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 introduces students to a wide variety of music practices in performance, music composition and technology, theoretical and creative studies, and historical and cultural studies. The curriculum is responsive to the interests of a diverse student body and offers a broad and flexible program.

The major offers pre-professional training for the student seeking a career in music, and also can provide a lasting source of enrichment for students with other career goals.  A large number of double majors in the department represent such diverse fields as computer science, psychology, molecular and cell biology, physics, economics, English, and business administration, to name a few.

A performance audition is not required to declare the major.

Course of Study Overview

Lower division studies provide grounding in creative music practice, music history, and ethnomusicology via three required lower-division courses, Music 70, 80, and 90.  For those who wish to further hone their skills, Music 20 (Introduction to Musicianship) and Music 25 (Introduction to Music Theory, Analysis, and Notation) are also available. In the upper division, three performance courses and two seminars in music history and ethnomusicology will be required, along with two introductory "Making Music" courses chosen from a long list of options. These "immersion" classes will then lead to various electives chosen by students from an extensive selection of elective classes, resulting in an individual course of study formed according to each student's interests. Finally, a capstone project, completed as part of one course chosen from a list of possible classes, concludes the major.  Capstone projects may include performance recitals, music compositions, scholarly papers, or digital creations, among others. The department also offers an honors program in which a major in the senior year may develop a more in-depth honors project working with a faculty advisor in any area of music studies.

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

Declaring the Major

To declare the Music Major, prospective students must:

  1. Review Music major requirements and (if possible) 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 auditions, major requirements, program planning, classes, 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 for assistance to finalize a program plan as soon as possible.

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. The Music Department website includes a Honors Program in Music webpage with more detailed criteria. A Special Studies Application is required for approval and can also be obtained from the department office.  The application must be submitted to the Major Advisor for Department Chair approval 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 a letter grade. A letter grade of C- or higher must be received in all of your lower and upper division Music Major courses.  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.  If you are an L&S student pursuing a minor in another school or college with overlap policies that differ than L&S, the stricter of the two minor policies applies to the minor program. 
  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.


The three required lower-division courses may be taken in any order.
MUSIC 70History of Music4
MUSIC 80Studies of Musics of the World4
MUSIC 90Making Music3


Musicology & Ethnomusicology

MUSIC 170Topics in History, Culture, and Analysis3
or MUSIC 170A Topics in Research and Performance
Along with one of the following courses:
MUSIC 131Musics of Latin America4
MUSIC 131BCumbia: Music, Difference, and Circulation in the Americas4
MUSIC 131CMusics in the US-Mexico Borderlands4
MUSIC 133CMusic and Theater in Southeast Asia4
MUSIC 139Topics in Musics of the World4
MUSIC 180Seminar in Ethnomusicology: Selected Topics3

Making Music

Two courses (which may NOT be repeated) chosen from:
MUSIC 108Music Perception and Cognition4
MUSIC 116Improvisation in the Jazz Tradition3
MUSIC 150Sightsinging and Score Reading (Effective Spring 2024)3
MUSIC 151AHarmony I3
MUSIC 151BHarmony II3
MUSIC 151CAdvanced Tonal Harmony3
MUSIC 151DTwentieth-Century Harmony3
MUSIC 154ACounterpoint3
MUSIC 155Music Composition3
MUSIC 156Studies in Musical Analysis3
MUSIC 157AOrchestration3
MUSIC 158ASound and Music Computing with CNMAT Technologies4
MUSIC 161AInstrumental Conducting3
MUSIC 166AAurality and Creative Interaction 13

Performance Ensembles 

A minimum of three courses (which MAY be repeated) from the following:
MUSIC 116Improvisation in the Jazz Tradition *3
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
MUSIC 168AInstrumental Performance3
MUSIC 168BVocal Performance3
MUSIC 168DVarious Musical Practices Performance3
MUSIC 168EJazz Performance3
MUSIC 168HEarly Music Performance3

MUSIC 116 may be repeated for credit up to a total of two times.  

Capstone Project*

An independent study leading to a final project, taken in conjunction with an academic or performance course
MUSIC 195Capstone Project in Music1
Taken concurrently with one of the following courses:
MUSIC 107Independent Projects in Computer Music4
MUSIC 155Music Composition (Must be taken at least once prior to being taken as a capstone course.)3
MUSIC 156Studies in Musical Analysis3
MUSIC 157BOrchestration3
MUSIC 158BSituated Instrument Design for Musical Expression4
MUSIC 159Computer Programming for Music Applications4
MUSIC 161AInstrumental Conducting3
MUSIC 165Berkeley Nu Jazz Collective2
MUSIC 166BAurality and Creative Interaction 23
MUSIC 168AInstrumental Performance3
MUSIC 168BVocal Performance3
MUSIC 168CPiano/Fortepiano Performance2
MUSIC 168DVarious Musical Practices Performance3
MUSIC 168EJazz Performance1-3
MUSIC 168GGuitar Performance2
MUSIC 168HEarly Music Performance1-3
MUSIC 168IOrgan Performance2
MUSIC 170Topics in History, Culture, and Analysis3
MUSIC 170ATopics in Research and Performance3
MUSIC 172Popular Music Theory3
MUSIC 180Seminar in Ethnomusicology: Selected Topics3

Upper-Division Elective Requirements

Additional courses from Music 100-189 to reach a total of 24 upper division units in Music. One semester of Music H195 or Music 195 may be counted toward major. Music 197, 198, and 199 may not be counted.


* Music H195 (Honors in Music) may be substituted for the capstone requirement. The capstone project is typically completed during a student's final two semesters in the major.

** Students may not use a course taken a single time to satisfy multiple upper-division requirements for the major.


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.

General Guidelines

  1. All minors must be declared before the first day of classes in your Expected Graduation Term (EGT). For summer graduates, minors must be declared prior to the first day of Summer Session A. 

  2. All upper-division courses must be taken for a letter grade. 

  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 in the upper-division courses 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
Two lower-division courses are required. Choose one from each of the following lists:
Select one of the following:
Introduction to Musicianship [3]
Introduction to Music Theory, Analysis, and Notation [3]
Introduction to Electronic Music Composition [3]
Making Music [3] *
Select one of the following:
Music in American Culture [4]
Introduction to Western Music [4]
Music Now [4]
Computational Creativity for Music and the Arts [4]
Radical Listening [4]
History of Music [4] *
Studies of Musics of the World [4] *
Upper Division
A minimum of 5 upper-division Music courses (MUSIC 100-189), each of which must be two or more units.
At least two of the five courses must be a performance ensemble (MUSIC 116, 140-149, or 164-165) which MAY be repeated. Note that Music 116 may be repeated for credit up to a total of 2 times.
At least one of the five courses must not be a performance ensemble
Performance courses must be taken at UC Berkeley.
Three of the five upper division courses must be completed at UC Berkeley.
Upper-division courses designed primarily for music majors (150-189) may be substituted if the student has met the prerequisites or has the permission of the instructor.

MUSIC 70, MUSIC 80, and MUSIC 90 are requirements for the Music Major; enrollment in these three courses is highly competitive and declared/intended Music Majors are prioritized.

Exemption from Lower-Division Requirements

We do not accept course substitution by AP Music Theory or other examinations such as ABRSM or Certificate of Merit. There are no placement exams to waive the two required lower-division courses for the Music minor. Students with prior background in music theory may opt to take the Advanced Harmony Placement Exam if they wish to place into a higher level of harmony courses (MUSIC 151A-B-C-D).

College Requirements

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

For a detailed lists of L&S requirements, please see Overview tab to the right in this guide or visit the L&S Degree Requirements webpage. 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 and must be taken for a letter grade. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and American Institutions requirements are based on the principle that all U.S. residents who have 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 campus requirement 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 are plentiful and 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/data science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course taken for a letter grade.

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 taken for a letter grade.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College of Letters and Science requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses in sequential order by the end of their fourth semester for a letter grade.

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 at Cal for four years, or two years for transfer students. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you graduate early, 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 L&S College 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 B.A. 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 Major 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 Requirements 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

Performance ensemble12MUSIC 903
 MUSIC 45M21
 6 8
Making Music elective33-4Making Music elective33-4
Performance ensemble12Performance ensemble12
 5-6 5-6
MUSIC 170 or 170A3MUSIC 180 (Or one course from MUSIC 130–139)3
Performance ensemble12Upper division Music course3
 5 6
Upper division Music course3MUSIC 1951
Upper division Music course3Capstone course42-4
 6 3-5
Total Units: 44-48

Transfer Students

MUSIC 903Performance ensemble12
Performance ensemble12Making Music elective33-4
Making Music elective33-4MUSIC 45M21
 12-13 10-11
MUSIC 170 or 170A3MUSIC 1951
Performance ensemble12Capstone course42-4
Making Music elective33MUSIC 180 (or one course from MUSIC 130-139)3
Upper division Music course3Upper division Music course3
 11 9-11
Total Units: 42-46

Three performance ensemble courses are required, chosen from Music 116, Music 140-149, Music 164-165, or the Music 168 series provided that students are in an ensemble in conjunction with their 168 lessons. 


 Strongly recommended for those without keyboard experience.


Two "Making Music" courses (which may not be repeated for this requirement) are required, chosen from the following: Music 108, Music 116, Music 151A, Music 154A, Music 155, Music 156, Music 157A, Music 158A, Music 161A, and Music 166A.


See the major requirements page for a list of eligible capstone courses. Music H195 (Honors in Music) may be substituted for the capstone requirement.

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 creative music research and practice, musicology, and ethnomusicology. 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 creativity and scholarly inquiry, by completing the three required lower-division courses (Music 70, 80 and 90).
  3. To further develop skills of critical thinking and writing about music history and ethnomusicology (upper-division electives in Musicology and Ethnomusicology).
  4. To engage more deeply in cutting-edge music research and practice (upper-division electives in Making Music).
  5. To gain ensemble performance experience (upper-division electives in performance).
  6. To exercise student agency and choice, charting a path through the Music curriculum culminating in a capstone project that is personally meaningful, centered on their own interests and purpose.


Brenaia Blue, Undergraduate Advisor
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

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

University Wind Ensemble (MUSIC 142)

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

Gospel Chorus (MUSIC 143)

Music of the African American gospel tradition with particular emphasis on contemporary performance techniques.
Instructor: Candace Johnson
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: Wei Cheng
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: Wei Cheng
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



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

Brenaia Blue

104 Morrison Hall

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