How to Find the Right Music Program at NYU

From performance and theatre to business and technology, the music industry is alive and well at NYU. Learn how to navigate our wide array options to find the right fit.

A woman singing on the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts stage.

When it comes to navigating the music business at NYU, there are many options to consider. From education and performance to business and technology, there’s a program to suit almost any musician’s tastes! While this is exciting, it can also be confusing. Programs exist in several different NYU schools and campuses, which means that doing your research is incredibly important. If you’re interested in studying music with us and you aren’t sure which way to turn, look no further! I’ve got you covered.

Identify Your Area of Interest

Yes, you’re studying music. But what sort of field are you aiming to explore within music? Do you have a dream of singing at the Sydney Opera House? Do you love playing the violin, but instead of performing, you want to teach others to play it too? Or maybe you’re interested in engineering it from a recording booth instead. Narrowing down your main interest before you apply is especially key. The type of program that you’re looking for may live in a different school, college, or campus at NYU. You’ll want to make sure that you apply to the right one!
 
For reference, we offer programs in the following areas:
  • General music
  • Business
  • Composition
  • Technology
  • Education
  • Performance
  • Music theatre
  • Recorded music

Find the School, College, and Campus

When it comes to choosing your major, you will need to choose one of our three degree-granting campuses—New York City, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai. You won’t find a music major in Shanghai yet, so you will want to focus your research on New York City and Abu Dhabi.
 
Most of our music programs in New York City are in the Steinhardt School. The two main exceptions to this rule are Recorded Music in the Tisch School of the Arts and our BA in Music in the College of Arts and Science. Our Gallatin School could be an option for you as well—I’ll break down how and why that might be! Beyond New York City, you will find both a Music major and minor at NYU Abu Dhabi. When it comes time to study away, our global network houses a series of other locations at which you can study music. Paris and Prague, for instance!
Student sitting at a desk while performing at the Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi.

But…Which Is Which?

This is where things get a little tricky. We often get asked what the difference is between certain programs that, on the surface, might sound the same. Let’s break those down:

Recorded Music, Music Technology, and Music Business

Recorded Music (Tisch) is for students who aspire to be artists and creative entrepreneurs in the music industry. They must take courses in production, history, and criticism. They also produce their own works in state-of-the-art recording studios while taking business courses to learn how to market themselves. In the end, these students graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Recorded Music.
 
Secondly, Music Technology (Steinhardt) explores music, computer science, and audio engineering. This program stresses the integration of musical and technical skills. While music tech students are very much artists, they tend to gravitate toward the more technical aspects of the practice. These students graduate with a Bachelor of Music and often move on to careers in sound engineering, computer music, scoring, and production.
 
Lastly, Music Business (Steinhardt) prepares students to become business leaders of popular and commercial music. This program requires the study of theory and production as well as courses on the business of the music industry. If you’re interested in being an executive rather than an artist or engineer, then this is likely the program for you. These students graduate with a Bachelor of Music in Music Business.

Musical Theatre

Until they start the admissions process, many students don’t realize that we have two musical theatre programs at NYU. One lives in the Drama program at Tisch while the other lives in the Vocal Performance program at Steinhardt.
 
The Drama program at Tisch is an acting-based program. Students admitted to Theatre at Tisch get assigned to a studio for that concentration. Acting courses serve as the foundation here, with voice and dance classes supplementing the acting work. If you feel that you’re an actor first, then this is likely the best program for you.
 
On the other hand, the Vocal Performance program at Steinhardt is a music-based program. These students will root their education in theory, aural skills, and voice, while also pursuing acting and dance courses. If you feel that vocal skills are your strongest skills, or that you’re a musician first, then this is likely the program for you.
 
Students in both of these programs will gear themselves toward the same career path. Our graduates have been equally successful in these endeavors. However, they pursue them through different lenses tailored to their different skills and interests.

Music at CAS vs. Music at NYU Abu Dhabi

In New York City, the general study of music is a liberal arts-based approach. This contrasts our conservatory-style programs at Tisch and Steinhardt. You’ll root your studies in the College’s core curriculum while gaining a broad understanding of history, theory, criticism, and performance. This program sets the stage for a wide number of opportunities in graduate school, such as music therapy. These students can also pursue internships at NYC-based recording studios, magazines, and more.
 
In Abu Dhabi, you’ll still find a program with a foundation in the liberal arts. However, your academic offerings take on more of a global perspective. Courses on topics like Khaleeji music become more common here, along with courses on 21st-century techniques and popular music. Like our programs in New York City, these students will also find state-of-the-art recording studios, practice rooms, and sound stages. They can pursue internships at major arts groups, concert venues, and recording companies in Abu Dhabi or Dubai. Additionally, Abu Dhabi students regularly look for professional development opportunities not only within the United Arab Emirates but across our entire global network.

Interdisciplinary Study

If you’re interested in how music intersects with a nonartistic field, then Gallatin might be the place for you. Gallatin students with music interests will sense how the field influences other disciplines. They do this through a series of lectures, exhibitions, performance opportunities, and a capstone project. Students can explore the psychology of music, for example, and how music influences behavior in children. It’s important to note that unlike our other programs, Gallatin students create their own major with the help of advisers. They will take courses across the University to get to the heart of topics that bridge multiple disciplines. 
A student laughing as she works in a recording studio at 370 Jay Street in Brooklyn.

But How Do I Get In?

It’s hard to ignore this question when doing your research—and for good reason! The creative supplement that we require for most music programs is a core part of our admissions process. You’ll want to make sure that you pay special attention to any guidelines that your program requires. Some will ask for a portfolio, while others will ask for an audition. Others ask for a screening audition, while others might not.
 
You will also want to make sure that your creative materials match your Common Application. I can’t stress this enough! For example, if your Common Application indicates that you’re interested in Recorded Music, be sure to submit your supplement material to Tisch. Don’t send them to Steinhardt by mistake! Both Tisch and Steinhardt list their respective requirements on their websites. If you’re interested in the College of Arts and Science or Gallatin, then you won’t need an audition or portfolio. NYU Abu Dhabi doesn’t require one either but does provide you with the option to submit one.

No Matter What You Choose—You’re at NYU

There are many programs through which you can further your craft with us. No matter which one you choose, remember that the University is your oyster. Choosing a major in Tisch doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue a minor in Steinhardt. The breadth of our global network means that you can seize music opportunities around the world regardless of the major that you choose. We are a cosmopolitan university with a wide number of paths to pursue. We will encourage you to not only dream big but also seize all opportunities that interest you!