Program type:


On Campus
Est. time to complete:

4 years
Credit Hours:

Learn more about the role of music in different cultures and societies.
The B.A. in Critical Studies in Music and Society allows you to design an undergraduate music degree around your career interests in music. The program welcomes students with strong academic backgrounds and with diverse musical interests, skills, or experiences.

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Why Earn a Critical Studies in Music and Society Degree?

A robust core of twenty-seven hours in ethnomusicology and music history culminates in a capstone research, professional, or creative project. A maximum of fifteen hours of music electives and twenty-seven general electives offers students flexibility to tailor the degree to their career objectives, which might range from business to law, medicine, tech, and beyond.

This degree thus trains students to communicate about music across broad and diverse audiences and to conduct the original research necessary to answer the questions facing music industries today.

Seminar topics include:

  • Music under Capitalism: Histories & Futures
  • Histories of Music Production from Printing to Streaming
  • Musical Roots and Routes: Cultural Identity, Immigration, and Diasporic Communities
  • Music and Race Formation
  • Music, Nationalism, and Decolonial Listening
  • Music, Climate, and Technology from Beethoven to the Blockchain
  • Sounded Divinity: Music in the World's Religions
  • Sound, Media, and Virtual Communities
Marketable Skills
  • Oral and written communication
  • Teamwork
  • Collect, analyze and interpret data
  • Self-management in projects
  • Multicultural/diversity competencies

Critical Studies in Music and Society Degree Highlights

You'll meet regularly with a program coordinator and an academic advisor, who will guide your choice of electives in keeping with your academic and professional goals.
You'll take at least four semesters of the Critical Studies in Music and Society Colloquium, a forum in which you can explore different music and arts professions with faculty from across campus and professionals from a variety of music- and arts-related fields.
You'll take at least two seminars - which are capped at twelve students and limited to Critical Studies in Music and Society majors - that explore a central question or problem related to music and society, one that the professor and students will explore from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.
The senior capstone allows you to pursue an academic or creative project tailored to your academic interests and professional goals with the guidance of a faculty member.

What Can You do With a Critical Studies in Music and Society Degree?

Possible career paths include:

  • Law School
  • Medical School
  • Music Business/Engrepreneurship
  • Music Production
  • Performing Arts Journalism or Criticism
  • Performing Arts Nonprofits
  • Graduate Study in Ethnomuciology, Music Theory or Musicology

Critical Studies in Music and Society Degree Courses You Could Take

Music Cultures of the World (3 hrs)
Survey of music cultures of Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania. Music traditions are studied from a perspective that emphasizes music as an integral part of society and culture.
Introduction to Ethnomusicology (3 hrs)
General overview of the discipline of ethnomusicology, including major contributions to the field, history, methodology and practical applications. Case studies are used to illustrate specific theoretical problems encountered in ethnomusicological research.
Global Perspectives in Popular Music (3 hrs)
Addresses popular music—broadly defined as music produced and consumed through mass media technologies—from different industries, genres and sites throughout the world. Students do not require any formal training or background in music to participate fully in this course.
Music, Gender, Sexuality (3 hrs)
This course explores various intersections between music, gender, and sexuality. Previous experience with musical performance (including the ability to read music) is not required or expected.
Music as Politics (3 hrs)
This course explores various intersections between music, activism, and politics. Previous experience with musical performance (including the ability to read music) is not required or expected.
Music as Communication (3 hrs)
Introduction to issues of music seen as a form of human communication with emphasis on developing listening skills and critical thinking. Includes discussion of Western and non-Western music based on case studies.

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