Prospective Students FAQ

Frequently asked questions pertinent to incoming students and parents

If you do not find your question here, contact the main office at (408) 924-4673.


How do I gain admission to the School of Music and Dance?

Admission to the SMD is a two-step process. The first step is to apply to the university online through CSU mentor. The next is to fill out an application to audition for the School of Music and Dance. 

How do I apply?

Undergraduate students must call to request a scholarship audition form. For more information visit how to apply.

Graduate students must fill out the application to the School of Music and Dance.

When are auditions held?

We recommend that all prospective students audition during the regularly scheduled scholarship auditions. Auditions also will be held the week before school starts. If you are not available either of those times, please contact the major instructor in your area of emphasis.

May music minors audition for scholarships?

SJSU awards annual talent-based scholarships ranging from $200-$2,000 per year. All music majors are eligible, while minors can receive scholarship assistance dependent upon the needs of the school.

How often do I receive lessons?

Lessons are weekly; performance majors get one-hour lessons and education, and jazz studies majors receive half-hour lessons. Composition majors are given half-hour lessons for the first two years in both their major instrument and in composition. The last two years they receive weekly one-hour lessons in composition.

How many students are enrolled in the SMD?

Approximately 400 students are enrolled, 50 of whom are dance majors.

How many ensembles do you have?

The SMD offers the following major ensembles: Chamber Choir, Concert Choir, Women’s Chorus, Gospel Choir, Opera Workshop, Spartan Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Spartan Pep-Band, Orchestra, Jazz Orchestra, Latin-Jazz Band, and Collegium Ensemble. We also have several smaller ensembles: Jazz Combos, Saxophone Ensemble, Guitar Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Trombone Choir, and String/Chamber Music Ensemble. In addition, we have a Piano Master Class, a Composition Master Class, and a Music Technology Master Class. 

May non-majors play in the ensembles?

Yes, all ensembles are open to all majors on an audition basis.

Am I assigned to a specific teacher?

When you audition, you will be placed into a specific studio based on the size and availability of each individual program area instructor.

Can I double major in two instruments/voices?

This usually is not possible, but a few exceptions have been made to gifted students.

Are chamber music opportunities available?

Several small ensembles are available in each area. Students are encouraged and supported in their collaboration with other artists, both within the music department and in the community at large.

  • Brass: brass quintet, trombone choir, trombone quartets, trumpet ensemble, and brass ensemble.
  • Woodwinds: saxophone ensemble, saxophone quartets, and flute choir.
  • Strings: chamber orchestra, string quartets, and mixed chamber music with winds, voice, and piano.
  • Voice: Chamber Choir and Collegium - an early music ensemble.

May I visit the school?

Yes! You are invited to tour our campus, meet with faculty, and sit in on classes and ensemble rehearsals. Please contact us to set up a visit. Additionally, Be a Music Major for a Day provides an opportunity for prospective students to take a look at the campus, sit in on classes, play in the music ensembles, and experience a little of what it is like to be an SMD student. 

Is there a marching band?

Learn all about the Spartan Marching Band, directed by Scott Pierson.

May students check out school-owned instruments?

Yes, several instruments are available to music students and may be used for any of the School ensembles or fundamentals classes.

Are lockers available?

Yes, lockers are available for music students based on the size and number of instruments needing to be stored.

May I play in more than one ensemble?

Yes, you may play in more than one ensemble.

What degrees do you offer?

The SMD offers a Bachelor in Music degree in several areas: performance (piano, harp, organ, violin, viola, cello, string/double bass, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, saxophone trumpet, horn, trombone, euphonium, tuba, percussion, voice), music education, composition/electro-acoustics, and jazz studies. We also offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in general music and music technology. The SMD offers Master of Arts degrees in performance, conducting, education, composition, and jazz.

What music organizations are on campus?

The SJSU Music Department has two large organizations: Mu Phi Epsilon and International Music Fraternity. We also have a fraternal honor society, Kappa Kappa Psi. In addition, the School hosts a chapter of the California Music Educators Association and the American Choral Directors Association.

How many full time faculty members do you have?

There are currently seventeen full-time faculty members in the Music Department in addition to thirty-five part-time faculty members.

What is the faculty-to-student ratio?

There are seventeen students to every one faculty member. This excellent faculty/student ratio means that professors are more readily accessible, and private instruction is provided only by experienced faculty members rather than graduate students or teaching assistants.

Do you have a large library of music available to students?

SJSU and the city of San José jointly operate the eight-story Martin Luther King Jr. library, which has a large selection of materials available to students. In addition, located on the fifth floor of the library is the world-renowned Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, which contains the largest number of Beethoven artifacts outside of Europe. The music building also houses a resource center, which contains an abundance of music available to students.

What performance opportunities are available on campus?

Most major ensembles perform two concerts per semester. All smaller ensembles perform one concert per semester. In addition, SMD students are featured in the Listening Hour performances held every Tuesday and Thursday which are open to the public.

What performance opportunities are available in the surrounding community?

The Silicon Valley is home to numerous professional musical organizations that often hire SMD students.

What live music venues are in the San José area?

Opera San José and Symphony Silicon Valley are located only a few blocks from San José State University. The downtown area is a thriving community of live concerts featuring both classical and jazz performances. San Francisco, located only one hour north of San José, features some of the best live music in the country.

Do the ensembles tour throughout the year?

Major ensembles do one tour every year, which is paid for by the SMD.



What time can I buy tickets?

The box office opens a half-hour before the concert begins, and most concerts start at 7:30pm.

Is photography allowed in the concert hall?

No flash photography is allowed during the concert.

Are special priced student or senior tickets available?

Yes, ticket prices are unique to each ensemble.

Where is the SJSU campus located?

Directions to SJSU.

How do I find the concert hall?

The concert hall is located on the west side of the music building, directly across the hall from the main entrance. The music building is in the center of campus.