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Jazz and Improvisation

Expand Your Creativity


The Bachelor of Music (B.M.) in Jazz and Improvisation is for musicians pursuing careers in jazz, studio recording, and performance in contemporary idioms (popular, world, experimental). The core classes in jazz and improvisation provide innovative learning opportunities covering jazz harmony, theory and improvisation, history and analysis, composition, arranging, and global improvisation. In addition, students choose elective classes that provide opportunities across disciplines to engage in creative ideation and problem-solving through sound production. Students who graduate from this program will have a competitive edge as they enter the professional world or apply to graduate programs in jazz and contemporary improvisation.


Students in this program will benefit from instruction and mentorship from some of the leading jazz and improvisation artists in the United States and beyond. UD faculty in this program include members of well-established, internationally esteemed jazz, contemporary, and Broadway ensembles that perform regionally in New York, Philadelphia, and across the United States and abroad. In addition, students collaborate with guest artists and clinicians. Most importantly, students benefit from an innovative, student-centered curriculum. In addition to numerous big-band and jazz chamber opportunities, students discover and create through hands-on application, for example, by learning jazz harmony at the keyboard, and by studying jazz theory and improvisation with instruments in hand.  




Music Composition

Music Education

Music History and Literature

Music Management

Music Theory


  • Core courses music theory, aural skills, class piano, and music history

  • Specialized training in jazz theory, jazz history and analysis, improvisation, global styles, composition, and arranging

  • Private weekly lessons in classical and jazz styles

  • Large jazz bands and small jazz combos

  • Independent research and public performance preparation


  • Performing Artist

  • Higher Education

  • Freelance Musician

  • Recording Artist

  • Teaching (private studio or affiliated institute)

  • Arts Advocate and Reviewer

  • Artistic Director

  • Military Bands

  • Pit Orchestra or Session Musician

  • Church Musician

  • Composition and Arranging

  • Song Writing


  • Jazz Studies

  • Improvisation

  • New Music

  • Performance

  • Conducting

  • Teaching

  • Composition

  • Musicology

  • Music Theory

  • Music Entrepreneurship

What’s special about this program?

This major can be personalized to fit the academic and professional pursuits of each student, individualized to incorporate minors, Honors Degrees, Degrees with Distinction, Service-Learning, study abroad and research. We maintain a low student-to-faculty ratio and small classes, providing access to a passionate, invested and highly accomplished faculty comprised of professionally active performers, composers, educators, theorists and musicologists.  The study of music at Delaware is enriched by nearly 300 performances each year by faculty, students, ensembles and guest artists. Additionally, the vast musical resources of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and New York City are easily accessible to our majors.

Get Involved

Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (Xi Mu Chapter)

Sigma Alpha Iota (Eto Rho Chapter)

National Association for Music Education (NAfME)

American Choral Directors Association (ACDA)

The Society of Composers, Inc. (SCI)

American String Teachers Association (ASTA)

The Jazz Educators and Performers Association (JEPA)

Music Management Student Assoc (MMSA)

College Music Society (UD Student Chapter)

Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic

American Musicological Society, Mid-Atlantic Chapter

A cappella and other musical groups

Nationally Connected Organizations

Ensemble Opportunities

Sample curriculum

UNIV101  First Year Experience
ENGL110  Seminar in Composition
MATH113  Contemporary Mathematics (or higher)
MUSC151/152  Private Study I/II
MUSC175  Class Piano I
MUSC178  Jazz Harmony at the Keyboard
MUSC185/186  Aural Skills I/II
MUSC195  Music Theory I
MUSC430/477  Jazz Ensemble I or II
University Breadth Courses  
MUSC251/252 Private Study
MUSC285/286 Aural Skills III & IV
MUSC196/295 Music Theory II & III
MUSC211 Music History & Ideas
MUSC293/491 Jazz Theory & Improvisation/Global Improvisation
MUSC430/477 Jazz Ensemble
MUSC Music Elective
Foreign Language Requirement XX105/XX106
University Breadth Courses  
MUSCC296  Music Theory IV
Music History: Narratives & Period Music History Narratives: Choose 1 from MUSC212 or MUSC213
Music History Period: Choose 1 from MUSC314, MUSC315, MUSC316, MUSC317
MUSC381/382  Private Study in Jazz and Improvisation I/II
MUSC390  Jazz History and Analysis
MUSC391  Jazz Arranging and Composition
MUSC430/477 Jazz Chamber Ensemble
MUSC Music Elective
Foreign Language Requirement XX107
University Breadth Courses Multicultural Requirement
Elective Courses 6 Credits: Must come from approved list
MUSC401 Senior Recital
MUSC407 Contemporary Music Literature
MUSC411 Topics in Music History
MUSC430/477 Jazz Ensemble
MUSC482/483 Private Study in Jazz & Improvisation
MUSC492 Jazz Pedagogy
MUSC Music Elective
University Breadth Courses  
Elective Courses 6 Credits: must come from approved list

Go Global at UD

This major is eligible for the following program: