The College of Arts and Architecture

Overview of Undergraduate Degree Programs

Undergraduate Handbook 2011-12
Overview of Undergraduate Degrees Offered by the School of Music


The School of Music offers professional and liberal arts education in music through four different undergraduate degree programs. These degree programs comply with national standards in music as established through the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and are accredited by NASM.

Professional degree programs emphasize the development of a high level of proficiency in the student's major area of interest (such as performance, composition, and teaching) and generally require at least 65% music content. Liberal Arts degree programs combine a liberal arts education with broad coverage of music, rather than a heavy concentration in any one area in music and normally involve 30-45% music content. Penn State also offers a Bachelor of Musical Arts in Music, which provides an opportunity for intensive studies in music along with another field, and this degree involves about 50% music content.

All Penn State degrees contain 45 credits in General Education. In addition to these general education credits, all Penn State music degrees contain a theory/history core, applied lessons, ensemble participation, piano proficiency, and recital attendance. Admission to any degree program is based on auditions, musicianship examinations, and interviews; however, students in the first year of study will take many of the same core music courses.

The credit area breakdowns for each degree are shown below. The Handbook chapters for each of the degree programs describe requirements in more detail. In cases of discrepancies between this Handbook and the University's Undergraduate Degree Program Bulletin, precedence is given to the latter.

Professional Degree Programs

  • Bachelor of Music in Performance or Composition
    • 45 credits of General Education courses
    • 71-84 credits of Music courses
  • Bachelor of Music Education
    • 45 credits of General Education courses
    • 94 credits of Music and Music Teaching courses

Liberal Arts Degree Program

  • Bachelor of Arts in Music
    • 45 credits of General Education courses
    • 9-24 credits of additional courses outside Music
    • 53 credits of Music courses
    • 1-16 credits of Electives

Combined Professional and Liberal Arts Degree Program

  • Bachelor of Musical Arts
    • 45 credits of General Education courses
    • 66 credits of Music courses
    • 24 credits in a Secondary Area (non-Music)

Which Degree Program Is Right For Me?
Students are accepted into the School of Music with an initial designation indicating the college and major: College of Arts and Architecture Music (AAMUS). This is a non-degree designation for a preparatory period of music study. A performance audition is part of the application process in the School of Music. To be admitted provisionally into the performance degree program requires a high level of proficiency in performance. To be admitted provisionally into the composition degree program requires submission and review of a composition portfolio, as well as an audition on the primary instrument (or voice) to assess basic musicianship skills. Students make a formal application to their intended major during their fourth semester; however, students are asked to indicate an area of interest (degree option) at the time of the audition. Students are urged to work closely with their advisers to discuss which degree program best prepares them for different types of careers and to ensure that they are taking the required preparatory courses for their intended degree program.

Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate Degree Programs
Academically superior students wishing to pursue graduate work may enroll in one of six combined Bachelor-Masters degree programs. The application is normally made during a student's junior year.