• Production still from SERSE
  • french horns
  • choir and orchestra
  • pianist, clarinetist, and violinist
  • violin section of orchestra
  • wind orchestra
  • Jazz Band on stage

Audition & Placement


We are excited to have you apply to the CSUN Music Department. The process is simple!


No matter which music option you pick as your major at CSUN, you must first audition on your instrument. the left panel of this page has the audition requirements by instrument, as well as supplemental material required for Composition and Media Composition. Please feel free to look at the requirements and also explore your option area home page before completing your application.

After completing your CSUN application (link above), you will receive an e-mail within a few weeks regarding "Next Steps", which is a link to your audition application. The audition application will allow you to choose your live audition date or submit a video audition.

SPRING 2024 ADMISSION (no first-time freshmen):

Application available: August 1, 2023.      Auditions held October 7, 2023.

BM JAZZ Performance Pre-Screen Videos DUE: September 10, 2023.


Application available: October 1-January 31.    Auditions held on February 10, February 24 and March 2.

JAZZ PERFORMANCE STUDENTS: please be sure to click the BM Jazz Performance Studies link on the left panel for pre-screening deadlines and requirements.

***If you are a current CSUN student, please contact the Music Department for the audition application.***

The CSUN Music Department does NOT offer a Minor in Music.

Students who hold a Bachelor's degree cannot apply for a second Bachelor's degree at CSUN.

Students who already hold a master's degree in music will NOT be able to receive a second masters from CSUN at this time.

Placement Examinations 

Undergraduate Placement Tests

Musicianship & Theory

If accepted, all students will be sent an online musicianship and theory exam link. BM Majors MUST attempt the exams, BA majors optional. Please contact Nicole Hovland: For questions regarding exam material, please contact Dr. McCaffrey -


Keyboard Musicianship Placements will be done on an ongoing basis through a questionnaire that will assess your background in piano. This questionnaire is available by contacting the Music Undergraduate Advisor, Nicole Hovland: You may test out of the Keyboard Musicianship sequence by emailing Dr. Gayle Kowalchyk a video. DO NOT take this questionnaire if your main instrument (auditioned and accepted) is piano.

Contact: Gayle Kowalchyk -



Any student who wants to start at a higher level than beginning in any of the areas of Keyboard, Musicianship and Theory here at CSUN must take the placement exam(s) in those areas. Transfer students receive credit for courses taken based on the level of skill they demonstrate during these exams. You do NOT have to take the exam of any area you want to start in level one.


1) Keyboard Questionnaire will ask you about your history with piano (lessons, college courses, etc), what scales you can play, chord progressions, etc, and will ask if you wish to submit a video to test out. NOTE: INCOMING PIANO STUDENTS DO NOT NEED TO TAKE THE QUESTIONNAIRE.

2) The Musicianship Placement Exam will take approximately one hour.  Students should bring a pencil to complete the exam.  The exam will consist of a short section covering the identification of key signatures, scale degrees, and "movable Do" solfege syllables, followed by a series of melodic and harmonic dictations moving from diatonic to chromatic material.  Please note that this exam is used only to determine which level of musicianship is most appropriate for you. For more information on this exam, please email Dr. A.J. McCaffrey (

3) A Theory/Harmony Placement Exam is available for students wishing to place out of Harmony I (diatonic harmony only) and/or Harmony II (chromatic harmony and advanced chord progressions). This placement test is focused on evaluating knowledge of 4-part writing, figured bass, and the ability to construct proper chord progressions involving traditional voice leading techniques. Topics such as Roman numeral analysis, cadences, secondary dominants, modulation, non-chord tones, the Neapolitan sixth chord and augmented sixth chords will be covered. The standard textbook used in the Music Department is "Tonal Harmony" by Stefan Kostka and Dorothy Payne.

 IMPORTANT: These exams are intended for placement only and CANNOT be taken more than once. You must begin the course sequence at the level indicated in your outcome and continue until ALL sequences required in your option have been met.

If you’re not accepted into a music option, you CANNOT enroll in any major courses until you are officially admitted into a music option, therefore DO NOT take placement exams until you are admitted into a music option.

The current course rotation for these courses is:

  • Levels I, III and V – offered Fall semester only
  • Levels II, IV and VI – offered Spring semester only 

If you test into a higher level than what is required in your Music Option, you do not have to complete the course unless you change your option to a higher required level option. Refer to your major sheet to see which is the highest level required for your degree option in each specific area.

All levels of keyboard are required for all music options except for students whose main instrument is piano.

Updated 8/17/15


Graduate Placement Tests for Fall 2023:

Please sign up for all tests by Friday August 18, 2023

MUSIC THEORY ENTRANCE EXAM (required of all incoming graduate students)

Wednesday, August 23rd from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. online

Study Guide for Theory PlacementPDF icon


MUSIC HISTORY ENTRANCE EXAM (required of all incoming graduate students)

Professor Alexandra Monchick:

Students will have the opportunity to schedule their 15 minute oral entrance exam for one of the following dates: Wednesday August 23, Thursday August 24, Friday August 25. Please use the following link to sign up for the placement test:

Following is an example of what takes place in the Music History exam:

You will be played five excerpts drawn from the Norton Anthology of Western Music (8th edition). One will be before 1600, three will be from the Common Practice Period (1600-Purely theoretical aspects (e.g. “this piece is in Eb-major) will not be counted. You will be asked to speak briefly about what you are hearing. 
Here are two examples with acceptable comments/answers:

A recording of J.S. Bach’s Fugue BWV 543 is played for you
Your acceptable answers (any three)

This is by Bach
This is from the baroque era
It is for keyboard (not piano)
It is a fugue
It is from Well-Tempered Clavier
It is paired with a prelude
There is a fugue subject and answer

 A recording of “Danse des Adolescents” from Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring is played for you
Your acceptable answers (any three)

This is a 20th century piece for large orchestra
It is by Stravinsky
Accents occur unpredictably
It is part of a ballet
It causes a supposed Riot
It has ostinatos

It is suggested that you study pieces at least 2 times and make a study guide or note cards listing 5 aspects about the piece. It is also recommended that you review the areas in which you are weakest. For example, if one is a singer, you may be strongest in opera or Lieder so it would be best to focus on instrumental music. If you are an instrumentalist, you may want to focus on vocal music including opera in your preparation.