1. Individual attention: The School of Music is large enough to offer a wide variety of ensembles and performing opportunities, degree options, and specialized classes, but small enough to provide each student personal attention. Faculty and staff will know you by name.
2. A great institution: Penn State itself is a great institution with MUCH to offer students and huge alumni loyalty! The large size of the University Park campus means opportunities – hundreds of clubs, majors, and fields of study – yet music students never feel lost, because within the School of Music is a welcoming and smaller home.
3. A full-time, resident faculty: All music majors receive an hour lesson each week from a full-time, resident faculty member. Having a resident faculty means that faculty are on campus every day (often seven days a week), so you can drop in to ask questions, get extra coaching and advising – and not just on the day of your lesson.
4. Opportunities to work with national leaders: Music faculty members are active professionals and national leaders, while also being dedicated teachers. This means you will study with faculty who are writing the textbooks, take lessons with outstanding performers/composers, work with inspiring conductors, and have mentors who are connected professionally.
5. Small class sizes: Music major courses have small enrollments, typically 15 to 25 students. Students are never a number (and someone will notice if you skip your 8:00 a.m. class).
6. Performance opportunities galore: In addition to our superb large ensembles, we offer MANY chamber music opportunities, including a separate group for most instruments (trombone choir, horn ensemble, saxophone quartets, trumpet ensemble, flute ensemble, clarinet choir, tuba-euphonium ensemble, double-reed ensemble, viola ensemble, cello choir, mallet ensemble, percussion ensemble, piano ensemble) and many mixed ensembles.
7. Connections with graduate students: Because we also have masters degree programs in music education, performance, composition, music theory & history, and doctoral programs in music education and piano performance, our undergraduate students interact with these experienced teachers, performers, composers, and scholars – and sometimes stay for a graduate degree.
8. Many degree options: We offer a variety of degree programs, including a liberal arts degree (where music course work represents about one-third of the curriculum) and several professional degree options (where music course work will be one-half to two-thirds of the curricula). However, the core music curriculum is the same for all undergraduate music programs, so students can move between programs easily.
9. Unique Programs: We offer a unique integrated undergraduate-graduate degree for students with exceptional academic qualifications, where students can complete an undergraduate degree plus a masters in five years.
10. Finding your place: You will have lots of opportunities and support to find a program to fit your unique interests and strengths. Plus, there is support and flexibility for students with multiple interests who want to gain a second major or multiple minors.
More about one of our most popular programs
Music Education has a long and distinguished history at Penn State and about 60% of undergraduate music majors choose that degree. Here’s what you can expect:
• We emphasize real-life teaching experiences with children. Students begin their music education courses in the freshmen year, and by the sophomore year, music education students are working with children in school settings.
• Music education majors are not considered “second class citizens” in the School. Many of the top performance awards and first chair placements to go music education students.
• Music education courses include extensive opportunities to work with students in the schools. For example, instrumental students work with 5th grade bands and orchestra - selecting repertoire, conducting rehearsals, and presenting a concert.
• The music education curriculum is uniquely designed to prepare students for K-12 music certification. Rather than offering separate tracks in traditional areas of band, orchestra, and choral music, the curriculum prepares students to be successful in a variety of settings while also allowing time for an “Individualized Emphasis,” based on each student’s teaching interests and strengths.
• We have nine music education faculty whose specialties represent a breadth of experiences in public school music settings (general music, band, strings, and choral music at elementary, middle and high school levels).
• During the senior year, you will take a specialized course in an area of interest with a faculty member who has teaching expertise in that area (elementary general/choral; secondary general; secondary choral; beginning/intermediate band; secondary band; strings/orchestra). You will have exceptional mentors and opportunities.