Music Conservatory

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. In 2000, it was renamed The Music Conservatory of Chicago College of Performing Arts. Roosevelt University is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), of which it is a founding member.

The Music Conservatory is led by a Chair, and organized into program areas coordinated by directors. Curricula with a major in performance (piano, string, wind, brass, or percussion instruments, orchestral studies, voice, classical guitar, multiple woodwinds, and collaborative piano) lead to the degree of Master of Music. Students may augment the major course of study and pursue areas of special interest by adding a Concentration in Arts Administration or Musicology/Music Theory, or a Diploma in Suzuki Pedagogy. The College also offers post-baccalaureate diplomas in performance, orchestral studies, Suzuki pedagogy, 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 must 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 must hold at minimum the Bachelor of Music degree or the equivalent.

Students who wish to major in performance must present an entrance audition. 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. Study and review materials for the diagnostic examinations are available online during the summer prior to matriculation. Other specialized assessments will be conducted according to the student's major (e.g., language skills, orchestration, sight-reading).

International students will be assessed for English proficiency upon arrival at the University.

Degree Requirements

All candidates for the Master of Music degree must meet the following requirements:

  • Residency and enrollment of two academic years;
  • Satisfactory completion of program course requirements;
  • Presentation of a recital or thesis composition in fulfillment of program requirements;
  • Completion of the Graduate Dossier with contributions throughout the students time in coursework.

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. Students who receive less than a B- in any component of the applied major study (lessons, jury, or recital) must repeat the entire course.

Up to two grades of C+ or C in courses outside the major, with a maximum of six credit hours, are acceptable for 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 of the College, provided such credit was earned at an accredited college or university and was not applied to another master's 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 their course of study with an adviser.

Academic policies

Academic policies, practices, and requirements are published each year in the CCPA 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. The Music Conservatory’s attendance policies are designed to habituate a professional’s sense of responsibility in regard to all school-related commitments and obligations.

Many classes have an attendance requirement, which will appear in the syllabus. However, students should be aware 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 cannot 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 receive a final grade. Students who do not appear for the required jury examination will receive a failing grade in the course at the end of the semester.

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 Program Director of Ensembles and Ensemble Coordinators, and in consultation with the Academic Advisors. 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. 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. According to the policies published in the Books, all requests for excused absences are administered by the Performance Activities Office of the Music Conservatory.

Performance Classes and Performance Attendance

Departmental performance classes, master classes, and 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 required for graduation.

The faculty of the Music Conservatory strongly advocate for student attendance at a wide variety of performances. Music is a fundamental human mode of communication, and musicians themselves can support their colleagues, network, and build community through their contributions as audience members. The Music Conservatory's expectations for performance attendance are dispersed across all programs; each mandates appropriate attendance at in-house and professional performances through various course syllabi.