Columbia College Chicago

Music, Jazz Studies, BA

As a Jazz Studies student, you’ll engage with jazz in its musical, social and cultural contexts while applying it to your primary instrument. You’ll learn the language of the music and how it functions organically. Improvisation, the heart of jazz, is at the core of the program. While you absorb the rich history and repertoire of the genre, you’ll also compose, arrange and perform your own original music. You’ll study and collaborate with a faculty of working musicians and a series of award-winning artists in residence. You can truly make this program your own. We’re an incubator for musicians who crave the freedom to experiment and a platform to accelerate their careers.

What to Expect Your First Year

Jazz Studies students begin with the Music core, which includes courses in music literacy, theory, keyboard and ear training. You’ll develop a deep understanding of the logic of music so you can improvise and compose within the jazz idiom. You’ll learn the history and repertoire of jazz and hone your skills on your primary instrument.

What to Expect Your Last Year

By your last year as a Jazz Studies student, you’ll be highly proficient on your primary instrument with a large repertoire of standard compositions. You’ll become a seasoned performer, playing concerts both on campus and throughout the Chicagoland community. You’ll compose your own work, assembling various mixed ensembles and refining your ability to communicate with other musicians.

In your Jazz Styles and Analysis course, you’ll choose an artist to study in-depth, exploring their history, technique and innovations via your instrument. As a BA student, you’re encouraged but not required to complete a senior recital.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?
As a Music student, you’re encouraged—and expected—to perform in a variety of settings, both on campus as part of your coursework and in the city’s vibrant music scene. Chicago is a robust, diverse and accessible place for a working musician, even if you’re just starting your career. Our students play in dozens of ensembles, including bands, choirs, and more. They also start their own bands and launch their own projects in collaboration with students from other departments on campus. Columbia’s Music Center hosts more than 200 student, faculty and artist in residence performances and workshops each year. Our department also offers exchange programs with the Conservatorio Luisa d’Annunzio in Pescara, Italy, the Popakademie in Mannheim, Germany and other EU partner institutions.
What are my internship options?

You’ll have the opportunity to intern at recording studios, record labels, production companies and radio stations or as an assistant to composers, musicians or music business managers. However, your real-world training will most likely be playing at local venues, special events, campus happenings or with the artists in residence who not only teach but perform with our students. If you’re ready to play professionally, your instructors will help you find gigs.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

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