Cornell’s Department of Music believes in a well-rounded undergraduate music education with performance as a primary focus. Our department prepares musicians through the applied study of making music, underscored by a curriculum of music theory, history, and literature that develops a cultural context for musical performances. 

Degree options

Several different music degree programs are available:

Music on the block plan

Music courses including music theory, history, literature, topics courses, and Lyric Theatre are offered on the block plan. Meanwhile, studio lessons and performing ensembles are on a semester system that runs contemporaneously with Cornell's One Course At A Time calendar.  The meshing of these schedules means that students have opportunities for focused immersion experiences as well as extended periods of practice and ensemble work.


Internships have created exciting experiences for our music students, and the block plan makes scheduling easy. Recent internships include:

  • Teaching music in the public schools of England
  • Working as an arts administrator at the Cedar Rapids Symphony for three blocks
  • Practicing music therapy with emotionally and socially challenged children

Off-campus opportunities

Cornell music students have toured nationally and internationally through performing ensemble courses. Other off-campus opportunities include Wagner and Wagnerism, a research course at Chicago’s Newberry Library, which also features attendance at many live events, such as operas, jazz concerts, and lecture-recitals.

Curriculum details