Bachelor of Arts in Music

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The Bachelor of Arts in Music provides a humanistic approach to the study of music as a significant part of human tradition and culture. This degree program provides broad liberal arts preparation with significant study in music. The structure of the degree program offers students several avenues to pursue individual interests in music as preparation for careers in music or music-related fields. Students may choose the recommended emphases in Classical, Jazz, Electronic Music, or Creative Music Studies. Students with other music-related career interests may also design and complete an elective emphasis more appropriately focused, with the approval of the School of Music.

Preparation for the major involves competency and/or course work requirements in theory, ear training, and piano.

Performance achievement in one applied area (voice, piano, or instrumental major) is an expected component of the Bachelor of Arts degree program. Students must develop, with their faculty advisor, a school approved program that will provide for clear demonstration of musicality and musicianship appropriate to a liberal arts degree in music in their area of emphasis. Students whose major performance medium is voice are strongly recommended to take Class Voice in order to achieve performance competence.

Music (B.A.) — 45 units

Lower Division Core Courses (15 units)

MUS 150Concert Music (each semester in residence up to and including 8 semesters)0
MUS 201Class Piano I1
MUS 202Class Piano II1
MUS 221Fundamentals of Ear Training and Musicianship I 12
MUS 222Fundamentals of Ear Training and Musicianship II2
MUS 231Contrapuntal Analysis and Synthesis 13
MUS 232Diatonic Analysis and Synthesis 13
MUS 233Chromatic Analysis and Synthesis 13

Students in the Jazz and Creative Music Studies emphasis may substitute MUS 234 and MUS 235 for MUS 221, MUS 231, MUS 232, and MUS 233.

Upper Division Core Courses (12 units)

Students may not enroll in upper division courses in music until MUS 201, MUS 202, MUS 221, MUS 222, MUS 231, MUS 232, and MUS 233 have been completed with a grade of C or better. These courses must be completed no later than the end of the first semester of the junior year.

MUS 42020th Century Techniques (Jazz Emphasis students take MUS 440 instead of MUS 420)3
MUS 542GWEthnomusicology - GWAR3
MUS 598Senior Thesis3
Select one of the following:3
Modern Music: American Iconoclasts
Seminar in Music Literature
Music of John Coltrane

Area of Emphasis (18 units)

See below.

Emphasis Areas

In order to fulfill the requirements of the major in the Bachelor of Arts in Music, students must complete an additional 20 units of course work upon advisement. With a faculty advisor, students select an area of emphasis based on interests and areas in which to build expertise. Recommended areas of emphasis from which students may choose are listed below. For other possible emphases, please see a School of Music advisor.

Classical Emphasis (18 units)
MUS 405Tonal Counterpoint3
MUS 415Orchestration3
Select two of the following:6
Music from the Middle Ages to 1750
Classic and Romantic Music
20th Century Music
Major Instruction/Ensembles
Select a minimum of 2 units (1 unit per semester) must be major instruction in one instrument or voice.6
Jazz Emphasis (18 units)
MUS 430Improvisation1
MUS 431Jazz Improvisation I2
or MUS 432 Jazz Improvisation II
MUS 441Jazz Composition and Arranging3
Select two of the following:6
Survey of Jazz
Musics of the Middle East and India
Musics of North and Southeast Asia
Music of Latin America
Music of John Coltrane
Major Instruction/Performance - instrument or voice classes are 1 unit per semester and must be taken concurrently with a performance ensemble class:
  1. One Instrument or Voice (2)
  2. Performance Ensemble (2) - jazz, creative, or world music
  3. Large Ensemble (2)
    1. wind ensemble, orchestra, chorus (Orchestral Instrument or Voice Students)
    2. jazz and creative music classes (Jazz and Creative Music Students)
Electronic Music Emphasis (18 units)
MUS 415Orchestration3
MUS 504Survey of Electronic Music3
MUS 55220th Century Music3
Select one of the following on advisement:3
Music from the Middle Ages to 1750
Classic and Romantic Music
Major Instruction/Performance Laboratories
MUS 438Fundamentals of Computer Music2
Major Instruction/Ensembles
Select one of the following (Units used to fulfill this requirement must be from one performance medium):2
Keyboard Major
Voice Major
Instrumental Major

Major Instruction must have concurrent enrollment in MUS 371 - MUS 390 Ensemble Series

Major instruction in one instrument or voice: minimum 2 units large classical ensemble (Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Opera Workshop, Chorus) for students studying orchestral instruments or voice: minimum 2 units in Jazz and/or Creative Music performance classes for those students studying Jazz and Creative 2 units required (1 unit per semester). 2 units maximum (1 unit per semester)

World Music (18 units)
MUS 430Improvisation1
MUS 433Introduction to Music Technology2
MUS 440Jazz Harmony3
Select two of the following (at least 3 units must be in Music):6
Music of the World's Peoples
Survey of Jazz
Rock Since the Mid-1960s
Musics of the Middle East and India
Musics of North and Southeast Asia
Music of Latin America
Major Instruction/Performance
MUS 313/353Voice Major (Major instruction in one instrument or voice)2
MUS 386World Music Ensembles2
MUS 371-MUS 390 Ensemble Series2

Major Instruction must have concurrent enrollment in MUS 371 - MUS 390 Ensemble Series

Major instruction in one instrument or voice: minimum 2 units large classical ensemble (Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Chorus) for students studying orchestral instruments or voice: minimum 2 units in Jazz and/or Creative Music performance classes for those students studying Jazz and Creative 2 units required (1 unit per semester). 2 units maximum (1 unit per semester)

Note: A minimum of 40 upper division units must be completed for the degree (including upper division units required for the major, general education, electives, etc.). A student can complete this major yet not attain the necessary number of upper division units required for graduation. In this case additional upper division courses will be needed to reach the required total.

Complementary Studies

Twelve units of complementary studies are required of all candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music. These units must come from courses bearing a prefix other than MUS, and not cross-listed with MUS. Music majors will be offered several pathways toward completing this requirement, each of which is designed to facilitate graduation in a timely manner. Music majors may, with the approval of a MUS Program advisor, satisfy the Complementary Studies requirement by completing 12 units in a single foreign language of their choosing; 12 units from courses taken in a study abroad program; 12 units from courses taken as partial completion of a second major, minor or certificate; or 12 units from courses in related disciplines. Related disciplines typically include: theater, dance, cinema, broadcast and electronic communications, creative writing, journalism, kinesiology, physical education, health education, holistic health, biology, elementary education, English, history, anthropology, business, and journalism. Up to 12 units of Complementary Studies may count toward the major for courses that are related to music, as determined by a major advisor.

The Bachelor of Arts in Music degree requires completion of the University General Education requirements, 45 units of requirements in music appropriate to the degree emphasis, which includes concert attendance (MUS 150), and additional elective units for a total of 120 units. Additional elective units may be taken in music, but a maximum of 60 units in music may be counted towards the 120 units required for graduation. Note:

  • Lower division preparation for the Bachelor of Arts in Music should be completed during the first two years of study at SF State.
  • Lower division preparation in music must be completed prior to enrollment in upper division music coursework.
  • Students must enroll in MUS 150 (0 units) each semester in residence up to and including eight semesters.
  • A grade of C or better is required for all music courses in the Bachelor of Arts in Music major.

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication I LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
Written English Communication II LD 3 A4
Physical Science LD 3 B1
Life Science LD 3 B2
Lab Science LD 1 B3
Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning LD 3 B4
Arts LD 3 C1
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Humanities: Literature LD 3 C3
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Social Sciences: US & CA Governement LD 3 D3
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD or UD 3 E
Physical and/or Life Science UD 3 UD-B
Arts and/or Humanities UD 3 UD-C
Social Sciences UD 3 UD-D
SF State Studies
Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper or lower division in General Education (GE), in a major or minor, or may be an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities (AERM) LD or UD 3
Environmental Sustainability (ES) LD or UD 3
Global Perspectives (GP) LD or UD 3
Social Justice (SJ) LD or UD 3

Note: LD = lower division; UD = upper division.

This degree program is an approved pathway (“similar” major) for students earning the ADT in Music

California legislation SB 1440 (2009), mandated the creation of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) to be awarded by the California Community Colleges. Two types of ADTs are awarded: Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T). Note: no specific degree is required for admission as an upper division student. However, the ADT includes specific guarantees related to admission and graduation, and is designed to clarify the transfer process and strengthen lower division preparation for the major.

An ADT totals sixty units and includes completion of all lower division GE and at least eighteen units in a specific major. Students pursuing an ADT are guaranteed admission to the CSU if minimum eligibility requirements are met, though not necessarily to the CSU campus of primary choice.

Upon verification that the ADT has been awarded prior to matriculation at SF State, students are guaranteed B.A. or B.S. completion in 60 units if pursuing a “similar” major after transfer. Determinations about “similar” majors at SF State are made by faculty in the discipline.

Degree completion in 60 units cannot be guaranteed when a student simultaneously pursues an additional major, a minor, certificate, or credential.

A sample advising roadmap for students who have earned an ADT and is continuing in this major at SF State is available on the Roadmaps tab and displays

  • How many lower division units required for the major have been completed upon entry based on award of a specific ADT;
  • Which lower division requirements are considered complete upon entry based on award of a specific ADT;
  • How to complete the remaining 60 units for the degree in four semesters.

Students who have earned an ADT should seek advising in the major department during the first semester of attendance.

General Advising Information for Transfer Students

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. The following courses are not required for admission but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
    • a course in U.S. History
    • a course in U.S. & California government
    • a 2nd-semester course in written English composition

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), go to Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine

  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower division major requirements for this major
  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 units/90 quarters required for admission.

Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper division transfer (for example, if course was not passed on first attempt, or was taken to earn a better grade).

Before leaving the last California community college of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.

Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.

Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower division general education in areas C and D until after transfer in order to focus on preparation courses for the major. (This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.)

Transferring from institutions other than CCCs or CSUs

Review SF State's lower division General Education requirements. As described above, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3 and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (GE A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. Review more information about the A3 requirement here.

Identify and complete a 2nd-semester written English composition course before transfer. This is usually the next course after the typical “freshman comp” course, with a focus on writing, reading and critical analytical skills for academic purposes, and developing skills in composing, revising, and the use of rhetorical strategies.

Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.

All students must meet the transfer eligibility requirements outlines below for admission. For more information, visit the Undergraduate Admissions section.

  • Complete 60 or more transferable semester units or 90 or more quarter units
  • Earn a college grade point average of 2.00 or better in all transferable courses. Non-local area residents may be held to a higher GPA standard.
  • Be in good standing at the last college or university attended
  • Complete 30 semester units (45 quarter units) of general education, including four basic skills courses:
    1. One course in oral communication (same as CSU GE area A1)
    2. One course in written composition (same as CSU GE area A2)
    3. One course in critical thinking (same as CSU GE area A3)
    4. One course in mathematics or quantitative reasoning, with intermediate algebra as a prerequisite (same as CSU GE area B4)
  • The four basic skills courses and minimum of 60 transferable semester units (90 quarter units) must be completed by the spring semester prior to fall admission, or by the fall semester prior to spring admission. Earn a "C" or better grade in each basic skills course.