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Columbia College Chicago
Undergraduate Programs
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Undergraduate Programs

The Bachelor of Arts is a liberal arts degree that focuses on music in the context of a broad program of general studies at the college level. The BA provides 33 credits of core music coursework and allows students to choose a 12 credit area of concentration in one of the department's broad disciplinary areas. The BA includes a greater number of elective credits than the Bachelor of Music, providing substantial interdisciplinary opportunities, the option of a minor or a double major in other departments, and/or the opportunity to select additional, elective coursework in music. Upon admission to the College as a declared music major, all students are admitted to the Bachelor of Arts major.

The Bachelor of Music is a professional degree that focuses on intensive work in music while being supported by a program of general studies at the college level. It is further distinguished by a candidacy procedure whereby students must apply into the BM after 45-60 credits of coursework (college-wide) and with a minimum GPA of 3.0. The candidacy application consists of a portfolio review, application essay, and/or audition. Upon acceptance, students must complete all the required credits in the music core plus an additional 51-52 credits of advanced study in music. Students in the BM are required to complete a senior recital that displays their technical proficiency and expresses their personal musical perspective.

Undergraduate Programs

Bachelor of Arts with a Concentration in Composition
Bachelor of Arts with a Concentration in Contemporary, Urban & Popular Music
Bachelor of Arts with a Concentration in Instrumental Performance
Bachelor of Arts with a Concentration in Vocal Performance
Bachelor of Arts with a Concentration in Jazz Studies

Bachelor of Music in Composition
Bachelor of Music in Contemporary, Urban & Popular Music
Bachelor of Music in Performance with Concentrations in Instrumental Performance, Vocal Performance & Jazz Studies


Bachelor of Arts with a Concentration in Composition

The B.A. in Music with a Concentration in Composition is a liberal arts degree with a practical emphasis on fundamental compositional techniques. The composition curriculum is designed to provide students from diverse backgrounds the skills necessary to compose in a variety of genres and idioms.

The curriculum includes three semesters of foundational composition classes and advanced courses in counterpoint, orchestration and composing for films. Beyond the mastery of techniques, students are encouraged to express themselves freely, with their own voice.

The Bachelor of Arts degree in Music requires the completion of 33 credit hours of core courses in the music department, 12 credit hours of specialized course work, 33 credit hours of electives and 42 credit hours of liberal arts and sciences classes, totaling 120 credit hours.

Bachelor of Arts with a Concentration in Contemporary, Urban and Popular Music 

The B.A. in Music with a concentration in Contemporary, Urban and Popular music is a liberal arts degree with a practical emphasis on fundamental skills as applied to popular music performance, songwriting, recording, and arranging. The program offers a strong foundation in instrumental and/or vocal technique, popular music history, theory, music creation, arranging, and performance. The curriculum includes performances with ensembles offering a wide variety of popular music styles and genres, including classic and contemporary rock, R&B, Latin styles/genres, and singer/songwriter-based repertoire. The Bachelor of Arts degree in Music requires the completion of 33 credit hours of core courses in the music department, 12 credit hours of specialized course work, 33 credit hours of electives and 42 credit hours of liberal arts and sciences classes, totaling 120 credit hours for the degree.

Bachelor of Arts with a Concentration in Instrumental Performance

The B.A. in Music with a Concentration in Instrumental Performance is a liberal arts degree with a practical emphasis on fundamental skills in performance and arranging. Practical procedures such as working on stage, solo techniques and ensemble techniques are emphasized. Qualified students are encouraged to audition for performances in Chicago’s professional music community.

The Bachelor of Arts degree explores a wide range of modern popular and concert music traditions, providing students with a firm foundation in instrumental performance. Faculty advisors guide students in choosing courses and ensembles appropriate to each performer's goals. Studies are structured to attain the highest performance level according to each student's needs and abilities.

Instrumental Performance studies in the Music Department of Columbia College Chicago include classes specific to your emphasis, general education courses and private instruction in contemporary music of many genres.

The Bachelor of Arts degree in Music requires the completion of 33 credit hours of core courses in the music department, 12 credit hours of specialized course work, 33 credit hours of electives, and 42 credit hours of liberal arts and sciences classes, totaling 120 credit hours.

Bachelor of Arts with a Concentration in Vocal Performance

The B.A. in Music with a Concentration in Vocal Performance is a liberal arts degree with a practical emphasis on fundamental skills in performance and arranging. Practical procedures such as working on stage, solo techniques and ensemble techniques are emphasized. Qualified students are encouraged to audition for performances in Chicago’s professional music community.

The Bachelor of Arts degree explores a wide range of modern popular and concert music traditions, providing students with a firm foundation in vocal performance. Faculty advisors guide students in choosing courses and ensembles appropriate to each performer's goals. Studies are structured to attain the highest performance level according to each student's needs and abilities.

Vocal Performance studies in the Music Department of Columbia College Chicago include classes specific to your emphasis, general education courses and private instruction in classical or contemporary music of many genres.

The Bachelor of Arts degree in Music requires the completion of 33 credit hours of core courses in the music department, 12 credit hours of specialized course work, 33 credit hours of electives and 42 credit hours of liberal arts and sciences classes, totaling 120 credit hours.

Bachelor of Arts with a Concentration in Jazz Studies

The B.A. in Music with a Concentration in Jazz Studies is a liberal arts degree with a practical emphasis on fundamental skills in jazz performance, composition, and arranging. The program offers a strong foundation in improvisation, jazz history, theory, composition and arranging, and performance. The performance curriculum includes foundational study in solo performance, as well as skills for performance in small and large ensembles.

Jazz ensembles perform music that encompasses virtually all styles and eras of jazz: classic repertory, contemporary, and new and exploratory styles. Auditions for jazz ensembles are held at the beginning of each semester.

The Bachelor of Arts degree in Music requires the completion of 33 credit hours of core courses in the music department, 12 credit hours of specialized course work, 33 credit hours of electives and 42 credit hours of liberal arts and sciences classes, totaling 120 credit hours.

Bachelor of Music in Composition

The Bachelor of Music in Composition is the initial professional degree in music composition. Its primary emphasis is on the development of skills, concepts, and sensitivities essential to professional musicianship.

The first two years of coursework for the Bachelor of Music degree are exactly the same as those for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music. When a student reaches between 45 – 60 credit hours, the student may file an application for the Bachelor of Music degree program.

Upon acceptance, subsequent sequencing of classes in Composition, Orchestration, Counterpoint, Analysis, Electronic Music and Conducting deepens and refines the student’s proficiency as a professional musician.

The Bachelor of Music in Composition requires the completion of 128 credit hours, including 33 credit hours of core music requirements, an additional 51 credit hours of specialized music coursework, 8 credit hours of electives, and 36 credit hours of liberal arts and sciences courses (general education).

Bachelor of Music in Contemporary, Urban & Popular Music

The Bachelor of Music in Contemporary, Urban and Popular Music (CUP) is a unique and innovative professional performance degree. The degree is intended for instrumentalists, singers, and songwriters interested in performing and creating original music in the context of popular idioms, including classic and contemporary forms of rock, pop, R&B, and singer/songwriter-based repertoire. The program includes courses in music technology and music business, in addition to specialized courses in music history, music theory, and keyboard.  CUP B.M. students form collaborative band projects for the purpose of developing, recording and performing original music at a level suitable for professional presentation.

The first two years of coursework for the Bachelor of Music degree are identical to those for the Bachelor of Arts degree in CUP. When students reach 45–60 credit hours, having built an applicable performance history and academic record, they then apply and audition for formal acceptance into the program. The number of students accepted into the B.M. CUP program each year is limited. Acceptance is based on a committee review of a candidate’s application and the quality of his/her audition. Auditions for the B.M. are held every spring semester. 

The Bachelor of Music in Contemporary, Urban, and Popular Music requires the completion of 128 credit hours, including 33 credit hours of core music requirements, an additional 51 credit hours of specialized music coursework, 8 credit hours of electives, and 36 credit hours of liberal arts and sciences classes (general education).

Bachelor of Music in Performance with Concentrations in Instrumental Performance, Vocal Performance & Jazz Studies

The Bachelor of Music in Performance is the initial professional degree in music performance. Its primary emphasis is on the development of skills, concepts, and sensitivities essential to professional musicianship across a wide range of modern popular and concert music traditions.

The first two years of coursework for the Bachelor of Music degree are exactly the same as those for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music. When students reach 45–60 credit hours, having built an applicable performance history and academic record, they then apply and audition for formal acceptance into the program. The number of students accepted into the B.M. Performance program each year is limited. Acceptance is based on a committee review of a candidate’s application and the quality of his/her audition. Auditions for the B.M. are held every spring semester.

Upon acceptance, subsequent courses in Pedagogy, Music Business, Repertoire, Improvisation, and Arranging deepen and refine the student’s proficiency as a professional musician.

The Bachelor of Music in Performance requires the completion of 128 credit hours, including 33 credit hours of core music requirements, an additional 52 credit hours of specialized music coursework, 7 credit hours of electives, and 36 credit hours of liberal arts and sciences courses (general education).