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Academic Policies

Music Scholarships

The Music Department offers a variety of scholarships, including several large endowed scholarships. The department offers scholarships for one year based on a written application and performance audition. Returning students must reapply every year for scholarship consideration, and receiving a scholarship for one year is not a guarantee of renewal for the following year. Each scholarship has somewhat different requirements, so students are encouraged to examine various scholarship opportunities in greater detail. More information, including application forms and deadlines, is available at the department's Music Scholarships link.

Major Ensemble Enrollment

The Bachelor of Arts in Music degree requires participation in one of the major performance ensembles most appropriate to a music major's applied instrument for the length of time enrolled in applied lessons (typically four semesters). The Bachelor of Music degree requires participation in one of the ensembles most appropriate to a music major's applied instrument for length of time enrolled in applied lessons (typically six semesters for the BM Pre- Certification and eight semesters for BM in Performance) .  CSUSB's major performing ensembles include: MUS 3800 Chamber Orchestra (1), MUS 3810 Symphonic Band (1), MUS 3850 Concert Choir (1), and MUS 3860 Chamber Singers (1).

Consistent with California's Transfer Model Curriculum, California community college students may transfer credit to CSUSB for large ensemble coursework as indicated at Students enrolled for a part-time load in a particular semester are not required to participate in a major ensemble for that semester, but they must still eventually earn the total minimum units required for graduation. String, Winds, Brass and Percussion music majors must enroll in MUS 3800 or MUS 3810, and voice majors must enroll in MUS 3850 or MUS 3860. Piano and guitar majors lacking the requisite instrumental skills to participate in MUS 3800 or MUS 3810 should enroll in MUS 3850 or 3860. MUS 3860 is open to advanced singers by audition only. Students enrolled in preparatory-level lessons are not required to enroll in a major ensemble and may only do so if they successfully audition into one of those groups.

MUS 1000 Music Forum

Music majors complete four semesters of MUS 1000 to broaden their knowledge of musical performance. Music majors who complete all of their music coursework at CSUSB must complete all four semesters of MUS 1000. Music majors who transfer some music coursework to CSUSB from another institution are required to successfully complete two semesters of MUS 1000. For more information about the course's specific requirements, email for a course syllabus.

Piano Proficiency

With the exception of piano majors, all music majors entering CSUSB must take a placement audition for class piano requirements. The audition is designed to place students in the appropriate level of class piano. Satisfactory completion of a proficiency examination, or a grade of B or higher in MUS 2220 Class Piano IV, is required of all music majors. Piano majors meet the examination requirement as part of jury examinations for their applied lessons. At the exam, students will be asked to demonstrate their level of achievement in the following areas:

  1. Sight-reading, hands together, treble and bass clefs, chorale-style music.
  2. Harmonization of melodies, beginning with I-V7 chords in left hand and progressing to secondary dominants, if possible.
  3. Transposition of material listed under "Sight-reading" (#2 below).
  4. I - vi - IV - ii6 - I(6/4) - V7 - I chord progressions in as many major and minor keys as possible.
  5. Improvisational techniques
  6. Other types of keyboard facility as appropriate.

Any entering student who feels they have sufficient piano background to challenge piano proficiency may request an examination. The following general requirements must be met:

  1. Patriotic Songs
    • America ("My Country 'Tis of Thee") in keys F, G, Eb
    • Star Spangled Banner in keys of Bb, A
      • Tempo should be suitable for community or classroom singing.
      • Note accuracy, rhythmic steadiness, fluent pianism with suitable use of pedal, legato, touch, tone quality and proper style are expected.
  2. Sight-reading of:
    • A three-part open choral score -OR- a four-part open choral score. 
    • A short musical example.
  3. Harmonization and transposition (at sight)
    • Harmonize one melody employing primary and secondary chords based on chord symbols or Roman numerals provided, inversions and secondary dominant may apply.
    • Transpose an example to the neighboring keys or keys of subdominant and dominant.
    • Style of accompaniment should be appropriate for chosen melody: Alberti Bass, Waltz, etc.
  4. Piano technique
    • Ability to play all major and minor scales and arpeggios with both hands together in parallel motion:
      • Scales/Arpeggios should be played in two octaves in eighth notes.
      • Metronome marking at 92-100.
    • I - vi - IV - ii6 - I(6/4) - V7 - I chord progressions in all major and minor keys (example will be provided).
  5. Improvisation
    • Improvise RH melody while LH plays the chords, based on harmony indicated by chord symbols or Roman numerals.
  6. Piano Repertoire
    • Play one piece with difficulty equal to:
      • Minuet in C Major by D. Scarlatti
      • Prelude in C Major by J.S. Bach

Applied Lesson Enrollment

Before or concurrent with declaring music as a major, a student must complete a placement audition for applied lessons. The faculty member(s) hearing the audition will assign the student to an appropriate applied level. Students assigned to preparatory applied lessons (MUS 1390) may attempt a maximum of one semester at that level. If, after one semester, a student cannot advance to 1000-level lessons, he or she should select a major outside of music. Units awarded for preparatory applied lessons are not applicable to any baccalaureate degrees at CSUSB. Preparatory study is graded on a credit/no credit basis.

A music major may attempt a maximum of three units in applied lessons at each of the 1000-, 2000-, and 3000-levels (MUS 1400s, 2400s, and 3400s). If, after three semesters of study at one of those levels, a student cannot meet the requirements for that level, the student should change his or her major to something other than music.

Music majors must study as a primary instrument the instrument on which they perform their initial applied placement audition. A student wishing to change to a different primary instrument or voice must complete an applied placement audition on that instrument and may as a result be assigned to a lower applied level. Enrollment in preparatory-level lessons (MUS 1390) is limited to one semester no matter what instrument or instruments are studied during that semester, and the same applies to the three semester limits for 1000-, 2000, and 3000-level lessons.

One-on-one teaching in applied lessons is very expensive. As a result, only music majors may enroll in applied lessons except under very special circumstances and on a case by case basis.  The Music Department does not typically offer applied lessons to any other CSUSB students, even music minors. Lessons at the 4000 level are restricted to students accepted to pursue the Bachelor of Music in Performance.

Entrance and Completion standards for the Bachelor of Music (Performance and Pre-Certification)

Entrance to the Bachelor of Music will require a demonstration of significant academic, performance, and intellectual achievement.  Students may apply at any time for entrance to the program, but freshmen students usually apply to enter the program after the completion of two semesters of CSUSB coursework, and transfers usually apply immediately before their first semester of enrollment.  Students whose initial application does not result in acceptance into the program may apply a maximum of one additional time. 

Entrance requirements include:

  • A minimum grade of B- in each of MUS 2120 Theory I, MUS 2125 Musicianship I, MUS 2130 Theory II, and MUS 2135 Musicianship II or, for students with transfer credit for those courses, an equivalent grade on a diagnostic test of music theory knowledge.  A music theory placement exam testing the skills and knowledge of incoming freshman and transfer students is available through the Department of Music.
  • The demonstration of a high potential for success as a professional musician/educator based on a live performance audition for a committee of music faculty.  Students must perform two contrasting works of significant repertoire for their audition.  Singers must present songs or arias in two different languages.   In addition, as a prerequisite to the live audition, and concurrently with the submission of the written essay described below, a student must submit two unedited, unaltered recordings (at least one in video format) from distinct live performances. The performances must feature the student performing either a solo or a prominent part in a small chamber work.
  • The demonstration of intellectual achievement based on a written essay submitted to the music faculty.  Essays should contain between 600 and 1000 words (two to three pages), and detail an applicant's prior experience and achievements in music, willingness to commit to the rigor of a professional program, and future professional aspirations.   The essay must document a well-developed ability to communicate in written form, experience and achievements that suggest exceptional talent, and professional aspirations and commitment consistent with the stated purpose of the BM degree.

Live auditions for the BM program are held on the afternoon of the final Friday of each academic semester, the last day of an exam week.   Essays are due one week before an audition via email to  

Continuation in and graduation from the BM program require the following:

  1. A minimum GPA of 2.75 in all CSUSB coursework, and a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all CSUSB music coursework.  Students whose academic achievement falls below either GPA minimum for two or more consecutive semesters in a row cannot continue in the program.
  2. Normally two semesters are required in each of MUS 2390, 3390, and 4390, and a maximum of three semesters of enrollment are allowed in each of the three courses for students enrolled in the performance concentrations of the Bachelor of Music. Students not able to complete requirements in three semesters for one of those three courses cannot continue in the BM with a concentration in performance  program.

Applied Lesson Policies

Syllabus and grading policies

  • Publication of applied syllabi: All applied lessons, per campus policy, require the publication of an applied syllabus including content as specified by CSUSB's Faculty Senate: (see CSUSB Syllabus Policy). There are NO exceptions to this policy, and, as with all syllabi, applied syllabi must be distributed to students, and a copy filed in the departmental office, by the second week (second lesson) of a semester.
  • Standards for weighting of applied grades: at most 20% for the jury or recital hearing performance (one or the other is required as the culmination of each quarter of study), at least 20% for overall attendance and performances in repertoire classes, at least 10% for each required performance (Music Major Recital, Instrumental Recital, or repertoire class), and not less than 40% for the actual lessons completed for the semester.

Minimum lesson meetings, practice, repertoire and performances

  • For applied lessons in the 1390, 1400s, 2400s, 3400s, and 4400s: Individual areas or studio teachers may require additional repertoire, practice, and performances beyond the minimums, as well as lesson sessions longer than 45 minutes, if specified in the corresponding syllabus at the start of a semester. Students must have 15 lessons, one per week, every semester. Co-requisites for applied lessons in the BA are MUS 1000 Music Forum and a Major Ensemble (MUS 3800, 3810, 3850 or 3860)
  • BM students enrolled in MUS 2390, 3390, and 4390 will have 60 minutes of lesson time per week. The co-requisite for all BM applied lessons is a major ensemble form one of the following: MUS 3800, 3810, 3850 or 3860.
  • Repertoire for juries must include at least two separate selections, contrasting in style, character, instrument/medium, or language, plus sight-reading appropriate to the level. Additional requirements, such a scales and other technique requirements, can be found in syllabi for individual applied studios.

Practice minimums (per week)

  • Prep level (MUS 1390): At least 7 hours.
  • 1000 level (MUS 1400s): At least 7 hours.
  • 2000 level (MUS 2400s): At least 10 hours.
  • 3000 level (MUS 3400s): At least 12 hours.
  • 4000 level (MUS 4400s): At least 15 hours.
  • BM students in MUS 2390 add 2 additional hours per week, and add 3 hours per week for MUS 3390 and 4390.

Performance minimums (per semester)

  • Prep level: No performances required.
  • 1000 level: One Music Major Recital or repertoire class performance.
  • 2000 level: One Music Major Recital or repertoire class performance.
  • 3000 level: Two Music Major Recital or repertoire class performances.
  • 4000 level: Two Music Major Recital or repertoire class performances.
  • BM students in MUS 2390 , 3390, and 4390 must add one additional Music Major Recital or repertoire class performance per semester.
  • BM students in MUS 2390 also must perform one "real world," off-campus performance per semester, and MUS 3390 and 4390 students must complete two such performances per semester. Students should see their applied syllabi for "real world" expectations particular to their studios.

Level Completion Requirements

Below each instrument family or individual studio publishes specific requirements for the completion of each level of applied study, preparatory through the 4000 (senior) level, for instruments in the family or studio. These include Bachelor of Music students' requirements for MUS 2390, 3390, and 4390. Requirements must be consistent with all of the above overall departmental applied lesson policies and be easily converted into a series of jury evaluation sheets appropriate to each instrument and level. Students' current and past jury sheets are available on file in the Music Department Office for student reference.