Offered in: Chicago
The Music Conservatory was founded in 1867 as the Chicago Musical College, a conservatory whose primary focus was the intensive and rigorous training of young men and women preparing for careers as professional musicians. In 1954, the Chicago Musical College became part of Roosevelt University, enhancing this tradition by adding the multifaceted educational opportunities afforded by a major university. In 1997, the Chicago Musical College joined with the university's theatre program to become the College of the Performing Arts; and in 2000, it was renamed The Music Conservatory of Chicago College of Performing Arts. The Music Conservatory and all programs it offers are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), of which it is a founding member.
The Music Conservatory is organized into program areas coordinated by the director. Curricula with a major in performance (piano, string, wind, brass, or percussion instruments, orchestral studies, voice, and classical guitar) and composition lead to the degree of Master of Music. The College also offers post-baccalaureate diplomas in performance, orchestral studies, and opera. A high standard of achievement has been set for all curricula.
For information on the baccalaureate programs, consult the university’s undergraduate catalog.
The Music Conservatory presents more than 150 free concerts and recitals each year, and all are open to the public. A calendar of events is available upon request. To receive monthly updates about Music Conservatory events, please sign up through the CCPA webpage.
Applicants for the Master of Music degree should hold a Bachelor of Music degree or the equivalent. Qualified students holding a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in music may be admitted if they fulfill departmental entrance requirements. Students' programs may be extended by the need to complete undergraduate prerequisite courses in their field of study.
Applicants for the Performance Diploma or the Professional Diploma should hold at minimum the Bachelor of Music degree or the equivalent.
Students who wish to major in performance must present an entrance audition. Students intending to major in composition must submit a portfolio of original works (both recordings and scores, programming or other media where appropriate). Prospective students should contact the CCPA Office of Enrollment and Student Services and consult the CCPA website to obtain the specific audition requirements for each major program.
Before registering for the initial semester, students seeking the Master of Music degree must complete diagnostic examinations in music theory, music history, and analysis. Overview courses, which do not apply toward the master's degree, are offered for students who need review work in these areas. If the results of the examination indicate the need for overview courses, the student is required to take them in the first semester of residence. Study and review materials for the diagnostic examinations are available online through the Music Conservatory's website. Other specialized assessments will be conducted according to the student's major (e.g. language skills, orchestration, sight reading).
International students will be tested for English proficiency upon arrival at the University. Students whose proficiency level does not permit entry into graduate or diploma coursework will enroll for the requisite courses in the University's English Language Program. Completion of or exemption from all courses in Level III and Composition (Bridge) are required for master's students. Completion of or exemption from Level II Speaking and Listening and Level II Reading are required for diploma students. Required English coursework must be completed in three or fewer semesters.
All candidates for the Master of Music degree must meet the following requirements:
- Residency and enrollment of two academic years;
- Completion of departmental course requirements;
- Presentation of a recital or thesis composition in fulfillment of program requirements;
- Completion of the Graduate Comprehensive Review, an oral exit comprehensive examination.
The Graduate Comprehensive Review (GCR) consists of two components: a Coursework Review, and a Repertory Review. For the Coursework Review, the student will present a formal personal written statement summarizing the major topics, themes, and projects undertaken during the residency, including the synthesis achieved between academic studies and performance studies. The Repertory Review focuses on two works selected by the student from the graduate recital program (for performance majors) or two published works by a living composer (for composition majors). The student will discuss each piece with a faculty committee, integrating its analytical and structural aspects, historical context, and performance-related features.
The GCR will be presented during the final semester of residency. Grading for the Review is pass/fail; a failing grade may be assigned for not meeting necessary deadlines. For any grade of "fail," the student will receive a detailed report from the faculty committee and will have up to one calendar year to retake the review and exhibit the necessary improvements.
Grades and Academic Requirements
The grades of A, A-, B+, B, and B- are the only grades that satisfy requirements for the master's degree or diploma in a student's major course sequence. Up to two grades of C+, C, or C- in courses outside the major, with a maximum total of six credit hours, are acceptable toward program requirements. Students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B) in all courses applied toward the degree or diploma. A student who fails to maintain a 3.0 average in any one semester will be placed on probation.
Up to nine credit hours of graduate coursework may be accepted in transfer, with the prior approval of the Associate Dean/Director of the Music Conservatory, provided such credit was earned at an accredited college or university and was not applied to another degree. All graduate credits offered by the candidate for the master's degree or diploma must have been earned within six calendar years.
Each candidate plans her/his course of study with an adviser. Employed students are expected to limit their course loads to the amount of work they can complete without sacrificing quality.
Academic policies, practices, and requirements are published each year in the Music Conservatory Student Handbook. The following areas are of particular importance.
Regular and punctual attendance at classes, rehearsals, and lessons is the academic equivalent of a recognized standard of professional conduct, without which it is not possible to maintain a career in music. The Music Conservatory’s attendance policies are designed to habituate a professional’s sense of responsibility in regards to all school-related commitments and obligations.
Many classes have an attendance requirement, which will appear in the syllabus. Students should be aware, however, that attendance is the expectation in the Music Conservatory, even if attendance does not constitute a portion of the grade. Students should notify their instructors if they are unable to attend classes (e.g., for reasons of illness), and should make up missed assignments promptly.
Perfect attendance in applied music subjects (private lessons) is expected. If a student must cancel a lesson for unavoidable reasons, the instructor should be notified 24 hours in advance when possible. Failure to notify the applied instructor by 9:00 a.m. on the day of the lesson removes any obligation on the part of the teacher to make up the lesson. Regularly scheduled lessons falling on school holidays will be made up; the student and instructor are responsible for making the necessary arrangements. Any student who misses three lessons without properly notifying the instructor will receive an immediate failing grade for the semester. Students who miss three or more lessons with notification will not be permitted to present the jury examination at the end of the semester or to receive a final grade. Students who do not appear for the required jury examination at the end of the semester will receive a failing grade in the course.
Because membership in a performing ensemble entails a responsibility to the director, the other students in the ensemble, and to the Conservatory itself, school functions take precedence over outside activities. Please see Ensembles below for additional information. Students are expected to attend all rehearsals and performances.
Enrollment in ensembles is contingent upon placement and assignment. All students in the Music Conservatory are required to participate in all ensembles to which they are assigned by the associate dean/director and the program heads. Students who are assigned or receive permission to enroll as zero-credit participants in any ensemble will receive a grade; they must complete the same requirements as students enrolled for credit. Assignments are made at the beginning of each semester following placement and seating auditions.
A yearly calendar of ensemble schedules, including all rehearsals and performances, is published and distributed to students and faculty prior to the start of the fall semester. This calendar (called "The Book") exists in two editions, one for instrumentalists and one for singers. It allows students to plan ahead and to fulfill their required attendance obligations. Excused absences from ensemble services may occasionally be granted (e.g. for competitions, auditions, professional performance opportunities, or illness) with appropriate advance notice and documentation. All requests for excused absences are administered by the Performance Activities Office of the Music Conservatory according to the policies published in the Books.
Performance classes and performance attendance
Departmental performance classes, master classes, and special recitals offer students the opportunity to gain experience and poise in public appearances. Attendance at departmental performance classes is required of all students in the Music Conservatory every semester and is a requirement for graduation.
The faculty of the Music Conservatory strongly advocate for student attendance at a wide variety of performances. Music does not exist without the listener, and we, as musicians, can help to build the audiences of the future by being contributing members of the listening public. Accordingly, the Music Conservatory's performance attendance requirement is dispersed across all programs; each one mandates appropriate attendance at in-house and professional performances through its various course syllabi.