The University Orchestra


The UC Santa Cruz music curriculum is distinctive in developing musicians who integrate scholarship with performance. Although this rigorous program primarily addresses Western classical music, it also incorporates the study of world music cultures in both their art and vernacular traditions, as well as more modern American traditions such as Jazz. Two undergraduate majors are offered: the bachelor of music, which especially develops the student’s attainment in performance, and the bachelor of arts, which cultivates greater breadth in the student’s academic achievement.

Degrees Offered

  • B.A.
  • B.M.
  • M.A.
  • Minor
  • Other
  • Ph.D.

Study and Research Opportunities

  • B.A.; B.M.; M.A. with emphases in composition, ethnomusicology, or performance practice. 
  • D.M.A. in music composition. 
  • Ph.D. in music with an emphasis in cross-cultural studies; and undergraduate minors in electronic music and jazz.
  • Electronic Music - The electronic music minor focuses on the study of creating music with the tools of modern technology. Provides instruction in advanced skills of audio production, sound synthesis, and computer-assisted composition.
  • Jazz - The jazz minor focuses on the study of the history, theory, and performance of jazz. 
  • Western Art Music Minor - The study of music theory & performance through lessons and ensembles.
  • 20+ student performance groups.

Information for First-Year Students (Freshmen)

In addition to completing the requirements for UC admission, high school students who plan to major in music are advised to concentrate on developing a high level of skill on their principal instrument. Private music instruction during high school is highly recommended. In addition, prospective students whose primary instrument is not the piano should work to achieve basic proficiency on the keyboard. It is recommended you reach out to the Music Department before accepting admission to UCSC, to ensure you will be able to take private lessons with an instructor here.

Information for Transfers

Transfer students are encouraged to take the core curriculum placement examination and seek academic counseling before transfer. Transfer students with some background in music theory normally test into MUSC 13/14: Beginning Theory and Musicianship I/II, or into MUSC 30A: Theory, Literature, and Musicianship I with Laboratory. 

Transfer students should note that upon completion of MUSC 130: Harmony and Form, they will need to pass a jury at an upper-intermediate level. Prospective students wishing to have their performance level assessed by faculty may send a video link for faculty review. Email with questions.

B.M. transfer students should prepare to audition for the B.M. program in the fall quarter after enrollment.


  • Arts administration
  • Broadcasting
  • Composition
  • Conducting
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Film music
  • Music arrangement
  • Musicology
  • Performance
  • Recording
  • Teaching

These are only samples of the field’s many possibilities.


Music facilities include a number of performance venues as well as classrooms and teaching studios outfitted with advanced audio-visual technology and with state-of-the-art digital audio, video, and recording systems.

396-seat Recital Hall
13 teaching studios
20 practice rooms
5 classrooms
Recording studio
Ensemble rehearsal room
60-seat performance studio
Music library
Percussion studio
Office space

Awards, Honors, and Recognitions

Professor Emeritus of music David Cope is a composer and author whose book Experiments in Musical Intelligence has received worldwide acclaim. In 2007, the UCSC Opera Program was awarded first prize in the National Opera Association’s opera production competition for its production of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Our resident string quartet was awarded a full scholarship in the summer of 2007 to participate in the Bravard Summer Program.

Alumni Focus

William McIntyre (B.M., American Studies/Music -Percussion, '07) is a composer for major network T.V. series, for which he has won two ASCAP awards. He plays with the Nublu Orchestra and The Lucky Cheng Orchestra and is composer for Shore and Tomboy.

Kent Nagano (B.A., sociology/music, ’74) is an internationally renowned conductor, currently serving as music director of the Bavarian State Opera. He has won two recent Grammy Awards for Best Opera Recording and for Best Spoken Word Album for Children.

Department Website

General Catalog Information

More Information


Phone: 831-459-2292

University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064