Office of Academic Affairs

Musical Arts (MUA) Major

Learn more about the Musical Arts Major!

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 are responsible for completing Eastman’s core curriculum, the departmental requirements of their applied music area,  and a individualized course of study approved by the MUA Supervisory Committee all 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 BM 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.

How to Apply

All students interested in the Musical Arts major must apply in the spring of their first or sophomore years by submitting the materials specified below to the Office of Academic Affairs. Applications are due on April 15th and may be delivered to the office  or emailed to  Note that all applicants must present a draft of their proposal to a member of the MUA Supervisory Committee no later than one week prior to the deadline in order for their application to be considered by the Committee.

The MUA Committee consists of:

  • Roger Freitas
  • John Hain
  • Timothy Scheie
  • Reinhild Steingrover
  • James VanDemark

The MUA Supervisory Committee will interview all applicants at the end of the spring semester. 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 (exceptions will be made only with the permission of the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and MUA Supervisory Committee):

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

Application requirements:

  • completed MUA application
  • one sample of collegiate written work
  • two recommendations from ESM or U of R faculty, including one from the student’s applied teacher
  • 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.

Key Components of the MUA Curriculum

For a complete accounting of course requirements in the MUA degree, consult the degree advising worksheet.

Features that distinguish the MUA from other majors include:

  • HUM 283: Creative Convergences, a course designed for MUA majors that provides an introduction to the study of the convergence of artistic media (3 credits)
  • a self-designed concentration of courses (9 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.

Concentrations must include at least three courses (ESM, River Campus, or transfer) totaling 9 or more credit hours.  The concentration does not add to the required credit total for the BM degree, but rather provides a focus to the courses chosen by the student.

MUA Progress Report for Current Students:

By April 1 of each academic year, MUA students are required to complete a 1-2 page progress report on the development of their MUA Senior Project.  The document should report on the student’s reading list, course work, and how the combination of the two is shaping their thoughts and trajectory for the senior project.  MUA sophomores should also comment on possible advisors for their Senior Project and provide a general outline of how they will work towards the completion of the senior project over the next two years.  MUA juniors should provide a more focused timeline for the senior year, as well as a rough outline of their final project.  Juniors should also plan on naming their faculty advisor for the senior project.  If no faculty advisor has been identified by the spring of the junior year, the student should provide a short-list of possible candidates along with a timeline for identifying an appropriate faculty advisor no later than the beginning of the senior year.  Students are encouraged to work closely with their MUA mentor in developing this written document.

Upon submission of the written document, the Office of Academic Affairs will schedule a 15-minute meeting for the student with the MUA Supervisory Committee.  At this meeting, the committee will share feedback with the student on their progress through the degree program.

MUA seniors are required to schedule a meeting with both their MUA advisor and MUA mentor during the the fall semester.  At this meeting, a detailed timeline for completion of the MUA senior project must be set.  In addition, the mentor and advisor will clarify expectations for the senior project and discuss procedural requirements such as registration for the MUA project credits and scheduling the final presentation.  A written summary of this meeting must be submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs by the end of the fall semester of the senior year.

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:

  1. A significant public presentation of the project must be given, either at an annual colloquium or as a separate event
  2. A final written document that provides a project overview, includes goals and methodologies, and summarizes and interprets the results*

*After the public presentation, the members of the committee—in consultation with the project advisor—can agree to waive the final document..  The committee anticipates such circumstances will be rare.

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
Phone: 585.274.1020
Fax: 585.276.2150