Jazz Studies


Your Future in Jazz Studies

Do you enjoy playing music that swings, music that grows out of the jazz tradition and takes it in new creative directions? Have you studied jazz improvisation? Do you sing or play the saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar, bass or drums? Then, you should consider pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies at the University of North Texas.

Our graduates are professional performers, composers, arrangers, teachers and producers. As entrepreneurs, some have started their own companies and indie rock bands. Others have successful careers outside of music while continuing to play at a high level. They work in:

  • Jazz clubs
  • Concert halls
  • Broadway theatres
  • Churches
  • Schools, colleges and universities
  • Recording studios
  • U.S. armed forces bands

What we offer

UNT’s Jazz Studies program is widely regarded as one of the nation’s most respected. Established in 1946, it was the nation’s first degree program in the field.

Our faculty members are dedicated teachers as well as nationally and internationally known performers. They have earned Grammy Award nominations, toured internationally, conducted classes at the renowned Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops and written books about jazz.

We offer you many opportunities to perform with on- and off-campus ensembles. This includes the One O’Clock Lab Band, which has earned six Grammy Award nominations and toured Europe, Japan, Thailand and Australia. We also sponsor the acclaimed Jazz Singers. Other jazz ensembles include:

  • Eight additional jazz lab bands
  • Two additional Jazz Singers groups
  • The L-5 and Super 400 electric guitar ensembles
  • The Zebras contemporary music ensemble
  • The Jazz Repertory Ensemble
  • The Latin Jazz Ensemble
  • The U-Tubes jazz trombone ensemble

An annual lecture series provides unique perspectives on jazz. This series has featured the late Dave Brubeck, Ingrid Jensen, Tierney Sutton, Mike Moreno, Billy Hart, Curtis Fuller, John Abercrombie, Nasheet Waits, Wycliffe Gordon and Chris Potter.

Our outstanding facilities include the Murchison Performing Arts Center, which houses the Winspear Performance Hall and the Lyric Theater; the Voertman Concert Hall; and the Stan Kenton Hall. You can perfect your performance techniques in one of our 300 practice rooms. The college is also home to the Maynard Ferguson Music Library and the Stan Kenton Collection.

Numerous scholarships are available to help you pursue your degree. These scholarships are awarded based on talent and an audition. Approximately 75 Jazz Studies majors have received endowed jazz scholarships.

A Residents Engaged in Academic Living Community (REAL Community) brings together jazz studies students who live on campus to enhance academic and social experiences.

The College of Music is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (11250 Roger Bacon Drive, Suite 21; Reston, Va. 20190-5248; telephone 703-437-0700). This accreditation means the college meets or exceeds strict academic standards for excellence in education. Our jazz studies alumni include:

  • Bassists Mike Pope, Tony Scherr and Matt Wigton
  • Composers Alan Baylock, Yumiko Sunami, Brad Turner and Dale Wilson
  • Drummers Keith Carlock, Ari Hoenig and Jim Riley
  • Guitarists Tim Miller, Rick Peckham and Bruce Saunders
  • Musician/producers Bob Belden and Dave Love
  • Pianists Lyle Mays, Jon Ballantyne, Pavel Wlosok and Stefan Karlsson
  • Saxophonists “Blue Lou” Marini, Jim Snidero, Tim Ries, Craig Handy and Jeff Coffin
  • Trombonists Tom “Bones” Malone, Conrad Herwig, Steve Wiest and Sara Jacovino
  • Vocalists Norah Jones, J.D. Walter and Alison Wedding

What to expect

You will need to be accepted to the College of Music through an audition before declaring a major in Jazz Studies. Auditions are held on campus during the spring semester to enroll the following school year. If you cannot audition in person, you may submit a video or an audio recording. Once you are accepted into the college, you will take a placement exam in piano, as well as laboratory and ensemble placement auditions.

As a Jazz Studies major, your course work will include:

  • Jazz arranging
  • Jazz history
  • Jazz improvisation
  • Jazz theory, aural skills and piano
  • Performance in small and large ensembles
  • Senior recital

Our Career Center, Learning Center and professional academic advisors are among the many valuable resources that are available to you at UNT. The Career Center can provide advice about internships, future employment opportunities and getting hands-on experience in your major. The Learning Center offers workshops on speed reading, study skills and time management. Academic advisors will help you plan your class schedule each semester.

How to enroll at UNT

High school students

We encourage you to fulfill the graduation requirements for the distinguished level of achievement under the Texas Foundation, Recommended or Distinguished Achievement high school program or the equivalent.

In your junior year, take the SAT or the ACT and have your scores sent to UNT.

In the fall of your senior year, apply for admission to UNT and to audition for the College of Music by the first Monday in December. You can apply for admission to UNT at Apply Texas. The College of Music website has information about applications, audition requirements, audition dates and repertoire.

Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses can count toward college credit at UNT.

Transfer students

If you're attending a Texas community college, you should consult our online transfer guides, the UNT Undergraduate Catalog and an academic counselor or advisor to review your degree plan. Proper planning will allow you to receive the maximum amount of transfer credits.

Our Transfer Center will help you make a successful transition to college life at UNT by connecting you with a peer mentor and other campus resources. Each year, 3,900 students transfer to UNT. More information about the center is at transition.unt.edu.