• 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

Students wishing to audition for entrance into the CSUN Music program must first submit a university application.

University Application open October 1st - January 31st

All students will be sent an audition application from the Office of Admissions & Records once you apply to the university.

If you are a current CSUN student, please contact the Music Department Undergraduate Advisor, Nicole Hovland, for an audition application. 


For more information about prospective students, steps in how to apply, and important university deadlines click here.


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

Please note that due to CSUN’s impaction status, those students who already hold a bachelor's degree will NOT be able to receive a second or additional bachelor's from CSUN at this time.

(If you've already earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, CSUN encourages you to apply to a graduate program instead). 

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

Audition Information


All applicants (except Jazz Studies/Performance) have the choice of a live (in person) audition or a video submission (pre-recorded audition)
BM/MM-Jazz Studies/Performance REQUIRED Pre-Screen Applications were due JANUARY 7, 2023

Live Audition Dates - Applications were due JANUARY 14, 2023

Saturday, February 4th
Saturday, February 11th
Saturday, March 4th
Saturday, January 28th
Saturday, February 4th
Sunday, February 12th

BA/BM Video Submissions - Application due FEBRUARY 18, 2023

MM Video Submissions - Application due APRIL 1, 2023

Placement Examinations for 2023

Undergraduate Placement Tests:

Musicianship & Theory

This test will be administered online in November (for SPRING 2023) and May (FALL 2023). Students will be contacted via email with the exams - these exams are NOT required if you wish to start at level one in musicianship and theory. For questions about test administration, 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.