Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Music Overview

Offered on campus or online, this program is designed to prepare students for a career in music by combining rigorous coursework with hands-on experience.

As a music major at SMWC, you will enjoy small class sizes and plenty of opportunities to hone your craft. All music programs at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). Our degree programs provide the flexibility to lead you to the career of your dreams. With your professional advisors helping you along the way, you can mix and match majors and minors to get the perfect degree tailored to you and your career aspirations. Plus, you’ll graduate with a strong foundation in liberal arts.

This major requires auditions.

This program aims to produce well-rounded musicians with skills in music theory and aural perception, knowledge of music history and literature, competence in their chosen performance area and the basics of the SMWC music therapy program as well.

You’ll spend most of your time in the stately Conservatory of Music. Built in 1913, the Conservatory is home to the Music and Theatre Department. It combines the beauty of the past with current technology and equipment necessary for a comprehensive education in music. Marble halls and staircases surround the elegant 700+ seat Harvey Auditorium. Practice facilities, studios and classrooms are spacious and numerous, with windows overlooking the natural beauty of the SMWC campus.


What is music?
Music is the use of vocal or instrumental sounds to produce harmony or express emotion. It is a style of art that creates combinations of melody or rhythm and can express ideas or emotions in significant forms. Through taking ensemble credits, you will learn many different types of music.

Why get a degree in music?
A degree in music from SMWC provides a wide variety of knowledge about this discipline, including music history, music theory and music technology. This degree program exposes students to hands-on formalized music experience in a small, collaborative environment while teaching them to take their passion and turn it into a meaningful career. The Department of Music and Theatre is dedicated to ensuring that students succeed no matter what area of music they decide to pursue.

What can you do with a degree in music?
Our music program is a comprehensive liberal arts degree program that prepares students for various careers in music and has the flexibility that allows students to combine a music major with a degree in another field. Here are just a few career paths and settings for someone with a music degree:

  • Private teaching studios
  • Freelance performer
  • Military bands and choirs
  • Symphony orchestras
  • Professional choirs
  • Churches
  • Music libraries
  • Music retailers
  • Arts administration

Many of these positions require non-specific degrees, but the person holding a music degree will have an advantageous knowledge of the subject matter. Some employers in the general workplace also prefer to hire those with a music degree, knowing the discipline and work ethic one must possess to complete such music programs.

Check out our blog Careers you can have with music and music therapy degrees

What is the average annual salary of someone with a music degree?
With such a wide range of careers available for someone with a music degree, the salary range is rather large. As you look at starting salaries, keep in mind the cost of living and opportunities to move with a career should factor into your decision. The average annual salary of someone with a music degree is $57,731, according to ZipRecruiter.

What support and resources are provided at SMWC?
The Learning Resource Center (LRC) provides exceptional, personalized learning resource services to encourage student success. The LRC offers help with a range of academic support services, including a writing center, tutoring, college success courses and more.

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is routinely ranked by US News and World Report among the Best Regional Universities in the Midwest and the Best Value Schools. Our departments are also routinely ranked for their individual degree programs. See the SMWC Difference:

Applied Music Exams for Music Majors

Applied music examinations (juries) are held at the end of each semester. Each student must perform at least one composition for each hour of primary-level credit undertaken. Memorization is required of piano and vocal students. Attendance at all music programs and Convocations is required.

Each music major must demonstrate piano proficiency in the areas of:

  • All major and minor scales, as well as other scales and modes deemed appropriate by the music faculty
  • Harmonization of melody
  • Transposition
  • Accompanying
  • Sight playing.

Each music major is required to register for applied or class piano each semester until they pass the piano proficiency examination. Any requested substitutions for on-campus study of applied or class piano have prior approval by the piano faculty and the student’s advisor.

The piano proficiency exam must be passed before a student is eligible to begin an internship (music therapy). All components of the piano proficiency exam must be passed before a student receives a degree in music.

Music therapy students must also pass the guitar/voice competency exam prior to starting an internship. This exam is typically given in the second semester of junior year. Guitar study is included in the music therapy curriculum.

All major music programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.