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Popular Music

Bachelor of Music – Popular Music Performance

  • The program details described below are subject to change. Actual degree requirements for a given academic year may differ from what is listed here.
  • Refer to the 2017-2018 USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements.
  • See the Thornton Admission page for specific application information.
  • Current students should refer to the specific requirements list for their major, which is available through the Thornton Student Affairs office.


The BM in popular music is designed for students interested in pursuing a career in the performance of popular music. This is a four-year, 132-unit program consisting of course work in the major performance area, core music classes, USC’s general education and writing, as well as electives to take advantage of the offerings of the Thornton School and of the entire university.

Sample Summary of Program of Study

Lessons, Performance Class and Forum (24 units)

MPPM 153-253 Individual Instruction (lessons) (four 2-unit courses)
MPPM 100 Popular Music Forum (four 1-unit courses)
MPPM 120 Popular Music Performance (four 2-unit courses)
MPPM 320 Popular Music Performance (two 2-unit courses)

Music Ensembles (2 units)

MUEN 3__ Ensemble Electives (two 1-unit courses)

Program Intensive Courses (20 units)

MTEC 310 Functional Skills for Keyboard Majors I (two 2-unit courses)
MTEC 311 MIDI Music Production for the Performing Musician (2 units)
MPPM 240 Drumming Proficiency (2 units)
MPPM 250 Keyboard Proficiency (2 units)
MPPM 325ab Arranging in Popular Music (two 2-unit courses)
MUIN 270 Introduction to Music Industry (4 units)
MUSC 255 Songwriting I (2 units)
MUSC 496 Careers in Music (2 units)

Core Thornton Academic Courses (30 units)

MUCO 131ab Harmony in Popular Music (two 2-unit courses)
MUCO 133ab Theory I (two 3-unit courses)
MUCO 132ab-232ab Aural Skills (four 2-unit courses)
MUHL Music History and Literature (three 4-unit courses)

General Education (32 units)

GE Six 4-unit courses in various fields of study
(see http://dornsife.usc.edu/2015ge for detailed requirements)
WRIT 150/340 Two 4-unit courses in Writing

Electives (22 units)

Music or non-music courses (22 units)

Capstone Projects

MPPM 450ab Popular Music Project (two 1-unit courses)

All curricular requirements are evaluated on an annual basis and are subject to change. Students follow the curricular requirements as published in the USC Catalogue for their year of matriculation. A typical undergraduate credit load is 16-18 units per semester.