Entrance Requirements and Prerequisites
General Curriculum Requirements
Bachelor of Fine Arts and Certificate of Fine Arts General Requirements
Bachelor of Fine Arts and Certificate of Fine Arts Requirements
Master of Fine Arts and Advanced Certificate of Fine Arts Program Requirements
The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree and the Certificate of Fine Arts programs in The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts require a minimum of 8. 0 semesters of enrollment, while the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree and Advanced Certificate of Fine Arts programs require a minimum of 4.0 semesters of enrollment. BFA and MFA degree and Certificate programs require at least 2.0 semesters of full-time residence at CalArts. For all programs, the final 1.0 semester of course enrollment before graduation must be in residence at CalArts, although this requirement may be satisfied by completing consecutive semesters of part-time enrollment at CalArts that total 1.0 semester of residence and culminate in graduation. The Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) program in The Herb Alpert School of Music requires a minimum of 3 years of full-time residence. (See also Institute residency policies.)
All entering BFA, Certificate of Fine Arts, MFA, and Advanced Certificate of Fine Arts students (with the exception of DMA students) are required to take the Music Theory and Musicianship Skills Placement Exams. These placement exams may be taken only once.
CalArts does not accept transfer credit towards its Core Music Theory or Musicianship Skills requirements. Based on the results of the placement exams, each undergraduate student will be placed at a corresponding level in the CORE CURRICULUM. If an undergraduate student lacks sufficient background to begin the CORE CURRICULUM sequence, they may be required to take an additional course, Fundamental Musicianship (MTHY001). This course offers training in skills and musical knowledge considered to be essential preparation for serious undergraduate study in music at CalArts. If required, Fundamental Musicianship must be completed by the end of the first year in residence. Failure to pass Fundamental Musicianship within the first year may result in dismissal from the School of Music.
Applicants to the MFA program will be required to have attained a BM, BFA, BA or equivalent in a relevant field before admittance, or to have a Bachelor's degree in an alternate subject along with skills and knowledge that are appropriate to enter a Master's degree program in a music-related field.
For MFA and Advanced Certificate students, placement exam results may indicate either that a student's prior training and current skill levels are already appropriate for graduate study or that supplemental courses will be required in addition to the normal graduate curriculum.
As an admission requirement, DMA students must enter their degree program with music theory and musicianship skills assessed by faculty to be appropriate for their intended doctoral-level work and teaching assignments, as demonstrated by portfolio review, interview and teaching demonstration.
Entering graduate students are expected to have had prior study that would be appropriate for their declared Specialization at CalArts. By the end of the student's first semester in their program, their undergraduate transcript will be evaluated to ascertain the amount and level of prior study. Students who lack sufficient background as judged by faculty will be required to take additional remedial coursework at CalArts.
Information regarding any additional prerequisites for graduate study in individual programs may be found under the course requirements for each program.
See Institute Degree and Certificate Requirements for BFA and Certificate.
Students must satisfactorily complete the program of studies formulated each semester by the mentor and student, which includes requirements specified in the "Specialization Descriptions" section of this Catalog.
Students must attend and have both Mid-Residence and Graduation Reviews officially documented. During these reviews, the student's course history is examined, progress is assessed, problems are discussed and changes to the curriculum are considered. Mentors and deans must officially approve any changes to the student's curriculum requirements.
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All MFA degree candidates must complete a minimum of 60 units.
All DMA degree candidates must complete a minimum of 60 units.
Students must satisfactorily complete the program of studies formulated each semester by the student and their Mentor, as well as all requirements specified in the "Doctor of Musical Arts Program Description" section of this catalog. Any changes to the student's curriculum requirements must be officially approved by their Doctoral Examining Committee and the Herb Alpert School of Music's Doctoral Policy Committee.
See Center for Integrated Media curriculum.
When students enter the BFA Program in Music, they are regarded as holistic "Music Artists." As each student gains experience with the spectrum of curriculum offerings available, always in regular consultation with a mentor, they naturally develop particular concentrations of study that best suit their artistic and professional goals.
The BFA Program in Music contains the following métier components: 1) a Core Curriculum required for all students, 2) a variety of Specialization curricula with required courses, 3) prerequisites intended to prepare students for particular Specializations, and 4) BFA 3-4 Music requirements for students who do not proceed with a Specialization curriculum. In addition, a Music Theory Minor and particular Concentrations in Composition are also available for those who wish to pursue them.
When students apply to the BFA Program in Music, they have the option of declaring their intention to concentrate their work in a particular curriculum Specialization, or they may be accepted to enter as Undeclared and allow their Specialization to emerge. Undeclared students may subsequently declare their intention to adopt a Specialization, which must be approved by faculty. However, the declaration to adopt a Specialization curriculum must be made prior to the time of the Mid-Residence Review, which takes place before the third year (BFA-3) of study, normally in the BFA-2-2 semester. To be prepared for this, students must take any necessary prerequisite courses for their Specialization and have a portfolio and performance assessment review approved by faculty. In special cases, it may be possible to declare more than one or a combination of Specializations, and students may also draw coursework from the prerequisites for multiple Specializations. When students complete the requirements of their Specialization(s), appropriate notations are placed on their official transcripts. Students who elect not to declare a Specialization, or who are not approved by faculty to proceed with a Specialization curriculum, will be automatically required to adopt the BFA 3-4 Music curriculum. Upon graduation, those students will receive a BFA in Music without a Specialization curriculum indicated on their transcripts.
Students must maintain close contact with their faculty mentors, who can guide them in selecting courses that will best serve their individual educational and career objectives and prepare them for their intended Specialization(s). Note that all students are required to develop a cumulative portfolio of work each year, which is also reviewed by their mentors and appropriate faculty.
All undergraduate music students must take CORE CURRICULUM courses. These courses are intended to foster the development of skills in the essential areas of music cultures and literature, music theory and practice, performance experiences, making original work, new methods and technologies, professional development, and breadth of experience in the arts.
The undergraduate CORE CURRICULUM cultivates solid understanding and practical facility with respect to basic musical concepts and techniques, preparing students for broad engagement with contemporary musical culture and for advanced work in their areas of individual specialization. The CORE curriculum affords students opportunities to:
The Core Curriculum requirements listed immediately below are required for all undergraduate students. Courses completed to meet Core Curriculum requirements can be used to meet Specialization Requirements if approved by Dean and Mentor in review.
MUSIC CULTURES & LITERATURE
MUSIC THEORY & PRACTICE
MAKING ORIGINAL WORK
NEW METHODS & TECHNOLOGIES
BREADTH IN THE ARTS
The following elective listings are provided for reference.
(may substitute for MLSN003 Class Piano if approved by instructor)
Whichever core courses are required by a student's specialization, there may be some variability as to when they are taken depending on individual placement, experience and development. However, certain strict deadlines do apply (see below).
First Semester (BFA2-1)
⇒ DO finish core requirements on time
⇒ DON’T take a vacation from core requirements
⇒ DO fulfill core Incomplete grades on time
In any course that constitutes a prerequisite for another required course in the core Music Theory or Skills curriculum, an Incomplete (I) grade must be made up before the student will be allowed to enroll in the next course in the sequence. Instructors are not obliged to permit enrollment in core theory or skills courses after classes begin, so Incomplete grades should be made up before the date on which the following semester's regular classes commence.
FAILURE TO FULFILL CORE REQUIREMENTS ACCORDING TO THESE STIPULATIONS MAY RESULT IN ACADEMIC WARNING, INELIGIBILITY TO ADVANCE IN YEAR LEVEL, LOSS OF FINANCIAL AID, AND POSSIBLE DISMISSAL FROM THE SCHOOL OF MUSIC (see Academic Standing Policy).
For students who enter a specialization, the following requirements are replaced by those of the specialization. All other undergraduate music students must complete the following course requirements.
Complete CORE CURRICULUM plus the following courses:
Any TWO of the following FOUR Core Theory Options:
Electives (to fulfill 120-unit degree requirement)
The Minor in Music Theory affords interested eligible undergraduate students a non-degree credential that supplements their Major. If earned, the Minor is noted on CalArts transcripts. Course credit earned by a student can count simultaneously towards the requirements of the Major and the Minor. Interested students must visit the Music Office in order to formally declare in writing their intent to pursue the Minor. However, they must first have fulfilled all of the following prerequisites either by means of placement examination or by course completion with a grade of P or HP.
MTHY112 Tonal Theory & Applications B
MTHY210 Non-Tonal Theories
MTHY203 Practical Musicianship C
The Minor is awarded to undergraduate students who formally declare their intention to pursue it before graduation and who complete all of the following course requirements.
MTHY240 Jazz Keyboard Theory (2 classes, 2 units in total)
Music Perception Option: ONE class chosen from
Musical Forms Option: ONE class chosen from
Analytical Survey Option: ONE class chosen from
Mxxxx music theory electives (2 units from the approved list below, not used to meet any of the above requirements)
The following courses are applicable to the elective requirements of the Minor in Music Theory. Appropriate course substitutions may be made with the approval of dean and mentor.
Good standing in the Major specialization is required for continued enrollment in the Music Theory Minor. Students on Academic Warning may be suspended from the Minor in Music Theory. Students may be permanently removed from the Minor after more than one semester on Academic Warning, at the recommendation of their Dean.
The following courses are required but do not constitute a student's entire program. Students are encouraged to collaborate with their mentors to create an individualized course of study (combining electives and requirements).
Courses that are listed as requiring enrollment for more than two semesters are those whose content changes each semester; content is dependent on which students are enrolled, students' artistic and technical progress, and/or cumulative progress.
Students graduating from CalArts with a BFA degree in composition will have benefited from a "one size does not fit all" education. Each student will have been allowed to fully explore their musical interests and develop their compositional voice. By the time students graduate, they should:
Undergraduate students may be accepted to CalArts with a specialization, or with approval from faculty they may subsequently declare a specialization at any time before their Mid-Residence Review in BFA3-2. Upon approved declaration, the combined prerequisites and requirements listed below together become the student's degree requirements in Music.
Students who have either declared this specialization or who may wish to declare this specialization must complete the following requirements by the end of BFA2-2.
Interested undergraduate Composition and Performer-Composer students can earn one or more optional Concentrations within their major by completing additional requirements as indicated below. Earned Concentrations will be noted on CalArts transcripts. Course credits earned towards the CORE CURRICULUM or towards the BFA COMPOSITION FOUNDATION can also count towards one or more of these Concentrations, and vice versa. Any student interested in pursuing one or more concentrations must declare this during their Graduation Review.
*In specializations or concentrations for which lessons are required, students who do not own an appropriate instrument may need to rent one. Further information is available from the Music Office.
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The InstrumentalArts Specializations recognize that our students come to us with a wide range of musical backgrounds, experiences, and goals. These specializations ask each student to articulate their goals and intentions to their mentor each semester. Stated goals and intentions are noted and become a part of the student's individualized learning objectives. At the end of each year, student and mentor meet to discuss how the student is moving toward their goals, whether goals have changed, and what might be next. A detailed assessment report, and mentor report, as well as a copy of the student's stated goals become a part of the student's record.
The requirements listed in each sub-heading include the following areas of study: Brass, Guitar, Harp, Percussion, Piano/Keyboard, Strings, Winds.
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Undergraduate students may be accepted to CalArts with a specialization, or with approval from faculty they may subsequently declare a specialization at any time before their Mid-Residence Review in BFA3-2. Upon approved declaration, the combined prerequisites and requirements listed below together become the student’s degree requirements in Music.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE SPECIALIZATION
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE SPECIALIZATION
By the time of graduation, students in the Jazz specialization will have acquired high-level experience and skill. They will have had opportunities to:
PREREQUISITES TO THE SPECIALIZATION (to be completed by the end of BFA2-2)
By graduation, students should display a wide range of musical and intellectual skills and intense originality, along with the ability to apply these in a wide variety of professional situations. Specifically, they should be able to:
The Music Technology specialization aims to build strong musical skills while promoting the mastery of a variety of music-related technologies in the context of pursuing creative work. Specifically, Music Technology students will have opportunities to:
become trained artists able to work in any orchestral, ensemble or global music production, including knowing how to produce a concert, manage a stage, understand a sound board and run stage monitor and main audience sound;attain strong music theory, ear training and rhythmic training, with a focus on 21st century technology;learn how to run a music studio for recording production, with full knowledge of microphone techniques, software editors, audio effects, mixing and mastering;acquire strong contextualization abilities for the history of electro-acoustic music;learn how algorithms for traditional synthesis and audio affect production;become proficient software engineers, with the ability to code for websites and utilize advanced object-oriented languages for artistic expression;understand basic digital signal processing and its relationship to audio, including time and frequency domains and how these can be manipulated for artistic purposes; also be able to use basic electronics and know how to design human computer interfaces for artistic practices;develop project implementation and production capabilities, including planning, execution, time management and documentation skills.
TWO courses chosen from
CREATIVE COMPUTING AND PROGRAMMING TWO courses chosen from
DIGITAL SIGNAL PROCESSING
DIGITAL CREATIVE PRACTICE / COMPOSITION / INSTALLATION
Students entering this specialization will have determined that the development of their original work demands the thoroughgoing integration of performance and composition practices. By the time they graduate, they should:
By graduation, students should be able to demonstrate skills, technique, creativity and contextualization abilities that allow them to create and express their art through and with the voice. Specifically, each student should demonstrate:
This degree specialization focuses on developing a strong sense and understanding of the different areas of world music offered at CalArts, in particular African, North Indian, and Indonesian music and dance. Students should form a strong foundation or base of knowledge in each of these areas. This foundation should not only prepare students for real-world experiences but also can be used as a stepping stone to the more MFA specializations in world music at CalArts. By the time students graduate, they should:
Two years of intensive study are required for the Master of Fine Arts and Advanced Certificate of Fine Arts. Some individualized specializations may require 3 years.
Starting with a foundation of skills and creativity fostered by an undergraduate degree in composition, MFA students will continue to explore and develop their own artistic voice. By the time MFA students graduate, they will have had opportunities to
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The InstrumentalArts Specialization recognizes that our students come to us with a wide range of musical backgrounds, experiences, and goals. The specialization asks each student to articulate their goals and intentions to their mentor each semester. Stated goals and intentions are noted and become a part of the student's individualized learning objectives. At the end of each year, student and mentor meet to discuss how the student is moving toward their goals, whether goals have changed, and what might be next. A detailed assessment report, and mentor report, as well as a copy of the student's stated goals become a part of the student's record.
Electives (to fulfill 60-unit degree requirement)
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By the time of graduation, students in the Jazz Program should have acquired high-level experience and skill in areas common with the BFA program, but with the expectation of a considerably higher level of maturity, depth and originality. By graduation, they should
These requirements are applicable to the following areas of study: Jazz Bass, Jazz Guitar, Jazz Keyboard, Jazz Drums, Jazz Trumpet, Jazz Trombone, Jazz Reeds and Jazz Performance.
Students will enter this program having already developed high-level skills in performance and/or composition in an undergraduate program and having identified a direction in creative music making that demands thoroughgoing integration of performing and composing practices in the further evolution of their creative work. By the time they graduate, they should:
Two years of intensive study, full-time coursework and creative projects are required. Some individualized specializations may require three years.
Upon graduation, students should demonstrate:
VoiceArts (MFA Requirements)
The VoiceArts specialization requires a review of each student's professional portfolio development each semester as a component of the lesson requirement.
The African Music and Dance specialization seek to develop students' drumming, singing and dancing abilities in traditional music and dance from Ghana while learning and synthesizing the diverse skills and abilities required of a western classical musician. By the time students graduate, they should:
Two years of intensive study in the field of emphasis are required. A final recital or series of performances is required. Mentors may require a written thesis.
Students graduating with an MFA specialization in Balinese and Javanese music and dance should be exceptional performers on various gamelan instruments, should have significant knowledge about the music, culture and history of gamelan music and dance in Bali and Java, and should be prepared to creatively meet challenges in a rapidly developing global music culture. Specifically, they should:
This degree specialization trains students to become exceptional performers as well as teachers through in-depth hands-on training. While the specialization is heavily steeped in performance practices, the students also will have opportunities to learn the theoretical side of this music, as well as the cultural and historical aspects of North Indian classical music. By graduation, students in the North Indian Music Vocal and Instrumental Specialization should:
This degree specialization aims to train students, who already possess a strong foundation as drummers and/or percussionists, to become exceptional cutting-edge performers (as well as teachers) through the development of a broad range of skills drawing from a multitude of areas of world percussion. Through examining and studying both traditional aspects of world music as well as contemporary approaches and applications, this specialization is designed to give the graduating student the skills necessary to lead by example in the emerging and ever-growing field of world percussion and hand drumming. By the time students graduate, they should:
be self-motivated and entrepreneurial, learning to set goals that are reflective of their artistic vision and uniqueness.
Two years of intensive study in the field of emphasis are required. A final recital or series of performances is required. Mentors may require a written thesis.
Upon attainment of the DMA degree, students should have demonstrated an original and coherent artistic vision that fuses performance and composition in unique and compelling ways, and should manifest excellence as educators and advocates for evolutionary and exploratory art. Specifically, they should demonstrate:
DMA students must pass a First Year Review (MCMP790). This review is conducted by the student's Doctoral Examining Committee. This Committee comprises a total of 3-4 faculty members and must include the student's Mentor and MTHY750 (Topic-Driven Research) instructors. During this review, the student's artistic, intellectual, academic, professional and pedagogical development is examined, progress is assessed, problems are discussed, and changes to the curriculum are considered.DMA students must pass Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations (MCMP792) before advancing to degree candidacy. The Qualifying Examinations are administered by the student's Doctoral Examining Committee. In preparation for the Qualifying Examinations, the student must enroll in MTHY750 (Topic-Driven Research) at least 6 times with a minimum of 3 different DEC members addressing 3 respective topic areas. This typically takes place over the course of the student's second year in the DMA program. The MTHY750 topic areas are agreed upon by the student and the MTHY750 instructors in light of the student's professional and artistic goals and are subject to approval by the Doctoral Policy Committee. The DMA Qualifying Examinations can be repeated at most once. Any second trial must occur within four months of the first trial. Unsatisfactory performance at the second trial is grounds for dismissal from the Herb Alpert School of Music.
Before the awarding of the degree each DMA student must pass a Final Review (MCMP794), conducted by their Doctoral Examining Committee. This review assesses the student's artistic, intellectual, academic, professional, and pedagogical standing in relation to the Learning Goals and Rubrics for the DMA program, and includes detailed evaluation of all components of the student's Doctoral Project (MCMP790), and particularly of the student's Professional Portfolio.