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The undergraduate major in Music is built around a series of courses in theory, musicianship, analysis, music history, and performance.

Students considering a major in Music should review the requirements in the “Music” section of Explore Degrees in the Stanford Bulletin.

Music Theory, Ear Training, and Keyboard Skills

Music majors must take core, foundational courses in music theory and musicianship, which account for roughly 15 units of the bachelor’s degree.

Important elements of the music theory curiculum include:

  • Lecture courses: MUSIC 21, 22, and 23
  • Applied courses in Ear Training:  MUSIC 24A, 24B, and 24C
  • One-unit of an ear training elective
  • Piano Proficiency Exam: Required component of lecture courses  Download
  • Ear Training Exit Exam: Administered in students’ junior year.

Students with prior music theory experience may opt to place out of certain courses. For an official evaluation, contact Giancarlo Aquilanti, Director of Music Theory, or Erika Arul, Ear Training Advisor.

These requirements also applies to the Music minor program.

Ensemble Work

Majors are required to take a minimum of five quarters totaling at least 5 units of work in one or more of the department’s organizations or chamber groups. To fulfill the ensemble requirement, Music majors need at least three quarters of participation in the department's large ensembles. Those whose primary instrument is harp, keyboard, or guitar need to participate at least one quarter of large ensemble work, but may fulfill the rest of the requirement with chamber music (MUSIC 171: Chamber Music).


Concentration Areas

Concentrations are offered in:

Performance, Composition, Conducting, and Music History, Theory, and Ethnography

These four concentrations require six units of coursework in the concentration area in addition to the basic Music major requirements. In their senior year, concentrators must also register for a 4-unit, faculty-supervised independent project, which could be a recital, composition, conducting project, or a research paper. Concentration projects are adjudicated by a committee of faculty members who determine whether or not a student has successfully completed the concentration, and whether or not the quality of the project is high enough to receive departmental honors.

How to declare a concentration

Recital PLanning Resources

Music, Science, and Technology (MST)

The concentration in MST is designed for students with a strong interest in the rapidly evolving realm of computer music technology, digital audio, and signal processing, and in the acoustic and psychoacoustic foundations of music. The program entails course work and faculty-supervised research projects in the highly multidisciplinary environment of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA, pronounced “karma”). This program can serve as a complementary major to students interested in the sciences, Engineering, and Symbolic Systems. Information on degree requirements and course offerings can be found in the Department of Music’s section of the Stanford Bulletin.

How to declare a concentration for Majors

Doreen B. Townsend Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics


Departmental Honors

Honors in Music are awarded by the faculty to majors who have produced an independent project of exceptional quality through the Concentration program. Students who wish to pursue Honors must declare their Concentration(s) by May 31 of the junior year. To receive Honors students must also have earned an overall GPA of 3.60 or higher and a GPA of 3.70 or higher in courses required for the Music major. Honors are conferred solely through faculty review. Students cannot apply or petition to receive honors.

Questions about the content of this page or undergraduate degree requirements in Music in the Stanford Bulletin? Contact Rowen Leigh, Undergraduate Student Services Officer.

Last modified on: 
Thursday, May 24, 2018