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Music College and Career Resources

Do you see yourself playing onstage and sharing your moving experiences through your music? Or rather, do you see yourself training and nurturing young musicians as you direct the high school band? Do the healing possibilities of music amaze you, or would you rather work composing the soundtrack of the latest movie or video game? Any of these leanings can be nurtured through one of several paths of study in the music discipline.

Music Performance (B.M. Bachelor of Music) – Whether you study voice, instrumental music or conducting, this degree prepares you to become a professional musician. Admissions are based significantly on auditions and courses include music theory, business, and history—along with piano/keyboard training, private lessons and ensemble work, and public recitals. As a graduate of a B.M. program, you are positioned to pursue positions as a member of a professional performance group, such as an orchestra, opera, or jazz ensemble, or graduate work in work in the field.

Music Composition or Music Theory (B.M. Bachelor of Music) – If you enter these fields, your study will focus on the history and structure of music. You will take lessons on your primary instrument and on piano. A music theory degree prepares you for being a professional musician, or possibly graduate school with an eye to a university teaching position that supports your research and publication interests. As a classical composition major, your trajectory is also likely graduate school, with the goal of landing in a program that offers commissions—opportunities for you to earn a living writing music. In commercial music programs you will be trained to write music for commercial industries, such as the movies and advertising.

Music Education (B.S. Bachelor of Science in Music Education) – The Bachelor of Science in Music Education places less emphasis on mastery of a single instrument, rather it exposes you to the basics involved with playing all-- woodwind, brass, string and percussion instruments, as well as piano, voice, and conducting. The end goal is for you to be able to teach ensemble music in the K-12th grade school systems, so courses in education and psychology as well as music, are required.

Music Therapy (B.M. Bachelor of Music) – Degree programs in Music Therapy prepare you to use the art in healthcare settings, such as hospitals and group homes, to promote wellness and healing. Basic music coursework is required, as well as classes in psychology, and clinical fieldwork. Music Therapy majors will typically be required to take lessons on their primary instrument or voice and also to become proficient on piano and guitar. With a Bachelor’s degree, a music therapist is eligible for positions in healthcare or private practice.

Music Business (B.A. Bachelor of Arts) – Degrees in either Music Business or Arts Administration can be housed either within the music school or you may take music classes supplemented with marketing and finance classes from the business department. There are many jobs available working in the administration of music organizations, such as orchestras or youth-oriented non-profits, as well as in the business side of the commercial music industry. This field of study produces recording engineers, producers, composers, programers, acoustic specialists, just to name a few.

Music Technology (B.A. or B.F.A.) - Degrees in Music Technology focus on the technology of music- usually new and old. Most Music Technology degrees have an emphasis on recording, programming, mixing and reproducing music.

Bridge to College Tip: The curriculum at music conservatories focuses solely on music— few or no “general” courses are required.

B.F.A. B.S. or B.A.? See this article from

Highlights of college level training in California
Searching for the Right College Fit: Do they have my major?

Based on the seven disciplines offered at CSSSA, here is a pocket guide to see at-aglance what arts majors are offered at four-year state colleges/universities:
The California State University system
The University of California system

Colleges that participate in Bridge to College or the CSSSA College Fair:
Independent Colleges – In California
Independent Colleges – Outside of California

In addition, here is a pocket guide to the California Community Colleges also based on the seven CSSSA disciplines: Click Here.

Educational Institutions: If you would like to see your college or university listed here, please contact the CSSSA Foundation.

Listing here does not constitute an endorsement, but is intended for educational purposes only. Please see our disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

Bridge to College Tip: If you want to pursue commercial music business, consider going to a program that offers courses specific to this, also networking and internship opportunities that will enhance connections after graduation.

12 Questions to Consider as you select a program in Music:

  1. What is the musical emphasis of the school? Do they focus on historical classical orchestral/operatic music, contemporary classical music, jazz studies, world music, or commercial music?
  2. Is the school of music part of a university/college, or is it a conservatory?
  3. Which programs/studios are the biggest at the college– do more people graduate from in the area music education, music performance, or another area?
  4. How many music students attend the program?
  5. How many students would be in your studio? Are there multiple teachers for your instrument/voice type?
  6. Is it possible to meet your studio teacher before enrolling? (In many cases, studio teachers require a meeting/in-person audition before acceptance.) As this is the person you’ll be taking weekly lessons with for the next four years – you want it to be a good fit.
  7. Will your private lessons be with the main faculty member for your instrument/voice type, or with a graduate student?
  8. What is the reputation, training and background of the studio faculty?
  9. What ensembles are available for you to participate in (orchestras, wind ensembles, jazz bands, chamber ensembles, choirs)?
  10. If you want to be in music theater or opera, how do the music and theater departments work together at your prospective program?
  11. For Music Therapy and Music Business, what are the career-building opportunities (internships, mentorships, etc.) offered?
  12. What do administrators/ instructors feel distinguishes their school from competitors?

Career information (and job boards)
The Strad (Magazine and ezine for string instrument players.
There are magazines, ezines and blogs for every instrumental category--woodwinds, brass, keyboard, etc.) (ezine devoted to jazz music) (daily classical music ezine)
Film Music Magazine
Music Think Tank’s article on sustaining a career in music
American Music Therapy Association’s page on Careers and Employment
Forbes Magazine article on How to make a living in the modern music business
Job postings at
Industry news and jobs at
UT Music Art Career Guide

DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to endorse, guarantee, warrant, or recommend any particular program or course of study. Parents and students are encouraged to consult their school’s guidance counselor or other educational professionals before making any decision about investment in higher education. CSSSA Foundation 2013.

Highlighting Careers in the Arts: Film & TV composer Nathan Barr tells us what it is like to write a score. Brought to you by Gigniks.

Highlighting Careers in the Arts: Foley Artists Sara Monat and Robin Harlan explain what they do. Brought to you by Gigniks.