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We continue to monitor and prepare for additional cases in Iowa and will adjust the university schedule or classes as needed. Please check our COVID-19 webpage for updates and other information.


Bachelor of Arts

So you want to make music? Clarke University’s contemporary music degree curriculum is designed for the student who wishes to pursue a broad range of musical interests within the context of a liberal arts education. Within the music degree, intensive one-on-one contact offers you the exclusive opportunity to work closely with faculty, guest artists, and peers – a hallmark of Clarke’s music program. Our highly awarded faculty members in the bachelor of music each specialize in key areas of the music discipline: music history, theory, instruments, choral, vocal, and music education. With Clarke’s outstanding vocal and instrumental ensembles and composition program, music majors can perfect their craft while performing both nationally and internationally. Additionally, Clarke offers music scholarships talent awards for both majors and non-majors.

Clarke University bachelor of music areas of emphasis:

  • Vocal
  • Instrumental
  • Composition

Clarke is considered one of the best music schools, largely because it emphasizes personal, musical, and intellectual student growth through practical, theoretical, and aesthetic musical training. By combining academic study, one-on-one instruction, and performance opportunities with a jump-start in real-world professional experience, this four-year music degree immerses you in what it means to be a successful musician—and person—in the 21st century. Take a drive to scenic Dubuque, Iowa, and experience for yourself what it’s like to be a music major at Clarke.

A Music Degree at Clarke

What does the bachelors of music at Clarke look like? Clarke’s music degree faculty strives to provide the most excellent, well-rounded experience at one of the best colleges for music. Staff and faculty are dedicated to a level of superiority and they will challenge you to hold that same standard. Music majors at Clarke can expect:

  • Courses in performance, conducting, and composition train students in communication and critical thinking.
  • Music theory and history curriculum challenge students to use musical ideas to interpret data and solve problems.
  • Ensembles and applied lessons focus on creativity and emotional intelligence, which are skills of great value in today’s modern workplace.

Music Education

Combine your love of two skills: music and teaching. Our bachelor of arts in music education prepares you for a career as a music teacher at both the elementary and secondary levels. You will hone your talents in contemporary music methodology and receive professional music training not only on campus but also through frequent partnerships with area K-12 schools and teachers. The music degree program aspires to have students develop strong musicianship and leadership.

Time to Shine

Clarke University offers prestigious groups of vocal performers and several premier instrumental ensembles and experiences. Clarke boasts a variety of vocal and instrumental ensembles, some of whom have performed throughout the United States, Austria, Prague, Japan, Korea, the UK, Brazil, and Russia. Our ensembles include choral, instrumental, jazz, woodwinds, brass, and new music. All groups participate in performances supporting the Clarke community. Learn more about our ensembles.

Program Details

Within the music degree, you’ll learn to perform, analyze, and compose music of various styles and cultures at a high level of technical and artistic skill. In addition, you will synthesize information from various musical eras and cultures to create expressive and stylistically informed musical performances, and conduct research and integrate ideas in a musically literate style. Music degree learners implement technology in support of teaching, creating, recording, and performing music. Music majors are required to participate in an ensemble for eight semesters (at least five of which are for credit) and attend recital classes and concerts.

Cool Classes

OPERA WORKSHOP — Developing artistry in performance through scenes from the operatic repertoire.

CONDUCTING — Building connections among a variety of musical styles, your body, and performance experiences.

COMPOSITION — Composing music in classical, pop, and electronic styles.

Double the Learning

Double majoring is becoming more and more common for college music degree students who want to expand their educational experience. Some are passionate about a subject area in addition to music; others are drawn to the tangible skills their double major provides; and most want to increase their job and/or grad school options after college. Passion is the starting point for anyone considering more than one major. Music majors can double major in any area other than another area of music. Languages, mathematics, biological sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, communication, psychology, business, technology – these are the more common double major fields in conjunction with music majors.

Successful Alumni

Clarke’s music degree-holding alumni continue to make an impact locally, nationally, and internationally. Our alumni work as:

  • Teachers in area elementary, middle, and high schools
  • Composers for major motion pictures and video games scores
  • Performers in NYC, both in opera companies and Broadway
  • Artist Managers in New York City
  • Touring musicians
  • Singer/Songwriters
Classes You’ll Take

Admission to Clarke University

All potential music majors are required to audition either in person or video prior to registration. Applicants are considered on an individual basis. Apply to Clarke today to begin your journey.

We are thrilled to offer Fine Arts Scholarships for excellence in performance and composition to music majors. Award amounts are determined by audition.

Let’s talk careers

A music degree can open many doors in the workforce. Even outside of performing, music degrees can lead to many creative careers, both locally here in Iowa, and beyond. Here are some examples for music degrees to consider:

  • Arts Manager
  • Music Teacher
  • National/International Performer
  • Retail Music Manager/Owner
  • Accompanist
  • Composer-Arranger
  • Conductor
  • Commercial Vocalist
  • Director
  • Film Composer
  • Instrumental Musician
  • Music Promoter
  • Music Editor
  • Music Therapist
  • Music Librarian
  • Music Software Programmer
  • Music Copyist
  • Music Critic
  • Musical Booking Agent
  • Musician
  • Music Store Manager
  • Music Publisher
  • Recording Technician
  • Singer
  • Synthesizer Specialist
  • Symphony Manager
  • Teacher/Professor
  • Voice Coach
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Meet Our Faculty

When our bachelor of music graduates speak about the Clarke moments that helped shape them, there’s always a professor in the story. That’s because being a faculty member at Clarke University requires a deep passion for educating, encouraging, and empowering students. Here, your professors will know your name. They will push you to develop your full potential, and then they’ll ask for more. And, they’ll be right there to congratulate you when you exceed even your own expectations. Often, it’s a relationship that lasts a lifetime.

View Our Faculty & Staff
Amy Dunker, DMA

From avant-garde improvisation to minimalistic sound sculptures to neo-romantic echoes, I delve deeply into the nature of human experience.

Amanda Huntleigh, DMA, CLMA

I strive to nurture each musician holistically through musical excellence and human compassion. My goal is to create a space where people feel comfortable taking risks as they develop their own artistry, and engage with music.

Sharon Jensen, DMA

Sharon Jensen, DMA

Assistant Professor of Music

I think it’s important for music students to learn from a performer. I perform regularly as a soloist and collaborative musician.

Kylie Gougler

Kylie Gougler

Visiting Assistant Professor of Music

I always strive to provide a positive and safe learning environment for my students, free from judgment and discrimination. Singing is a subjective art form, and it is important for my students to remember that every person is on his/her own artistic path; no two paths are identical.

Music Sheet Music For Clarke University Music Majors
There’s more to college than going to class.

The Classroom and Beyond

But don’t take our word for it…

Our Students & Alumni

Natascha Myers

Natascha Myers

Music '17

I am studying music performance and composition, and I just released my first album! Clarke has afforded me the opportunity to grow musically and professionally with the guidance of wonderful mentors.

Luke Flynn

Luke Flynn

Music '13

I am in Los Angeles and recently worked on the musical scores for both ‘Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens’ and ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.’ I am so thankful to Clarke for making my career possible.

Adam O’Dell

Adam O’Dell

Musical Theatre '14

At Clarke, I founded the on-campus improv troupe. I am now earning my master’s degree at Bowling Green State University. Clarke was the perfect place for me to discover myself.


The Clarke University Music Department is the only Catholic school in Iowa accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.

Student to faculty ratio

Music students work one-on-one with faculty in intense performance situations with individual performance and design instruction.

On stage

Each year, music and music education majors participate in a collaborative theatrical experience such as an opera or musical theatre performance.


Clarke University is an institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music. Clarke’s music education program is also approved by the Iowa Department of Education.

Other Programs to Explore

Experience Clarke Music for Yourself

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