How hard is it to be accepted as a music major?

My son was accepted at Saint Olaf as a Buntrock scholar. He is very strong academically and has been taking all of his senior year classes at a local university (first semester he took Music Theory 3, Aural Skills/Sight Singing, Conducting, Harpsichord lessons, small ensemble, and was in the university orchestra. He earned all As). He wants to study music theory, history or musicology. How hard is it to be accepted as a music major? He is a great clarinetist, but has only been playing for 6 years (he taught himself initially) and has only studied with a private teacher for one year. We’re trying to get a realistic sense of whether or not he would be accepted to study music theory, history, or musicology. Thanks!

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I have a son at St. Olaf (not a music major) Congratulations on the Buntrock! That’s wonderful. I would absolutely have him reach out to the professors in the music department with this question. It sounds to me like your son would have no problem whatsoever but the connection with the profs will help him make the decision whether Olaf is the place for him. Good luck.


Thank you so much for your response. He’s going to visit St. Olaf next Friday, so I’m hoping he’ll be able to speak with some professors and get a better idea of what it takes to be a music major. Thanks!

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It’s a beautifully welcoming place. No need to just hope, I’m sure he can reach out to the professors directly to set up a time to speak with them when he’s on campus. He can start by emailing or calling his admissions officer if they’ve been in touch already. Good luck!

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Great to hear! He has a meeting set up with his AO and he’s going to attend a music class (not sure which one). I’ll suggest that he reach out to one of the music professors, too. Thanks!


Let me know if you have general questions. We are from NJ and should I guess you are from Maine? Getting to and from the MSP airport from campus has been pretty cheap and easy and at least to Newark there are plenty of direct flights.

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Yes, we are from Maine! Great to hear that it’s relatively inexpensive to get to Minnesota. Is your son happy there? What is he studying?

We saved a bunch of miles we couldn’t use to visit colleges during the pandemic also flights were pretty inexpensive until now and we took an offer to get a credit card that came with 70,000. So far we haven’t paid in money, but that will possibly change soon. He came home for the 4 day weekend midterm break in October, for Thanksgiving, Christmas, after January term, and just now for spring break. We’ve been really lucky and happy to see him. I don’t think there will be this much back and forth in the future but we’ll see. He is happy and it’s been a great fit for him for this next chapter. He’s found some good friends and done lots of new things. He didn’t really know what he wanted to study, now is thinking possibly Biology or Environmental Science but that could easily change. St. Olaf has the January term which is 1 class for 5 weeks for at least 3 years. Many students do away programs either internationally or domestically. This year he took a theater class on campus which he really loved (he hadn’t done theater since Kindergarten) and now is applying to 2 environmental studies programs for next January, 1 studying agriculture and conservation in Japan, and the other biodiversity in Ecuadorian cloud forests.

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Hi Mainemom

We’ll be at St Olaf next Wednesday! I would love to hear your student ‘s thoughts on your time there…we can compare notes.

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This is all wonderful to hear! My son definitely wants to study abroad, so I’m glad to hear that there are opportunities. One of the application questions was about designing a course for the Jan term and he wrote about how he would like to build a harpsichord. Maybe they’ll take his suggestion!

Does the campus empty out on weekends or do most kids stay? That’s one thing I’m worried about. Although, my son is introverted, so he would probably enjoy some down time!

Hi! Yes, let’s compare notes! What does your student want to study?

Campus does not empty out on weekends. There’s lots going on, performances, hang outs, sports, clubs. Seems like nearly half of the students are from around MN, WI area but there are plenty from the East Coast and it seems like a bigger and growing number from the Pacific NW and California. Also a significant number of international students. It’s a vibrant place. That harpsichord class sounds great!

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It sounds like a fabulous place and I’m glad to hear there is a lot going on over the weekends.

Now I’m freaking out because he didn’t apply to the music program when he applied. Are you not able to declare a music major once you’re there?

I’ll direct message you. I’ve noticed the moderators are super strict about staying on subject lol. I don’t want to get in trouble again lol.

I am not sure but think you can declare even sophmore year so long as you have the pre requisites. Here’s more info: Music – Academic Advising

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Okay, thanks. We’ll check it out and he’ll definitely talk to someone when he’s there visiting. This has been such a stressful process.

@mainemom25 you absolutely need to reach out to the chair of the music department and get your question answered. I’m not positive your son can self declare a music major…from what I read.

BUT this school does allow all students from all majors to be in their ensembles and take lessons (lessons do cost extra).

But you need to ask the music department folks at St. Olaf’s this question about declaring a NU a major after enrolling.

Hi Thumper1,

You are correct. He can’t self-declare a music major. I did some more digging and it seems that it is NOT too late to go through the process. He will definitely speak with someone to make sure he takes the required classes before applying.


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Excellent! Hope it works out!

Take some breaths, its almost all behind you and your son has great options now! Excellent that its not too late. I really really think he’s going to be fine with all you said about him.