The B.A. in Music is a four-year program offered in the Faculty of Arts for students interested in music but not intending to pursue music performance professionally or who do not meet the special admission requirements for the School of Music’s Bachelor of Music degree.

The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree with a major, minor, or honours in music includes core music courses similar to the Bachelor of Music degree, but does not include private instrumental or vocal instruction. All UBC students are eligible to audition for student ensembles.



How to apply

To enrol in any Major within the UBC B.A degree, students must meet the academic admission requirements of the Faculty of Arts. Majors are declared at the end of second year, although coursework usually commences in the first year. There are no performance requirements for entrance into the Music Major.

Entrance to the Music Major is through the course Music 100: Principles of Musical Form. B.A. students cannot register themselves for this course, but they may receive permission to take it by passing the Music 100 Placement Test (sample test and answer key).

The test evaluates the depth and fluency of students' knowledge of the rudiments of Western music, including scales, intervals, triads, seventh chords, rhythmic values, and time signatures.

Explanations of these topics, along with drills for daily practice, can be found on the following free websites: and
Students who have recently completed Royal Conservatory of Music Advanced Rudiments (or the equivalent) with high standing should be well prepared for this test.

The test will be given on the first Wednesday morning of classes in September.
To sign up for it, email Dr. John Roeder at before the end of August.
Students who pass will be registered in the lecture and in a tutorial. As a backup in case you do not pass, we suggest that you register for another course, which you can drop if you do pass.

Degree requirements

Foundation Courses 

  • 24 credits of foundation courses in music theory and history, normally taken in the first two years of the B.A.:
    • 12 credits of theory: (MUSC 100, 101, 200, and 201) or (MUSC 110, 111, and 210)
    • 12 credits of history:120, 121, 220, and 221.
    • at least one small OR large ensemble (any of MUSC 150-165)
  • These courses should all be taken in the first two years, except for MUSC 201. To register, email Dr. John Roeder at giving your background in theory. 

Upper-level Music courses

  • MAJOR IN MUSIC: 30 credits of 300- or 400-level music courses.
  • HONOURS IN MUSIC: 48 credits of 300- or 400-level music courses.
  • Any 300- or 400-level course in music history, music theory, ethnomusicology, or music composition, as well as MUSC 107 and 207, counts toward this requirement, along with up to twelve credits of ensemble. Even though the ensemble courses have 100 numbers, they will count as 300- or 400-level courses when taken in the third or fourth years, and hence as part of the requirements for the major, honours, or minor in music. At most twelve credits of ensemble may be counted toward the bachelor of arts.

Overall upper-level courses

  • MAJOR IN MUSIC: In the third and fourth years, students must take at least 48 credits of 300- and 400-level courses, including the upper-level Music courses mentioned above.
  • HONOURS IN MUSIC: In the third and fourth years, students must take at least 54 credits of 300- and 400-level courses, including the upper-level Music courses mentioned above.


Students who wish to register for ensembles must audition. Towards the B.A. degree with a major in music, a total of eight ensemble credits may count, comprised of:

  • lower level or transfer credits: up to 6 credits of lower level or transfer ensemble credit may count towards the music major.
  • upper level: 8 credits minus any lower level or transfer credits used, may count.


B.A. majors in music are primarily advised by Arts Academic Advising except with regards to music coursework for which any of the following may be contacted:



Frequently Asked Questions

Can I play or sing in ensembles for credit? 

Yes! You may take up to 12 credits of music ensemble in the B.A. Ensemble courses may be repeated for credit. There are many ensembles in which you may participate.

Can I take private music lessons?

No, not as a course for credit. You must be registered in the Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.) degree program to take lessons for credit. You may, however, take non-credit private lessons from available faculty & students. Please see our private lessons list.

I’m entering the third year of the B.A. and haven’t taken any music courses yet. Can I finish a Music Major in two years?

No, because you haven’t taken the 24 credits of foundation courses that are prerequisite to many 300-level courses. It is possible to finish in three years, however. Consult one of the advisors listed above.

Banner image by Don Erhardt Photography