Music (Popular Music), BA

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Are you interested in songwriting or performing, creating, recording or producing popular music? This flexible bachelor's degree program allows you to choose your pathway of study and includes four semesters of applied study with internships and a capstone project.

The popular music concentration within the BA program in music at Arizona State University welcomes and accommodates 21st-century musicians interested in popular music, music industry studies and entrepreneurship. This includes but is not limited to singers and songwriters, laptop performers or composers, guitarists, bassists, keyboardists, and other instrumentalists and vocalists whose musical practices and playing styles are representative of varied popular music idioms.

Students in this concentration develop musicianship and expertise in songwriting and creating, performing and producing music. All students gain a working knowledge of the music industry and music business, and the entrepreneurial skills necessary to gain meaningful employment upon graduation. Students participate in individual applied study in a chosen specialization, as well as a variety of group performances and production opportunities. Internships associated with specialization courses provide opportunities for students to apply their learning in a real-life context. A capstone course allows students to develop original work in their chosen area of emphasis.

Some classes for this program are offered on the Downtown Phoenix campus.

At A Glance

Music (Popular Music), BA

Required Courses

A major map outlines a major's critical requirements, courses, and optimal course sequence and aids students in remaining on track to graduation.

While circumstances vary between students and their paths towards graduation (utilizing placement testing to fulfill required math or foreign language courses, fulfilling multiple General Studies requirements with one course, etc.), completing the courses listed in a major map fulfills all of the requirements for graduation.

Application requirements

Application Procedures + Requirements

Application Deadlines
Spring 2021: October 15, 2020
Fall 2021: January 5, 2021

All students are required to meet general university admission requirements:

Affording college

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Financial Aid
ASU has many financial aid options. Almost everyone, regardless of income, can qualify for some form of financial aid. In fact, more than 70 percent of all ASU students receive some form of financial assistance every year.

Admission requirements

Audition Process for admittance to BA in Music (Popular Music) concentration:

Artist Statement:
All auditioning students must submit an artist statement explaining both their current work and vision of their future work in popular music. A minimum of 250 words is required.

Live auditions or recorded auditions are required for admission to the BA program in popular music and for placement in MUP 111 Studio Instruction in popular music. A live audition consists of a 15-minute performance or presentation consisting of three to five selections of live or digital music performance. The selections may be original works or selections from popular music repertoire. The audition will also include scales, improvisation and aural skills. Students may also provide a recorded sample of their creative popular music work if they so choose.

For students seeking to pursue popular music performance, a live or recorded performance video is required for at least part of the audition. For other disciplines in which a video is not possible (studio recording, music creation and composition), students are required to submit a digital audio sound recording of three to five selections.

The audition also includes a live or remote interview. A live audition is preferred. Applicants who are unable to visit the campus for a live audition may upload a recorded audition to the School of Music application. These students will be contacted by faculty to arrange a remote interview.

Students interested in pursuing classical music lessons are required to follow the classical repertoire audition requirements for MUP 111 Studio Instruction in addition to auditioning for MUP 111 Studio Instruction in popular music.

Career outlook

The bachelor's degree in music with a concentration in popular music prepares students for potential careers in the popular music industry that involve creativity and creating new work, being a flexible musician, collaborating with others in the community and having knowledge of music business and music marketing. Possible jobs include:

  • concert management and promotion
  • entrepreneurship
  • music marketing
  • music performance in the popular music sector
  • music publishing
  • nonprofit arts related work
  • teaching a private studio
  • work in music related fields

Example careers

Students who complete this degree program may be prepared for the following careers. Advanced degrees or certifications may be required for academic or clinical positions. Career examples include but are not limited to:

Career*growth*median salary
Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Postsecondary 12%$66,930
Talent Directors 12.2%$71,620
Music Composers and Arrangers5.7%$50,590
Music Directors5.7%$50,590
Musicians, Instrumental6%*
Sound Engineering Technicians6.3%$55,810
Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes4.7%$64,940

* Data obtained from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) under sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA).

  • Bright Outlook
  • Green Occupation