The Music Program at NYUAD is committed to educating a new generation of musicians capable of making and thinking about music from transnational and interdisciplinary perspectives. We seek to enrich the education and experience of all NYUAD students and foster a vibrant and diverse musical community within the campus.

The music major at NYUAD focuses on developing well-rounded students, no matter which track they choose. In the Music Practice track, students develop a well-rounded artistic practice combining composition, technology, and performance. The Music Studies track produces well-rounded scholars of music with proficiency in research and a sophisticated understanding of music as a global cultural phenomenon.

Non-majors may engage with the Program in a variety of ways — from developing musical skills through lessons, ensembles, and coursework in music theory, to integrating one of our many cross-listed seminar courses into a broader program of study.

Cross-disciplinary Interaction

In the twenty-first century, music defies boundaries. Composers and performers now consistently stretch their art beyond the strictures of traditional instruments and sounds, and sometimes even beyond the realm of sound itself into such areas as movement and interactive media. Meanwhile, music has become a topic of cutting-edge scholarly work in such diverse disciplines as computer science, history, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, and sociocultural anthropology.

The Music Program fully embraces this reality. Our faculty engage with multiple disciplines in our scholarly work, creative work, and teaching. The Program maintains key participation in the extant and proposed minors in Anthropology, African studies, Peace Studies, and Sound and Music Computing, as well as curricular synergies with Film, Theater, and Interactive Media.

Local and Regional Connections

By taking advantage of the uniqueness of Abu Dhabi as a cosmopolitan city and an international hub, the Music Program offers students opportunities to learn firsthand about a diverse range of traditional and popular musics spanning various cultures and styles.

We connect our students to the thriving music and media scenes in Dubai and the other dynamic urban centers in the MENA, East Africa, and India (not to mention Europe and North America), by facilitating artist visits, field trips, and various opportunities for study and internship.

What is more, the close relationship between the Music Program and the NYUAD Arts Center opens many opportunities for our students to engage with world-renowned artists through a range of activities, from educational workshops to recording sessions in our state-of-the-art facilities.


The music major requires a minimum of 12 courses, and has two tracks:

  • Artistic Practice
  • Music Studies

The courses offered by the music program are grouped into four disciplinary areas:

  • Music Practice
  • Ethnomusicology/Musicology
  • Music Theory
  • Music Technology.

Different combinations of courses in the four disciplinary areas define the track for the major.

NOTE: Private Instruction (Music Performance or Composition) and Ensembles are 2-credit courses. All other courses in the Music Program are 4-credit courses.

Common to both tracks

  • 4 Required Courses
    • Music Theory & Analysis I
    • Music Technology Fundamentals
    • Making Music
    • Music Histories and Cultures: Introduction to Music Studies
  • 1 Ethnomusicology Elective
  • 2 Capstone: Seminar and Project

NOTE: Regardless of track, private instruction cannot be taken for more than 8 credits in either instrument or composition and cannot be more than 10 credits in total. Music majors who are interested in studying abroad should plan to do so during the spring semester of their sophomore year. They should also plan to finish the four required courses common to both tracks before going abroad. Occasionally, Music majors can take a second semester abroad, and need permission of their mentor and the approval of the Music Program to do so.

Artistic Practice Track

  • 1 elective course in Music Theory or Ethnomusicology & Musicology
  • 20 credits of elective course work in Music Practice and/or Music Technology including: at least two 2-credit individual instruction and/or ensemble experiences; at least two 3-or 4-credit courses in Music Technology and/or Music Practice

Music Studies Track

  • 8 credits from the Music Practice and/or Music Technology
  • 16 credits of elective courses in Music Theory and/or Ethnomusicology & Musicology