University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

The Department of Music grants a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Music and also a minor in Music. The department is dedicated to a liberal education in the arts and humanities and thus involves students in all aspects of the study of music-theoretical and creative studies, historical and cultural studies, music and technology, and performance. The curriculum is responsive to the interests of a diverse student body, and the program offers a broad and flexible program.

The major may serve as preprofessional training for the student seeking a career in music or provide a lasting source of enrichment for the student with other career goals. Prospective majors are asked to demonstrate a minimum standard of musical literacy in a placement test. Since the program is offered by a department of music rather than a school of music, a performance audition is not required to declare the major.

There are a large number of double majors in the department representing fields such as molecular and cell biology, rhetoric, physics, theater, dance, and performance studies, political economy of industrial societies, English, and business administration, just to name a few.

Course of Study Overview

Lower division studies are intended to provide grounding in the skills of musicianship and harmony and a broad background in the literature and practices of European and a variety of other music. Upper division students may choose from an extensive selection of elective courses to create an individual course of study according to their own interests. The department offers an honors program in which a major in the senior year may develop a special honors project working with a faculty advisor in any area of music studies.

Students without keyboard proficiency are strongly urged to enroll in two semesters of Elementary Piano (MUSIC 45M) in their first semesters in the major program.

Course Placement Procedure

Students who plan to major in music or wish to take music major classes must either take Music 20A or complete the Music Placement Procedure before beginning music major classes. Students may pre-enroll in classes before the Musicianship Placement Exam and make adjustments to their schedule during the add/drop period if necessary. For detailed information regarding the placement tests, please see the Placement Procedure page on the department's website.

Declaring the Major

To declare the Music Major, prospective students must:

  1. Review Music major requirements and (ideally) attend the Undergraduate Orientation offered at the beginning of each semester. 
  2. Submit the Music Major Application.
  3. Draft a program plan.
  4. Schedule a meeting with the Undergraduate Major Advisor to finalize their program plan and finish the process of declaration.

An Undergraduate Orientation is held once before the beginning of each semester. The orientation reviews important information such as placement exams, major requirements, program planning, major resources, and student life. It is imperative that prospective music majors make every possible effort to attend.

Students should submit the online major application on the department website, and meet with the Undergraduate Advisor to create a program plan as soon as possible after placement.

Honors Program

The Department of Music offers an individualized program leading to a BA degree with honors. Students with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 overall and 3.5 in the major may apply to enroll in the honors program in the last two semesters of their undergraduate study. Under course MUSIC H195, students undertake a special project exceeding the scope of regular coursework for one or two semesters. Application forms with more detailed criteria for approval can be obtained from the department office and must be submitted by 12 p.m. on the Friday of the third week of classes in the semester in which the project is started.

Minor Program

For information on declaring the minor, please see the Minor Program page on the department's website.

Visit Department Website

Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for graded credit. Other exceptions to this requirement are noted as applicable.
  2. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.

For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Major Requirements

Musicianship & Harmony

Musicianship: minimum of two courses starting with the course of placement
MUSIC 52AMusicianship I3
MUSIC 52BMusicianship II3
MUSIC 152AAdvanced Musicianship I3
Harmony: minimum of two courses starting with the course of placement
MUSIC 53AHarmony I3
MUSIC 53BHarmony II3
MUSIC 153AAdvanced Tonal Harmony3
or MUSIC 153B Twentieth-Century Harmony

History & Culture

Lower Division
MUSIC 70History of Music I4
MUSIC 80Studies of Musics of the World4
Upper Division
MUSIC 170Topics in History, Culture, and Analysis3
or MUSIC 170A Topics in Research and Performance
And select one of the following
MUSIC 130BAfrican American Music4
MUSIC N130BAfrican American Music4
MUSIC 132Music of the Middle East4
MUSIC 133CMusic and Theater in Southeast Asia4
MUSIC 133DMusic of Central Java4
MUSIC 135AMusics of the Caribbean4
MUSIC 137ACMusic of the Civil Rights Era4
MUSIC C138Art and Activism4
MUSIC 139Topics in Musics of the World4
MUSIC 180Seminar in Ethnomusicology: Selected Topics3


Select at least three classes from the following:
MUSIC 116AMCourse Not Available3
MUSIC 116BMCourse Not Available3
MUSIC 140Javanese Gamelan2
MUSIC 141University Symphony Orchestra2
MUSIC 142University Wind Ensemble2
MUSIC 143Gospel Chorus2
MUSIC 144University Chorus2
MUSIC 145University Chamber Chorus2
MUSIC 146BBalinese Gamelan2
MUSIC N146BBalinese Gamelan2
MUSIC 148African Music Ensemble2
MUSIC N148African Music Ensemble2
MUSIC 149University Baroque Ensemble2
MUSIC 164Creative Jazz and Improvised Music Performance Workshop3
MUSIC 165Berkeley Nu Jazz Collective2
Or the Music 168 series provided that students are in an ensemble in conjunction with their 168 lessons (see department website for details).

Upper Division Elective Requirements

Select additional Music courses to reach a minimum of 24 upper division units. The remaining units may be selected from courses numbered 100-129 with an M suffix or Music 130-189.

Minor Requirements

Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements and are noted officially on the transcript in the memoranda section, but they are not noted on diplomas.

General Guidelines

  1. All minors must be declared no later than one semester before a student's Expected Graduation Term (EGT). If the semester before EGT is fall or spring, the deadline is the last day of RRR week. If the semester before EGT is summer, the deadline is the final Friday of Summer Sessions. To declare a minor, contact the department advisor for information on requirements, and the declaration process.
  2. All courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements below must be taken for graded credit.
  3. A minimum of three of the upper division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
  4. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses used to fulfill the minor requirements.
  5. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.
  6. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
  7. All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which the student plans to graduate. If students cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, they should see a College of Letters & Science adviser.
  8. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)


Lower Division
See below for information regarding substitutions for and exemptions from the lower division requirements.
MUSIC 20ABasic Musicianship2
MUSIC 25Introduction to Music Theory3
Select one of the following:4
Music in American Culture [4]
Music in American Cultures [4]
Introduction to Western Music [4]
Music Now [4]
Upper Division
Select five upper division courses, numbered between MUSIC 100-MUSIC 149, MUSIC 158-MUSIC 159, and MUSIC 164-MUSIC 165
At least one of the five courses must be a performance ensemble
At least one of the five courses must not be a performance ensemble
Courses that may be repeated for credit may count towards the minor a maximum of three times.
Three of the five upper division courses must be completed at UC Berkeley.


Courses for the Music major may be substituted for the equivalent minor course if the student has placed in MUSIC 52A Musicianship I or higher on the Musicianship Placement Exam:

Exemption from Lower Division Requirements

For those with a strong background in music including aural training and sight singing, the MUSIC 20A requirement toward the Music Minor may be waived by successfully completing the  Musicianship Placement Exam. This exam is given at the beginning of each Fall and Spring semester.

Waiving MUSIC 20A can be done by clearly demonstrating all of the following on the Musicianship Placement Exam:

1). Mastery of written music theory fundamentals (key signatures, major and minor scales, diatonic intervals and primary triads in context, rhythm, tempo and conducting patterns in simple and compound meters).

This will be given as a very short timed exam in which questions about the previous must be answered within approximately 15-20 seconds per question.

2). Ability to sing at sight (without the aid of an instrument) with correct movable-do solfege, accurate relative pitch relationships, good rhythm, and steady tempo a diatonic melody in any key while conducting. (Click here to view a demonstration of a successful attempt at the sight-singing portion of the exam.)

3). Ability to recognize aurally the following:

  • Relative diatonic pitch intervals up to an octave;
  • Melodic contour; AND
  • Basic metric patterning

4). A reasonable level of accomplishment as a vocal and/or instrumental performer.

If you are not confident that you can do all of the above, enroll in Music 20A. The sample syllabus for Music 20A is available on the department website. Students with questions about their ability should review the syllabus and see if they have already mastered the content covered in the course.

Students who successfully waive MUSIC 20A via the Musicianship Placement Exam are still required to take MUSIC 25.

For questions about MUSIC 20A or the Musicianship Placement Exam, please contact Matthew Hough at

College Requirements

Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.

For detailed lists of courses that fulfill college requirements, please review the College of Letters & Sciences page in this Guide. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages. 

University of California Requirements

Entry Level Writing

All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university, should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures

All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.

College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.

Foreign Language

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

Breadth Requirements

The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.

Unit Requirements

  • 120 total units

  • Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units

  • Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
Residence Requirements

For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.

Senior Residence Requirement

After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your BA degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.

You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.

Upper Division Residence Requirement

You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.

Plan of Study

Below are sample plans of study for music majors who are admitted as freshman or transfer, respectively. Each student’s program will vary based on experience and interest, and the samples listed below are not intended as the only program planning scenario. Students should familiarize themselves with the Music major requirements before making a program plan, and consult the Undergraduate Advisor should any question arise.

Please note that the sample program plan below include only courses required for the major. Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with university, campus, and college requirements. Students in the College of Letters and Science, see the L&S Advising Degree Requirement page for more detail and consult their college advisor to address any questions and concerns. Students in other colleges should consult their respective college’s information.

All courses are subject to change every semester. Students must check the Class Schedule for the most up-to-date class offerings in a given semester.

First-Year Students

 7 7
Performance course22Performance course22
 6 6
MUSIC 170 or 170A3MUSIC 180 (Or one course from MUSIC 130–139)3
Performance course22Upper division Music course3
 5 6
Upper division Music course3Upper division Music course3
Upper division Music course3Upper division Music course3
 6 6
Total Units: 49

Transfer Students

Performance course22Performance course22
 13 13
MUSIC 170 or 170A3MUSIC 180 (Or one course from MUSIC 130-139)3
Performance course22Upper division Music course3
Upper division Music course3Upper division Music course3
Upper division Music course3Upper division Music course3
Upper division Music course3 
 14 12
Total Units: 52

Student Learning Goals

Berkeley music majors are expected to do the following:

  1. To acquire knowledge and understanding of music in an integrated way—through historical and cultural studies, musicianship and theory, and performance. These studies prepare students to pursue a career in some aspect of music or to maintain music as a central part of their lives.
  2. To cultivate musical competency, including literacy (the use of music notation in reading, performing, composing, analyzing, and hearing music).
  3. To develop skills of critical thinking and writing about music by taking courses on past and present musical cultures in European and other heritages.
  4. To create music by performing, composing, and improvising.
  5. To pursue personal interests by selecting upper division courses including independent studies and honors projects.

Major Map

Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:

  • Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study

  • Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success

  • Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression

  • Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world

  • Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley

Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.

View the Music Major Map PDF.


Zarah Ersoff, Undergraduate Adviser
104 Morrison Hall
Advising by appointment:

Academic Opportunities

Performance Opportunities in the Department of Music

All ensembles are open by audition to members of the community. Please see the department's website for further information.

Javanese Gamelan (MUSIC 140)

Traditional music of Indonesia performed on the Music Department's gamelan, Khyai Udan Mas. Public performances may also feature Indonesian shadow play.
Instructor: Midiyanto
Sections for beginners and for advanced students
Auditions: Come to first class meeting
Location: Morrison Hall

University Symphony (MUSIC 141)

Bold programming and high artistic standards have made this one of the country's finest university orchestras. It is not only a preprofessional training orchestra but also a major performing ensemble in the Bay Area as well.
Instructor: David Milnes
Auditions: Held during first week of instruction
Location: Hertz Hall

University Wind Ensemble (MUSIC 142)

Performing course for the study and practice of traditional and contemporary wind band repertoire.
Instructor: Robert Calonico
Auditions: Call 510-643-9644, or stop by Room 53 César Chavez Center to schedule an audition or for more information.
Location: César Chavez Center

Gospel Chorus (MUSIC 143)

Music of the African American gospel tradition with particular emphasis on contemporary performance techniques.
Instructor: Mark Wilson
Auditions: Held during the first week of instruction
Location: 125 Morrison Hall

University Chorus (MUSIC 144)

Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle as "very impressive in sonority, quality of tone, and expressiveness." From Slavonic chant to choral-orchestral repertoire to contemporary music, this large chorus performs an exciting variety of literature.
Instructor: Nikolas Nackley
Auditions: Held during the first week of instruction
Location: Hertz Hall

Chamber Chorus (MUSIC 145)

Focusing on lesser-known choral works, this small ensemble also sings and records with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.
Instructor: Magen Solomon
Auditions: Held during the first week of instruction
Location: Hertz Hall

Balinese Gamelan (MUSIC 146B)

Learn to perform music suited to Balinese gamelan Semar Pagulingan, Pelegongan, Baleganjur, or Gender Wayang. Classes will consist of instruction on playing technique and memorization of pieces taught by ear in the traditional Balinese manner.
Instructor: Lisa Gold
Auditions: Come to first class meeting
Location: Morrison Hall

African Music Ensemble (MUSIC 148)

Music of West Africa taught by a Ghanaian master drummer.
Instructor: C.K. Ladzekpo
Auditions: Come to first class meeting
Location: Hertz Hall

Baroque Music Ensemble (MUSIC 149)

Instrumental and vocal performances of Renaissance and Baroque music.
Instructor: Christine Brandes
Auditions: Come to first class meeting
Location: Hertz Hall

Jazz Improvisation (MUSIC 164)

A study of the fundamental principles in improvisation designed for performers with the aim in developing skill in improvisation.
Instructor: Myra Melford
Auditions: Come to first class meeting
Location: Morrison Hall

Nu Jazz Collective (MUSIC 165)

This advanced small ensemble of improvisers will explore a range of repertoire including music by innovative jazz composers of the 1960s and 70s as well as contemporary works and original student compositions and arrangements.
Instructor: Myra Melford
Auditions: Come to first class meeting
Location: Morrison Hall



Faculty and Instructors

+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Jeanne Bamberger, Adjunct Professor. Music cognition and child development.

Benjamin Brinner, Professor. Indonesia, Java, Bali, Israel, musical memory, situated musical cognition, musical interaction, improvisation, gamelan, music and oral narrative.
Research Profile

Edmund Campion, Professor. Music, composition, musical application of computer technologies.
Research Profile

Delia Casadei, Assistant Professor. Voice and politics in Italian 20th-century music .

Carmine Cella, Assistant Professor. Music and Technology.

Cindy Cox, Professor. Composition, music analysis and theory, post-tonal music, piano, music and live electronics, text-setting.
Research Profile

James Davies, Associate Professor. Musics and bodies, cultural performance, romanticisms, nineteenth-century music, histories of science, pianists and pianos, singers and voice, music pedagogy and training, South Africa, colonial melodrama, township opera.
Research Profile

Jocelyne Guilbault, Professor. Cultural politics, Caribbean, popular and traditional musics, nation, diaspora, cultural entrepreneurship.
Research Profile

Matthew Hough, Assistant Teaching Professor. Instrumental and vocal composition, theory and analysis of popular music, theory and ear training pedagogy.

Lester Hu, Assistant Professor, Musicology. Early Modern period (Renaissance/Baroque/late-imperial), global music history, songs and opera, music and empire-building, notation and grammatology, tuning.
Research Profile

Nicholas Mathew, Associate Professor. Beethoven, Haydn, music in Vienna, music and politics, music and urban culture, aesthetics, piano performance, historical performance practices.
Research Profile

Myra Melford, Professor. Jazz composition and improvisational practices.

David Milnes, Professor. Music, directing, orchestral conducting technique, music ensemble.
Research Profile

T. Carlis Roberts, Associate Professor. Popular music, social identities, performance, spirituality.
Research Profile

Mary Ann Smart, Professor. Staging of opera, 19th-century music, opera, opera and politics, 19th-century Italy, music and gender, singers and voices, Verdi, Wagner, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini.
Research Profile

Maria Sonevytsky, Assistant Professor. Sovereignty and wildness in post-Soviet Ukrainian ethno-music, the legacy of Soviet cultural policies on music after socialism, folklore and nuclear experience after Chornobyl .

Ken Ueno, Associate Professor. Music composition, noise, electronic music, Asian music, music of Japan, extended vocal techniques, overtone singing, musical culture of Japan, experimental improvisation.
Research Profile

Emily Zazulia, Assistant Professor. Medieval and Renaissance Music, the intersection of musical style, complex notation, and intellectual history .
Research Profile


Jean Ahn, Lecturer.
Research Profile

Christine Brandes, Lecturer.
Research Profile

Carla Brunet, Lecturer.

Lisa Gold, Lecturer.

Benjamin Goldberg, Lecturer.

Rama J. Gottfried, Lecturer.

Candace Johnson, Lecturer.

C. K. Ladzekpo, Senior Lecturer.

Midiyanto Midiyanto, Lecturer.

Michael Orland, Lecturer.

David Pereira, Lecturer.

Carla Shapreau, Lecturer.
Research Profile

Jeremy Wagner, Lecturer.
Research Profile

Doniel Mark Wilson, Lecturer.

Robert Yamasato, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Richard L. Crocker, Professor Emeritus.

Christy Dana, Senior Lecturer Emeritus.

Mary Kay Duggan, Professor Emeritus.

Richard Felciano, Professor Emeritus.

Marika Kuzma, Professor Emeritus.

Davitt Moroney, Professor Emeritus. Music, musicology, music performance, Italian Music.
Research Profile

John H. Roberts, Professor Emeritus. Music, music bibliography, Handel, French nineteenth-century opera.
Research Profile

Karen Rosenak, Senior Lecturer Emeritus.

+ Michael C. Senturia, Professor Emeritus.

Richard Taruskin, Professor Emeritus. Nationalism, music, musicology, theory of performance, Russian music, twentieth-century music, theory of modernism, analysis.
Research Profile

Bonnie C. Wade, Professor Emeritus.

Contact Information

Department of Music

104 Morrison Hall

Phone: 510-642-2678

Fax: 510-642-8480

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

David Milnes

104 Morrison Hall

Undergraduate Advisor

Zarah Ersoff

104 Morrison Hall

Phone: 510-642-8725

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