From an institution that began life dedicated to training the next generation of music educators, to what is now a multi-faceted department with a fully established research and professional graduate program with degrees in composition, ethnomusicology, musicology, music theory, and performance, the UC Santa Barbara Department of Music has produced many hundreds of graduates who have distinguished themselves both nationally and internationally. 

Our Mission

Our department’s mission is threefold: to create music through performance and composition,
to understand the structural organization of sound in different music traditions, and to explore
the social, political, economic, and historical roles and meanings of musical culture around the
globe. Our scholarship and practice ranges widely from music cognition to ecoacoustics, from
music of the Western classical tradition to musics from specific cultures around the world.

Our Vision

We envision the UCSB Department of Music as a center of excellence and exploration for the academic study, composition, and performance of music as well as a place that serves the musical needs of the university and local community. We welcome students from all backgrounds and strive to cultivate a collegial and supportive climate within which they will flourish.

Our Values


Sound - in both senses of the word - is at heart of our mission and values. Music is the application of structure to sound. We are committed to exploring how and why this is done today and has been done in the past, across diverse musical traditions, in theory and in practice. Whether students choose to specialize in the performance of music, composition, research in music theory, ethnomusicology, or musicology, or a combination of these areas, the department is committed to providing a sound training. We strive to attain, teach, and practice, the skills needed to perform, analyze, and understand music at the highest levels, and to translate those skills into a wide range of contexts. Many of our students go on to become professional musicians and scholars of music. Others use the training that they receive at UCSB to pursue thriving careers in arts administration and public service, and still others use their training as a foundation for professional careers outside the arts sector.



The department seeks both to understand why music plays, and has played, such an important role in fostering community, and to forge our own community by working together to create music — both old and new — in recitals, productions, and ensembles. Faculty, students, and alumni contribute to local communities by being at the heart of Santa Barbara’s thriving and diverse music scene, and to international networks through award-winning scholarship, composition, and performance. We aim to be in tune with the values of a public university, and with UCSB’s commitment to empowerment, equity, and social justice: music and musicians have long played a role in all of these areas.

Making a lasting

Our alumni are performing, teaching, and composing across the globe, at some of the world's most prestigious institutions.




Alumni have gone on to teach on faculties of major colleges and universities in the United States and abroad, or in outstanding secondary school positions. Many graduates of the program have published extensively and become widely renowned, prize-winning scholars, while others are award-winning and frequently performed composers writing for television and film. Alumni are also establishing fine reputations as conductors of orchestras, opera, and choruses. Graduates of the instrumental programs have gone on to solo and orchestral careers with leading orchestras, and graduates of the voice program can be heard in opera companies around the world.


The Department of Music offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs for Music students.




Undergraduates may pursue either a Bachelor of Arts (BA), or a Bachelor of Music (BM) with a number of possible performance emphases. These include a BA in Music Studies, with optional emphases in Ethnomusicology, Western Art Music, or Interdisciplinary Studies; and a BM with optional emphases in Piano, Voice, Strings (Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass), Woodwinds (Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, Bassoon), Brass (Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba), Percussion, and Composition. The possibility of double majors with other disciplines exists, but requires careful advance planning and regular monitoring through the department's faculty and staff undergraduate advisors. Non-majors may also complete a Minor in Music. 

Learn more about Undergraduate Programs




Graduate students may pursue advanced degrees in music scholarship and performance. We offer a Master of Arts (MA) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Composition, Ethnomusicology, Musicology, and Theory. In addition, we offer a Master of Music (MM) in Piano Accompanying, Woodwinds and Brass, Choral Conducting, Keyboard, Strings, and Voice. A Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) is offered in Choral Conducting, Keyboard, Strings, Horn, and Voice. A PhD is offered with optional emphases in European Medieval Studies and Feminist Studies. Graduate students work closely with faculty members in their specific area of expertise. The UCSB Music Department supports and encourages students who wish to do graduate-level work in both performance and academic areas. Students may either pursue multiple degree objectives, or combine high-level course work or performance opportunities with the degree program of their choice.

Learn more about Graduate Programs