Area of Focus
  • Arts & Media
Degrees Offered
  • B.A.
  • B.M.
  • M.A.
  • Ph.D.
  • DMA
  • Undergraduate Minor
  • Other
Academic Division
  • Arts
  • Music

Program overview

The Music Department at UC Santa Cruz offers two undergraduate degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in Music (B.A.) and a Bachelor of Music (B.M.). The B.A. degree offers a uniquely diverse curriculum, with the option of completing a concentration in Contemporary Practices, Global Musics, or Western Art Music. The B.M. degree is designed for students who intend to pursue a career in music performance. The department also offers minors in Electronic Music, Jazz, Spontaneous Composition and Improvisation, and Western Art Music, providing more access for music students and students in other disciplines to engage with music during their studies at UCSC. Both the B.A. and B.M. degrees are distinctive in that they integrate elements of performance, theory, composition, literature, and history & culture. Music students leave UCSC prepared for graduate studies and music careers in performance, teaching, and the digital arts.


Learning Experience

Students will encounter a rich variety of performance opportunities. Specifically, students engage with music:

  • as a cultural practice in ensembles focusing on musical traditions from all over the globe;
  • temporally in ensembles based on Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, contemporary, experimental, and popular idioms to deepen their understanding of performance practices;
  • technologically in electronic music ensembles and workshops, using innovative technologies;
  • collaboratively in seminars geared towards student composition and improvisation.

Music facilities include a number of performance venues as well as classrooms and teaching studios outfitted with advanced audio-visual technology and with state-of-the-art digital audio, video, and recording systems.

  • 396-seat Recital Hall
  • 13 teaching studios
  • 20 practice rooms
  • 5 classrooms
  • Recording studio
  • Gamelan studio
  • Ensemble rehearsal room
  • 60-seat performance studio
  • Music library
  • Percussion studio
  • Office space

Study and Research Opportunities

Students at UC Santa Cruz have extraordinary performance, composition, and professionalization opportunities.

All instrument and voice faculty are celebrated professional musicians, who provide unparalleled guidance for students in performance and professional development.

Ensemble courses culminate in end-of-quarter performances, providing students with regular performance opportunities in a world-class Recital Hall.

The Electronic Music minor provides hands-on opportunities for students to learn a variety of techniques related to electronic sound production, composition, and recording in a state-of-the-art studio facility.

The Opera Program allows undergraduate and graduate students to be involved in every step of a major production, from concept and design considerations to marketing and arts management.

First-Year (Freshman) Requirements

Frosh students who wish to major or minor in Music should plan to take a performing ensemble and large-lecture GE Music course (something from the MUSC 11, 80, or 81 series) during their first quarter. Frosh are also encouraged, but not required, to take the Theory Placement Exam before fall quarter, and begin theory coursework in their first year

Additionally, frosh who plan to focus on a performance track (such as the B.M. degree or Western Art Music concentration of the B.A. degree) are advised to concentrate on developing a high level of skill on their principal instrument or voice. For these students, private music instruction during high school is highly recommended.

Chinese drum performance

Transfer Requirements

This is a non-screening major. However, all transfer students are strongly encouraged to take the Theory Placement Exam and seek academic counseling before transfer. While MUSC 30A is the required qualification/declaration course for all major tracks, students without a strong theory background may end up placing into MUSC 13 or 14 via the Placement Exam instead, potentially increasing time-to-degree.

Prospective transfer students interested in the B.M. or Western Art Music B.A. tracks who wish to have their performance level assessed by instrument or voice faculty may submit a video for faculty review. Email with questions.

B.M. transfer students should prepare to audition for the B.M. program in the fall quarter after enrollment.


Internships and Career Opportunities

  • Arts administration
  • Broadcasting
  • Composition
  • Conducting
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Film, television, and video game scoring
  • Music arrangement
  • Musicology
  • Performance
  • Recording
  • Teaching

These are only samples of the field’s many possibilities.

Program Contact



apartment 244 Music Center 
phone (831) 459-2292