Performance Studies

Degrees Offered


Non-Degree Programs


About the Program

The Performance program is available at both the undergraduate and graduate level to the most accomplished, talented, and committed students whose ambitions are to perform professionally, become highly skilled studio artist teachers, or wish to pursue higher degrees in music. All programs require an audition. The Bachelor of Music in Performance degree includes classes in music theory, music history, large ensemble and chamber music performance, applied lessons, music literature, aural skills, business of music, keyboard skills, and conducting. Students perform significant solo repertoire and present junior and senior recitals. Additional music coursework is dependent upon the specific area of emphasis. The degree is a professional degree with 132 units.

The Master of Music in Performance degree includes advanced performance studies, large ensemble and chamber music performance, as well as academic courses including music history and music theory seminars, and music research methods. The program is reserved for the most gifted performers and is designed to provide experience and background needed for a career in performance and/or to embark upon doctoral study in music. A culminating solo recital is required as well as an oral examination. The degree is 32 units.

The Artist Diploma Advanced Certificate is a graduate level, non-degree 24-unit program open to highly accomplished performers. It provides focused instruction in all areas of performance including interpretation, stage deportment and communication, repertoire, technique and the business of professional music performance. All interested applicants must possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in music. Students may hold a graduate degree to enter the Artist Diploma program, however one may not simultaneously pursue the Artist Diploma and Master of Music degree. In addition to individual soloists, the program is open to classical, pre-formed ensembles such as string quartets, woodwind quintets, and piano trios.

The Performer’s Certificate is a 33-unit, non-degree program open to highly skilled pre-professional performers who have not earned a university degree. It provides focused instruction in all areas of performance including technique, interpretation, repertoire, ensemble and solo experience, and knowledge of the business of professional performance.

Performance Studies within Undergraduate Music Degrees
All undergraduate students majoring in music, whether in the B.A. or B.M, are required to enroll in performance studies during their degree program. Weekly lessons with a master teacher are provided with total unit requirements varying by degree emphasis.

Performance Degrees

The School of Music and Dance offers Performance degrees in the following areas:

sdsu brass students perfoming on the french horn
The Brass Division is dedicated to training students at the highest level of musicianship and to ensure the opportunity for in-depth study with studio faculty who are both outstanding musicians as well as experienced teachers.  Students have opportunities to perform in several ensembles including the Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra, and brass chamber ensembles. 

  • An entrance audition is required for admittance to all performance degree programs.
  • Placement exams are required for all incoming and transfer students.
Brass Division Faculty

sdsu percussion student performing on a lawn
The Percussion Division allows numerous performance opportunities for students including performing with large ensembles and smaller mixed ensembles.  Focus on all percussion elements is integral to the program and students are encouraged to expand their technique and musicianship on an ongoing basis.

Information for Percussion Auditions
  • An entrance audition is required for admittance to all performance degree programs.
  • Placement exams are required for all incoming and transfer students.
Percussion Division Faculty

photo of sdsu piano students 2023

The Piano Division is dedicated to training musicians at the highest level of artistic achievement to prepare students for multi-faceted careers in performance, collaborations, and studio teaching. Ongoing partnerships with the San Diego Symphony and the La Jolla Music Society allow students to participate in a minimum of 2 masterclasses a year featuring world-renowned artists such as Jonathan Biss, Emmanuel Ax, and Beatrice Rana. The piano division also houses two reduced-size piano keyboards, including a concert grand, allowing for greater artistic freedom in pianists with smaller hands.

Piano Division Faculty

 photo of student holding violin

The String Division is dedicated to creating well-rounded musicians with strong instrumental, ensemble and pedagogical skills.   

Students study privately with faculty who have trained at some of the finest music schools in the country, including principal players in the San Diego Symphony and noted chamber musicians.  The faculty work closely with their students to ensure steady progression on their instrument throughout their time at SDSU.  Frequent master classes with guest artists ensure students experience a breadth of musical opinions. 

Students develop their ensemble skills in the Symphony and Opera Theater Orchestras as well as smaller mixed ensembles.  Those with an interest in chamber music have the opportunity to coach extensively with the Hausmann Quartet, Artists-in-Residence at SDSU.  String Area recitals occur several times each semester, giving students opportunities to perform solo or in small ensembles on a regular basis.

Recognizing the importance of strong teaching, students have the opportunity to serve as student assistants in the Community Music School’s String Academy.  Through this program they receive mentorship in string pedagogy in both the private lesson and group class setting, gaining a solid foundation in teaching.

Information for Percussion Auditions
  • An entrance audition is required for admittance to all performance degree programs.
  • Placement exams are required for all incoming and transfer students.
String Division Faculty

The Guitar Division at the SDSU School of Music and Dance is dedicated to helping students become better guitarists, musicians, and contributing members of society.

We all have different reasons for picking up the guitar. Whether you have been inspired by Andres Segovia, a high school teacher, or Metallica, something lead you to want to pursue the Classical Guitar as the instrument for your academic career. It is our hope that we nurture your own artistic voice while guiding you through your collegiate career. At SDSU, you will learn many ways to approach your art. In the Guitar Division, our mission is to give you as much information about the guitar of the past, present, and future so that you can find your own unique niche as a professional performer, teacher, studio musician, researcher, music therapist, or other career related to the field of music.

At SDSU, the Guitar Area explores the Classical Guitar through the lens of history while keeping an eye on the future. In other words, the historical development of the instrument helps inform how we perform today. That is the reason the repertoire requirements (for both entrance auditions and academic performances), contain historical period guidelines.

The Guitar Division presents frequent concerts (about once a month) through the SDSU Guitar Series. At these performances, students are given the chance to play any repertoire they are working on while also performing with SDSU Guitar Ensemble. There are also masterclasses every academic year with professionals and pioneers in the classical Guitar field. 

Information for Classical Guitar Auditions
Guitar Courses offered:
  • Private Studio Instruction
  • Guitar Ensemble
  • Guitar Forum
  • Guitar Methods

Guitar Division Faculty:


3 sdsu voice students on stage, in costume, during production
SDSU Vocal Arts will uphold a tradition of excellence on a daily basis, dedicating time, energy, and focus to the Art of being a vocalist allowing for growth as musicians and people. We will earn and maintain a reputation as a first-class vocal program with its three main pillars of study being Choral, Opera, and Studio. The program will provide meaningful opportunities for students of all voice types who will explore the many possible career paths for vocalists in the 21st century.

The SDSU School of Music and Dance connects academia to the professional world at every stage of learning while exploring what it means to be a working musician at present and what it could mean in the future. Our students are given numerous opportunities to perform in weekly recitals, concerts, master classes taught by visiting artists and current faculty, large and small choral ensembles, off-campus tours, opera scenes programs, and full-scale opera productions. Students, faculty, and staff will maintain professionalism on a daily basis and dedicate time to understanding and participating actively in a rigorous and demanding curriculum. We will be ambassadors for all music making and promote quality in every aspect of what it means to be a working artist in the world today and in the future.

Upon graduation, students of San Diego State University will have been empowered to achieve the highest levels of music making, music teaching, and music leadership in the field. Graduates will be self-sufficient contributors to the Arts. They will maintain an earned reputation for professionalism (punctuality, reliability, and ability to work well with others), superior musicianship, sight-reading, rhythmic tenacity, and refined sung-language (diction) skills. Most importantly, graduates will offer an informed interpretation of, and human connection to, all music.

Information for Vocal Auditions
  • An entrance audition is required for admittance to all vocal degree programs.
  • All music must be memorized.
  • All music must be performed with an accompanist.
  • Repertoire Requirements  about repertoire requirements for freshmen, transfer and graduate students. The suggested repertoire lists are provided as guidelines only; you are not limited to the composers listed.
SDSU Opera Theater

SDSU Opera Theater offers training in acting, stage movement, repertoire and style culminating in fully-staged full-length productions, one-act operas and scene programs. Recent productions have included The Mikado, Die Fledermaus, Le nozze di Figaro, The Tender Land and Trouble in Tahiti. The 2010 productions featured Menotti’s The Telephone, Old Maid and the Thief and The Medium.

SDSU Choral Program

It is the mission of the SDSU Choral Ensemble program to present high quality vocal performances of the finest choral literature on campus and in the community of San Diego. If you love to sing, want to explore your vocal potential and want to work hard in a motivated and friendly environment, then we want you! Choral conducting and literature classes are also offered to all voice majors.

Voice Area Faculty
Affiliated Faculty
Collaborative Pianists - Vocal Arts Division
  • Jennifer Hsu
  • Suzanne Shick