Opera production with choral singer center stage surrounded by chorus.


Vocal Arts & Opera

Internationally recognized for its long tradition of excellence in vocal and operatic training, the USC Thornton Vocal Arts and Opera Department emphasizes the development of secure vocal technique, artistry in the interpretation of a richly varied, representative repertoire, comprehensive study of diction in English and foreign languages, a science-informed voice pedagogy curriculum and frequent solo and ensemble performance. Alumni have been named finalists and winners of prestigious competitions, and many currently work as recitalists, members of opera companies, professional choruses and voice faculties in the United States, as well as abroad. Opportunities for enriched experiences are offered through our weekly Vocal Forums, which include student recitals, workshops and master classes with visiting artist-teachers and resident faculty.

The USC Thornton Opera program is an integral part of the vocal arts department, providing career development opportunities for singers, coaches, pianists, conductors and directors. The program includes instruction in stage training, role study and analysis, body movement, stage direction and coaching techniques for collaborative pianists and conductors. The opera workshop is a repertory experience involving preparation and performance of operatic works and excerpts for performance both on and off the USC campus. For more information, visit the USC Thornton Opera Program homepage.

Undergraduate Programs

Bachelor of Music

Vocal Arts

4 years | 132 units

The BM in vocal arts performance is a four-year, 132-unit program consisting of course work in the major (individual instruction, acting for singers, word and music in opera, science-informed voice pedagogy, diction, song literature), core music studies (theory, aural skills, music history, conducting, ensembles) and USC’s general education and writing program. Junior and senior recitals, as well as the capstone Young Artist project, are required.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Graduate & Doctoral Programs

Master of Music

Vocal Arts

2 years | 30 units

The MM in vocal arts performance is a two-year, 30-unit program consisting of individual instruction, ensembles, cantata and oratorio, science-informed voice pedagogy, vocal literature, music history and electives. A graduate recital is required.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Doctor of Musical Arts

Vocal Arts

65 units

The DMA in vocal arts performance requires a minimum of 65 units beyond the bachelor’s degree and consists of the following areas of study: the basic DMA curriculum, course work in the major (including a Program Intensive Course in science-informed voice pedagogy), an academic field and two elective fields. Candidates electing this major must present at least four major public appearances: two solo recitals and two other appropriate appearances.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Graduate Certificate

Graduate Certificate

Vocal Arts

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.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Minors & Electives

Minor in Musical Studies

18 units

The Musical Studies minor is for students who already have a background in music performance and want to continue to develop their skills. Musical Studies minors have the opportunity to study their instrument in private lessons and participate in ensembles, as well as study music theory and music history. Through the electives, students may explore their own unique musical interests. Students may apply on virtually any instrument, including voice.

Minor in Musical Theatre

21 units

Fine acting, good singing, beautiful dancing: it takes years to master the craft for any of those disciplines. The Musical Theatre minor is designed to broaden the skills of anyone on such a track by offering classes in theatre, music, and movement.

Opera Program

The USC Thornton School of Music Opera Program is one of America’s premier training grounds for singing-actors, opera coaches and collaborative keyboard artists – a program where youth and experience meet in a vibrant urban setting to create provocative productions of classic and modern masterpieces.


Lisa Sylvester
Kyle Shafiee,

RMH 104
(213) 740-7704