Music Degree Programs at Colleges and Universities in Alberta

Traditionally, a career in music centered around teaching and performance. Now, there is a growing number of careers in music, from recording arts to jazz and popular music. These seven colleges and universities in Alberta have responded to this development by offering diverse degree programs and diplomas in music.

From Bachelor to Doctorate of Music at the University of Alberta

Established in 1908, the University of Alberta boasts an enrolment of over 37,000 students (2009/10 figures). U of A has a well-recognized reputation worldwide. It's computing science program was ranked third in Canada and 55th in internationally in 2010, while its School of Business ranked 89th.

U of A offers three undergraduate music programs: Bachelor of Arts (Honours) with a Music Major, Bachelor of Music and, like the University of Lethbridge, a combined Bachelor of Music/Bachelor of Education. Students can major in composition/theory, history, performance or world music. The Faculty of Music also offers a post-degree in music.

Students gain invaluable ensemble-playing experience by joining one of U of A's 13-plus music ensembles. These range from the Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra to the Madrigal Singers and the Indian Music Ensemble.

The University of Alberta also offers a Masters in Music, Masters in Arts (in Music) and Doctorate in Music. Graduate students can specialize in academics, applied music, choral conducting or composition.

A Music Degree and a Christian Education at Ambrose University College

Ambrose University College's history is rooted in several older post-secondary institutions, including the Canadian Nazarene College, the Canadian Theological College and the Alliance University College. Founded in 1921 as the Calgary Bible Institute, the institution focused on educating young adults to serve in the church or overseas missions. It received university accreditation in 1999 and in 2007, began operating as a single entity called Ambrose University College.

Located in Calgary, Alberta, AUC boasts one of the largest private academic libraries in Western Canada and has received a Government of Alberta Award for Educational Travel. With an enrollment just over 600, Ambrose's faculty-to-student ratio guarantees small classes.

Ambrose University College offers a four-year Bachelor of Music program, as well as a three- and a four-year Bachelor of Arts program (Music Major). Students receive lessons on their primary instrument, music theory, aural training and performance.

Students gain valuable ensemble experience by joining the Chamber Singers, College Singers, Community Singers, Chamber Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Brass Ensemble or Guitar Ensemble. The programs offer some flexibility in area of study as well as various leadership development opportunities (e.g. practicum and conducting).

Jazz and Contemporary Popular Music at MacEwan University

MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, was founded in 1971 as Grant MacEwan College. The school has over 42,000 students. MacEwan U offers over 60 programs, including applied degrees, undergraduate degrees, certificates, continuing education, corporate training and diplomas. It 2009, MacEwan College became an accredited university.

In 2011, MacU unveiled a new Bachelor of Music in Jazz and Contemporary Popular Music program. It is the first post-secondary institution to offer a university degree that combines jazz and contemporary popular music. Students study basic techniques, history and music theory. They can focus on one or two of the following concentrations in their final two years of education: composition, performance, recording arts and comprehensive (combining two majors).

As with all music programs at the post-secondary level, students must participate and perform in a musical ensemble, such as the jazz ensemble, showcase band, jazz combo, jazz choir, guitar ensemble or percussion ensemble. The faculty also offers a two-year Music Diploma and four-year Bachelor of Music.

Study Classical and Jazz Music at Mount Royal University

Located in Calgary, AB, Mount Royal University was founded in 1911 as a college. Today, it boasts an enrollment of 14,000 credit students and offers bachelor’s degrees, applied degrees, university transfer courses, diplomas and certificates. MRC became MRU in 2009.

Mount Royal U offers two music performance diploma programs, the Classical Diploma and Jazz Diploma. Both streams focus on honing students' performance skills while providing a solid foundation in music history, theory, composition and improvisation.

There are several ensembles at Mount Royal including the Kantorei Choir, guitar ensembles, jazz combos, flute ensembles, percussion chorus and jazz vocal ensemble. The MRU Conservatory also has several youth ensembles. Many of its ensembles perform throughout western Canada. Distinguished alumni include opera singer Daniel Okulitch, the composer for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, David Pierce and violinist Andrew Dawes.

As of April 2013, the MRU Jazz Program is one of the post-secondary programs on the chopping block in response to the drastic cuts to education in the Alberta 2013 budget. Efforts to save the program are well underway. Please visit Save our Fine Arts for updates.

Red Deer College's Music Diploma and Music Preparatory Program

Established in 1964, Red Deer College offers over 75 programs, including degrees, diplomas and university transfer programs. According to “Universities in Canada” on Study in Canada's website, Red Deer College has over 10,000 students enrolled.

RDC offers a two-year Diploma in Music that provides students a solid foundation in ear training, music history, music theory, performance ensembles, private music instruction and recording technology. Like MRU, students can concentrate on the classical stream or contemporary genres. They may also do a combination of both streams.

Red Deer is the only college in Alberta to offer a one-year preparatory program in Music, geared towards musicians with either little or no formal music training. Students learn the basics in listening, performing and composing music. After completing this program, students must audition into the diploma program.

Doctoral, Bachelor and Masters Degree Programs in Music at the University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is one of Canada’s top seven research universities in Canada. Established in 1966, U of C offers over 100 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees and boasts an enrollment of over 29,000 students.

The University of Calgary Department of Music offers undergraduate and masters degree programs in Music. At the undergraduate level, students can enroll in the Bachelor of Arts (Music Major), Bachelor of Music (majoring in Composition, History and Theory of Performance) and a Bachelors of Music in Integrated Studies (combination of two disciplines).

Students can study composition, musicology, performance and telemedia arts in U of C's masters degree program. The U of C also offers a PhD program in Musicology or Composition.

The achievements of U of C's ensembles include touring throughout North America, airing on CBC Radio and performing at the Honens International Piano Competition and Festival. Notably, the Wind Ensemble has performed at the CBDNA National Conference and the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) Conference.

Digital Audio Arts and Combined Degrees in Music at the University of Lethbridge

Founded in 1967, the University of Lethbridge offers 150 undergraduate and graduate programs and serves nearly 7,000 students. This institution prides itself on its liberal arts education programs. Students can study a combined degree, graduating with two degrees within five years.

U of L offers several undergraduate music programs, including a four-year Bachelor in Music, B. Mus. in Digital Audio Arts, Bachelor of Arts (Music Major) or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). Students may also combine their music degree with another, such as a business management or education degree, in a five-year combined degree program.

Students can also enroll in a two- or three- year post-diploma B. Mus. Program. U of L's Masters Degree in Music and Master of Arts in Music is offered in voice, piano, collaborative piano, French horn, violin, conducing and composition.

Notably, University of Lethbridge's Bachelor of Music in Digital Audio Arts is the first degree program of its kind in western Canada. Its audio school combines academic courses with hands-on experience in first-class audio studios and labs.

Admission Requirements for Studying Music at the Post-Secondary Level

Music students not only need to meet the general admission requirements for university or college, but also the audition requirements to be accepted into a music program. Therefore, prospective students in music should speak with their music teacher and school guidance counselor as early as junior high to prepare.

A high level of performance is expected. The requirements differ from one instrument to another, but they are fairly similar when comparing music schools. For instance, at U of C, it is expected that pianists and vocalists be at Grade 10 (Royal Conservatory, Conservatory Canada or similar institution) or higher. Other instrumentalists should be at Grade 8 or higher.

Auditions are usually generally scheduled in the winter and spring. Alternatively, prospective students can submit their audition on DVD.

Music students have more options available to them at colleges and universities. Jazz and popular music, digital audio arts, music teaching and composition are just a few of the music programs available at universities and colleges in Alberta. Regardless of where a student plans to study music, he or she should thoroughly research various programs and admission requirements and speak with his or her guidance counselor and music teacher to ensure that all requirements will be met well before the audition.

Originally published April 2, 2011. Updated April 30, 2013. All rights reserved by Rhona-Mae Arca.