Music at the School of General Studies

The School of General Studies is a liberal arts school for students whose education since high school has been interrupted by at least a year. Its students earn either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. In both cases, the majority of points of credit must be in liberal arts subjects. The School has a set of core courses and a distribution requirement, as well as departmental majors and minors.

School of General Studies Website

Contact Information: Professor Brad Garton (garton [at] columbia.edu

), Departmental Adviser for General Studies, 2016-17.


The Department of Music provides a solid foundation in many areas of music from Western and non-Western traditions. The Music Performance Program provides a staff of distinguished performing artists to give private instruction and to coach chamber music ensembles.

The Music & Arts Library, located on the seventh floor of Dodge Hall, is an excellent study and research facility, possessing an extensive collection of musical scores, reference works, books on music, and audio and video recordings, with listening and viewing facilities and computer-aided instructional equipment.

For a Major in Music

A program of study should be planned with the director of undergraduate studies in the first semester of sophomore year. Students planning to focus on a particular area (e.g., computer music, composition, ethnomusicology, music theory, or music history) may wish to select a faculty adviser in that area. Prospective music majors are advised to satisfy the following prerequisites as early as possible: Fundamentals of Music (MUSI UN1002) and Introductory Ear Training (MUSI UN1312). These requirements may be fulfilled either through successful completion of the courses or through satisfactory performance on exemption exams administered at the beginning of each semester by the department.

All music majors are required to take a keyboard proficiency exam upon entrance into the first semester of theory. Those who do not pass the exam are required to take Keyboard Harmony/Musicianship (MUSI UN1517 & UN1518) for 1 point each term. For students who plan to do graduate work in music, studying German, French, Italian, and/or Latin is recommended.

The major requires a minimum of 40 points including:

  1. Music Theory I & II (MUSI UN2318 & UN2319)
  2. Music Theory III & IV (MUSI UN3321 & UN3322)
  3. Ear Training through Level IV, chosen from:
  4. History of Western Music courses (MUSI UN3128 & UN3129)
  5. Topics in Music and Society (MUSI UN3400)
  6. At least two 3000/4000-level electives

The remaining points are to be earned through 2000-, 3000-, or 4000-level courses subject to these constraints:

  1. No more than 6 points of 2000-level courses
  2. No more than 4 points of instrumental or vocal lessons or participation for a letter grade in Orchestra (MUSI UN1591-UN1592), Chamber Ensembles (MUSI UN1598-UN1599), Jazz Ensemble (MUSI UN1618-UN1619) or World Music Ensembles (MUSI UN1625-UN1626).
  3. Keyboard Harmony/Musicianship (MUSI UN1517/1518), when necessary, count against the 4-point maximum in performance before any other lessons

For a Concentration in Music

A program of study should be planned with the director of undergraduate studies in the first semester of sophomore year. All concentrators must consult the director of undergraduate studies each term before registering. Prospective music concentrators are advised to satisfy the following prerequisites as early as possible: Fundamentals of Music (MUSI UN1002) and Introductory Ear Training (MUSI UN1312). These requirements may be fulfilled either through successful completion of the courses or satisfactory performance on exemption examinations administered at the beginning of each semester by the department.

The concentration requires a minimum of 28 points including:

  1. Music Theory I & II (MUSI UN2318 & UN2319)
  2. Music Theory III & IV (MUSI UN3321 & UN3322)
  3. Ear Training through Level IV, chosen from:
  4. History of Western Music courses (MUSI UN3128 & UN3129)
  5. Topics in Music and Society (MUSI UN3400)
  6. At least one additional course at the 3000/4000-level
  7. No more than 4 points of instrumental or vocal lessons or participation for a letter grade in Orchestra (MUSI UN1591-UN1592), Chamber Ensembles (MUSI UN1598-UN1599), Jazz Ensemble (MUSI UN1618-UN1619) or World Music Ensembles (MUSI UN1625-UN1626).
  8. Keyboard Harmony/Musicianship (MUSI UN1517/1518), when necessary, count against the 4-point maximum in performance before any other lessons

The special concentration in jazz studies is an interdisciplinary liberal arts course of study that uses jazz music—and the jazz culture from which the music emanated—as a prism through which to study jazz culture during what might be termed the long jazz century, the sprawling twentieth. The curriculum in jazz studies guides students in developing a firm grounding in the traditions and aesthetic motives of jazz music, viewed through the perspectives of music history and ethnomusicology as well as literary theory and cultural studies. 

Learn more about the Special Concentration in Jazz here:

Jazz Studies Special Concentration

Learn more about the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program and Jazz at Columbia:

Jazz Performance Program