Admission and Preparation Requirements

Students must have sufficient preparatory study and experience before matriculating at Clark Atlanta University as either music majors or minors. Admission to the Clark Atlanta University Music Department as a music major or minor requires acceptance by both the University Office of Admissions and the Music Department. Acceptance into the university does not guarantee acceptance as a music major or minor. Prospective students should adhere to the following guidelines to facilitate full acceptance as music majors or minors.

Preparatory Study

It is strongly recommended that prospective CAU music majors have the following pre-college experiences prior to entering the university:

  • Study an applied instrument (voice, percussion, brass, wind or string instrument) privately with a professional teacher for at least two (2) years with the exception of piano majors, who should study six (6) years;
  • Study piano at least two (2) years (all non-pianists); and
  • Take an introductory Music Theory course (commonly called Music Fundamentals) before entering the university.
  • Engage the help and advice of a professional music teacher before applying to any college or university. This person will normally be a private music teacher or a high school music teacher who is familiar with the requirements of a college/university level music program.

University Admissions

All prospective students must first satisfy the admissions criteria of Clark Atlanta University. University admissions procedures are as follows:

  • Complete application for admission;
  • Pay admission fee;
  • Have previous academic institution forward official transcript - high school transcript for recent high school graduates, college or university transcript for transfer students, or the general equivalency diploma (GED);
  • Forward report of SAT or ACT test scores from college testing; and
  • Submit two (2) letters of recommendation from teachers and/or counselors. Visit the CAU web site at and link to Admissions for detailed information.

Music Department Admissions

Admission to Clark Atlanta University does not guarantee acceptance as a music major or minor. All prospective music majors and minors must satisfy departmental entrance requirements to declare music as a major or minor:

  • Submit a letter of intent via e-mail or snail mail to include anticipated entrance date;
  • Arrange an interview with an appropriate music faculty member. Appropriate faculty members include the department chair, the coordinator of the appropriate concentration program of study, and/or ensemble director;
  • Schedule and perform an audition on an instrument of choice and primary strength (voice, piano, string, woodwind, brass, percussion); and
  • Take a theory and/or piano Placement Tests.


Auditions normally occur during the academic year prior to the student’s anticipated arrival at Clark Atlanta University. For example, the typical high school graduate or university transfer student enters the university in August. That student will have completed the audition process during the previous year sometime between the months of October and March. Likewise, students who enter during the spring semester, i.e. in January, will have completed the audition process by the previous October.

Link to Auditions for more information.

Placement Tests

Placement tests are normally given during New Student Orientation Week (the CAU Experience) in either August, for the fall semester, or January for the spring semester. They will also be given throughout the year during either of the published audition dates in October, January, or March. New students cannot guarantee registration in any theory course or Piano Class before taking the Theory Placement Test. This test determines if the student is ready to take college level music Music Theory (CMUS 201)  and Piano Class (CMUS 117A) or if they need a preparatory course of study via Music Fundamentals (CMUS 101). All students should note that, as a preparatory course, CMUS 101: Music Fundamentals does not count towards graduation requirements. Students who pass the Theory Placement Test are normally placed in CMUS 201: Music Theory and CMUS 117A: Piano Class, but they may need additional placement guidance for piano placement if they have a solid background of piano study. This directive does not apply to piano majors and minors, who are required to enroll in Applied Piano instead of Piano Class. If students choose to audition in August, during New Student Orientation, they must contact the Music Department to confirm the date, time, and location for the Placement Test. This test will normally occur on the Monday following the Academic Showcase (part of the CAU Experience). Contact Dr. David Gable at 404-880-8209.  After completion of the Theory Placement Test, additional piano placement guidance may be needed and will be provided by Prof. Mark Boozer at 404-880-8210.


Students must successfully complete the university admissions criteria, the music audition, and the theory placement test in order to be granted full admission into the Music Department. The following applies to voice majors only: Vocalists who successfully pass the performance audition are placed into the appropriate courses of primary Applied Music. Vocalists who do not pass their auditions are placed into the appropriate course(s) in secondary Applied Music for a period not to exceed two semesters. Re-auditioning opportunities are granted to such individuals.  Credit from the secondary applied course may be applied as credit towards the degree upon recommendation of the applied voice teacher.

Returning Students

Study on an applied instrument or voice requires ongoing, uninterrupted commitment in order to meet established competency requirements. Students who take time off from school are subject to loss of necessary skills. For this reason, returning students who have been out of school for two (2) or more semesters will be required to re-audition.

Satisfactory Progress

All students must select a desired concentration and demonstrate satisfactory progress in order to successfully complete a music degree. The concentrations are: Vocal Studies, Piano Studies, Jazz Studies, Commercial Music/Composition, and Church Music. A sixth option – General Music – offers the greatest degree of curriculum flexibility and is appropriate for most students who are not best served by the concentrations.

To qualify for Vocal Studies, Piano Studies, or Jazz Studies, students should demonstrate requisite performance skills at the time of audition, but they must pass the Sophomore Qualifying Jury at the end of their fourth semester of applied study. Students who do not pass the Sophomore Qualifying Jury may be allowed to pursue one of the other concentration options (if they have the requisite skills), elect music as  a minor, or they will be advised to pursue another major.  Coursework for most majors (other than music) typically begins in the junior year.

Students will be approved for the Commercial Music/Composition, Church Music, or the General Music option, if they demonstrate satisfactory academic progress by the end of their sophomore year and receive a recommendation from the coordinator of the appropriate concentration. Students who fail to meet these two criteria may be allowed to elect music as a minor or they will be advised to pursue another major.

For more information about the concentrations, link to Degree Programs.

Department of Music

Contact Information
Department of Music
Park Street Music & Art Complex
793 Park Street, SW | Atlanta, GA 30310
Phone (404)-880-8211