Bachelor of Music


Program Description

Whether you are an aspiring performer, a budding critic curious about how music shapes culture, or a talented musician who wants to share the joys of musicianship as a teacher, Carleton’s Bachelor of Music will prepare you to achieve your goals.

Carleton University’s Bachelor of Music (Honors) program provides a solid grounding in the study and performance of a wide variety of musical instruments and traditions. Subjects of study include the practice, analysis, and history of European classical music from the Middle Ages to the present; Canadian music; computer music; composition; ethnomusicology; jazz; popular music and gender studies. One of the unique things about Carleton’s Bachelor of Music program is that it is possible for students to undertake individual performance instruction with highly qualified instructors in virtually any musical tradition. We also offer a wide range of music ensembles including choir, jazz, jazz-rock fusion, music theatre, African drumming and more. In addition, Carleton is the only university in Canada to offer a performance program in carillon studies.

A degree in Music from Carleton provides a broad yet thorough education, giving graduates a competitive advantage in today’s job market. The BMus program can lead to various careers in music, as well as graduate studies in musicology, theory, composition or performance.

Admission to the program is by audition, and applicants may audition on any instrument (or voice) used in classical, traditional or popular music. Applicants are expected to demonstrate musical competence in their instruments and knowledge of basic music theory.

A Bachelor of Arts (Honors, Combined Honors, General) in Music is also available.

The Carleton advantage

The study, research and performance resources

When you enroll in Music at Carleton, you will have access to a wealth of study, research and performance resources, both on campus and off.

In the Carleton University Library, you will find the largest collection of Canadian musical scores outside of the Canadian Music Center. The university also maintains a collection of over 30,000 discs and music-related videos.

In addition to well-equipped teaching studios and practice spaces, you will find seven grand pianos, eleven upright pianos, three harpsichords, a clavichord, a pre-1800 fortepiano, a collection of West African drums, and an extensive collection of medieval, renaissance and baroque instruments to use in performance. We are also the first university in Canada to offer a program and certificate in Carillon Studies, through which our students have an opportunity to perform on the carillon housed in the Peace Tower at Parliament Hill.

Our students have weekly access to the Kailash Mital Theatre on campus for recitals and masterclasses with leading professional musicians from all over the world. In our two computer music production studios, you will be able to make use of computer applications for the composition and exploration of film music and contemporary music.

The capital advantage

Just minutes away from campus are the research resources of Library and Archives Canada, the National Arts Center and the Canadian Museum of Civilization (soon to be the Canadian Museum of History). Ottawa also hosts music festivals including the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, the Ottawa International Jazz Festival, and the Ottawa Bluesfest.

Our professors, who include composers, theorists, performers, and musicologists, are joined by more than 40 outstanding performance instructors who specialize in instrumental (and voice) instruction, in a broad array of styles and genres.

The program

The Bachelor of Music (Honors) program is usually completed after four years of full-time study. It provides valuable preparation for graduate work in musicology, music theory or composition; for advanced studies as a performer; or careers in music education. Your courses, in theory, performance and musicology will allow you to study the nature of musical processes from practical, artistic, historical and social points of view.

In your first two years, there is an equal emphasis on the sub-disciplines of performance, theory, and musicology. In the final two years of the program, you can choose from a variety of courses while concentrating on performance, music theory, music composition, computer music, historical musicology, ethnomusicology or popular music studies.

You will pursue individualized performance-study in at least three of your four years and participate in performance ensembles in one or more of the following areas: Chamber music, Concert band, Choir, Jazz, Music Theatre, Opera, African drumming or Fusion (Jazz/Rock). The Carleton music program also has affiliations with a variety of off-campus performance groups, which offer an even greater array of ensemble choices.

The Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Music program allows you to pursue studies in musicology, theory, and composition. In addition to the first-year survey courses in music history and popular music, other courses focus on various aspects of music and culture. Bachelor of Arts (Combined Honors) students can combine studies in Music with a major or a minor in another discipline.

A BA in Music can serve as a foundation for a variety of careers in fields related to music, or in such fields as communications or cultural policy.

The Bachelor of Arts (General) in the Music program is normally completed after three years of full-time study. General Bachelor of Arts students can combine studies in Music with a minor in another discipline.

Performance courses are not available to students in any of the BA in Music programs.

Work experience

Practicum courses provide opportunities for students at Carleton University’s School for Studies in Art and Culture to gain valuable experience in various arts, education, and media organizations. The School only selects its top students for Practica placements, those who have demonstrated a high degree of skill and potential for further learning.

The students are required to spend 84 hours in the placement and write a report. The on-site supervisor will provide a brief assessment of the student’s performance. These are combined to form the student’s grade for the Practicum course.

In the past, Music students have had placements that allowed them to learn and develop a variety of skills, such as:

  • Digitizing, restoring and cataloging audio from tape and vinyl.
  • Editing music scores for publication.
  • Researching information about composers, manuscripts, their location, previous editions if any, etc.
  • Setting up and maintaining Websites and researching information on the Internet.
  • Practical recording studio techniques, and film-scoring composition.
  • Music therapy, or other music-related social work with older and/or infirmed adults.
  • Developing and implementing online publicity strategies and resources.
  • Writing (refining, abridging) user manuals for digital audio and video software.
  • Assisting music teachers by preparing materials and working with students one-on-one.

To date, students have been placed at the Leading Note Foundation, St. Patrick’s Resource Center, the National Library of Canada, the Canadian Musical Heritage Society, the CBC, ChamberFest, CKCU, theknwldg, Alcorn Music, Carleton Jazz Camp, Rogers Cable, Perley Rideau Veteran’s Health Center, City of Ottawa Archives, Anglican Social Services, MJM Epic Sound Design, Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, several schools, as well as many other organizations and research initiatives in the Ottawa area and beyond.

Additional requirements

After you have applied to the Bachelor of Music program at Carleton, you will be required to audition on the instrument you intend to study at university. Applicants must also complete an online theory and listening test prior to the audition.

Future opportunities

The workplace

Graduates of Music programs enjoy careers in a wide range of areas including arts management, performance, teaching, and arts journalism.

Graduate studies

Graduates of our Honors programs are well qualified to go on to graduate studies in a variety of fields including musicology, theory/composition, performance, journalism or cultural studies.

Professional programs

Many professional programs, including teaching, encourage well-rounded applicants from a variety of backgrounds to apply. Music provides a strong foundation for such programs.


  • Administration
  • Archival Work
  • Broadcasting
  • Entertainment
  • Film
  • Music Composition
  • Music Performance
  • Television And Radio

What students are saying about Music (BMus)

"Carleton University's Bachelor of Music teaches its students about a wide variety of musical genres and instruments – there is no limit to what a student can learn within the program. The diversity of the Music program and the strong relationships I have built with my professors and peers have allowed me to grow both as a person and musician. Since joining the program, I have written, recorded and performed my original music."

Malak, Bachelor of Music student

Last updated Oct 2020

About the School

Carleton University, Canada’s Capital University, is a dynamic and innovative university with a strong commitment to teaching, research and learning. Our academic programs, campus community, capital l ... Read More

Carleton University, Canada’s Capital University, is a dynamic and innovative university with a strong commitment to teaching, research and learning. Our academic programs, campus community, capital location and global possibilities provide countless opportunities for learning to happen both inside and outside of the classroom. Read less