Bachelor of Arts

In a time of rapid change in the professional music world, learn the diverse skill sets needed to succeed in your music career. Build a strong foundation of music theory, production and performance, working in our new state-of-the-art Performing Arts Lab, and graduate with the technical and entrepreneurial skills to pursue jobs as producer, performer, writer or engineer.

The Bachelor of Arts in Professional Music is a performance-based degree designed to provide you with a contemporary modern musical skill set—real-world marketable skills that are generally not taught in traditional university music degrees. It is also designed with input from ‘working musicians’ who hold traditional college music degrees, and therefore largely addresses those areas and skills musicians say they ‘wish they had learned in school.'

The degree emphasizes individual musicianship and a proficiency in multiple musical skills, rather than developing expertise on one instrument only, as is typical of traditional performance degrees. It uses a diversity of popular musical styles to teach musicianship, rather than the classical repertoire most often used to teach musicianship in traditional university programs. The degree is also flexibly designed to maximize personal growth, giving you the opportunity to both excel in strength areas and develop secondary skill areas that pertain to your individual career goals. You may choose a traditional band or orchestral instrument as your primary area of study, or choose traditional, jazz or contemporary popular voice, beatmaking/turntablism/production, or an instrument unique to a particular style of popular music. At the same time, you will develop a high level of core musicianship while learning the skills needed to be flexible and adaptable to the ever-changing face of contemporary music.

The commercial music performance skill areas developed in the degree include:

  • Developing expertise performing in popular styles on one’s primary instrument
  • Developing a competence on the rhythm section instruments of piano, guitar, bass and percussion
  • Writing and arranging music in popular styles and for multiple types of ensembles
  • Developing expertise as a bandleader
  • Developing expertise as a teacher on one’s primary instrument
  • Develop expertise as a musical entrepreneur, providing career and band management and marketing

The new degree responds to the needs of the projected job growth among musicians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 30% growth among independent musicians (2008-2018), making it the fastest-growing sector among those employed in music-related industries (compared to a projected 8% job growth among all musicians and related workers).

The BA in professional music mirrors cutting-edge degree programs being offered at a few colleges and universities in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Nashville. It also reflects the burgeoning academic area of popular music performance study that has recently become common in the UK, Australia, Scandinavia, and elsewhere abroad. It places Tiffin University at the forefront of music higher education, making TU one of only a handful of schools nationwide addressing this growing niche market. The degree builds on TU’s reputation of forward-thinking music performance and career training.

The degree relies on an experienced full-time teaching staff of professional performers, experienced educators, writers & arrangers, record producers and musical entrepreneurs. You will also benefit from study with a large community of professional musicians who specialize in a variety of instruments and musical styles. As a student in the program, you will also enjoy many opportunities to perform alongside professionals as a part of the regional community of working musicians, opening up potential future performing opportunities and developing a network of future colleagues.

Core Curriculum of the School of Arts & Sciences 49 hours
Professional Music 48 hours

  • MUP121 Musicianship I
  • MUP221 Musicianship II 
  • MUP240 The Rhythm Section 
  • MUP321 Musicianship III
  • MUP322 Musicianship IV
  • MUP351 Music Listening & Analysis I
  • MUP352 Music Listening & Analysis II 
  • MUP440 Teaching Music
  • MUS100 Music Convocation
  • The following sequence: 6 hours 
    • MUS115, 116, 215, 216, 315, 316 Private Music Instruction: Primary Area
  • One of the following sequences: 3 hours 
    • Instrumental: MUS110, 210, 310 
    • Vocal: MUS112, 212, 312 
  • MUS230 Introduction to Sound and Recording
  • MUS324 Survey of American Popular Music 
  • MUS327 Survey of Music Business 
  • MUS330 Recording Studio Performance & Practice
  • SAS499 Senior Seminar

Total BA hours 121-123 hours


This is a sample course sequence to illustrate course offerings for this major. Consult the official Academic Bulletin for detailed registration and advising information.

On Campus - Offered in a 15-week semester format with start dates of January and August

There are no related concentrations available

Musicianship I (MUP121) - This course covers the basics of music theory, including concepts of sound, music notation, rhythm, meter, intervals, modes, scales and triads. Additionally, students will learn functional/foundational keyboard skills and how to apply these basic theoretical concepts to a keyboard instrument.

Musicianship II (MUP221) - This course presents an expanded understanding of basic music theory concepts through the use of harmonic analysis, composition, sight singing, ear training and transcription. Students will also learn how these concepts apply to keyboard instruments playing scales, chords and harmonic progressions.

The Rhythm Section (MUP240) - This course is designed to introduce students to playing and performing in a pop, jazz or rock rhythm section. Students learn the rhythm section roles and functions of keyboard, guitar, bass and drums, and over the course of the semester are introduced to basic playing technique on three different instruments. The course focuses on playing together in small groups of three or four students and is open to all students regardless of major or experience level.

Music Listening and Analysis I & Music Listening and Analysis II (MUP351 & MUP352) - This sequence is designed to give students an exposure to the evolution of music history, but with an approach that differs from traditional music history courses. Instead of presenting dozens of musical styles and hundreds of composers and performers, the courses explore a limited number of significant pieces at a greater depth, using these representative examples to develop students’ critical listening and analytical skills, aesthetic sensibilities, and historical and sociological awareness. This approach allows students to be better equipped to pursue their own study of music that most interests them and is most applicable to their own career aspirations.

Teaching Music (MUP440) - This course is designed to give students the experience they will need to succeed as entrepreneurial musicians running their own private teaching studio and leading their own musical ensembles. The course focuses on basic classroom, studio and ensemble pedagogy, and on helping students develop skills that will help them succeed as teachers, bandleaders, managers and performers. This course was developed to address some of the most important skills not taught in other university music programs.

  • Arranger
  • Beatmaker/Emcee/DJ
  • Director/Conductor
  • Instrumentalist
  • Live sound engineer
  • Orchestrator
  • Producer
  • Recording engineer
  • Singer
  • Songwriter
  • Walt Disney World
  • Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
  • Collins Avenue Entertainment
  • Rouse Theatre


Nathan Santos
Nathan Santos Instructor of Music / Director of Commercial Music - Instrumental
Bradley Rees
Bradley Rees Assistant Professor of Music
Alexandra Manfredo Instructor of Voice and Commercial Music
Ben Herrick Instructor of Music and Bands / Tiffin University Band Director


  • "I chose TU because of its reputation for excellence, national recognition, many extracurricular opportunities and because it offers in a small, diverse college environment. I have learned the significance of academics, leadership, diversity, communication, and relationships. TU allowed me to get out of my comfort zone in order to lead and inspire. It has prepared me to make wise and imperative decisions that will benefit me in my career and my life.”

    – Ivan Santiago, Class of 2015

  • "Tiffin University is the college that has helped me grow into the person that I am today. While at Tiffin, I have made unforgettable memories and friends. I continued my education at The University of Toledo College of Law. Although I am moving on, I will never forget everything I have gained from my time at Tiffin University."

    – Jessica Paule, Class of 2015

  • "What I love about Tiffin University is the fact that I am learning about real-life experiences inside the classroom. Once I graduate, I know I will be prepared for a career in my field. I am thankful for the support I have received from my professors and classmates."

    - Hasan Abdul Elah, UAE

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    – Emily Miller

  • "I chose Tiffin University because I heard so many great things about it from other students. Now that I am here, I am very happy. TU has numerous resources on campus, such as the Pfeiffer Library and Student Success Center. These places offer assistance for all of my academic needs."

         - Ali Alshehri, Saudi Arabia

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