David Carter, Christiansen Hall of Music 101 A

Inspired by the conviction that music is a divine gift, the St. Olaf College Music Department devotes itself to the cultivation of this gift in the lives of its students and in the broader community. We dedicate ourselves to creating an educational experience that unites the artistic standards of a professional program with the intellectual rigors and academic breadth of the liberal arts in an environment of free, creative, and critical inquiry. Through music we affirm the college’s mission to foster the development of the whole person in mind, body, and spirit.

The Music Department offers extensive opportunities to explore, practice, and celebrate the musician’s art with an ongoing commitment to a distinctive ensemble program, excellent individualized instruction, and a comprehensive undergraduate music curriculum. We honor St. Olaf’s rich heritage spanning more than a century of international artistry and scholarship and will continue to cultivate a spirit of exploration and innovation, seeking and celebrating the transcendent and transforming power of music.

Degrees Offered

The Music Department offers Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Music (B.M.) degrees, which are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. St. Olaf students may also pursue the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Music double-degree option.

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music

This is a liberal arts degree, with approximately one-third of the course work in music.  The B.A. music major may lead to a wide range of career options in music and related fields such as performance, broadcasting, multimedia, arts administration, advertising, education, arts journalism, music librarianship, or music therapy.  Students may choose a general music major or may elect an emphasis in composition, musicology, or theory. 

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Major (B.A.)

Bachelor of Music Degree

This is a professional music degree with approximately two-thirds of the course work in music. Students may elect one of five majors:

1. Bachelor of Music in Performance

Graduates often continue with work in performance, preparing for careers as performers and teachers.  This major also serves as good preparation for graduate studies in fields like music therapy.  Piano and organ performance majors may also purse an emphasis in collaborative keyboard performance.

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Major

2. Bachelor of Music in Church Music

Graduates generally continue their studies in graduate school or move directly into parishes as church musicians.  Careers in conducting, college teaching, or the ministry are also served by this major. Church Music-Organ majors may also pursue an emphasis in collaborative keyboard.

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Major

3. Bachelor of Music in Composition

Graduates generally continue their studies in graduate school, eventually moving toward careers in film music and other media, teaching, or conducting.

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Major

4. Bachelor of Music in Music Education

This professional degree prepares graduates for a career in teaching immediately after graduation.  Graduate study is an option as well.

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Major

5. Bachelor of Music with Elective Studies

Substantively integrated with professional music studies, students propose and complete an individualized program of study in a second discipline.  Admission to this individualized degree program is by a competitive proposal process.  Graduates pursue professional careers in music with substantive connections to an additional arts area, business, science, language and culture, or other sphere of expertise.

Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Music Double-Degree Program

This program engages students in professional study in music and study in the liberal arts, leading to both the Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts degrees. Students pursuing the double-degree option may choose from five Bachelor of Music graduation majors (church music, composition, elective studies, music education, or performance) and any of the Bachelor of Arts graduation majors except music. Students must meet the application requirements for both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degree programs. This program typically takes five years to complete. Students pursing this option should consult their advisor as early as possible. See worksheet for more information.

Admission to the Music Major

Students generally apply for entrance into the music major before enrolling but may also apply during the first year of studies at St. Olaf. A complete application for any music major (B.A. or B.M.) requires an audition on the principal instrument/voice, and screenings to test basic music knowledge and skills. Current St. Olaf students should contact the Music Department office by October 1 of their first year for more information. More information for prospective majors.

Admissions to Teacher Education Programs

Entrance applications for B.M. music education programs are most often processed in the sophomore year. Interested students must be already-admitted music majors and are classified as B.A. general music majors until accepted into a teacher education degree program. More information.


All students in B.M. and teacher education programs are reviewed for continuance. B.M. performance, church music, composition, and elective studies students are generally reviewed at the end of the third semester in the program. Teacher education students are generally reviewed in the fall semester of their junior year. A continuance review includes a juried recital performance, a review of music and overall academic progress, and a possible interview/conference. A student not approved for continuance in any program is no longer in that program. More information.

Keyboard Proficiency

All music majors must demonstrate keyboard proficiency at a level specified for the major/instrument, and it is recommended that students complete proficiency by the end of the sophomore year. Students may demonstrate proficiency through successful completion of piano classes, or by examination. More information

Music Ensembles

All full-time students are eligible to audition for membership in any of these musical ensembles. Participation in these ensembles fulfills ensemble graduation requirements for music majors.

Vocal Ensembles

St. Olaf Choir, Chapel Choir, St. Olaf Cantorei, Chamber Singers, Manitou Singers, Viking Chorus

Instrumental Ensembles

St. Olaf Band, Norseman Band, St. Olaf Orchestra, St. Olaf Philharmonia, Collegium Musicum, Jazz Ensembles, Handbell Choirs

Additional opportunities for ensemble performance include Collegiate Chorale, Horn Club, Percussion Ensemble, Trombone Choir, Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble, and Lars Skjervheim Spelemannslag (Norwegian Hardanger Fiddle group). Participation in these ensembles does not fulfill graduation requirements for music majors.


The Music Department does not offer departmental distinction.  Students may be eligible for membership in Pi Kappa Lambda, the music honor society.