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Music History and Cultures B.A.

The major in music history and cultures is designed for students who wish to study music in its historical, social and cultural contexts and in relation to other arts.
Students in the Department of Art and Music Histories’ class European Music Before 1800 visit the Special Collections Research Center, located on the sixth floor of Bird Library.
Students in the Department of Art and Music Histories’ class European Music Before 1800 visit the Special Collections Research Center, located on the sixth floor of Bird Library.

About this Program

  • Gain skills that will equip you to be a globally engaged and intellectually enterprising professional in the visual and performing arts, cultural heritage and academic sectors.
  • Seize opportunities to do community volunteering and professional internships—on campus, off campus or internationally.
  • Learn to think critically about music and hone your research and skills through the Writing About Music seminar that you’ll take your junior year.
  • Earn a bachelor’s degree with distinction by taking Distinction Project in Music History and Cultures in which you’ll work independently, under the supervision of a faculty member, to complete a large-scale project in some aspect of music history or cultures.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to participate in recognized student organizations specifically related to music and consider residing in the Music and Culture Living learning Community.
  • Learn on location through Syracuse University Abroad, which hosts programs in more than 60 countries around the world.
  • Students have the opportunity to join the Music & Culture Living Learning Community.

Program Information

Degree Type






College or School

Exterior of Hall of languages building

College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) is Syracuse University’s first and largest college. As the home of the liberal arts, our internationally recognized programs provide the cornerstone of a Syracuse University education with 50+ majors in the natural sciences and mathematics, the humanities and the social sciences (in partnership with the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs).
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Although music history and cultures majors are encouraged to develop performance skills, the focus of the degree is on the study of musical cultures and styles in a liberal arts environment.

  • Explain the diverse functions and cultural meanings that music has had in both Western and non-Western societies.
  • Distinguish among stylistic differences in music of different eras and from different cultures.
  • Explain historical changes in music of different eras and from different cultures.
  • Apply central issues and methods of scholarship in our fields.
  • Express ideas clearly through writing.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in musical skills.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in musical performance.

Extracurricular Opportunities

Hands-on learning opportunities

Music and Culture Living Learning Community

Open to first-year undergraduate students with preference given to Music History and Cultures majors, the Music and Culture Living Learning Community enables students to live and learn alongside other students who share their passion for music. Members can connect with faculty and staff in order to develop skills sufficient to participate and collaborate in music performance and analysis. Members also attend music performances and participate in community service together.

Student organization

A Cappella Council at SU

The A Cappella Council at Syracuse University is made up of representatives from each a cappella group on campus, including Groovestand, Orange Appeal, The Mandarins, Otto Tunes, Oy Cappella and Main Squeeze. Members work together to promote and strengthen the collaborative efforts of the Syracuse University a cappella community. All a cappella ensembles are entirely student-run and directed, performing with voice and optional vocal percussion.

group of people singing on a stage
Study abroad opportunity

Syracuse Abroad

Syracuse Abroad features more than 100 programs in 60 countries. You can choose semester, summer, short term, and yearlong options for international study. Music history and cultures majors most often go abroad to Syracuse University centers in Florence, Italy, and London, England.

Learn more about this program

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