Career Outlook
Average Salary
Projected Regional Growth
  • Accompanist
  • Arranger
  • Audio Technician
  • Conductor
  • Music Therapist
  • Performer
  • Performing Arts Management
  • Producer
  • Recording Engineer
  • Teacher

For individuals who

Improve musicianship and performance ability in vocal or instrumental music. 

Looking for

Courses in music theory, literature, history and conducting. Private lessons with NDSU’s highly trained School of Music faculty members and participation in ensembles. 

To become

  • Accompanist
  • Audio Technician
  • Conductor
  • Performer
  • Performing Arts Management

North Dakota State University offers the most comprehensive degree programs for music majors in the region and provides outstanding musical opportunities for all NDSU students.

The Program

The NDSU Challey School of Music features excellent students, faculty, staff and facilities. The program has been continuously accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music since 1970 and has a strong tradition of excellence in ensembles dating back to 1904. Faculty and staff members are committed to providing outstanding musical opportunities for all NDSU students—whether they aspire to be professional musicians or only wish to take advantage of NDSU’s many musical opportunities.

The Faculty

NDSU music faculty members have international credentials in performance, music education and academic studies. All full time faculty members have doctorates in music; adjunct faculty members and graduate students provide additional instruction to achieve a well-balanced program.

The Degrees

NDSU’s Challey School of Music offers the largest variety of degree programs in the region, from liberal arts degrees with emphases in music to professional music degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.

Undergraduate music majors take courses in music theory, music literature, music history, and conducting; receive private lessons on a selected instrument and/or in voice; and participate in a major ensemble. Other courses are selected within chosen areas of concentration. In all programs, applied instrumental or vocal studies develop musicianship and performance ability. Students are accepted for private lessons depending upon demonstrated musical ability and available staff resources.

The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in music are liberal arts degrees with an emphasis in music. In addition to a general education core and the music concentration, students complete either a two-year competency in a foreign language or a complementary minor degree. Students take a minimum of 15 credits in music electives.

The Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.) with an option in music education leads to K-12 vocal and instrumental certification for North Dakota public schools, and satisfies basic agreements in the primary area for Minnesota certifications.

The B.Mus. in performance leads to professional performing careers or preparation for graduate school. Students select a concentration in instrumental, vocal or piano studies.

The B.Mus in composition leads to professional careers or preparation for graduate school.

NDSU also offers the Master of Music and the Doctor of Musical Arts degrees.

Further, the School of Music offers a minor in music consisting of 20 credit hours of music classes, including applied study, ensembles, academic studies and electives.

Career Opportunities

Degree programs in music education prepare students for opportunities as elementary, high school or college teachers, while performance degree students usually seek performing or conducting careers. Graduates often choose careers as professional teachers, instrumentalists or vocalists, and conductors. There are also more general opportunities in various music industries.

Music Performance Opportunities

All music ensembles are open to any NDSU student without regard to major and provide course credit (generally one semester hour for each group listed). Ensembles are some of the most rewarding experiences in college, and all students with musical interests are encouraged to participate.

The Gold Star Marching Band plays for all home NDSU football games and marches in special events during fall semester. The group rehearses three days per week and is open to all students.

The Concert Choir meets five days per week, both fall and spring semesters. Open by audition, the group tours regionally or nationally on an annual basis and to European countries every three years.

The NDSU Wind Symphony is NDSU’s large concert ensemble for wind and percussion instruments. Members meet both fall and spring semesters and tour annually. Open by audition.

A smaller ensemble, Madrigal Singers, performs repertoire from the renaissance through contemporary periods. This auditioned group meets three days per week fall and spring semesters and produces the annual Madrigal Dinners in December and tours with the Concert Choir. Members are auditioned from Concert Choir.

The Jazz Ensembles are two jazz big bands, generally of about 20 musicians each. Ensembles meet two times per week fall and spring semesters. Open by audition.

In Opera Theatre, opera scenes are rehearsed and produced each semester. This auditioned group meets three times per week. The School of Music traditionally produces a fully staged opera or musical every year in the spring semester.

A second concert band, University Band is open to all students by audition for section placement. University Band meets three times per week and has two concerts each semester. The University Symphony Orchestra performs 2 concerts each semester.

The University Chamber Singers is an auditioned mixed choir of students from many different majors and disciplines. They perform a wide variety of music and sing in at least two concerts each semester. There is an audition for this ensemble.

Cantemus performs SA literature from all periods and meets two times per week. NDSU Statesmen performs TB literature from all periods and meets two times per week. Both choirs perform at least two concerts each semester. There is no audition for these ensembles.

Chamber ensembles include the percussion ensemble, brass ensemble, brass chamber ensembles, woodwind chamber ensembles (including flute quartets, clarinet ensembles, saxophone quartets and mixed woodwinds), vocal chamber ensembles, piano chamber ensembles and jazz combos.

The Curricula

Music degree programs vary because of the numerous options available. All music degrees, however, feature a general core of music classes that includes applied lessons, ensembles, supportive music courses, academic music studies and electives. Curriculum guides are available online and from the School of Music.