Music Major, B.A.
MSU Denver’s Bachelor of Arts degrees with concentrations in Music and Music Theory offer vigorous study of music alongside a strong liberal arts education, equipping students with versatile skills that are highly valued in the broad spectrum of music-related careers.
As a Bachelor of Arts major, you’ll enjoy extensive performance opportunities with over 20 different ensembles ranging from choir and orchestra to big band and mariachi. You’ll receive one-on-one private instrument instruction from our celebrated faculty who tailor their instruction to your individual needs. Our 200+ concerts per year - including masterclasses with visiting artists, music festivals, and faculty recitals - will expand your musical perspective.
The Bachelor of Arts degree in Music requires a minor in a secondary area of interest, allowing you to customize your degree according to your personal career goals. Past students have minored in such fields as business, marketing, graphic design, and journalism to specialize their skills for various careers in the music industry and arts administration.
If music theory is your passion, the Bachelor of Arts extended degree in Music Theory (which does not require a minor) allows you to dive deep into classical and jazz theory, while also giving you the skills in composition, arranging, orchestration, conducting, and performance to apply your theory knowledge in any of those career fields.
Music, B.A. Course Sequences
Other Music Programs
Benefits of Earning Your Degree at MSU Denver
With state-of-the-art performance venues and internationally recognized professors, the Department of Music at MSU Denver serves as a leader in the education of performers, teachers, and music industry professionals and offers the best higher education value in Colorado. Our diverse curriculum flows through classical, jazz, commercial, and world music to help you navigate the broad range of opportunities that exist for the 21st-century musician.
MSU Denver’s music faculty are among the finest performers, scholars, and educators in the nation. Each brings a commitment to and passion for music education that creates a rich, familial atmosphere to foster student success and achievement.
Our location in vibrant Downtown Denver places you in the heart of the city’s rich and diverse cultural district. We provide ample performing opportunities both on campus in the beautiful King Center Concert and Recital Halls, and off campus with concerts at Dazzle, the Mercury Café, and more. You’ll have the opportunity to perform in fully staged operas, musicals, and festivals hosted annually on campus like the Viva Southwest Mariachi Festival and the Mile High Jazz Festival. We partner with organizations such as the Colorado Wind Ensemble and the Playground Ensemble to give you experience working with professional musicians.
The Music Department at MSU Denver is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Music.
Career Opportunities for Our Graduates
The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 Occupational Outlook Handbook lists $28.15 as the median hourly wage for performance musicians. As a B.A. Music graduate, you’ll have myriad opportunities for music-related jobs, which can be further expanded by your minor field of study. Here are examples of median annual salaries for music-related positions according to careersinmusic.com.
- Arranger $54,400
- Concert Promoter $78,553
- Entertainment Attorney $117,567
- Music Critic $52,608
- Music Librarian $55,169
- Piano Tuner $39,548
- Publicist $47,139
- Record Producer $68,168
- Recording Engineer $41,129
- Sound Technician $41,129
- Tour Manager $54,317
- Music Therapist $50,934
- Orchestrator $62,377
Hear from our students:
“Earning my BA in music has helped with my career as a musician by giving me the knowledge to play almost any instrument I pick up and read music at a very high level. It really set me up to be a responsible professional in my field. I believe that the most unique and beneficial part of earning my degree at MSU Denver is the faculty. Every single member of the Music faculty has helped me in one way or another. The best part about all of it was that they truly cared about my education and went above and beyond to facilitate my learning. I feel it truly helped me mature and develop as a musician. I have recommended MSU Denver to others to get their degree because not only does it have the best Music faculty I have ever seen, but it is the only university that I know of that really aims at preparing their students for the future after college.”
Cory Golon (MSU Denver '15)
Director of Composition & Music Theory
Born in Florida, Cherise Leiter received a Bachelor of Music in Music Theory and a Master of Music in Composition from the University of Florida where she studied with Dr. Budd Udell. An active composer whose output includes works for choir, piano, voice, carillon, orchestra and assorted chamber ensembles, her compositions have been performed throughout the United States, France, Scotland, and Japan. She was a finalist in the 1997 Young American Choral Composers Competition sponsored by G. Schirmer, in the Ithaca College 25th annual Choral Composition Competition, and in the ‘Outside the Bach’s’ Choral Composition Competition.
Ron Miles has established himself as one of today's most prominent jazz musicians. He has released numerous records as a leader on the Capri, Gramavision, and Prolific labels, and is a longtime collaborator with jazz luminaries Bill Frisell and Brian Blade. His release, I Am a Man, featuring Jason Moran, Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan, and Brian Blade, was named one of the Best Albums of 2017 by the New York Times and NPR. He was elected into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2017. In 2018, Miles shared a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for Still Dreaming with saxophonist Joshua Redman, drummer Brian Blade and bassist Scott Colley.
Assistant Professor of Musicology
Elizabeth Macy coordinates the various world music ensembles at MSU Denver, including the gamelan orchestra Manik Kusuma, the African Drum & Dance Ensemble, and holds a PhD in Ethnomusicology from UCLA, an MA in Ethnomusicology from UC Riverside, and a BA in Music from Colorado College. Her dissertation research addressed the function of music tourism in post-disaster economies; in particular, it focused on the function of music tourism in the recovery and rebuilding of post-Katrina New Orleans and in Bali, Indonesia after the 2002 and 2005 terrorist bombings. Dr. Macy's current and ongoing research focuses on Balinese master musician I Made Lasmawan and his wife Ni Ketut Marni and the music and dance traditions of the village of Bangah di Baturiti in Bali. Currently a performing member of Denver's Gamelan Tunas Mekar, she began studying the music of Indonesia with Lasmawan in 1996. She is a founding member of Sanggar Manik Galih, a transnational music and dance studio based in Bali and Colorado, and teaches study abroad courses in Bali on Balinese music, arts, and culture.
Associate Professor of Saxophone
Mark Harris is a dedicated and exploratory educator and performer. He has played in bands backing artists Billy Eckstein, Joe Williams, Cab Calloway, Bob Hope, Natalie Cole, the Temptations and has performed with Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd), and Fred Frith. He performs original music with Hamster Theatre, Thinking Plague, Random Axe, and performs in classical chamber ensembles Metro Wind Consort and the Lamont Sax Quartet. Mark is certified in Soundpainting, an improvisational language for musicians of all styles and skill levels. As a teacher, Mark emphasizes strong technical skills, aesthetic exploration, and student-directed learning concepts that nourish creativity and set students up for success in any musical arena. His most prominent former student is the widely-acclaimed alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa.
“I found my experience at MSU Denver to be fantastic! Their approach provides students with the academic training and experience that will enable them to pursue an array of opportunities for music careers in today's ever-changing arts landscape. It is a nontraditional model that promotes diversity of thought and adapts the curriculum to the expressed needs and concerns of their students.”
Heath Ellis (MSU Denver ’11) is the volunteer coordinator and university liaison at El Sistema Colorado, a nonprofit that provides free music programs for children. He holds a master of arts degree from the University of Colorado Denver.
Alumni at Work
Graduates of MSU Denver’s Bachelor of Arts in Music program are employed in music-related careers such as choir and church music directors, private-instruction business owners, recording studio managers, and educators in schools and universities. B.A. Music alumni have been accepted for post-graduate study at the University of Colorado Denver, Regis University, and other institutions
As an MSU Denver Music major, you’ll receive private instruction, hold recitals, participate in ensembles and choose electives relevant to your area of interest. Examples of classes include:
- Basic Music Technology
- Musics of the World
- Electronic Music Composition
- Arranging and Orchestration
- Basic Conducting
- Jazz Theory
See full course listing for the Bachelor of Arts in Music and Bachelor of Arts in Music: Music Theory Extended B.A.
Facilities and Resources
As a Bachelor of Arts in Music major, you’ll study and perform in the King Center on the Auraria Campus. This modern performing arts complex houses top-of-the-line educational facilities and performance venues including the 520-seat concert hall with a stage accommodating a 150-piece orchestra, the more intimate recital hall, a theatre, a recording studio, a music and dance studio, and numerous production studios.
You will also be studying on a campus within walking distance of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and many music venues.
MSU Denver is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Music.