Policies and Procedures


for the Bachelor of Music (BM) Degree Program


The Eastman School expects all of its students to explore a diverse range of academic disciplines, develop strong intellectual perspectives, and be able to voice these convincingly. The Humanities Department engages students in the study of literature, history, philosophy, religion, art history, and the social sciences. In these courses students read widely, think critically, and learn to write effectively. The Humanities curriculum enables students to reflect intelligently on their place in contemporary culture, and prepares them to assume roles of principled cultural leadership.

The rigorous and concentrated training in music essential at a professional music school leaves time for few courses in the humanities and sciences. Thus, the Humanities Department must take special care to ensure that the Humanities and Sciences Requirement fulfills its mission.

The following broad principles govern courses that satisfy the Humanities and Sciences Requirement at the Eastman School:

  1. courses should have substantial “academic” requirements;
  2. courses should teach primarily intellectual skills rather than practical, manual, or professional “how-to’s”;
  3. courses should have “disciplinary legitimacy” within reputable liberal arts curricula (e.g.: even an academically rigorous course in astrology or homeopathy would not qualify for Humanities and Sciences credit);
  4. the credentials of instructors should be well suited to the disciplinary orientation of the course;
  5. courses should be largely “non-musical” in content and/or disciplinary orientation.

These principles justify the specific policies and requirements outlined below.

The 24-credit Humanities and Sciences Requirement has two components:

  1. Humanities Core Requirement: The three-credit Freshman Writing Seminar (FWS 121) is a “core” course, required of all students.
  2. Elective Course Requirement: all students are required to take a minimum of 21 additional credits. Elective courses must carry at least three credits each, and be chosen from the subject areas listed under II (B) below. Transfer credits from other colleges and universities must be approved by the Humanities chair.

Dual-Degree Students: For students who, while pursuing the Bachelor of Music degree at Eastman, also complete the requirements for a BA or a BS degree at the University of Rochester’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Eastman Humanities and Sciences Requirement, with the exception of the Freshman Writing Seminar (FWS 121), is fulfilled by the courses in their second degree program.  Before embarking on such a dual-degree program, a student should discuss his or her plans with both the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and the Humanities Department Chair.


 I. The Core Course Requirement: The Freshman Writing Seminar (FWS 121)

The Freshman Writing Seminar introduces first-semester students to college-level inquiry and analysis by focusing on critical thinking and academic writing. In individual sections, the discussion of literary, historical, philosophical, or art historical topics will serve as the basis for writing assignments. Students will work closely with their instructors, peers, and the Eastman Writing Center to produce work of increasingly complexity.

Students should consult the descriptions of the individual sections before registering.

A. TRANSFER STUDENTS: Students who have completed, with a grade of “B-” or better, an equivalent writing course at another accredited college before transferring to the Eastman School of Music may be exempt from FWS 121. Any exemptions must be granted by the Humanities Department Chair. Students may be asked to present a syllabus and examples of work completed in the courses taken previously.

B.  ESL STUDENTS: Incoming ESL students take a language placement exam at the international student orientation before classes begin. Those who take ESL 103 and ESL 104 as Freshman will take FWS 121 in their sophomore year.

C. RIVER CAMPUS RECIPROCITY: A passing grade in the College’s required Freshman writing course (CAS 105) will satisfy the FWS 121 core requirement at the Eastman School of Music.


II.        The Elective Course Requirement: at least 21 credits (BM)


All courses must carry at least three semester-hours of credit to be counted in fulfillment of this requirement. Normally no more than four semester-hours of credit will be granted for a single course. A student who desires to take a course for five credits or more must have the permission of the Humanities Department Chair.


The category “humanities and sciences” comprises the following areas of academic study, as offered by the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music and College of Arts and Science. In general, courses of at least three credits in the following subject areas may be taken for Humanities and Sciences credit. (Please read further for specific exceptions and CAS courses that do not count for Humanities and Sciences credit.)


Art History                                    Film Studies                            Italian

American Studies                          French                                     Philosophy

Anthropology & Religion               German                                   Political Science

Classics                                         History                                    Psychology

English                                          Humanities                              Women’s Studies

Theory 241, 242 (Computer Applications I, II)


African and African-American Studies      Judaic Studies

Anthropology                                            Linguistics

Art and Art History                                   Mathematics

Biochemistry                                             Modern Languages & Cultures (but not labs)

Biology                                                     Neuroscience

Brain and Cognitive Sciences*                  Philosophy

Chemistry                                                  Physics & Astronomy

Clinical and Social Psychology                 Political Science

Computer Science                                     Religion and Classics

Earth and Environmental Science              Sociology

Economics                                                 Statistics

English                                                      Women’s Studies

Film Studies


International Relations

*BCS 260, which is cross-listed as a Music Theory class, may be taken for Humanities OR a Theory elective, but not both.


CAS courses listed exclusively in the Naval Sciences, Management Studies, Public Health, or Public Policy Analysis programs do not count toward the Humanities and Sciences requirement.

Any course cross-listed with a music department (theory, musicology, the College music program) does not count toward the Humanities and Sciences requirement. BCS 260 is the exception: it may be taken for Humanities OR Music Theory elective, but not both.

Courses in the other professional colleges of the University of Rochester – the Warner School of Education, Engineering and Applied Science, the Simon School of Business Administration, the School of Medicine and Dentistry, and the School of Nursing – may not be taken for credit toward the Humanities and Science Requirement without permission of the Humanities Department Chair.

C. PERFORMING ARTS AND STUDIO ARTS COURSES: Students may elect to take up to two courses of 3-4 credits each of (non-musical) performing or studio arts toward the satisfaction of their humanities and science requirement. This would include, for example, courses in theatre, dance, film and video production, photography, painting, and sculpture.

D. TRANSFER STUDENTS: Transfer students receive credit for qualifying humanities and sciences courses taken at the institution from which they are transferring, before their matriculation at Eastman, provided that the courses carried at least 3 semester credits and the student earned a grade of “B-” or better. NOTE: College-level courses taken before a student earns a high school diploma are not accepted for transfer credit.

E. THE “IN-HOUSE” REQUIREMENT: At least 18 of the total 24 humanities and sciences credits must be taken at the University of Rochester (either in the Eastman School of Music or in the College of Arts and Sciences). Courses offered in the UR summer sessions are acceptable. In the case of transfer students, humanities and science courses accepted for transfer will count toward the “in-house” requirement.

Matriculated students who wish to take their humanities and sciences courses at another institution (up to 6 credits) should obtain prior authorization from the Chair of the Humanities Department to verify the course will fulfill Eastman graduation requirements. Whenever possible, the student should be prepared to indicate the requirements of the course, including the number of hours to be spent in class, and to present a copy of the course description. Correspondence or online courses will not be accepted for credit. NOTE: College-level courses taken before a student earns a high school diploma are not accepted for transfer credit.

F. ADVANCED PLACEMENT: Among universities, and among departments within universities, the policies on whether to grant placement and/or credit for AP exam scores vary widely. Each program must consider its own goals and curriculum to determine in what way AP scores might meaningfully enhance and enrich the experience of the students.

The curriculum of the Eastman School of Music, with the intensive focus on music training essential to its mission, provides for only one three-credit course (on average) in the Humanities and Sciences per semester. To ensure that the Humanities department fulfills the school’s mission of complementing the college-level study of music with academic study in the liberal arts and sustained intellectual reflection, Advanced Placement exam scores may earn a student advanced standing but, with the exception of double majors, no credit will be granted towards the Humanities and Sciences requirement on the basis of such scores.

  • “Advanced Standing”: Students with sufficient AP scores may be exempt from introductory-level courses and be able to place directly into higher-level classes. No credit will be granted for the exempted course (unless the student is a double major—see below). Those seeking such standing should consult with the appropriate chair, program director, or instructor.
  • Double majors: Students who are registered as double majors, and who complete both majors, may receive three credits (for one exam) or six credits (for two exams) for scores of four or five on AP exams in the humanities and sciences (except music theory), with the following two provisos: 1) that a student can receive a maximum of six credits for AP exams and summer transfer courses combined; and 2) if a student who is originally a double major drops one of his or her majors, the AP credits granted by the school will also be withdrawn.
  • River Campus: The AP policies of departments in the College of Arts and Sciences vary considerably. These policies have no bearing on the Humanities and Science requirement for the Bachelor of Music degree at the Eastman School of Music.

Policy statement endorsed by the Committee on Academic Policy and approved by the Eastman faculty, Spring 1981. Section I (a, b) modified in May 1989 to reflect changes in Humanities Department procedures.  Section II (a) revised effective Nov ember 16 2000, as approved by the Committee on Academic Policy. Section II (b) revised effective July 1, 1985, as approved by the Committee on Academic Policy, February 14, 1985. Section II (d) revised effective as approved by the Committee on Academic Policy, March 1, 1989. Minor clarifications approved by the Committee on Academic Policy and reported to the Eastman faculty, March 1986. Document modified to reflect changes in language and course names in June 1989. Several minor changes and major revisions to sections I (a,b) and II (c) approved by the Committee on Academic Policy, April, 1994. Minor revisions and updates made in December 1995, September 1998, August 1999, May 2001, and May 2010. Sections I (a) and II (b, c, f) revised June, 2005 to reflect changes in Humanities Department procedures, and again in July 2006 to reflect curricular changes approved by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee in April, 2006, regarding the implementation of the FWS 121 requirement. Mission statement revised May 2000.


Appendix: exemptions from major requirements

The following specifications apply to certain Humanities courses that also fulfill major requirements in other departments.

Voice Students—Language Exemption:

A score of 3 or better on an AP language exam may exempt a voice student from part of the requirement in that language, at the discretion of the Humanities Department Chair and the Director of Foreign Languages.  Such an exemption bears no credit. All students with prior study of/ exposure to the language must consult with their instructor in the first week of classes to assess proper placement. Students who fail to do so and are found to be overqualified for their chosen level risk receiving no credit for the course.

Music Ed—Psychology 111 exemption:

While the ideal course of studies for Music Ed majors is to enroll in PSY 111/ PSY 112 at Eastman, the PSY 111 course may be waived for any music education major who scores 4 or 5 on the AP Psychology exam.  This exemption in itself carries no credit, and students would still be required to obtain 24 credits in Sciences/Humanities before graduation.  However, double majors who score 4 or 5  on the AP Psychology exam may be able to claim 3 credits toward their Sciences/Humanities requirement, provided they do not exceed 6 credits in total AP or transfer credit (see II:F above).  Dual degree students can claim credit through a similar course (PSY 101) taken their degree program at UR; PSY 101 also satisfies the State of NY teacher licensure requirement for a “general” psychology course.  N.B.:  As with voice language exemptions, the Humanities Chair will rule on the above policy in many instances.

Courses with more than four credits:

A student who desires to take a course for five credits or more must have the permission of the Humanities Department Chair. If the course is a language course, and the student has previous knowledge in the language, the Humanities Department Chair will evaluate (if necessary in consultation with the respective language teacher) into what level the student should be placed.


Last revised 8/28/15