Music, Bachelor of Arts

School of Music

College of Arts and Letters

This degree builds on a strong set of core requirements, then sends students through a well orchestrated curriculum that includes private lessons, a performance exam, and major ensemble experience.

This program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's diversity, liberal studies, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • At least 51 units of major requirements
  • At least 16 units of language requirements
  • At least 18 units of minor requirement

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements.

  • For this major the liberal studies prefixes are MUS and MUP

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Major GPA C
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 114
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Foreign Language Required
Research Required
University Honors Program Optional
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan

Purpose Statement

The purpose of the Bachelor of Arts degree program is to provide students with a background in music and musicianship that prepares them for a wide range of further educational and vocational activities that include music as a component.  Students are also prepared for further study at the graduate and/or professional level.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students receiving an undergraduate degree in music will demonstrate:                                                                                                                                                                

  1. Continuing Musical Growth and Independence in the following ways:
  • Applying performance skills on his/her principal instrument or voice
  • Demonstrate technical aptitude on his/her principal instrument or voice
  • Perform individually and in ensembles of different types
  • Investigating specific repertoire
  • Exercise and defend aesthetic judgment by recognizing and interpreting appropriate literature.          
  1. Application of Musicianship Skills in performance, teaching and/or critical analysis of music including:
  • Aural Perception
  • Sight-singing
  • Dictation
  • Keyboard Competency appropriate to the students’ degree program and satisfactory progress in Music Theory
  • Composition or Improvisation.
  1. Analysis of and the ability to apply understanding to enhance students’ performance, teaching, and/or critical analysis of Tonal and Post-Tonal Musical Works and Topics through discussion of the following elements of music:
  • Melody
  • Harmony
  • Counterpoint
  • Rhythm and Meter
  • Form
  • Timbre
  1. Knowledge of the Historical and Cultural Contexts of Western and non-Western Music including:
  • Characteristics of musical styles,
  • Compositional techniques
  • Performance practices
  • Societal and cultural influences on the creation, performance, and dissemination of music.
  1. Knowledge and Application of Research Materials, Critical Thinking Skills, and Writing Skills
  • Basic knowledge and appropriate application of primary and secondary research materials pertaining to music,
  • Effectively communicate in writing on topics in the field of music through the purposeful use of evidence, insightful reasoning (critical thinking), and supporting details.
  1. Synthesis of Learning Experiences
  • Synthesize understanding of musical forms, processes, and structures in compositional, performance, analytical, scholarly and pedagogical applications appropriate to the degree program.
  • Employ multiple areas of learning within music and, ideally, disciplines outside music through a capstone project or culminating experience.
  • Students develop a background in music and musicianship that prepares them for a wide range of further educational and vocational activities that include music as a component.
  1. Integration of content knowledge and skills into analytical frameworks, including an explication of how the following elements complement and enhance areas of music:
  • Understanding and appreciation of the human experience as it can be explained and expressed in the analysis and performance of music. (Aesthetic & Humanistic Inquiry)
  • Examining musical practices and aesthetics in cross-cultural perspectives. (Cultural Understanding)
  • Develop an awareness of music’s long technological history and how its tools (including digital and non-digital) have evolved to represent and shape the cultural and aesthetic values of particular time periods. Exploration furthermore of the rootedness of music, as sound, in the physics of the natural world. (Science & Applied Science)
  • Awareness of how music both expresses and shapes societies, political systems, and cultures. (Social & Political Worlds)
  1. Advanced research and writing skills within music and allied disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including the ability to:
  • Select and define a problem, challenge, or research question.
  • Conduct a literature review using primary and secondary sources relevant to the research question.
  • Critically analyze the insights gained through the literature review and synthesize the findings into a research paper.
  1. The ability to think, speak, and write clearly and effectively and to communicate with precision, cogency, and rhetorical force in music theory, historical musicology, and ethnomusicology
  • Produce writing, research, and presentations according to discipline-specific needs
  • Master the language and terms of the discipline and be able to apply them accurately
  • Apply discipline-specific formats, vocabulary, documentation, and evidence
  • Understand the interactions between reading, critical thinking, writing and public presentations
  • Review work-in-progress, understanding the need for continuous revisions that focus on polishing grammar, syntax, punctuation
  • Communicate effectively to general and specialized audiences through well-structured oral presentations that contain a clear central message and make appropriate reference to information or analysis that significantly supports the presentation
  • Employ digital tools for revising, editing, designing, sharing drafted works, and in disseminating final products
  • Incorporate appropriate citations in one’s work.
  • Use, invent, and correctly read graphic symbols, including traditional and contemporary musical scores and notations.
  • Organize a progression of ideas or points into an effective rhetorical sequence.
  1. The capacity to explain and defend views effectively and rationally.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of logic, logical fallacy, and syllogism.
  • Engage with and “do” musical criticism, both in the apprehension of musical structure and its relationship to musical interpretation and performance.
  • Survey, compare, and criticize musical theories, schools of thought, points of view, and performance interpretations
  • Categorize various theories and performance practices as they relate to, derive from, or contest others.
  • Evaluate musical performances, interpretations, and theories as implausible versus plausible, contestable versus incontestable, inappropriate versus appropriate, farfetched versus fetched, silly versus serious, and gradations in between.
  • Propose an original philosophical or musical interpretation or adopt an existing idea as one’s own.
  • Evaluate and verbally articulate the pros and cons of various points of view and musical interpretations.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

    • In order to declare a Music Major, you must apply to and be accepted to the Kitt School of Music. Please visit the Kitt School of Music website.
Major Requirements
  • This major requires 85 to 91 units distributed as follows:

    • Music Major Course Requirements: 51 units
    • Minor: 18 to 24 units
    • Foreign Language: 16 units

    Take the following 51 units. Courses with a prefix of MUS or MUP must be completed with a Grade of "C" or better.

      • Voice Track - MUP 160, MUP 260, and MUP 360, (1 unit each). To satisfy this requriement, choose from Shrine of the Ages Choir, Men's Chorale, and Women's Chorale. (5 units) 
      • OR
      • Instrumental Track - MUP 170, MUP 270, and MUP 370, (1 unit each). To satisfy this requirement, choose from Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Symphony Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Guitar Ensemble (if Guitar major) and Piano Ensemble (if Piano major). (5 units)
    • MUS 330W which meets the junior writing requirement (3 units)
    • MUS 485C which meets the senior capstone requirement (3 units)
    • Additional MUS or MUP elective courses with your advisor's consent. Note that you may count up to 3 units of MUP ensemble courses toward this requirement. (6 units)
Minor Requirements
  • You must complete a minor of at least 18 units from those described in this catalog. In consultation with your advisor, you should select a minor that is appropriate for your career aspirations and educational needs. Your minor advisor will advise you about this part of your academic plan.

Foreign Language Requirement
  • You must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English that is equivalent to four terms of university coursework in the same language. You may satisfy this requirement by taking language courses or through credit by exam. (16 units)

General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit.

    You may take these remaining courses from any of the academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. You may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.

    We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you.

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.