FAQ

This section addresses many common questions asked by prospective undergraduate students.

If you cannot find the information you are looking for, please contact cua-music@cua.eduor call 202-319-5414.

  • General

    What is it like going to school in D.C.?
    Going to school in the nation’s capital, you are surrounded by the arts. There is a metro stop right on campus that is just three stops away from Union Station, bringing you right into the action. There are multiple performances to attend, as well as performance opportunities for our students. In addition, D.C. is home to close to 20 Smithsonian museums, the majority of which offer free admission. There is always something to do in D.C. whether you are playing Frisbee on the National Mall, monument hopping at night, or just grabbing a bite to eat with a group of friends at a popular restaurant off the metro.

    What is the weather like?
    D.C. weather boasts all four seasons. You will experience beautiful leaves changing color in the fall, snow in the winter, cherry blossoms in the spring, and lots of sunshine in the summer.

    What are the application deadlines?
    Early action:
    University application: November 15
    Audition: December 7

    Regular decision:
    University application: February 15
    Audition: February 8 (February 22 if transferring)

    Is early action binding?
    No. If you apply early action you will receive your admissions result by Christmas. However, unlike early decision, it is not a binding contract.

    Do I have to submit my application before I schedule or complete my audition?
    No. You are not required to submit an application prior to your audition, although it is encouraged.

    Am I required to have a music interview?
    The only music majors that require an interview are music education and composition. If you would like to meet with our music faculty in any of the other departments please contact cua-music@cua.edu to schedule an appointment. To schedule an interview with the undergraduate admission office please call 202-319-5305 or 800-673-2772.

    Is it better to have an in-person audition than submit online?
    Obviously we would love to meet you in person, but if you are unable to make it to a live audition this will not hurt your application. For more information on both methods please stop by our audition page.

    Is there a pre-screening stage?
    No. We do not have any pre-screening auditions. Please register for an audition day through our audition webpage.

    Do I need to submit the "Art Supplement" on the Common Application?
    No.

    Are there any talent-based scholarships?
    Everyone who auditions is considered for a music scholarship. All music scholarships are talent-based and will be discussed amongst the faculty after auditions are complete. Should you be awarded a music scholarship you will be notified in March.

    Can I apply to more than one program?
    You may apply to more than one music program, but you will need to schedule auditions for each separate program. The auditions may take place on the same day, but for different committees. Please note that should you be accepted to both programs you will need to choose one.

    Can I have a minor?
    Yes you can. With some programs in the School of Music this is a more difficult task, but minoring is possible. Please note that musical theatre majors are unable to minor in drama. For more detailed and individualized information please contact cua-music@cua.edu

    I don't plan to major in music. Can I still participate in ensembles, plays, and classes?
    Absolutely. We encourage non-music majors to participate in our ensembles, as well as productions. You will want to check in with the music office and website for information on upcoming ensemble and production auditions.

    Will I be able to visit the facilities if I come to campus?
    We would be more than happy to show you around our music facilities when you visit campus. To schedule a tour please contact cua-music@cua.edu

    Can I visit a class when I come to campus?
    Depending on our class schedule on the particular day you visit this is a very viable option. For more information on what classes are being offered on your visit day and to schedule a class visit, please contact cua-music@cua.edu

    What are the residence halls like?
    On-campus housing offers a variety of residence hall options ranging from the traditional (a shared double or triple room with a shared bathroom down the hall) to suites (multiple rooms sharing a bathroom) and apartments. Undergraduate students at Catholic University live in single-sex residence halls. Coupled with programs directed toward student’s personal, spiritual, and moral development, single-sex housing fosters an environment of virtuous living consistent with the Catholic intellectual tradition. With a variety of residential buildings available, on-campus living can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience during your entire academic career at Catholic University. For more information on housing on campus please visit our housing website.

    Will I be in a dorm with other music students?
    Prior to arriving at Catholic University for your freshman year, you will take a short questionnaire to determine the best roommate fit for you. You will not necessarily be paired with a music student your first year. In the years following, you may select your roommates.

    What type of degrees does the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music award?
    We offer a Bachelor of Music degree or a Bachelor of Arts in Music. 

    Can I take classes outside of my major?
    Yes. You are required to take three electives throughout your academic career at Catholic University. This is a great chance to take a class outside of the School of Music. The first-year experience also includes courses outside of your specific music major.

    Can I study abroad?
    We have a study abroad program option for junior musical theatre majors. These students have the opportunity to travel to London their second semester and study at the London Dramatic Academy (LDA).

    Are there internships?
    Musical theatre majors are required to complete two performance internships prior to graduation. In addition to the musical theatre internships, there are many summer opportunities for other music majors. Bel Cantanti Opera uses our facility over the summer, offering voice students a wonderful opportunity to perform with a professional opera company. There are also numerous piano and orchestral competitions throughout the academic year, as well as the summer.

    Are practice rooms available?
    Yes. We have approximately 30 practice rooms available for student use. It is not a requirement to reserve a practice room, but it is an available option.

    Do you accept AP theory?
    Taking music theory in high school will prepare you for the theory evaluation test that all incoming freshman must take. While we do not accept AP theory scores, the class will prepare you for placement and, in many cases, will help you place out of fundamentals your freshman year.

  • Bachelor of Arts

    How is the Bachelor of Arts program different from the Bachelor of Music program?
    The Bachelor of Arts program contains the same core courses in music (harmony, ear training, history) as the Bachelor of Music programs, and students in the B.A. program perform in the same ensembles, take private lessons with the same instructors, and are eligible to audition for the same productions as students in the B.M. programs. The biggest difference is that B.A. students take more non-music courses than B.M. students, which provides a broad liberal arts education in addition to a solid musical education.

    Is an audition required for acceptance?
    No, an audition is not required for acceptance into the B.A., but students are welcome to audition if they would like to be considered for a music scholarship. A student who wants to pursue the B.A. in Music with an emphasis in performance does need to audition, but the audition can be held after matriculation. An audition is required for performing ensembles and productions, and in many cases a student will be asked to play a hearing before registering for private instruction, in order to be placed with the most appropriate instructor.

    How often will I get to perform?
    B.A. students have the same performance opportunities as B.M. students.  You can perform as often as you want to.

    What classes will I take?
    All first-year students enroll in the First-Year Experience, which consists of required courses in English, philosophy, and theology. In addition, you will take core courses in harmony, ear training, and music history, plus music electives. You will also take electives in philosophy, theology, social/behavioral sciences, math, natural sciences, humanities, foreign language, and literature, plus electives in other subjects of your own choosing.

    Is it possible to double major in something?
    Yes, it is in most cases very feasible for a B.A. student to add a second major outside of music, provided that the second major also leads to a B.A. It is also possible to pursue a dual degree (e.g., B.A. in Music/B.S. in Chemistry), but please be aware that a dual degree program will likely require more than four years to complete.

    Will I take private lessons?
    Yes, all B.A. students are required to take private lessons for at least four semesters. You have the option of taking lessons for one credit (one half-hour lesson every week) or for three credits (one hour-long lesson every week). Students pursuing the B.A. in Music with an emphasis in performance are required to take three-credit lessons every semester. All B.A. students are also required to take two semesters of piano lessons, either Class Piano or private instruction.

    Am I part of the music school?
    Yes, B.A. students are enrolled in the School of Music and are part of the same community as B.M. students. You will be in the same classes, ensembles, and productions as the B.M. students.

    Am I eligible for a music scholarship?
    Yes, all B.A. students are eligible for a music scholarship, provided that they audition.

    I auditioned for a B.M. program and received a letter stating that I was not recommended for the program. Do I need to do anything if I want to be considered for acceptance into the B.A.?
    No, you do not need to do anything to be considered for acceptance into the B.A., as the Office of Admission will automatically place your application into the pool for the B.A. If you want to be considered for a different degree program outside of music, then you need to contact the Office of Admission and ask them to switch your application.

    Can I switch to a B.M. program after starting as a B.A. student?
    Yes, it is possible for B.A. students to switch to a B.M. program, provided that they first pass an audition. Be aware, however, that switching programs after the sophomore year will likely make it difficult to graduate in four years.

    Can I study abroad?
    Yes, it is very feasible for B.A. students to study abroad for either a semester or an entire year. However, it is challenging for students pursuing the performance emphasis to study abroad, due to the required eight semesters of private instruction and performing ensemble.

    Will pursuing the B.A. instead of a B.M. put me at a disadvantage if I decide to audition for graduate programs in performance?
    No, you will not necessarily be at a disadvantage, since you will have had access to the same private instruction and performance opportunities as the B.M. students. It is also possible to use electives to take music courses that will help prepare you for graduate studies in performance.

  • Composition

    Do I have to audition for this program?
    Yes. All undergraduate composition majors are required to both audition and submit a portfolio of past composition work. You will need to schedule an audition and interview through our audition page.

    Will I enter as a composition major?
    Please be aware that acceptance into the School of Music does not guarantee acceptance as a composition major. You will begin your course map leading toward your composition degree, but nothing is finalized until the beginning of sophomore year. At this point, the theory and composition division faculty will meet to review your work completed freshman year and determine whether or not they recommend you enter the composition program. For further information or clarity on this please contact cua-music@cua.edu

    Will my work ever be performed at Catholic University?
    The great thing about our program is that we have the ensembles, orchestras, and students eager to perform new works. We offer a opportunities each year that allows new works to be submitted to a committee and performed at a festival right here on campus.

  • Instrumental Music

    Are there many performance opportunities for students?
    Students are provided with multiple performance opportunities throughout the D.C. metro area. On campus, students perform in several concerts during the school year using facilities such as Hartke Theatre, Ward Recital Hall, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. Additionally, there are ample opportunities for students to perform solo and chamber music both on and off campus. Students are also able to perform with various opera, musical theatre, and new work ensembles. Student musicians may choose to collaborate with composition students to play, perform, premiere, and possibly even record their work. Each fall semester a selected group of students is given the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall's Weill Hall during a three day concert series given by University faculty, staff and students.

    Where do students keep their instruments?
    Students can store their instruments in lockers in Ward, where they are safe and accessible. Lockers are available to rent for the entire school year.

    Is it possible to do a double major in Music Performance and Music Education?
    It is possible to double major in Music Education and Music Performance, but it will take an extra semester to graduate. Students interested in this dual-degree option should enter as music education majors and declare the dual-degree upon completion of freshman year. For more information on this track, please contact cua-music@cua.edu

    How are students matched with private teachers?
    During the audition process, members of our instrumental faculty assess each student’s ability and level of development. With this information, students are placed in the studio most suitable for their development. Requests for specific teachers are considered.

  • Music Education

    As a music education major, will I be able to audition for music theatre and opera productions?
    Yes. The musical and opera productions are open for all members of the University community to audition. In the past, some of the major roles have been awarded to music education majors.

    Will I have a private teacher?
    As a music education major you will have a private instructor in your major instrument of focus. You may also choose to take private instruction on another instrument, but you will be learning the basics of each instrument throughout your class studies.

    What are the different music education programs you offer?
    We offer four separate tracks for music education: General Choral, Instrumental, Combined Choral-Instrumental, and a Dual-Degree of Performance and Instrumental Music Education. Please note that should you wish to pursue the dual-degree option, you must first enter as an instrumental music-education major. You will not be able to officially declare the dual-degree until the end of your freshman year.

    How is student teaching completed?
    In one of your final semesters, your music education adviser will set up a partnership with a local teacher. You will have the opportunity to teach children across a wide range of age groups. Upon completion, a grade is given based on several observations and reports throughout the semester. Should you have any further questions in regards to student teaching, please contact cua-music@cua.edu

    Is the music education program part of the education department?
    No. The music education program is a program based out of the School of Music. You will, however, take many courses through the education department.

  • Musical Theatre

    What is the process for choosing a voice teacher at Catholic University? Can a student pick his/her own or are they placed in a studio?
    During the first week of classes our musical theatre faculty will hear our incoming students sing again to re-familiarize themselves with their voices. After that, they will assign the teacher they feel would be the best fit. You may absolutely request to be placed with someone specific and that will be taken into consideration. If you do have someone specific in mind, the faculty will most likely place you in his or her studio (provided it is not full).

    How many musicals does Catholic perform in a school year and is a music theatre student required to do any straight plays?
    There is never a lack of performance opportunities at Catholic University. We do two major musicals each year, one in the fall semester and one in the spring semester. In addition, there are various cabaret and revue style productions that occur each semester as well. These productions perform at nearby theatre venues such as the Atlas Performing Arts Center and The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, to name a few. We try to make the most of the big venues in the area to encourage our students to network while they are in school. The drama department usually puts on about six or seven major plays a year, as well as numerous graduate directing projects. While not required to participate, our musical theatre students are encouraged to dabble in the straight plays as well and many take advantage of the opportunity. Musical theatre students are required to take courses in straight acting and, should you choose to study abroad, your entire second semester junior year would take place at the London Dramatic Academy.

    What is a musical theatre student at Catholic University's connection with any casting directors or workers in New York or other theatre-rich areas?
    We have numerous master classes each year depending on who is in the area for productions or just traveling through. In the past we’ve hosted guests such as Norm Lewis, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Ricky Ian Gordon, Judy Kuhn, Dave Clemmons, and many more. A professional headshot photographer is also brought in for the seniors at a discounted price. This way the seniors all have professional headshots for their senior showcase. We have a senior showcase both in D.C. and in New York City, usually some time in March. Many casting directors and agents attend these and it is a wonderful networking opportunity for our students

    What is the availability for a Catholic University musical theatre student to be in outside productions in the D.C. area? Are they encouraged to audition outside the school and is it feasible with the class load?
    Freshmen and sophomores are not permitted to perform in an outside show during the school semesters; the reason being that we want our students to really focus on the formation of their skills during this time. The transition into college is unlike any other and, especially as a musical theatre major, the work load is heavy. It is best to hone your skills and talent before being released into the professional world (you do not want to be remembered by casting directors your senior year as someone who was ill-prepared a few years ago). Juniors and seniors are welcome to audition and, after permission is granted, perform during the school semesters. Many of our students are currently in productions at some of the major D.C. area theatres such as Signature Theatre and Keegan Theatre. A number of our students were also nominated for a Helen Hayes award (2012-2013). All musical theatre students are required to do two performing internships before they graduate. Many of our students take the summer to complete this requirement. This is another great opportunity to meet professionals and build networking connections. There is an internship book in the main office that students can flip through to get ideas of where past internships have been done.

    How many students start in the freshman class and how many are in the senior graduating class?
    An incoming musical theatre class will usually fall somewhere around the 25 mark (it does vary from year to year, but that is the average). The 2013 graduating senior class is comprised of 16 students. There is a re-evaluation process at the end of sophomore year after your jury. Should the faculty feel a student is not progressing the way they should, they will ask the student to switch from a B.M. in musical theatre to our B.A. in performance.

    What, honestly, is the musical theatre or even just B.M. community like at Catholic University? Is it mostly competitive or do there seem to be friendships between upper class students and incoming freshman, where a senior would help out a freshman and such?
    “I can say with complete and utter honesty that the music school community, especially the MT’s, is unlike any I have ever come across. I majored in music theatre at Catholic University and always felt a part of something. One of my best friends to this day was a senior when I was a freshman. The upper classmen truly do take you under their wing and want you to thrive. It is such a competitive field but here we are honestly a family. Even during audition season, while everyone is competing for the same roles, everyone still cheers people on! I will always remember my time at Catholic University and how lucky I was to build such strong friendships with such talented people.”

             –Elise Morrow-Schap, B.M. 2010

    Is seniority given to upper class students because of their rank or are leading roles decided based solely on talent?
    Leading and supporting roles are decided based on talent. The only time seniority is ever taken into account is if a senior and a freshman are at the same skill level and could both do a part equally. In this situation, the senior would more than likely be given the role, but that is up to the discretion of the director. Underclassmen are encouraged to audition for each and every production and many times are given major roles.

  • Organ

    Do you have organs available to practice?
    Yes. We have two organs housed in the School of Music and one housed in St. Vincent’s Chapel. There is a formal schedule for the organ in St. Vincent’s. The other two organs are open for rehearsing whenever available.

    What sacred music opportunities are there?
    Many of the sacred music opportunities go through campus ministry. A number of our students participate with music ministry and they are always happy to have more.

    How am I matched with a private organ instructor?
    During the audition process, members of our organ faculty assess each student’s ability and level of development. With this information, students are placed in the studio most suitable for their development. Requests for specific teachers are considered.

    Is there opportunity to work off campus?
    Throughout the year, multiple church positions present themselves in and around the D.C. area, all of which are open to our organ students. The main office will send out occasional notices. Your private instructor will also be a great resource for job opportunities and mentor programs.

  • Piano

    How is my private piano teacher chosen?
    During the audition process, members of our piano faculty assess each student’s ability and level of development. With this information, students are placed in the studio most suitable for their development. Requests for specific teachers are considered.

    Will I be able to find a practice room?
    We have approximately 30 practice rooms, 12 of which have baby grand pianos. You should not have a problem finding practice room space. There is an option to reserve a practice room at the start of the school year so that it is your private space for that certain day and time. For more information regarding practice room reservations please contact cua-music@cua.edu

    Will I be able to work with other major teachers in my discipline? If I am a student of one teacher, will I be able to play chamber music for or perform in master classes of other teachers?
    Yes. The piano department offers a piano sight reading class, as well as a piano ensemble class, taught by various piano faculty members. You will also take a chamber music class and be offered the opportunity to participate in multiple master classes as the year goes by.

    Will I be able to take courses in other programs in the music school such as Music Ed, Musical Theatre, or Voice?
    Yes. These programs welcome students from all majors. As long as it fits in your schedule, you are more than welcome to take a dance class, an education class or even private voice instruction.

    Are there a variety of solo and chamber music performance opportunities?
    Yes. Catholic University offers pianists frequent opportunities to perform in solo and chamber recitals. Past performance venues include: the Bulgarian Embassy, The Kennedy Center, Ward Recital Hall’s piano series, and more. All piano majors are required to present two solo recitals, one junior year and one senior year.

  • Voice

    What are the performance opportunities for students?
    The voice program produces two major operas a year as well as numerous workshop performances. Many of our voice students also elect to audition for the musicals and occasionally straight plays produced by the drama department. Every voice major is required to perform two solo recitals: one half-hour junior recital and one hour-long senior recital.

    Do musical theatre students take classical voice classes? Do classical students take musical theatre classes?
    All students are assigned a private voice teacher upon arrival. While your lessons and instruction will be primarily classically based, you and your teacher may select varying styles to work on. If you wish to take a class, such as dance, you are welcome to do so (provided it fits in your schedule).

    What is “open-studio”?
    Catholic University offers a very unique opportunity referred to as open-studio. While you are assigned a primary private instructor, this gives you the opportunity to take lessons from another member of our voice faculty. This allows you further insight from a perspective other than your primary teacher.

    How are students matched with their teachers?
    During your first week of classes, our voice faculty will hear you sing again. Based on their assessment of your abilities and development, you will be placed with a teacher the faculty feels most appropriate. Requests for specific teachers are considered.

    Is it possible to double major in Music Education and Voice Performance?
    It is not possible to double major in Music Education and Voice Performance. If you are interested in music education it is advised you apply for the General Choral Music Education program with voice being your principle instrument. For further information in regards to this program track, please contact cua-music@cua.edu

  • International Students

    What is the minimum TOEFL score?
    For specific score requirements, please refer to the International Student website.

    If I received another degree in the United States, am I required to take the TOEFL?
    Usually in this situation a TOEFL is not required. Please contact cua-music@cua.edu to be sure your situation is reviewed.

    May a translator come into the audition with me?
    This is not encouraged, but may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please contact cua-music@cua.edu for further questions.

    For more information on international applications, forms and processes, please refer to the International Students website.