Graduate Music Programs in Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, offers several different colleges with graduate programs in the field of music that range from performance or composition to music education. Explore the available programs, their requirements and common admissions requirements.

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As a large city with plenty of colleges, Chicago is home to numerous graduate programs in music. These programs are available at the master's and doctoral levels and cover a wide range of areas within the field of music. Learn about some of the different programs available and how they prepare students for their future careers in the field.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Jazz
  • Music Composition and Theory
  • Music History and Literature
  • Music Merchandising and Management
  • Music Pedagogy
  • Music Performing
  • Musical Conducting
  • Musicology and Ethnomusicology
  • Piano and Organ
  • Stringed Instruments
  • Voice and Opera

Chicago Schools with Graduate Music Programs

The University of Chicago

The University of Chicago offers Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs in music history and theory, composition and ethnomusicology. These programs have the option to earn a master's degree along the way and require a dissertation. Students in these programs have the opportunity to participate in musical performances and/or compose for performances. Doctoral students are also likely to gain education experience as they typically serve as graduate assistants or lecturers and may also choose to tutor students.

DePaul University

DePaul University has Master of Music (MM) degree programs in the areas of jazz studies, composition, performance and music education. These programs can be completed in 2 years and require a minimum of 48 quarter-hour credits. Depending on their chosen area of focus, students may have the opportunity to hear guest lecturers, record musical pieces in the studio and/or participate in performances. Students in the music education program complete a final project or paper for the master's program and must hold a teacher's license and have a year of teaching experience for admission into the program.

Concordia University Chicago

Concordia University Chicago provides a Master of Arts (MA) in Music that requires 33 credits. The program allows students to explore some specific areas of interest, but is a general music degree and requires a capstone experience. The university also offers a 33-credit Master of Church Music that requires a capstone experience, recital and church music practicum. Both programs can be completed in four terms, beginning in and including summers, or five summer terms.

North Park University

North Park University offers an MM in vocal performance or collaborative piano that each require 36 credit hours. Students in the vocal performance program must participate in 2 years of ensemble, and they get plenty of stage time through various performance opportunities, including operas and solo performances. The collaborative piano program is designed to prepare students for performance and coaching careers. Students in the program participate in a practicum for work experience and also accompany and work closely with several on-campus ensembles to practice offering vocal coaching.

Columbia College Chicago

Columbia College Chicago has a unique Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Music Composition for the Screen for aspiring media composers that can be completed in 2 years. Students in the program receive real-world practice through various projects and hear from professional composers in workshops. The program requires a final thesis/project and an internship experience with a composer in Los Angeles for 5 weeks. The thesis project requires students to record an original composition with a live orchestra.

Common Entrance Requirements

With the great range of diversity in available graduate music programs in Chicago, there is also a wide range of admissions requirements specific to each type of program. However, most of these programs require an interview and/or audition process that allows students to showcase their musical experiences and abilities. Some programs may require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in music, submit GRE scores, meet a specific GPA and/or submit a portfolio or samples of their compositions and music. Students are likely to be required to include their official transcripts, letters of recommendation and a personal statement with their application.

Colleges in the Chicago area offer MM, MA, MFA and PhD programs in various areas of music for interested students. These programs typically include plenty of hands-on experience performing and/or composing music.

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