The Music Conservatory

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. 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 each administered by a director. Curricula with a major in piano, string, wind, brass, or percussion instruments; voice; or classical guitar lead to the degree of Bachelor of Music.

For information on the master’s and diploma programs, consult the university’s graduate 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.


Admission to Roosevelt University does not include admission to the Music Conservatory. To be admitted to the Music Conservatory, students must present a successful audition or other evidence of aptitude in the chosen major in addition to meeting the university’s entrance requirements. Prospective students should contact the CCPA Office of Enrollment and Student Services and consult the CCPA website to obtain specific audition requirements for each major program.

For optimum success in a collegiate music program, the matriculating student should have studied an instrument or voice for several years and have participated in high school music organizations. Students entering the core musicianship sequence must have written and aural command of the rudiments of music, including scales, intervals, triads, rhythm, and meter. Some knowledge of the keyboard is helpful.

All entering students (freshman and transfer) must take placement examinations to determine their already acquired skills in the areas of musicianship and keyboard proficiency. Students will then be placed in the core musicianship sequence at an appropriate level. Study guides and other materials that students may use to prepare for the placement exams are provided during the summer before matriculation. Students exempted from any required courses by placement examination may replace those hours with free electives.

Transfer credit in applied music, musicianship, and music education subjects requires validation by proficiency examination, audition, consultation with program faculty, or successful completion of a more advanced course.

Degree requirements

Degrees are conferred upon regular students in good standing who have met the following requirements:

  • Residency and enrollment of at least two academic years (no less than 48 semester hours).
  • Completion of at least 120 semester hours of credit, following the curriculum for the major field, with a grade point average of at least 2.0 and with core and major course grades that satisfy program requirements.
  • Completion of the University Writing Requirement.
  • Junior and senior recitals, according to the requirements of the specific program.

Academic policies

Academic policies, practices, and requirements are published in the CCPA Student Handbook.


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 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 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 and will not be permitted to present the jury examination at the end of the semester. 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 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 Chair and the Program Director of Ensembles. 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. All requests for excused absences are administered by the Performance Activities Office of the Music Conservatory.

Students from other departments of Roosevelt University may audition for Music Conservatory performing ensembles.


The minimum passing grade in a student's applied music concentration in the first three semesters of study (201, 211, 271, 281) is C-. Students who receive less than a C- in either component of the applied study (lessons or jury) must repeat the entire course.

From the fourth through the final semester of required applied study  (201, 211, 271, 281), the minimum passing grade is B-. Students who receive less than a B- in any component of the applied study (lessons, jury, or recital) must repeat the entire course.

Please refer to the program of study pages for other specific minimum grade requirements.

Performance classes and performance attendance

Departmental performance classes, master classes, and recitals offer students the opportunity to gain experience and poise in public appearances. In addition, performance classes acquaint students with a wide range of music, hone critical listening skills, and address the topics of musicians' physical and emotional/psychological health and wellness, effective and efficient practicing, and injury prevention. 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.

The lower and upper divisions

The program of undergraduate study in The Music Conservatory is divided into lower and upper divisions.

Lower division

The first two years of study (freshman and sophomore) offer the student a well-rounded foundation in music and an orientation to the major field. All degree programs include a common core of two-year sequences in musicianship (written, aural, and keyboard skills) and music history.

At the conclusion of the fourth semester (or the equivalent for transfer students), each student will be reviewed to confirm that the freshman and sophomore requirements have been completed satisfactorily. Satisfactory progress is defined as grades of B- or higher in the fourth semester of applied music (201, 211, 271, 281; and associated jury exams), courses in the major, and ensembles; completion of all music core courses and general studies courses attempted; and a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 (2.7 for music education majors). Students should consult the CCPA Student Handbook for additional information on the fourth-semester review. 

Upper division

The last two years of study (junior and senior) are concentrated in the student’s field of specialization. If approved for entrance into the upper division, students will present their first formal public solo performances and complete advanced coursework and the capstone project according to program requirements.