Go to Content
Columbia College Chicago
Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What will I learn in the Program?
Some CUP ensembles play covers, where do students create original music?
What sort of professional work does the program prepare me for?
I'm a singer/songwriter. Is CUP for me?
How do the CUP BA and BMus compare?
What about transferring into the CUP program?
What is a Bachelor of Music (BM) degree, and how does it compare to a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree?
Can I be in the CUP program if I don't sing or play an instrument?
Can I take CUP courses without being in the degree program?
Are there opportunities for CUP students to study abroad?
What are the requirements for admission into the program and how do I apply?
What can I do to prepare myself for the BMUS degree?
Who is eligible for the CUP program?

What will I learn in the Program?

The CUP coursework provides a lot of training on your primary instrument, as well as an extensive set of course experiences centered around live performance and creating and recording both classic covers and original music. Aspects of Music Technology, History and Ethnography, Theory and Arranging add an academic component to the degree intended to supply an appropriate background should you choose to go to graduate school.

 

Some CUP ensembles play covers, where do students create original music?

All CUP Bmus students take Recording and Performance Ensemble, where they collaborate with their CUP cohort to create a commercially viable band. The project includes recording sessions with professional producers and working with senior Music Business students in the Talent Agency course. 

These bands also perform at various high-profile on-and-off-campus events, including industry showcases, CCC Commencement, Manifest Main Stage, Biggest Mouth, CCC Weeks of Welcome Convocation and professional Chicago club dates and festivals.

In addition, CUP students organize and present their Senior Recital around their own vision, forming their own band and putting the show together expressing their own vision and artistic direction. They're also expected to document this project by recording select material in their Demo Production course.

 

What sort of professional work does the program prepare me for?

The program is relatively new, however recent graduates are performing touring, recording and being played on the radio, performing in "jobbing" bands, cruise boats, performing in the club scene, working/performing in commercial advertising, teaching, and developing their careers in Chicago, Nashville, LA, etc as songwriters and recording artists. 

 

I'm a singer/songwriter. Is CUP for me?

CUP was designed, in part, as a home for singer/songwriters. 

They are expected to take both Songwriting I and II (others just take the first semester.)

They take some vocal coursework and private lessons, as well as lessons on their instrument (usually piano or guitar). They can alternate these from year to year, or take some mix of primary and secondary lessons.

They participate in CUP ensembles, which are a series of graduated cover bands, where they hone their performance and collaborative skills and acquire essential stage experience. The CUP Ensemble list is available on the CUP web page.  

 

How do the CUP BA and BMus compare?

The BMus is the first professional degree in Music, and the program is competitive to get into.

Freshman students enter the Department CUP BA candidates. The BA is a smaller-scale, Liberal Arts degree version of the BMus. 

In any case, you can take CUP coursework and ensembles as early as second semester, then, if you so choose, apply and audition for the BMus portion of the coursework once you have built an academic and performance history at the Department, which shows that you’re qualified for this higher-level of degree. This generally takes place around 4th semester. You may also decide to continue on the less demanding BA path. 

 

What about transferring into the CUP program?

All entering music students, including those with transfer music coursework, are required to take placement assessments for music core requirements, in the areas of theory, sight singing, and keyboard. The results of those assessments will be used to determine your placement level in required courses and whether you are able to waive one or more of those courses.

If you feel you are qualified and plan on applying for the CUP BMus when you enter the Department, you may submit your application at any time by downloading the forms from the web site. When your application is reviewed and it is determined you are qualified to audition, you will be sent audition guidelines and a time. Auditions are held in April.

If we determine that it is too early to qualify for the BMus, you can still enroll in and continue with the required CUP BA coursework and ensembles prior to re-applying, with the exception of the Recording and Performance Ensemble course and overseas band camps and exchanges. You may reapply as soon as the following academic year and you will be eligible to change your major to the BMus designation at the time that you are formally accepted into the degree program. If you are subsequently not accepted for the BMus, or you change your mind about this degree option, you may continue towards completion of the BA degree in CUP.

What is a Bachelor of Music (BM) degree, and how does it compare to a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree?

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) is the basic undergraduate degree in the Liberal Arts and Sciences, and includes a major area of concentration (in our case, music). The Bachelor of Music (BM) is a degree in music, and is considered the initial professional degree in the discipline. BM degrees require substantially more credit hours in the area of concentration and, as a result, somewhat fewer credit hours in general studies (Liberal Arts and Sciences) and electives than the BA. The BM also requires a larger total number of credit hours for graduation. For students considering graduate studies in music, the BM may be the more appropriate degree. As a quick comparison:

  • the CUP BM degree requires 128 total credit hours; the BA degree requires 120 total credit hours
  • the CUP BM degree requires 80 credit hours in the concentration; the BA degree requires 50 – 55 credit hours in the concentration
  • the CUP BM degree requires 36 credit hours in general studies; the BA degree requires 42 credit hours in general studies
  • the CUP BM degree includes 12 credit hours of electives; the BA degree includes 20 – 24 credit hours of electives

 

Can I be in the CUP program if I don't sing or play an instrument?

The CUP BM is a performance degree. You must take instrumental or vocal lessons, and participate in at least one ensemble every semester.

 

Can I take CUP courses without being in the degree program?

Yes. Many CUP courses and ensembles are open to students who have taken the appropriate prerequisites, though in some cases, CUP students are given priority. Certain courses, ensembles and performance opportunities will be available exclusively to CUP majors.

 

Are there opportunities for CUP students to study abroad?

Yes. The CUP program is the sole U.S. partner with the MuZone Consortium of European Schools, an organization dedicated to international cooperation among colleges with programs in Popular Music Performance and Business. Through this partnership, CUP has developed a comprehensive exchange agreement with the PopAkademie in Mannheim, Germany. Opportunities to study abroad range from 1-week international band and music business camps to semester-long exchanges.

What are the requirements for admission into the program and how do I apply?

Applicants are selected based on the quality of their audition, body of work and academic record. Additional criteria for selection will include the admission committee’s judgment of the student’s potential to complete the program through to graduation. 

Application and audition occurs every spring semester, and admission to the CUP BMUS is a competitive process. Criteria include the applicant’s academic record, particularly in Music Core and applied classes, two letters of recommendation (one from your classroom and the other from an applied music instructor), and recorded examples of your work. 

Each applicant will also be evaluated at an audition with a “house band" ensemble. 

Additionally, students must carry a 3.0 or better GPA in their Music coursework to be accepted into the BMUS. 

 

What can I do to prepare myself for the BMUS degree?

You can start preparing to apply and audition for the CUP BMUS degree as of your first semester by enrolling in the relevant Music Core courses, techniques courses and private lessons in your primary instrument or voice, and auditioning for CUP-appropriate ensembles as soon as you are eligible. Be sure to save any recorded examples of your performances that may be useful to the CUP selection committee.

If you are entering the music department with the intention of auditioning for CUP, you should definitely talk to your advisor and make an appointment with CUP program director, Gary Yerkins, at gyerkins@colum.edu.


Who is eligible for the CUP program?

Music majors should plan on applying and auditioning for the BM at the end of their second year, around the time they will have completed their Music Core studies. CUP candidates should have completed Theory II, Sightsinging II and Keyboard I for full academic consideration