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Advice for Prospective Music Majors

The CSUSB Department of Music provides students with a rigorous musical education as a foundation for a lifelong understanding and love of music, as well as preparation for a wide variety of careers in music. We accomplish this through an emphasis on undergraduate education, small class size, and close interactions between faculty and students, all with a continual focus on artistic expression. Consistent with the university’s mission, the department is also committed to serving the campus and Inland Empire communities through on-going performance and educational initiatives.

The department offers two baccalaureate degrees: a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Music and a selective Bachelor of Music (BM) with concentrations in Performance and Pre-Certification (Music Education). Students must audition for acceptance into the BM degree program. (More information about Bachelor of Music audition requirements is available in the department’s online handbook.) No audition is required for acceptance into the BA degree program, but students must audition for placement into the appropriate level of applied lessons. Interested students should contact for more information about applied placement and scholarship auditions.

In addition to the two degrees, the department also offers three minors open to students in any CSUSB major: a general Minor in Music, a Minor in Music Technology, and a Minor in Alternative Styles The courses in these minors can also be used to fulfill elective requirements for the BA/BM degrees, and many music majors choose to declare a minor in a secondary field of study.

More detailed information about the department's degree offerings, as well as the minors, is available in the Music Department’s online handbook, and prospective music majors are encouraged to contact the department with questions at or (909) 537-7516.

Preparing to major in music

An expectation common to almost all music degrees, including those at CSUSB, is mastery of performance on an instrument or as a singer. The more advanced a student’s performing or “applied” abilities are, the more successful he/she will be in pursuing a music major. High school students planning a music major should pursue development of applied skills and knowledge through private lessons, “coaching” from their school’s music teachers, and/or other informal help from professionals in their particular area of performance. Transfer students should complete applied lesson courses at their community colleges.

Similarly, prospective music majors should develop their knowledge of music theory, an important subject typically studied in great detail by music majors. Students can gain theory knowledge as part of applied lessons, in community college classes, in AP Music Theory, and through individual study. Students interested in self-directed music theory study should speak to their current music teachers or email CSUSB’s Music Department at for suggested materials. CSUSB offers diagnostic testing in music theory that can help students achieve an appropriate placement in the department’s music theory and musicianship sequence.

Prospective transfer music majors in California community colleges should consider completing an Associates Degree for Transfer in Music. An ADT in Music is a program specially designed to prepare California community college graduates for transferring as music majors to a university in the CSU system. Community college counselors and music faculty can provide prospective transfers will more detailed information about ADT music courses. Even if a community college doesn’t have an ADT in Music, students planning to major in music should complete courses in music theory, applied lessons, class piano, and large performing ensembles. To find out if a course at your community college will transfer to CSUSB, visit Note, however, that students who complete an ADT in Music must still audition for acceptance into the Bachelor of Music degree. Also, students with prior piano experience may perform a piano placement audition for advanced placement in CSUSB’s class piano course sequence. It’s possible for students to test completely out the department’s piano proficiency requirements.

Important deadlines

CSUSB currently uses the CSU system's priority application deadline of November 30 for admission in the following fall term. If prospective students do not apply to CSUSB by that deadline, admission for the following year’s fall term is almost impossible to achieve. Students file applications online at Cal State Apply, and they can find answers to admission, financial aid, and similar questions at CSUSB’s Office of Admissions.

CSUSB’s Music Department offers approximately $15,000 in music scholarships every year to music majors. Students apply through CSUSB’s online scholarship application system, and the deadline for applying is always in early March. More information about music scholarships is available online. To apply for a scholarship, students must file an application by the priority application deadline. As part of a music scholarship application, students must submit links to recorded audition materials. Students should consult with their school’s music teacher or contact CSUSB’s Music Department at if they need help in preparing audition materials. Audition preparation should ideally start before a student is informed of admission to CSUSB, which typically occurs in late January or early February.

Usually at the same time as scholarship applications are due, students must submit applications for other financial aid. More about information financial aid applications and deadlines is available from CSUSB’s Office of Admissions.

May 1 is the usual deadline for paying a deposit and confirming with CSUSB’s Office of Admissions the intent to attend CSUSB in the following year. Before that date, prospective music majors are strongly encouraged to visit CSUSB and the Music Department to attend classes and rehearsals, tour music facilities, and meet music students and faculty. Contact CSUSB’s Music Department at to arrange a visit. During the summer before first enrolling in CSUSB classes, all new students attend a session of SOAR, which includes an advising session with a music faculty member. Finally, shortly before the beginning of fall classes in August, new music students will be contacted by their applied lessons teachers to set up an applied lesson time for the term. More information about that and other courses in the music curriculum will be available at the SOAR advising session. Also in preparation for their first term at CSUSB, new music majors should review the full Music Department handbook for important information about degrees, classes, academic policies, and music facilities.