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Bachelor of Music

Bachelor of Music Pre-Certification (BMpc)

Designed to correspond with the Bachelor of Music Education (BMEd) degree program, the Bachelor of Music Pre-Certification (BMpc) degree program at VanderCook College of Music is an option for music education majors who do not choose to complete all certification requirements right away.

Candidates who earn a BMpc degree are required to complete the same comprehensive curriculum as BMEd students. However, the pre-certification degree does not require the completion of certain senior courses or the student teaching experience.

The Bachelor of Music Pre-Certification degree program requires acceptance through an admission process. Current students may discuss the option with their undergraduate dean before applying, but candidates, regardless of current college admission status, are required to submit an online application to be considered. A variety of  admission requirements must also be followed, along with academic dates and deadlines.

Find out additional information about how to apply for the BMpc program.

International students and those interested in pursuing a vigorous coursework but not receiving licensure to teach, may pursue the BM (pre-cert) degree. Music education majors who choose to complete a BMpc degree are afforded options to complete the final certification requirements of the BMEd degree at a time that works for them.

BMpc graduates must complete all institutional assessments, pre-clinical experiences and internal benchmarks required for the BMEd degree, but these variations exist for remaining degree work:

  • A minimum of 121 credit hours distributed between general education, fundamentals and theory, professional education, music education and applied music must be completed for BMpc graduates (compared to the 136.5 credit hours for BMEd graduates.)
  • Students who earn a music education degree without certification are not required to complete the six-week senior seminar courses required of BMEd students.
  • Candidates wishing to complete the BMpc degree will not be required to immediately fulfill Illinois Professional Educator (ISBE) student teaching program requirements.

Just as BMEd students are required to complete comprehensive music education coursework, BMpc students must also follow those guidelines. While music education majors have the option to choose an instrumental or choral track, broad coursework incorporating elements of both will be included for all students, in addition to general music methods.

View more about undergraduate course of study and program structure requirements below:

Bachelor’s degree candidates choose between an instrumental or choral track. Candidates complete 135 credit hours (a credit hour equaling a minimum of fifteen 50-minute academic hours or Carnegie Units) with a minimum GPA of 2.5 on a 4.25 scale.

Courses are distributed into five areas:

General Education

39 Credit Hours.  These courses provide candidates with a broad-based, liberal education in communication, science, mathematics, social studies, the humanities and health. 

Fundamentals and Theory

16 Credit Hours.  These courses provide candidates with in-depth study of the principles of music theory, harmony, arrangement, composition, aural perception and formal musical analysis.

Professional Education

20-30 Credit Hours. These courses provide the foundations, philosophy, and scientific underpinnings of the processes of teaching and learning.

Music Education

22.5 (instrumental-track candidates) or 21.5 credit hours (choral-track candidates). These courses provide a thorough study of the methods of teaching used to work with children of all ages in instrumental, general music and choral settings. Courses also address the organization and administration of the music program within the context of the public school, including mechanisms for incorporating computer technology into the school music program.

Applied Music Performance

40 (instrumental-track candidates) or 41 credit hours (choral-track candidates).  Courses in applied music performance are grouped into three areas:

  • Ensemble Performance – Ensembles (symphonic band, concert choir, philharmonic orchestra and chamber ensembles) provide the setting in which candidates develop knowledge of musical repertoire, performance and rehearsal techniques.
  • Applied Music Study – Applied, individual music study provides the opportunity for the candidate to achieve a high level of personal musical accomplishment.
  • Techniques Courses – These courses are designed to provide the candidate with the basic skills needed to play the full range of brass, woodwind, string and percussion instruments (including piano), and the proper use of the voice.

In planning a program of study at VanderCook, undergraduate candidates should note the distinction between degrees, degree track, and full- and part-time enrollment.

Degree and Declaration of Track

Upon admission to the college, candidates must declare either an instrumental or choral track, based on their major applied areas. Piano and guitar majors may choose either track.


The bachelor’s degree is conferred on candidates completing 135 or more credit hours of required coursework during the program. Two semesters of 16 weeks each constitute the regular academic year.

Full- and Part-Time Enrollment

A candidate is considered full-time when enrolled in at least 12 credit hours of coursework in a semester.

Degree Completion

Undergraduate candidates are expected to complete all degree requirements within ten years from the date of first enrollment at VanderCook. Candidates may petition the undergraduate dean for exemption from this rule.

Classification of Undergraduate Candidates

Levels are defined as follows for the purposes of external institutional data reporting*:

  • Level 1 candidates have completed 35 or fewer credit hours.

  • Level 2 candidates have completed between 35.5 and 70 credit hours.

  • Level 3 candidates have completed between 70.5 and 105 credit hours, plus the Teacher Candidacy Skills Assessment (TCSA), and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP).

  • Level 4 candidates have completed 105.5 or more credit hours.

* Please note that the credit hour classifications used by the Financial Aid Office differ slightly.

Candidates who would like additional information about the bachelor’s degree in music education pre-certification program can request it through the admissions office. Contact us today to learn more.

How do I pay for college and when should I apply?

VanderCook College of Music works tirelessly to keep tuition costs lower than other schools, however, it can still be difficult to fund your education. 100% of our undergraduate students receive institution aid. Over 90% are awarded financial assistance. Contact our financial aid office to develop a plan that works for you. Are you ready to begin your journey at VanderCook? Apply now and follow all admissions requirements and timelines. Stay connected to VanderCook through our social media links and events calendar.

Student Resources

2021-2022 College Catalog

2021-2022 Student Handbook

Performance Opportunities

You will perform over 20 times a year!

As a member of the Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphonic Band, Concert Choir, String Orchestra, Collegiate Chorale, Percussion Ensemble and Jazz Band, you will perform over 20 times a year on campus and throughout the city of Chicago.

Schedule a Campus Visit or Audition

Contact Admissions at
312.788.1120 or

The Midwest Clinic

VanderCook co-founded The Midwest Clinic: an international band and orchestra conference held in Chicago with more than 18,000 attendees from all 50 states and more than 40 countries.  Throughout the history of The Midwest Clinic, VanderCook is the only college Symphonic Band invited to perform every year.

Chicago at Your Fingertips

Attending VanderCook gives you instant access to many of the city’s most famous and important cultural landmarks, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Art Institute of Chicago, Navy Pier and the Lyric Opera – all just minutes away from campus by bus, train or bike. All undergraduates receive a Ventra card for unlimited access to CTA trains and buses during the fall and spring semesters.

The mission of VanderCook College of Music is to enrich the lives of present and future generations by developing uniquely skilled music teachers who exhibit strong character, professionalism, and a commitment to excellence.

© 2022 VanderCook College of Music. All Rights Reserved.
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