Degrees and Advising

Why Study Music?

Studying music is a great way to expand your mind and develop skills that...

can transfer into other areas of your life.
can lead to a fulfilling career in music or music-related fields.
can lead to a bachelor’s degree or music minor.
can prepare you for graduate study inside or outside of music.

Students interested in non-music major or minor opportunities should see the last section for more information. 

Music Degree Programs

All students interested in becoming a music major or minor must complete an Entrance & Scholarship Audition.  After being accepted, students may register for music core classes and declare their major or minor.

Students must apply to WWU through the Admissions Office. Students can audition for our program at any time before or after submitting an admissions application and do not need to wait for acceptance.

Graduate students should review the information on the Master of Music page. 

Music History & Literature (BMus)

Aimed at students with a particular interest in musicology or ethnomusicology. In addition to the core sequences of music history, music theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills, History & Literature majors have the opportunity to pursue in-depth study in a variety of topics related to the history and culture of music.

Music Performance (BMus)

With an emphasis on high-level performance and pedagogy, students receive comprehensive instruction on their primary instrument, gain a variety of solo and ensemble experiences, and perform two recitals in addition to completing a core set of courses in music theory, aural skills, keyboarding, and music history.

Music Composition (BMus)

Students receive private composition training along with instruction in basic music theory, music history, and conducting; lessons on their major instrument or voice; and ensemble performance. While composition instruction covers all modes, genres and periods, students may elect to concentrate their creativity in one or more specific areas.

Music Education P-12 (BMus)

This professional degree program prepares students to teach music in their emphasis area upon graduation, and receive a P-12 Certification as a Music Specialist. The program consists of a variety of pedagogy, conducting, and education-specific courses, including a student internship at a public school. Students in this major usually apply to the Woodring College of Education during their third year in our program.

Bachelor of Arts (B.A)

A liberal arts degree in music, including a basic core of study in music theory, aural skills, and history, along with private instruction and ensemble performance. At 60 credits, this program allows a student the flexibility to pursue an additional major or minor.

Music Minor

The minor in music is a one-year program that consists of a basic core study in music theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills (class piano), along with an introduction in different genres of music, and optional ensemble and private instruction.  All music majors and the music minor take the same first-year core sequence.  

Jazz Studies Minor

The Jazz Studies minor is designed for music majors who have an interest in a higher level of jazz education performance. The jazz studies minor is open to all admitted Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts in Music students. This minor consists of advanced jazz theory and improvisation, jazz history, private jazz lessons, and jazz arranging and composition. 

General Degree Information

Degree Prerequisite

The only pre-requisite to becoming a music major or minor is an Entrance & Scholarship Audition. 

Due to the length of our music major programs, incoming students are encouraged to start these majors during their first quarter at WWU. 

Core Sequences and Credit Load

The music curriculum is structured around sequential courses that requires students to meet prerequisites to enroll in next quarter and academic year. The music core sequence is comprised of courses in aural skills, keyboarding skills, theoretical and analytical skills, and music history that progress in a three-year sequence. Core music sequences begin fall quarter and will not repeat until the next academic year. Students who qualify for our Music Core Equivalency Assessments are eligible to begin core classes in Winter or Spring quarters contingent on assessment results.  

There are two tracks for keyboarding skills: A "C" track for piano majors, minors, and students with extensive piano lesson experience (221C-225C). A "B" track for all other students (121B-225B).

Year 1

  • Music Theory 1-3
    • Fall, MUS 122
    • Winter, MUS 124
    • Spring, MUS 126
  • Aural Skills 1-3
    • Fall, MUS 121A
    • Winter, MUS 123A
    • Spring, MUS 125A
  • Keyboarding Skills or Advanced Keyboarding Skills 1-3
    • Fall, MUS 121B or 221B
    • Winter, MUS 123B or 223B
    • Spring, MUS 125B or 225B

Year 2

  • Music Theory 4-6
    • Fall, MUS 222
    • Winter, MUS 224
    • Spring, MUS 226
  • Aural Skills 4-6
    • Fall, MUS 221A
    • Winter, MUS 223A
    • Spring, MUS 225A
  • Keyboarding Skills 4-6. Advanced Keyboarding students will not take the 200-level B sequence.
    • Fall, MUS 221B
    • Winter, MUS 223B
    • Spring, MUS 225B

Year 3

  • Music History 1 (MUS 341)
  • Music History 2 (MUS 342)
  • Music History 3 (MUS 343)

The standard load for a WWU student is 15 credits. The standard load for a music student can range between 12-17 credits depending on the degree program, year in the music program, transfer credits, and number of GURs to complete.  Due to reduced credits for music core classes, students may not reach full-time status with enrollment in solely music courses. Those who have completed GURs before attending WWU are encouraged to find a minor to supplement the additional credits needed to reach full-time status for financial aid purposes (scholarships, loans, grants, etc.), veterans benefits, and others..  

Keyboarding Skills

All students must complete keyboarding skills unless placed out of courses through the Music Core Equivalency Assessments.  

There are two tracks for keyboarding skills: A "B" track for beginning and intermediate players (MUS 121B-225B) and a  "C" track for piano majors, minors, and students with extensive piano lesson experience (221C-225C). 

All music majors must complete the Keyboarding Proficiency Exam (KPE). The exam is administered at the end of the "B" and "C" track of keyboarding courses.

 

Keyboard Proficiency Exam 

  1. Perform a prepared solo piece from the following choices:
  • A Clementi  Sonatina mvt
  • A Minuet by Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven
  • A piece from Schumann Album for the Young or Scenes From Childhood
  • Anything from Volumes 17, 27, 37, or 47 of Classics to Moderns, Denes Agay, ed
  1. Perform a prepared accompaniment to an art song or instrumental piece with a soloist. Good choices include short Schubert Lieder, Italian Art Songs, pieces from the Suzuki string methods, Vols 3 or higher. You will need to provide your own soloist.
  2. Harmonize a given melody with chords in the left hand. You must include V/V and V/IV with their proper resolution. Play the melody with the right hand and your harmonization with the left hand. You will have a moment to study the melody.
  3. Sight read a simple piano piece and a four-part hymn, hands together.
  4. Sight read a given lead sheet, with melody in the right hand and chords in the left hand. Included will be any type of seventh chord.
  5. Sight read a part for either Bb Clarinet, transposing the Clarinet part, or viola, reading alto clef.
  6. Play at least two parts from a four-part choral open score. Any combination but soprano/alto.
  7. Play a I-IV-V7-I cadence in any key, major or minor, with chord roots in the left hand and any chord inversion in the right hand.

All students are required to take keyboarding skills regardless of piano lesson experience. The only exception to this policy is students with transferrable class piano courses that test out of keyboarding skills courses through the Music Core Equivalency Assessments.

Optional Assessments

The Music Core Equivalency Assessments are diagnostic assessments for students with transferable credits in music theory, aural skills, and/or keyboarding skills. These assessments allow eligible students to test out of core classes based on their placement. Eligible students will be sent more information after completing an Entrance & Scholarship audition. Mid-year applicants for winter and spring quarters may be able to take assessments before completing an audition to help with advising and enrollment. 

Incoming students are given the option to take the final for MUS 122 and MUS 121A to determine if they may place out of the first quarter of core classes. There are no consequences for not passing the assessment. 

Graduation Timeline

Please explore the program lengths below, and email the Program Coordinator with any questions. All timelines are contingent on academic progress and growth. 

Minor in Music

The music minor is designed to take one to two years to complete, with the core sequences completed consecutively in one academic year. Incoming students can audition for the minor after their first year and still be on track for graduation.

Bachelor of Arts in Music (B.A)

Our general music major is designed to take two to three years to complete. Students have the option to take the second and third years of core sequences together to finish the major in less than three years. Please note, WWU requires students to reach a minimum of 180 credits with 60 credits of upper-division (300 and 400-level) courses. Students with minimal or no transfer credits should expect to take a minimum of 3.5 years to graduate with any bachelor's degree. 

Bachelor of Music (BMus)

Our professional majors are structured to take four years to complete. The Music Education major is designed to take four years with student teaching between years four and five. 

Sample Schedules

Music Minor

A typical incoming music minor will have the following schedule for their first quarter. 

The following classes are offered in fall quarter only. 

  • Music Theory I: MUS 122 (2 cr.)
  • Aural Skills I: MUS 121A (1 cr.)
  • Keyboarding Skills I: MUS 121B ( 1 cr.) or Advanced Keyboarding Skills I: MUS 221C (2 cr.)
  • Major/GUR
  • Major/GUR

Music minors must complete theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills as a set of courses unless tested out through assessments.

Music Major

A typical incoming music major will have the following schedule for their first quarter.

The following classes are offered in fall quarter only. 

  • Music Theory I: MUS 122 (2 cr.)
  • Aural Skills I: MUS 121A (1 cr.)
  • Keyboarding Skills I: MUS 121B ( 1 cr.) or Advanced Keyboarding Skills I: MUS 221C (2 cr.)
  • Private "Applied" Lessons: 200-level ( 2 cr.)
  • Major Ensemble ( 2 cr.)
  • One to two GURs

Incoming voice performance majors will take Intro to Voice Studies (MUS 166A) for 2 credits.

Transfer Credits and Assessments

How Credits Transfer

We accept transfer credits from ensembles, lessons, survey classes, and general music courses as the agreed transfer equivalency.

Credits for music theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills are initially transferred as general credits until a music core equivalency assessment determines the appropriate equivalency. Students eligible for assessments will have completed college courses in music theory, aural skills, keyboarding skills, and/or earned a 3 or higher on the AP/IB Music Theory Exam.

Testing out of Core Classes

Students with transferrable credit in music theory, aural skills, or keyboarding skills have two options; enroll in the beginning sequences, or take Music Core Equivalency Assessments to try to test out of required core classes.

The Music Core Equivalency Assessments are diagnostic assessments only for students with transferable credit in music theory, aural skills, and/or keyboarding skills. 

Eligible students will be sent more information after completing an Entrance & Scholarship audition.

Mid-year applicants for winter and spring quarters may be able to take assessments before completing an audition to help with advising and enrollment. 

Academic Advising

Music majors and minors are assigned to the Program Coordinator as their advisor after acceptance to the program and declaration. The Music Education Coordinator assists in advising BMus Education P-12 students.

Advising Appointments

Music students can schedule advising appointments with the Program Coordinator through the Music Advising Appointment Request form.

Music Education P-12 students are encouraged to keep in regular contact with the Music Education Coordinator who works with the Program Coordinator to advise this major.

Music Overrides

Music students can request overrides for music courses through the assigned instructor. Please review the override information below before submitting a request.

New music students will receive overrides from the Program Coordinator after being accepted into the music program through an audition. 

An override is a restriction lifted in the registration system that allows students to register.

Students are responsible for adding the course through Web4U after overrides have been entered.

Overrides were previously called “override codes,” but students no longer receive a code to add into Web4U.

  • General/Instructor: Access to a class with a major, program restriction, or override the restriction. Commons errors “not in the correct field of study,” “prerequisite is not met,” or “override required.”
  • Time Conflict: Access to a class that has a scheduling conflict. Students must work out the scheduling conflict with their instructors before an override can be entered. We do not provide an override to miss a portion of a class from another program or department.
  • Capacity: Access to a class that is full. Students in CORE classes such as music theory, aural skills, keyboarding skills, and music history are guaranteed a seat in one of the sections offered. If all sections are full, request an override, do not waitlist. All other courses will require permission from the professor to enroll.
  • Repeat Override: Access to a class already successfully passed. Common for transfer students.

 

Music students may need overrides to access certain music classes based on their incoming status and core class seat restrictions. 

The Music Department does NOT give students overrides to access classes in other departments.

Waitlist Policy

The Department of Music reserves the right to prioritize students on any class waitlist based on graduate date or program.

Non-Major/Minor Opportunities

Participate in a Production

Each year the Department of Music produces Opera Scenes and Opera Workshop. Any WWU student can audition to perform in these productions as well as volunteer for the production crew. Students who are interested in musicals or theatre should look into the Department of Theatre & Dance. Musicals and staged plays are open to all WWU students.

Join a Club

Students can join a musical club through the Associated Student organization! Some musical clubs include WWU Opera Club, A Capella Club, WMEA, ACDA, Glee Club, Vocal Jazz.

Join an Ensemble

All WWU students can participate in ensembles. Please see the Ensemble and Ensemble Auditions page for more information.

Take Academic Courses

All WWU students can register for our MUS GURs (MUS 104-112, 202 & 205) as well as MUS 101, Fundamentals of Music.

Take Private Lessons

Private "applied" lessons are available to students on a space-available basis who have previous experience on an instrument or voice. Some studios may require an official audition to be considered. Please contact the instructor or Area Coordinator if you are interested in taking lessons.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes! Music students can double major with any degree outside of the department. Students who complete two majors are not necessarily awarded two diplomas or two degrees. If the two majors are the same degree type (B.A, BMus, BS, etc.) or overlap by more than 50% then one diploma is awarded and the second major is listed as completed in degree notes.  Within the music department, students can complete multiple concentrations.

Students should be aware that scheduling conflicts are common when completing a double major. Students who decide to double major should plan to meet with each department advisor at least once a year to go over academic planning and coursework.

Eligible students can take our music core equivalency assessments to place or “test out” of one or more core classes. Eligible students will have completed college courses in music theory, aural skills, and/or keyboarding skills, or earned a 3 or higher on the AP Music Theory Exam. Assessments are given to students after being accepted via an Entrance & Scholarship Audition. Most incoming students will complete these assessments before their summer orientation sessions. Students who join mid-year will schedule assessments on an individual basis.

Earning an AA/DTA can assist music students by fulfilling general university requirements (GURs). However, earning an AA/DTA does not guarantee a student may graduate faster from any degree program. 

Students must complete all major and general graduation requirements to earn a degree from WWU which may not include courses previously completed at another institution. In addition, music majors meet technical and music benchmarks in private lessons that cannot be determined through previous academic coursework. Students who are eligible for course equivalency assessments offered to accepted music majors and minors may be able to graduate faster depending on the results.

We accept transfer credits from ensembles, lessons, survey classes, and general music courses as the agreed transfer equivalency. Credits for music theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills are initially transferred as general credits until a music core equivalency assessment may determine the appropriate equivalency. Students eligible for assessments will have completed college courses in music theory, aural skills, keyboarding skills, and/or earned a 3 or higher on the AP Music Theory Exam.

Unfortunately, our core academic courses are restricted to those who have been accepted as a major through an Entrance Audition. These include courses such as music theory, aural skills, keyboarding skills, music history, conducting, and music education courses.

Private "applied" lessons have an MJ or program restriction on them as a way to prioritize enrollment. Non-music majors/minors can enroll in lessons with the permission of the instructor. Please note that some studios may require an audition.

Composition lessons also have an MJ or program restriction. These studios have a waitlist for non-majors/minors who are interested in taking composition lessons. Please email Dr. Halka (Charles.Halka@wwu.edu) with your name, W#, and interests to see if you can be added to the waitlist. Please note, taking composition lessons does not automatically mean a student is a composition music major. 

Private "applied" lessons are open to all WWU students with previous experience. Non-music majors/minors can enroll with instructor permission if there is room after music majors, minors, and scholarship recipients have been placed. 

Some studios may require an official audition to be considered. Please contact the instructor or Area Coordinator if you are interested in taking lessons. Area coordinator information can be found on the Music Faculty Directory page. 

The Department of Music offers HUM or AGCM GURs during the summer. At this time, we do not offer core music classes, ensembles, or lessons during the summer quarter. 

Yes! Students at WWU can study musical theater through the Department of Theatre & Dance. Please see the Theatre Concentrations page on the Department of Theatre & Dance website.

Students interested in these subjects are encouraged to look at the Audio Technology, Music, and Society Minor in Fairhaven College. While BMus Composition students may elect to take a course in computer or electroacoustic music, this is not the primary focus of the degree program.

Looking for more information?

If you have any questions, we're happy to find you an answer. Call the Music Department Office 360-650-3130, or view the directory of faculty and staff.