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Music and Theatre

The Department of Music and Theatre at California State University, Chico offers excellent curricular programs, high quality facilities, performance ensembles, productions and opportunities to help meet a variety of career objectives.

We provide a quality learning environment which nurtures student creativity, scholarship, diversity, and entrepreneurship, enhanced by the collaboration of students, faculty and staff.


The Department of Music and Theatre offers three separate BA programs, three minors, and two certificates.


The BA in Music.
Students take a core of classes intended to give them a basic understanding of music theory, history, ear training, keyboard proficiencies, and technologies. The degree options allow students to choose areas of specialization.

The option in music education is a comprehensive program for students planning careers in music education for grades K-12. The Single Subject Credential in Music is part of our dynamic music education program.

The option in music industry prepares students for the many challenging opportunities in the vast music industry. Courses in business and music are designed to give students the knowledge and skills needed in the commercial music industry, entrepreneurial development, and positions in the public art sector.

The option in recording arts is designed to offer enhanced career opportunities in the recording, sound reinforcement, performance audio, and entertainment industries. Students in this option receive intensive hands-on instruction and experience utilizing state-of-the-art electronic equipment and labs.

The option in general music allows a student (with an advisor) to develop a more wide-ranging course of study including music composition, jazz studies, performance and more.

The Minor in music provides opportunities for students in other majors to take courses and ensembles within the department broadening their college experience.

The certificate in keyboard pedagogy is a specialized course of study intended for those who will teach private or group piano lessons.

The certificate in vocal performance and pedagogy is a specialized course of study for those whose career goals include either vocal performance or teaching.


Students are provided focused, pre-professional training within the context of broad, liberal arts study. Through a program of applied studio courses, workshops and full productions, students learn an immediately useful set of theatre skills to prepare them for entry-level professional theatre employment or advanced study in professional theatre training programs and graduate schools. Study of textual analysis, literature and theatre history helps students place the theatre within its larger cultural context, and to think critically, reason clearly, imagine creatively, and communicate effectively about theatre and the world of which it is a part.

Two BA programs share a common foundation of history, literature, and aesthetic principles:

The BA in Theatre is a well-balanced degree. After completing the common core classes, students select a mix of lower and upper division electives in performance, technical theatre/design, and dramatic literature/history.

The BA in Musical Theatre is a prescribed degree. After completing the common core classes, students focus their studies specifically on musical theatre performance in the areas of acting, singing, and dancing.

The Theatre and Musical Theatre Dance Minors provide courses and production opportunities for students in other majors who wish to add intellectual and practical understanding of theatre and dance to their college experience.

Auditions/Proficiency Exams Requirements

Assuming all other University requirements are satisfied, students must audition for studio instruction (private lessons) for all music degrees. These auditions are conducted the first week of classes each semester. This requirement applies to all entering freshmen and transfer students.

Proficiency exams for music theory, aural musicianship, and piano are required for all entering freshman and transfer students that have previous skills.

Visit the Music and Theatre Department online or contact the department office for specific requirements.

Performances and Productions

The Department of Music and Theatre offers a wide variety of performance opportunities for students. Faculty directed music ensembles include the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, A Cappella Choir, University Chorus, Chamber Singers, Jazz X-Press, and Jazz II. Music ensemble auditions occur at the beginning of each semester and are open to any Chico State student, regardless of major. These ensembles perform on a regular basis and play and sing music of all historical periods and styles. Numerous small ensemble opportunities are available as well, directed by both faculty and exceptional student leaders. We produce five faculty directed theatrical productions annually. Our selection of comedies and dramas cover a wide range of historical periods, genres, and production styles, including musicals in the fall and spring semesters. Opportunities exist for students to act, stage manage, fill various technical positions, and assist faculty in direction, design, and choreography. Theatre auditions are open to any CSU student as well as community members at the beginning of each semester. Many students work as paid assistants for the School of the Arts in the shops and on touring shows that use the University facilities.


The Department of Music and Theatre is located in the Performing Arts Center (PAC). The PAC has three theatres equipped with advanced lighting and sound equipment, a recital hall, fully equipped scene and costume shops, a small dance/rehearsal studio, make-up and dressing rooms, practice rooms equipped with pianos, recording facilities, an extensive costume collection, excellent mediated classrooms, large rehearsal rooms, a music and script library, and a computer lab. The new Arts and Humanities Building also provides an additional recital hall, recording studio, dance and rehearsal studio and several large and small lecture halls.

Special Opportunities

In addition to the regular academic program and production season, the department either directly sponsors or supports participation in other exciting professional organizations and student interest groups: The Audio Engineering Society, National Association for Music Education, School of the Arts Productions, Songwriters Guild, National Band Association, The Musical Theatre Ensemble, Theatre Arts Club, Momentum Dance Collective, CSU Summer Arts, and Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival. Faculty also participate in professional and national theatre organizations (and students may be invited to participate in presentations at conferences).


The Department of Music and Theatre offers over $50,000 in scholarships to students in its majors, including general music, theatre, music industry and technology, musical theatre, and recording arts. Some scholarships are awarded to non-majors with successful auditions/interviews. The application period is January through the middle of February every year and applicants must be full-time students (12 units minimum), and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA (a higher GPA is required for some scholarships). Scholarship recipients must be significantly involved in departmental concerts and productions during both semesters of the academic year for which they receive their award. Incoming freshman and transfers are encouraged to audition and apply for the scholarship opportunities and should complete the audition/interview request form on the department website.


The Department of Music & Theatre encourages student participation in internships throughout their college career. Experiential learning through an internship is one of the best ways to investigate whether or not a career area is appropriate for you. These opportunities provide you with insight into career fields of interest to you and also serve as resume builders and sources of professional references. Professional experience with positive letters of recommendation and references set you apart from those who only are able to show academic proficiency via transcripts and GPA. Advance consultation with Department Internship advisor is required for approval.

Career Outlook

Qualified graduating seniors are able to take classes that provide them with extensive faculty coaching in preparation for various national unified auditions/interviews held each year for professional companies and graduate schools. Graduates with a BA in Music have gone on to work across the United States and internationally for major studios, independent studios, touring the country and world with major tours, A&R for the record labels, composing, performing on the national and regional stage, and much more. Graduates with a BA in Theatre work professionally as actors, designers, technicians and stage managers in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, on national tours, in various regional theatres, theme parks/cruise lines, and in film and television. Students from all degree programs have found careers as teachers at universities, colleges, high schools, and elementary schools.


The Department of Music and Theatre is accredited through the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and the National Association of Schools of Theatres (NAST).

Catalog Cycle:19