Printable fact sheet

Program overview

Several different music degree programs are available:

Cornell’s Department of Music believes in a well-rounded undergraduate music education with performance as a primary focus. Our department prepares musicians through the applied study of making music, underscored by a curriculum of music theory, history, and literature that develops a cultural context for musical performances. 

Performance ensembles

Our vibrant and challenging ensembles are open to both majors and non-majors. Ensembles meet on a semester schedule, and practices are easily scheduled after the One Course At A Time academic day ends at 3 p.m.

Our ensembles are:

Music scholarships

Music scholarships are available to all qualified students, whether or not they decide to major or minor in music. 

One Course At A Time

Music courses including music theory, history, literature, topics courses, and Lyric Theatre are offered on the block plan. Meanwhile, studio lessons and performing ensembles are on a semester system that runs contemporaneously with Cornell's One Course At A Time calendar.  The meshing of these schedules means that students have opportunities for focused immersion experiences as well as extended periods of practice and ensemble work.


Internships have created exciting experiences for our music students, and the block plan makes scheduling easy. Recent internships include:

  • Teaching music in the public schools of England
  • Working as an arts administrator at the Cedar Rapids Symphony for three blocks
  • Practicing music therapy with emotionally and socially challenged children

Off-campus study

Cornell music students have toured nationally and internationally through performing ensemble courses. Other off-campus opportunities include Wagner and Wagnerism, a research course at Chicago’s Newberry Library, which also features attendance at many live events, such as operas, jazz concerts, and lecture-recitals.


Our degree programs seek to prepare students for the professional world of music-related fields. Our alumni are excelling in graduate schools, working as professional performers, and distinguishing themselves as educators, ensemble directors, and managers in fine arts organizations. Students frequently also combine music with other majors as they prepare for law school, business careers, and other endeavors.