Musical Arts (MUA) Major

A message from James VanDemark, Chair MUA and Professor of Double Bass:

General Information

The Musical Arts major (MUA) is an honors curriculum that enables students to craft an individualized program of study, undertaken in consultation with a faculty committee and an appointed MUA Mentor and MUA Advisor that leads to a senior project.  These programs of study may be wide-ranging and possibly cross-disciplinary, and are generally not possible within the structured requirements of other majors at Eastman.  This degree is intended for exceptional students who possess not only strong musical and intellectual abilities, but also the motivation and self-direction to succeed in the senior project.

Students who wish to pursue the MUA major will take Eastman’s core curriculum as well as departmental requirements of their applied music area during the first two years.  During the junior and senior year, students will follow the individual program of study approved by the MUA Supervisory Committee, within guidelines established by the School and outlined in the Academic Policy Handbook.  Students continue with applied lessons, juries, and recitals consistent with the requirements for all Bachelor of Music students. It is possible for students to petition to take 7 rather than 8 total semesters of applied music and ensembles, but only with the approval of the appropriate applied faculty. This would be considered if it enabled students to take advantage of off-campus learning opportunities, such as internships or overseas study, directly relevant to their senior project.  Students must, however, be registered for lessons in the semester in which a jury or recital is presented; thus it is strongly recommended that any off-campus learning opportunity be planned for a fall rather than spring semester, so that jury requirements can be met.

While MUA majors are not held to the department-specific requirements of the final two years of the AMU major, these courses may be recommended by the applied teacher. Note that students may opt to add the MUA major to their current program of study, and pursue a double (or triple) major as part of their Bachelor of Music degree.


Amanda Muskin, Assistant Director, Student Activity Programs:

How to Apply

All students interested in the Musical Arts major must apply in the spring of their freshman or sophomore years by submitting the materials specified below to the Office of Academic Affairs.  Applications are due on April 1. Note that all applicants must meet with and present a draft of their proposal to a member of the MUA Supervisory Committee no later than three weeks prior to the deadline in order for their application to be considered by the Committee.

The MUA Committee consists of:

  • Roger Freitas
  • Jan Opalach
  • Reinhild Steingrover
  • James VanDemark

The MUA Supervisory Committee will interview qualified applicants during the last week of April. Applicants will be notified of the outcome by the last day of classes of the spring semester. Students will be assigned a mentor from the MUA Supervisory Committee upon acceptance.

The minimum admission criteria include:

  • cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better
  • grades of B+ or better in all juries and applied lessons
  • making satisfactory academic progress in current degree program
  • in good academic and judicial standing

Application requirements:

  • completed application form
  • current transcript (must be requested through the Office of the Registrar)
  • three sample(s) of collegiate written work, two of which must be from music history or humanities courses
  • three recommendations from ESM or U of R faculty, including one from the student’s applied teacher, or others as approved by MUA Supervisory Committee Chair
  • personal statement*

* The personal statement should be a substantial proposal (2-3 pages) that describes the student’s motivation for entering the program, his/her goals and objectives for study, and a vision of how the BM MUA might affect the student’s future.

MUA Application Rev. 6/10


Key Components of the MUA Curriculum

For a complete accounting of academic requirements in the MUA degree, consult the Academic Policy Handbook.

Among other requirements, MUA students will take 24-27 credits in the humanities/sciences beyond the Freshman Writing Seminar requirement, while other BM students take only 21. Features that distinguish the MUA from other majors include:

  • a self-designed concentration of courses (12 credits)
  • a senior project (6 credits)


The concentration is a well-defined program of study similar to a “minor field.”  It will consist of intellectually stimulating, potentially diverse, and wide-ranging courses; it may be cross-disciplinary and comprise related music and humanities courses.

Students may view the concentration in one of two ways:  as a group of like courses drawn together by similar content, or as a group of dissimilar courses linked by an underlying thread.  Normally courses in the concentration will provide the background necessary for students to undertake the senior project.

Upon acceptance to the MUA program, students will design a MUA concentration and submit it to the Supervisory Committee for approval. Concentration proposals are due November 1 of the junior year.

Concentration proposals must include:

  • at least four courses (ESM, River Campus, or transfer) totaling twelve (12) or more credit hours
  • a prose statement describing anticipated goals and how courses will achieve those goals

The concentration does not add to the required credit total, but rather provides a focus to the courses chosen by the student.

Junior Essay Requirement/Progress Report:

In order to ascertain the status of their projects, MUA juniors are required to complete a 6-7 page progress report/ essay  on the development of their MUA Senior Presentation and Thesis with extensive bibliography (3-4 pages), which  will be due by April 15 of the junior year.  This document should be a report on their reading list, course work and how the combination is shaping or re-shaping their thoughts and trajectory for their senior project.  MUA juniors should work closely with their MUA advisor (if applicable) and MUA mentor in developing this written document.

Senior Project:

The senior project is the culmination of BM MUA study.  As such, it must be a substantial and original work that integrates the experience and education of the student.  It should blend performance and academic interests with professional preparation.  Creative and enterprising projects are strongly preferred, and they may include one or more non-musical, cross-disciplinary components.  The project may incorporate such diverse elements as outreach, internships, and performance or video art.

There are two components to the senior project:

  • A final written document that provides a project overview, includes goals and methodologies, and summarizes and interprets the results is required.  The average length of the project is 20 to 25 pages, however the specific length of a document will be determined in consultation with the MUA mentor and advisor.
  • A significant public presentation of the project must be given, either at an annual colloquium or as a separate event.

Senior projects will be:

  • proposed by week 8 of the fall semester in the senior year with a formal written prospectus
  • approved by the supervisory committee
  • advised by one faculty advisor (other than the MUA Committee mentor)
  • public presentation must be completed no later than two weeks before the end of the spring semester of the senior year

 For additional information, please contact:

Office of Academic Affairs
26 Gibbs Street
Rochester, NY 14604
Main Phone 585.274.1020
Fax 585.276.2150