The music program is committed to educating a new generation of musicians capable of understanding and making music on a transnational and interdisciplinary scale, in an eclectic yet rigorous fashion. Students majoring in music acquire skills in composition, technology, and performance, and they develop ways to consider music from a theoretical and historical perspective. The program offers students the opportunity to learn firsthand about a diverse range of traditional and popular musics spanning various cultures and styles. This is accomplished by drawing on the uniqueness of Abu Dhabi as a cosmopolitan city and an international hub, and by taking special advantage of its location next door to the thriving media scene of Dubai, as well as its close proximity to major regional music centers, including Istanbul, Beirut, Cairo, Delhi, and Accra.

The goal is to help students of all skill levels develop their technical competencies and successfully engage with a broad range of musical ideas and creative expressions. Consistent with the NYUAD ethos a forward-thinking, decentered approach to music education, where all musical traditions are treated with equal value and significance is the hallmark of the program. Music students must go beyond simple, surface tolerance and appreciation for music cultures and instead recognize, promote, help create, and sustain both local and global music as profound intercultural communication, and as a powerful tool for cultural fusion, hybridity, and social aggregation.

In an interconnected and ever-changing society, music makers must develop the ability to articulate musical discourse and scholarship with practitioners of other disciplines. Resonating with the decentered approach to music apprenticeship, NYUAD Music majors are encouraged to make music in interdisciplinary contexts, cross-pollinating music with other art forms and fields of study, such as film, theater, new media, science and engineering, and exploring new areas of inquiry.

The strong programs at NYU in New York in music technology, music production, composition, performance, ethnomusicology, musicology, music business, music journalism, and theory, are all accessible to students in Abu Dhabi through courses taught by affiliated faculty. Many of these subjects can also be explored at study abroad semesters spent in New York or other global sites. As a result, the major and concentration in Music may be excellent gateways for a wide variety of studies: those hoping to ultimately pursue graduate study in music and related fields in the Arts and Humanities; those hoping to pursue careers in the music, media, and culture industries; or for those pursuing any occupation that demands 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 (4-credit) elective course in Music Theory or Ethnomusicology & Musicology
  • 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 electives, for a minimum of 24 credits

Music Studies Track

  • 8 credits from the Music Practice and/or Music Technology electives
  • 16 credits of elective courses in Music Theory and/or Ethnomusicology & Musicology, for a minimum of 24 credits