuscripts and early printed books is located on Chicago’s north side. This world-renowned research collection holds 1.5 million published volumes and 5 million manuscripts in the humanities (chiefly in history, literature, music, and philosophy, with special strengths in European, American, and Latin American history and culture). The collection is one of the finest in North America for Medieval and Renaissance music history and theory. There are also many locally affiliated resources that students at Chicago can take advantage of through the University Library, including Northwestern University and many local seminaries. Additionally, Chicago students enjoy privileges at peer institutions around the country through the RLG Shares program.

What library and listening facilities are available?

The Music Collection, housed in the Joseph Regenstein Memorial Library, comprises over 110,000 books and scores and 32,000 audio and video recordings. Its traditional strength has been in books about music history and scholarly editions of music. In recent years, greater emphasis has been placed on collecting materials for the study of non-western music and music theory, as well as scores of recent music. The founding of the Chicago Jazz Archive as part of the Library in 1976 prompted the development of a strong collection of books on jazz and the sociology of popular music. Most of the collection, including the Recordings Collection and most of the library’s listening and viewing equipment, can be found on the third floor of Regenstein Library. Music reference staff are available weekdays 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the third-floor office cluster. More information on both library and online music resources that are available to University of Chicago students can be found on the Music Collection page.

What kinds of opportunities are there for music students in the summer?

The Department of Music does not hold classes in the summer, but it does offer opportunities for advanced undergraduate students. Students may apply for grants from the Wadmond Fund to travel for research, typically in preparation for a senior essay or composition. Applications are invited in the Spring by the Chair of the Department.

What is the Computer Music Studio and can I use the equipment?

The Computer Music Studio is a research and production resource available only to graduate and undergraduate students who are enrolled in, or have completed, appropriate coursework. The Studio supports hardware and software synthesis, digital audio recording, editing and signal processing, and score development, signal analysis and music calligraphy. For more information on the facilities, click here.

 

Performance and Practice


Can I earn a degree in performance?

No. The Department of Music only confers a Bachelor of Arts in Music through the College, and does not offer a Bachelor of Music in performance. Therefore, students are not able to, for example, earn a degree in clarinet performance at Chicago. However, the extra-curricular Performance Program offers opportunities for students to develop their skills and maintain their interests in music through a wide range of instrumental, vocal, and world music ensembles and programs. These opportunities are available to all students regardless of major. For specific information on these offerings, please explore the Performance Program pages.

Can I participate in the performance program if I am not a music major or minor?

Yes. The co-curricular Performance Programs welcome students and faculty from across the University. For more information, please explore the Performance Program pages.

What facilities are available for practice?

The first floor of Goodspeed Hall includes practice rooms for student use. These practice rooms have hours as follows: M-Th: 9am-10pm; F: 9am-5pm; Sat: 10am-8pm; Sun: 12pm-10pm. Most rooms have grand pianos, one has a harpsichord, and several are suitably sized for small ensemble rehearsals. There is a also a designated room for percussion equipment, basses, and harps. 

Many dormitories also have practice rooms available for use by dormitory residents, and a large number of musicians find it possible to practice in their dorm rooms or apartments.

In addition, the Logan Center for the Arts houses three ensemble rehearsal rooms and twenty practice rooms, most of which are available for use by all students, faculty, and staff members with a current University of Chicago ID. Piano practice rooms on the fourth floor of the tower are reserved for advanced piano students, and one lower level practice room is reserved for string bass players. Logan practice rooms can be accessed on a first-come, first-served basis, or may be reserved in advance by sending an e-mail to loganops@uchicago.edu.