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Student Life

The Department of Music grants a B.A. degree in music and also a minor in music. It 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 of course performance. Our curriculum is responsive to the interests of a diverse student body, and we pride ourselves in offering a broad and flexible program.

The major may serve as pre-professional training for the student seeking a career in music, or provide a lasting source of enrichment for the student with other career goals. It is open to all. Entering students are not auditioned, but are asked to demonstrate a minimum standard of musical literacy in a placement test or to take appropriate preparatory courses until they demonstrate the ability to do the work of the regular musicianship courses. 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 musics. Upper division students may choose from an extensive selection of elective courses or create an individual “track” 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 adviser in any area of music studies.

There are a large number of double majors in the department representing fields such as Molecular and Cell Biology, Rhetoric, Physics, Political Economy, English, and Business Administration, to just name a few. Here’s what our students had to say…


Lilly Ocampo Alvarez

The UC Berkeley Music Department has been quite an experience in my first two years of college. As I began my studies here, I was not quite sure what to expect from this department, nor was I even sure I would be a music major. I have realized that the music program is very flexible in allowing a student to explore different aspects of the musical world and through course work, to build an education that satisfies each of our individual interests and ambitions. We begin by learning your vital musicianship, harmonic, and performance skills, and continuing by exploring the more specific fields of composition, ethnomusicology, and performance. There is something for everyone at the Music Department of UC Berkeley, and together, students and staff are working to further expand options to our education. In addition, I have been given the honor to work along our wonderful staff in Morrison Hall and Hertz Hall through the work-study program, and this has allowed me to become involved in the internal processes that run the music department, and of course, to work hand-in-hand with fellow staff and classmates. 

Emily Bozentka

Deciding to double major in English and Music is definitely one of the best decisions I have made since coming to Berkeley. While double majoring can be a bit overwhelming at times, it is definitely worth it.  I entered Berkeley as an intended English major and decided at the beginning of my second year to add the music major, with a concentration in vocal performance studies. Although the amount of time I spend in the practice rooms can be rather daunting, I feel that I have really improved as a vocalist and musician through the musicianship and harmony classes, as well as the 150 series. In addition, I have met most of my closest friends through my music classes. The fact that the music department is a smaller department is one thing I really like. It really is amazing to be surrounded by truly inspiring and talented musicians, many of whom you really get to know and have classes with year after year.

Kyle Greer

The music department is a very warm community. It is really special that both the office staff and the professors care about nurturing the students and about musical development with a well-rounded education.

Christy Kyong

Life at Cal has been an unforgettable and wonderful experience for me. This diverse campus offers over 300 classes with the best possible professors and many student groups every semester.  Also through the university, the Education Abroad Program allows you to go anywhere in the world and receive university credit. There are large numbers of students that double major at CAL.

The first few semesters as a music major, I took harmony, musicianship, and music history classes, broadening the background knowledge in the literature and practices. Upper division students could decide which courses to take from a various selection of elective courses or concentrate in one area such as composition, music history, and performance. There are concerts held every semester for composers, where the composers’ works are performed. Performers can join ensembles such as the University Symphony, Baroque Ensemble, and other chamber groups, where one can have the opportunity to perform in Morrison and Hertz Hall. The newly built Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library offers one of the best collections of reference materials and scores. Here at Cal, there are many opportunities for you.

TJ Kyong

I came to Berkeley thinking I knew a lot about music, but all I really knew how to do was listen to it, not fully understanding what songs and pieces were composed of. The musicianship/harmony series have opened my eyes and trained me to the extent where I can listen to a Beatles song and say, “oh this is a bunch of dominant 7th chords” or hear an excerpt of a Beethoven symphony and say, “CT dim7!

Justin Starks

Hi, my name is Justin Starks and I thought I’d let you know about the wonders of being a music major here at Cal. Firstly, when you come to the music building, it’s like coming home. Everybody knows your name and is genuinely glad to see you, despite the fact that you probably just saw them the day before! Since the class sizes are small and everybody knows each other, being in musicianship, harmony, and other classes is fun instead scary—well for the most part—and you feel really comfortable. . The teachers are dedicated to ensuring that you understand and perform music to the best of your ability. This is just my testimony, but if you ask anyone else in the department, they’ll say the same thing!