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Quote Blocks:

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

Benjamin Franklin

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

Benjamin Franklin

A Letter from Bob Mintzer

Rather than having all the answers, we pose the questions that inspire students to learn for themselves and develop a musical personality steeped in passion and focus.”

Bob Mintzer
USC Thornton Faculty Member

USC Colors:

Tan: #EBE7E1 Dark Tan: #D5CDBF Red: #900

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Jazz saxophonist plays a solo on stage with a jazz orchestra.

On the horizon: bright futures.

Successful musicians of the future need to do so much more than play music. In addition to being virtuoso performers with distinct artistic voices, they need to function as digital-savvy technicians and entrepreneurs. We equip artists with the portfolio of skills they need to thrive.

Photo of a string quartet standing on the steps of a historical building.

Always innovating, always collaborating.

USC Thornton students collaborate constantly across musical genres within the school, and with their peers in USC’s world-class cinematic arts, dance, and theatre schools. We encourage study abroad, as musicians’ multi-faceted careers increasingly are global. This international focus builds a multicultural sensibility and widens students’ professional networks.

Opportunities abound.

No one career looks like another, and we train students for success in multiple career paths. These include stages, studios, higher education, K-12 classrooms, and arts leadership positions. Our location in Los Angeles, the creative capital of the world, provides a wealth of nearby opportunities.


ALAJE (Afro-Latin American Jazz Ensemble)

Bachelor of Music

Performance – Violin, Viola, Violoncello, Double Bass or Harp

4 years | 132 units

Course Includes:

  • Work in the major (individual instruction, string pedagogy, orchestra repertoire, interpretation of baroque music),
  • Core music studies (theory, aural skills, music history, conducting, chamber music and symphony)
  • USC’s general education & writing program Junior & Senior Recitals

USC CreSCendo Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Masters of Music

Performance – Violin, Viola, Violoncello, Double Bass or Harp

2 years | 30 units

The MM in strings is a two-year, 30-unit program consisting of individual instruction, chamber music, symphony, music history, conducting, interpretation of baroque music and electives. A graduate recital is required. Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here. See the Thornton Admission page for specific application information here.

Graduate Certificate & Artistic Diplomas

Graduate Certificate

2 years | 16 units

The Graduate Certificate in performance is a two-year, 16-unit program consisting of individual instruction, studio class, and two ensembles, or the equivalent thereof, each semester. This graduate-level program is designed for students who have completed their undergraduate education in music, or its equivalent, and intend to concentrate their energies on the full-time development of their discipline.

Minors & Electives


24 units

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is this program only for musicians?

No, the Arts Leadership program is suitable for artists, professional arts administrators, and thought leaders in any artistic discipline.

I don’t live in California — will I have to move to LA if I want to enroll in this program?

Yes, all courses in the Arts Leadership program are taught on the USC campus.

What resources will I have access to during the program?

Arts Leadership students will have access to state-of-the-art facilities, mentorship, experiential learning, and a network of like minded colleagues.

My project has very specific needs — how can I be sure this program will address them?

Students have the freedom to take electives through USC’s Marshall School of Business, Price School of Public Policy, and others.

Do I need to have already started my project or idea to enroll in the program?

It’s not a requirement to have already started an organization or project, but we’re looking for proven artists and leaders with strong visions who are ready to bring their ideas to fruition.

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Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship

USC Thornton, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO), and the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA) have joined forces to offer the Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship, which offers rigorous training to top-tier string musicians in the Graduate Certificate (GCRT) program at USC Thornton, as well as a generous financial package covering full tuition and living expenses. See more information on the Graduate Certificate page.


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