Music is a form of cultural expression that constitutes an integral part of every civilization. The NYU Abu Dhabi program has two distinguishing features. First, the program takes a global approach to music making and emphasizes both eastern and western approaches to music theory, history, criticism, and practice. The program bridges musical theory, repertoire, and performance styles of Western music (including but not limited to classical, jazz, and popular styles) as well as the influential transnational traditions of North Africa, the Arab Peninsula, the Levant, and the Gulf regions. Abu Dhabi's proximity to major regional musical centers, such as Istanbul, Beirut, and Delhi, and to neighboring Dubai's recording studios and performance venues offers the opportunity to learn first-hand about international popular music.

Second, the music major at NYUAD is dedicated to learning through making music, and through the continual interaction and synthesis of action and reflection. Students are expected to participate in ensembles and can also receive private training on their instruments. Team-taught courses and hybrid courses that draw on music’s relation to dance, theater, visual art, literature, and film, as well as philosophy, religion, cognition, evolution, emergent technologies, and the environment, will be offered regularly. The curriculum provides special opportunities to study and participate in digital music recording and telematic music, and to consider the process of making music from its creation to production and distribution.

The strong programs at NYU New York in ethnomusicology, recording, and digital music are accessible to students in Abu Dhabi through courses taught by affiliated faculty and terms spent in New York and other global sites.

Students pursuing a major or concentration in Music at NYUAD gain proficiency in theory, history, criticism, and interpretation of music traditions throughout the world. At the same time, our students develop skills in analysis, critical thinking, composition, writing, and technology that are valuable across disciplines. As a result, the major and concentration in Music constitute excellent preparation for graduate study in music and related fields in the Arts and Humanities; for careers in the music, media, and culture industries; or for any occupation demanding clear and original thinking, command of the written word, analytical skills, and creativity.


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 Technology Fundamentals
    • Music Theory & Analysis I
    • Music Histories
    • Making Music
  • 2 Capstone Seminars

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.

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