The Music Department offers a comprehensive music program within the context of a public research university. Our degree programs prepare students to achieve excellence and professional success as creative artists, teachers, and scholars. The diversity of faculty specializations within the school provides a breadth of expertise rarely encountered in other programs.
Areas of concentration include performance with specializations in voice, keyboard, and orchestral instruments; music education; jazz studies; and composition. We seek to combine the strengths of both the finest conservatories and top-tier research institutions.
Bachelor of Music (BM)
At the undergraduate level, students in performance and jazz are trained for professional careers as performers and educators. In composition, too, students are prepared for professional careers as composers and educators. Students in music education graduate with certification to teach music in New Jersey public schools and receive extensive training in an instrument or voice. All four undergraduate areas provide rigorous instruction in music theory and history, as well as performance/composition, and are complemented by core requirements in the liberal arts. Mason Gross School of the Arts offers the following BM degrees:
- Bachelor of music degree in music education
- Bachelor of music degree in performance
- Bachelor of music degree in jazz studies
- Bachelor of music degree in composition
Concentration in Music Education
The bachelor of music in music education program includes performance study (private lessons and ensembles), music history, music theory, ear training, music education courses, and liberal arts studies. Practicum in local schools is included in the program, and the degree leads to New Jersey teacher certification. Music education students have the opportunity to work with the same world-class faculty in instrumental study or voice as students in the performance concentration. Learn more about our vocal and instrumental areas.
Applicants to the music education program complete an interview with the music education faculty in addition to an instrumental or voice audition. Evaluation of this interview is used, in conjunction with academic criteria and audition results, to determine admission to the program. Contact Mason Gross Admissions for more information.
The bachelor of music in music education is designed to prepare students for careers in music education and leads to a K–12 music teaching certificate for New Jersey, which shares reciprocity with other states. The degree can be completed in four years and requires approximately 123 credit hours. The actual number of credits completed will depend on the type of teaching specialty chosen, along with the normal variation in students’ preparedness. Study for music education majors includes music theory, ear training, music history, conducting, liberal arts, education, and music education coursework. Music education majors study their major instrument with applied faculty, and they have opportunities to perform in recitals and with a variety of Mason Gross ensembles.
After completing the first two years at Mason Gross in intensive music study, music education majors apply to the Music Education Professional Sequence (MEPS). If successful, students are then formally admitted to the teacher certification program and are allowed to take upper division courses. The MEPS includes professional development courses and extensive field experiences in public schools. The culminating experience of the degree is the student teaching semester, where students work in partnership with public school music teachers as they assume the role and responsibilities of a full-time music teacher.
Music education faculty members teach undergraduate and graduate courses, conduct performing ensembles, supervise student teachers, and mentor students within their specialty areas.
- Mason Gross is a highly regarded professional school where both performance and music education majors receive private instruction from world-renowned artist faculty from the New York and Philadelphia areas.
- Students receive personal attention through faculty mentoring and advising designed to meet individual needs and interests.
- Music education students seeking additional performance experience may audition to complete a double major in music performance and music education.
- A degree in music education may be completed in as few as four years and offers the following additional benefits:
- High job placement rate
- K-12 music teaching license
- Field experience in diverse school settings
- Opportunity to perform in a variety of large and small ensembles
Concentration in Performance
The Mason Gross performance concentration provides a rich curriculum of courses spanning performance practice, private instruction, practical research, and hands-on training. Classes are small, and performance opportunities are abundant. The Music Department mounts 300 performances each year with small and large ensembles including the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia, Symphonic Winds, Symphony Band, the Marching Scarlet Knights, Rutgers Kirkpatrick Choir, Glee Club, and Voorhees Choir. Numerous guest artists from the New York music scene and beyond are engaged to connect with students in master classes throughout the year. The performance program supplies students with a firm foundation for a career in music, whether the goal is to perform, teach, or prepare for further study.
Students receive a weekly 60-minute lesson with their major performance teacher for 12 weeks of each semester. Students present junior and senior recitals. Participation in ensembles is an essential aspect of the program. At the undergraduate level, courses in music theory emphasize aural skills, analytical techniques, and the writing of tonal harmony and counterpoint. The music history curriculum includes a rigorous examination of Western art music, principles of ethnomusicology, and a variety of special study courses.
The Mason Gross brass program is designed to provide the highest level of training for young artists and to help them develop the skills needed for a variety of careers in music. The unique nature of Mason Gross enables students to have the advantages of a professionally oriented conservatory program and benefit from the many resources of a large university. Each student receives personalized attention in a supportive community.
Trombone (tenor and bass)
Students work closely with members of our distinguished faculty, which includes members of the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York City and American Ballet Theater Orchestras, American Symphony and other ensembles in New York City and beyond.
The Mason Gross keyboard program is designed to provide the highest level of training to young artists and to help them develop the skills needed for a variety of careers in music. The undergraduate curriculum centers on individual private lessons, a rigorous music theory and ear training sequence, as well as a variety of courses in music history and ethnomusicology. Study is further supplemented by chamber music, pedagogy, accompanying classes, and a large offering of liberal arts courses.
The Mason Gross percussion program prepares students for a broad range of career paths. Building on an orchestral core, including timpani and percussion training, the program encourages students to explore Afro-Cuban traditions, as well as contemporary performance practice in chamber music and solo settings.
The Rutgers Percussion Ensemble, hailed by The New York Times for one of “10 Best Performances of 2017,” performs both on and off campus throughout the year and has been featured at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis.
The curriculum of the percussion program focuses on development of the orchestral core and allows students to customize their training to address their specific interests in the field. Recent graduates hold orchestral positions, chairs on Broadway shows, and teach around the world.
The four faculty members in the percussion program “team teach,” meaning that each student receives instruction with all faculty members in both private lessons and masterclasses. The faculty work professionally in all areas of the field—orchestral, Broadway, chamber music, and solo performance. They perform regularly with the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, on Broadway, and with new music ensembles throughout the New York area.
The Mason Gross string program is designed to provide the highest level of training to young artists and to help them develop the skills needed for a variety of careers in music. Students work closely with members of our distinguished faculty to refine their craft and develop as musicians. The small size of our program helps to ensure a personalized education for each student as well as a communal atmosphere. Study is supplemented by chamber music, orchestral performance, String Ensemble, pedagogy, and an extensive offering of liberal arts courses. The unique nature of Mason Gross enables students to benefit from the advantages of a professionally oriented conservatory program as well as the many advantages of a large university.
*Note: Fall 2021 applications for guitar are not being accepted.
The voice program aims to foster a genuine understanding of efficient, healthy vocalism that features free vocal production with beauty of tone, optimum resonance, and the ability to effectively communicate thoughts and passion through the delivery of word and music on the concert and operatic stages. Students are trained to become disciplined, compelling artists who are performers of vocal repertoire from all genres with a secure knowledge of musical aesthetics, style, performance practice, and accurate diction. Students may participate in any of the several choral ensembles offered including Rutgers Kirkpatrick Choir, Rutgers Glee Club, Rutgers Voorhees Choir, and Rutgers University Choir.
The members of the voice faculty include pedagogues who are also distinguished artists with careers that feature numerous productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, La Scala, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Musikverein in Vienna; and many other major national and international venues.
Saxophone (alto, baritone, and tenor)
Our woodwind faculty members appear in the New York and Philadelphia arts communities as members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Imani Winds, and as freelancers in these and many other ensembles and concerts.
Concentration in Jazz Studies
The Rutgers University jazz program is less than an hour’s ride from New York City and Philadelphia. The proximity to the New York City jazz scene offers many advantages, including all-star faculty and performance opportunities at important New York City venues.
The bachelor of music in jazz studies includes a comprehensive curriculum of jazz theory, improvisation, composition and arranging, keyboard, and private lessons with some of the world’s best jazz musicians and educators. This course of study prepares students for a professional career in jazz and commercial music. The following courses are required for the undergraduate degree:
- Theory I & II
- Jazz Theory I & II
- Keyboard Harmony for Jazz Majors I & II
- Jazz Composition and Arranging I & II
- Jazz Improvisation I & II
- Fundamentals of Musicianship I & II
- Introduction to Conducting
- Music History [14 credits]: Survey of Jazz Styles
- Evolution of Jazz
- Special Topics in World Music
- Introduction to Music
An all-star faculty has included some of the world’s best jazz musicians and educators, such as Ralph Bowen, Conrad Herwig, Victor Lewis, Kenny Davis, Joe Mosello, Tatum Greenblatt, Eddie Palmieri, Fred Hersch, and Bill O’Connell.
The jazz program offers students frequent opportunities for guest performances, lectures, and master classes by world-renowned artists. Previous guest artists and clinicians have included Eddie Palmieri, Wynton Marsalis, Frank Sinatra Jr., Jon Faddis, Terell Stafford, Mulgrew Miller, Edward Simon, Benny Golson, Gerald Wilson, Slide Hampton, Tom Harrell, and Paquito D’Rivera, among others.
Rutgers Summer Jazz Institute
The Mason Gross jazz faculty teaches at the Rutgers Summer Jazz Institute for young musicians, ages 13–18, who are interested in improving their jazz improvisation, small group, and large ensemble skills. Visit Rutgers Community Arts for more information.
Many of our alumni are performing with internationally renowned artists and groups such as the Vanguard Orchestra, Mingus Big Band, Eddie Palmieri Octet, Harry Connick Jr., Chick Corea, Michel Camilo, and a host of others. In addition to active performing careers, many of our undergraduate and graduate students have earned teaching positions at either the secondary or university level.
Concentration in Composition
The composition program at Mason Gross School of the Arts prepares students for careers in a variety of musical fields including contemporary concert music, scoring for film and media, and the teaching profession. Our internationally renowned faculty members nurture students’ creative abilities and craft, which helps to develop their voices within the broader world of contemporary music.
Student composers regularly present their music in orchestra and band readings, opera scene workshops, composition department recitals, and multimedia concerts. Student composers also “learn by doing” through individual collaborations with performers, and through mentored, interdisciplinary projects with students in other degree programs and departments at Mason Gross.
This hands-on training in composition is supported by studies in performance, music theory, musicology, music technology, ethnomusicology, and contemporary performance practice, as well as individualized mentorship in career development to prepare students to become professional composers.
Applicants to the composition program submit a portfolio of work and complete an interview with the composition faculty in addition to an instrumental or voice audition. Composition students study a secondary instrument, and they have opportunities to perform in recitals and with a variety of Mason Gross ensembles. Contact Mason Gross Admissions for more information.
At the undergraduate level, private instruction in composition is supplemented by courses in:
- Music Theory
- Recording and computer music
- Musicology and ethnomusicology
- Private instruction as an instrumentalist or vocalist
- Performance with large and small ensembles
Each year, our composers take part in a variety of department-sponsored opportunities:
- Reading sessions of student orchestral works by the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra
- Concerts of student chamber music presented by the Rutgers University New Music Ensemble
- Performances by HELIX, the graduate contemporary chamber orchestra
- Annual concerts of electroacoustic music through the New Jersey Digital Audio Concert series
- Performances of student works for laptop orchestra by the Rutgers Interactive Music Ensemble
- Composer-choreographer collaborations in partnership with the Dance Department
- Composing for visiting professional soloists and ensembles
- Reading sessions of student works by Rutgers Wind Bands
- Part-time lecturer and assistant teaching positions offer valuable classroom experience under the guidance of experienced faculty
Undergraduate and graduate composers are required to participate in the composition practicum, where students share their in-progress pieces, collaborate with members of the other programs at Mason Gross and attend lectures by visiting composers. The practicum also covers issues of notation, score preparation, compositional form, professional development and affiliations, rehearsal techniques, and other practical issues for the contemporary composer. Students are also encouraged to pursue off-campus professional opportunities while they are at Rutgers. The faculty guide students through the process of submitting appropriate work to conferences, festivals, and journals, and students may apply for funds for professional travel. Our proximity to New York City allows students to immerse themselves fully in one of the most active new music communities in the world. Students may also present their academic work at meetings of the Rutgers University Musicological Society.