Undergraduate Programs

The NIU School of Music provides all of the advantages of a conservatory program with the features and experiences of attending a major university. You will receive a strong artistic, intellectual, and practical foundation for a professional career in music. Through our diverse programming, you have the opportunity to focus on jazz, contemporary and new music, a number of world music ensembles, and traditional Western music. 

You will receive personalized attention from engaged and dedicated faculty, who are nationally and internationally recognized. Your classroom and other scholarly experiences will feature broad cultural and academic perspectives, which are essential in continuing to develop as a versatile musician.

Undergraduate admission for music majors is a two-step process. Every student must be accepted by both the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the School of Music in order to pursue a degree. Review your Music Admissions Requirements. Questions? Please contact Brigid Crawford, the music admissions coordinator, at bcrawford@niu.edu.

Four-year degree paths, outlining a student's academic timeline can be found on the Academic Advising website.

Please see the Credit by Examination page for more details on what AP exams and scores are accepted. Transfer music majors and minors will need to complete a music theory placement exam; more details can be found on our auditions page.

Music Degrees

Bachelor of Music (B.M.)

The School of Music offers a Bachelor of Music degree with emphases in music education, performance, and composition. Information on degree requirements for these emphases can be found in the Undergraduate Catalog. Four-year degree paths can be found on the Academic Advising website.

  • Emphasis 1: Music Education
    Students admitted to this program select either instrumental or vocal music as an area and concurrently seek Illinois public school educator licensure, leading to careers as school music teachers.
  • Emphasis 2: Performance
    Students who intend to pursue professional careers as performing musicians select an area of study in keyboard music, vocal music, instrumental music, or jazz studies.
  • Emphasis 3: Composition
    This program is for students who wish to develop professional careers in composition, or who intend to pursue graduate study in composition/theory after completion of the bachelor degree.

Bachelor of Arts in Music (B.A.)

The B.A. in Music is for students that seek to study music in the context of the world today combining practice and theory with a broad elective component that allows for study in a variety of musical styles, genres and applications including world music, recording arts, electroacoustic music and songwriting. The B.A.'s flexibility allows for students to elect their own focus as well as the potential to add a related second major or minor to augment their interests as well as broaden their post-graduate career paths. Students also have the option to study performance through the classical, jazz or world music ensembles.

Students can apply through the traditional instrumental or vocal audition process or apply by submitting a portfolio of work that shows their interest and aptitude for the study of music. Portfolios can include compositions, recordings, papers, media, software or other materials but are only limited by the creativity of the applicant.

Coursework for the B.A. includes fundamental and contemporary music theory and aural skills, music history, songwriting, computer music, ensembles, and various music electives – chosen based upon a student’s interests and goals. A minimum of 40 semester hours of the total number must be in courses numbered at the 300 and/or 400 level. These must include at least 12 semester hours of major departmental courses taken at NIU. Four-year degree paths can be found on the Academic Advising website.  

Information on requirements for this degree can be found in the Undergraduate Catalog.

Music Minor

The Music Minor is a great opportunity for students to be actively involved in the School of Music, taking a total of 20 credit hours composed of secondary lessons, theory/aural skills and history courses along with participating in ensembles. An audition is required to assess proficiency and studio placement. Please contact Brigid Crawford at bcrawford@niu.edu for more information about the audition.