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

BM - Commercial & Media Writing

CSUN Music’s Commercial and Media Writing Option (B.M.) has been in place for 14 years, is affiliated with the Composition area and currently has 60 students in the program.

This degree is primarily a scoring degree. You will also learn songwriting and vocal arranging in a lab ensemble setting, but the majority of the work is in instrumental composition and orchestration. Because of that we ask that you have prior training in classical or jazz styles in an instrument or in voice. Be sure to read the audition performance expectations below.

Transfer students should come in with transferable required music classes in order to finish the degree with 140 units or less.

Area Coordinator

Assistant Professor Clinton Rusich
Department of Music
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, California 91330-8314


Incoming students will pass an audition on their primary instrument or in a voice category. At the same time they will interview with Professor Clinton Rusich, Option Coordinator of the program. At the time of the interview, the candidate will present a portfolio of three original commercial pieces in audio, score form (mp3 or CD and Finale or Sibelius), and letter of intent. Prof. Rusich will determine the suitability of the candidate for the program after reviewing the results of the audition and evaluating the composition portfolio.

If the candidate is accepted to the program he/she will consult with either the College Advisement Office (EOP) if they are freshmen, or with the Music Department Advisement Office if they are transfers. Transfers will also consult with Prof. Rusich. The course of study includes a songwriting class as a gateway, with a minimum grade of B.

Facilities at CSUN Music include two labs, one larger lab with 24 stations (iMacs with Logic, ProTools LE and Finale), and a smaller scoring lab with more extensive software and sample libraries. Labs are open weekdays during business hours for classes and open lab and also for some extended hours nights and weekends. We recommend students ultimately invest in their own software and computers to facilitate their writing and as preparation for entering the marketplace. The ideal Commercial and Media Writing Option student is at home with music writing technology including DAWs, is eager to write in many styles, understands basic orchestration, reads music fluently and is focused on entering the commercial workplace.

Entrance Requirements

Performance audition with the appropriate applied area (keyboard,woodwinds, voice, etc.). (Look under Audition Requirements for the necessary repertoire for auditions).

On-campus interview with Professor Rusich, to be scheduled during the same day the instrumental audition takes place; no previous appointment required.

Portfolio of 3 compositions in different, preferably commercial styles and letter of intent (submit pdfs of scores, mp3s of matching recordings, and letter of intent to showing dramatic range, use of samples and knowledge of instrumental and orchestrational textures.


Successful completion or transfer of 100 and 200 level core classes and MUS 221 Songwriting, leads to the majority of the media work. 300-level classes required for the option include MUS 307 Music From a Global Perspective, MUS 315A Orchestration, MUS 316 Analysis, MUS 317A Jazz Arranging, MUS 321 Beginning Composition, MUS 322 Beginning Media Composition, MUS 364/L Instrumental Conducting, MUS 391 Midi Sequencing, MUS 397/R Music Recording. We recommend MUS 388 Studio Ensemble as a suitable ensemble requirement. Studio is a lab band and offers practice in arranging and writing in commercial styles.

The 400-level classes include MUS 419 Music Industry Studies, MUS 420A Media Composition, MUS 420B Media Orchestration, MUS 422A Individual Lessons in Composition, MUS 483ME Music Entrepreneurship, MUS 494A CSUN Internship, MUS 494A/B Outside Internship, and MUS 495 Senior Recital.