Bachelor of Arts in Music

Bachelor of Arts in Music

The Bachelor of Arts in Music degree (BA) provides students with the flexibility to chart their own distinctive path. BA options allow for ample independent study, research, or composition, and students often elect to combine BA music studies with another non-music area of interest, such as business, language, or humanities, to broaden their career opportunities. As with all School of Music degrees, BA majors are given access throughout their time at KSU to nationally renowned studio teachers and ensembles.

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There are five concentrations within the degree: Applied Studies, Composition, Ethnomusicology (the study of world music and culture), Music Theory (the study of musical structure and interpretation), and Musicology (the study of music history and culture). The faculty consists of nationally and internationally recognized composers, scholars, and teachers who promote premieres of original compositions, scholarly presentations, and publications of new research. Recent KSU graduates have advanced to prestigious graduate schools and have used their skills to succeed in a wide range of professional pursuits.

All BA students prepare a Capstone Project in their final semester of degree study. The project allows students to synthesize their undergraduate learning into a single vehicle that they present to the academic community and public. Capstone projects range from lecture-recitals to presentations to written papers, with sample projects listed under each concentration below. 

The BA degree prepares students for a varied array of musical careers, such as the ones below. Entrepreneurial BA graduates have created their own career paths by combining a number of these activities. Skills learned during BA studies have also been successfully applied in other professions our graduates have chosen.

Bachelor of Arts Career Possibilities

  • Film, TV, and video game scoring
  • Classical composition
  • Arranging
  • Music business and production
  • Audio design
  • Arts management
  • Arts administration
  • Music journalism
  • Music criticism
  • Pathway to university-level teaching
  • Music archivist and librarian
  • Recording studio professionals
  • TV and radio announcers and program planners
  • Concert producer and promoter
  • Private studio teacher
  • Touring and performing musician
  • Professional arranger
  • Worship music director
  • Music publishing
  • Media arts company positions
  • Music retail and merchandising
  • Instrument design and repair
  • Piano technician/tuner
  • Music scholarship and research
  • Entertainment law
  • Government/industry cultural planner
  • Music software programmer


Students studying composition at KSU encounter a range of great opportunities for the development and advancement of their creative work. There are numerous opportunities for students to get performances and recordings of their compositions, ranging from our annual composition recitals to our composition contest winners who have their works presented by our top orchestra or wind ensemble. Students study with our faculty composers and with internationally recognized guest composers, and there are a growing number of opportunities for scoring for film, video games, and new media.

  • KSU Composition Studio with composer John Adams at Atlanta Symphony Hall.
  • KSU composition students having their works recorded in a professional studio.
  • KSU chamber students recording the works of KSU student composers in a professional studio.
  • Composer Jakari Rush with performers following his Capstone Lecture-Recital.

  • “I love that the the Bachelor of Arts in Music program allows me to not only concentrate on my composing, but also allows me to explore all areas of music. I know that my music composition is improved by playing in the orchestra, taking oboe lessons, and taking musicology classes. Being well-rounded will put me ahead in my field.”

    Rachel Rabeneck, BA, Composition Concentration

    “We are taught how to become entrepreneurs on our own, and something I have really enjoyed in the BA degree is the opportunity to meet guest composers. We are fortunate to present our own talents to such inspirational people. It is wonderful that KSU allows us the opportunity to have these experiences that will further our chances in becoming successful in our field.”

    Julie Mitchell, BA, Composition Concentration

    “The Bachelor of the Arts degree leads me to develop a versatile educational experience, while still allowing me to focus on music composition. The well-rounded education gives me a wide range of professional opportunities, and because of that my horizons are broadened in places that I would not have thought. For example, I get to learn topics ranging from contemporary composition techniques to analyzing music in video games. This “Swiss Army Knife” education will be extremely beneficial in my professional career.”

    Andrew Niehoff, BA, Composition Concentration

    • David Lang, Pulitzer prize winner and faculty at Yale University
    • Joseph Schwantner, Pulitzer prize winner
    • Chen Yi
    • Nico Muhly
    • Thomas Benjamin
    • Massimiliano Messieri
    • Nicola Baroni
    • Steven Bryant
    • Joel Puckett
    • and more
  • Composition Capstone Projects

    Students in the composition concentration most often choose a lecture-performance format for their Capstone Project. This allows them to present a mixture of live and recorded performances of their undergraduate compositions along with commentary about the influences and techniques in their works.

Music Theory

Music theory offers musicians and scholars the flexibility of a broad liberal arts education with an emphasis on the study of patterns in music and their interpretation. Our faculty is top-notch, with three PhDs in Music Theory from schools such as Eastman and LSU. A degree in music theory gives a musician a wide range of skills including writing, musical analysis, piano and singing proficiency, scholarly reading, and composition in different musical styles. Training is hands-on with lots of one-on-one faculty-student interaction. Students have lots of flexibility in designing their program of study.

If accepted into the program, students continue to play their instrument, take applied lessons, and participate in our many well-known ensembles. We ask that all theory majors maintain a GPA of at least 3.0.

  • Dr. Ben Wadsworth leading a Theory Pedagogy class.
  • BA Music Theory student Kristin Houston in a lesson with Tyrone Jackson, Lecturer of Jazz Studies and Jazz Piano.
  • Assistant Professor of Music Theory Dr. Jeff Yunek leads a Music Theory class.
  • Music Theory student Simon Needle and Dr. Jeff Yunek, Assistant Professor of Music Theory, present at a joint meeting of the Gesellschaft für Popularmusikforschung and Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie in Graz, Austria.

  • “When I began the Music Theory BA track at Kennesaw I had no idea how impactful it would be. Being a musician and music creator requires the versatility to be able to understand and synthesize music you enjoy. Music theory has given me a tool to do just that. The guided study aspects of the program, along with the freedom to choose classes according to my needs, allow for a unique College of the Arts experience. Coupled with classes in the Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business Program (MEBUS) I have been able to study music holistically as it pertains to both business and art.”

    Simon Needle, BA, Theory Concentration

    “The Bachelor of Arts in Music with a Music Theory concentration is perfect for any well-rounded musician with a special interest in music theory. The degree leads the student to an in-depth understanding of music. Not only does the program allow for some training on your instrument, but it also allows for multiple music electives in which you expand your musical knowledge.”

    Kristin Houston, BA, Theory Concentration

    “The Bachelor of Arts in Music Theory has afforded me many valuable opportunities, such as my pursuit of higher education. I had the opportunity to study abroad and had the flexibility and freedom to choose classes that piqued my interest, even outside my direct concentration in Music Theory. The faculty in the School of Music are helpful, kind, and knowledgeable and there is no program or school I would rather call my Alma Mater.”

    Madison Coffey, BA, Theory Concentration

    • Simon Needle and Madison Coffey both presented article summaries at a Graduate Student Workshop on the music of Franz Schubert in Memphis, TN, March 18
    • Dr. Jeff Yunek was elected Program Chair of the South-Central Society for Music Theory, Memphis, TN, March 18
    • Music Theory Day: a morning of free help for area high school juniors and seniors, March 25
    • NCUR: Nikki Hamel is presenting on musical topics in the Legend of Zelda video game, Memphis, TN, April 6–8
    • Dr. Jeff Yunek is presenting his research (with help from Simon Needle and Dr. Ben Wadsworth) on DJ Earworm’s mashups at the Rocky Mountain Society for Music Theory’s Annual Meeting, April 6–8
    • KSU Symposium: a chance for our majors to present their research, April 20
    • Dr. Ben Wadsworth is presenting his research on the pedagogy of Schenkerian analysis at the “Pedagogy into Practice” conference in Cleveland, TN, June 1–4
  • Music Theory Capstone Projects

    Chord Progressions and Sleep Quality

    On the Topic of Hip Hop: Topic Theory as Applied to the Works of Kendrick Lamar

    The Reception of Sonata Form in Edvard Grieg’s Music

    The Absolute Progression in Michael Giacchino’s Film Scores



The Bachelor of Arts in Music with a concentration in Musicology offers the opportunity to study music with a focus on its place in history and in culture. The program offers a variety of courses that address music’s cultural and expressive significance as well as how various musical systems have evolved over time. Students receive personal mentoring from faculty who guide students in coursework and projects that accommodate their specific interests. In the process, they will develop skills in research, verbal and written communication, collaborative-work, and critical thinking that prepare them for multiple paths for the future.

Students in the Musicology program also have the opportunity to participate in the Music History in Europe Study Abroad Program, which examines both classical music and jazz while in Germany and France. This global experience helps to forge students’ own distinctive musical identities in the interconnected world of the 21st century.

  • Bachelor of Arts student Brianna Westland receives prestigious Pi Kappa Lambda membership.
  • Students participating in the Summer 2018 music history study abroad program pose with the Beethoven Monument in Bonn, Germany.
  • Music History students presenting at the annual KSU Symposium of Undergraduate Scholars.
  • Students completing micro research projects during Music History class.

  • "As a musician, I have performed in both classical music and musical theatre. For most of my life, I believed that music would only be a hobby and not something I would pursue as a career. However, my voice teacher told me of another student who was pursuing music librarianship as a vocation, and I was immediately intrigued. I did a bit of research and learned that music librarians and archivists typically complete a bachelor’s degree in musicology. I knew I could see myself doing this in the future. As a freshman, I know that the musicology degree will provide a better understanding of music and its history and provide a thorough knowledge of music from many different cultures."

    Tatiana Reyes, BA, Musicology Concentration

  • Musicology Capstone Projects

    The culmination of the BA degree is a Capstone project that can be designed to reflect each student’s coursework or particular interests. Recent capstones include papers on the development of production music in television and a comparison of 21st century business models for the freelance musician with larger arts organizations. Other students have presented thematic lecture recitals on the development of solo flute literature and expressions of love in 19th century art song.



The Bachelor of Arts in Music with a concentration in Ethnomusicology is designed for students who wish to discover the rich variety of musical expressions and practices throughout the world and who are interested in applying cross-disciplinary approaches to understanding and analyzing musical phenomena. A concentration in Ethnomusicology will provide opportunities for students to explore new ways of looking at music from cultural and social perspectives and to study how various musical systems have evolved over time.

Courses in the degree concentration feature interdisciplinary studies of music and musicians from Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Americas, and Europe and include performance-based and participatory experiences with faculty and artists-in-residence in the form of seminars, colloquia, and workshops.

  • KSU students and faculty learning about and performing Balinese kecak (vocal gamelan) with guest artist and scholar, Dr. Michael Bakan.
  • Mariachi Búhos de Oro performing for KSU students.
  • Steel Band performs in KSU World Music class, Spring 2018.
  • Caribbean Ensemble performs in KSU World Music class, Spring 2018.

  • "When I first applied for the program, I didn’t even know that ethnomusicology was a thing, much less what I was going to be doing with my life. Now, after my first year as a BA student, I have stumbled upon a course of study that is meaningful and gives me purpose. I was a musician before I can remember, and as the years pass, I have seen more and more how I can help people with the talents that were given to me. When I learned about this particular discipline of music, I immediately saw how it would catapult me in the direction of accomplishing my goals to be a performer, a composer, a scholar, and someone who gives back. I AM going to help the world with my gifts and I feel that the highly capable and supportive KSU faculty will help me to accomplish this. After I receive my BA next spring, I will be attending the University of Georgia in pursuit of a Masters in Music Therapy."

    "It's crazy how you always end up exactly where you are supposed to be, doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing." - Anonymous

    Ron Freeman, BA, Ethnomusicology Concentration

    "My experience as a student in the BA of Music program with a concentration in Ethnomusicology at Kennesaw State fueled my passion as a musician. In this program, I was encouraged to expand my horizons by studying and examining cultural, historical, and behavioral dimensions of music-making traditions and practices throughout the world. During my time at KSU, my professors - each in their respective areas of expertise - challenged and nurtured me to develop skills as a performer, thinker, and writer. I received personal instruction from them, I had many exciting performance opportunities, and I was able to work closely with world-class guest musicians and scholars. I feel tremendously blessed to have been a part of this exciting program and I believe my experience has prepared me for a career as an educator and a musical director."

    Queenester Covington, BA, Ethnomusicology Concentration

  • Ethnomusicology Capstone Projects

    The culmination of the BA degree is a Capstone project that can be designed to reflect each student’s coursework or particular interests. Recent capstones include papers on the impact of music therapy protocols on individuals with anxiety disorders, the history and cultures of local Christian music programs, and an ethnographic study of contemporary music business practices.


Applied Studies

A Bachelor of Arts in Music with a concentration in Applied Studies offers students an emphasis in the study of instrumental or vocal performance with the flexibility of a broad range of career paths. Common career paths include music business, music studio teaching, foreign languages, and media production.

As with other School of Music degrees, each student receives applied training from one of KSU’s renowned professors and performance opportunities in KSU’s exceptional student ensembles.

  • Applied guitar lesson with Trey Wright, Senior Lecturer of Jazz Studies and Jazz Guitar.
  • Bachelor of Arts student Kenan Mitchell performs in Studio recital.
  • Applied voice lesson
  • Bachelor of Arts student Brianna Westland prepares for her capstone presentation.

  • “I decided on the BA Applied Studies concentration because I've always had an interest in political science and law as well as music. So the BA afforded me the opportunity to explore more than just music while I was here at Kennesaw State University. And through that, I was able to pursue a more diverse range of interests while I also was able to get the same level of music education that the other majors here at KSU receive. My future plans are to attend law school and study environmental law.”

    Caleb Stack, BA, Applied Studies Concentration

    “I chose the Applied Studies concentration because it provided more options for my life plan with music. I knew my passion was not necessarily in teaching or performing but I discovered my passion is to use music as a way to help other people. I am very passionate about psychology, and I got to choose a behavioral psychology focus in my psychology minor. This will prepare me to go into graduate school as a music therapy major.”

    Joi Crump, BA, Applied Studies Concentration

  • Applied Studies Capstone Projects

    Songs of War: Chronological Examination of Four Selected Battles and the Four Songs that Were Inspired by Them

    Ornamentation and Improvisation in Mozart's Aria "Deh vieni non tardar" from Le Nozze di Figaro


View 2020–21 KSU Undergraduate Catalog entry for Bachelor of Arts in Music