Sacred Music Bachelor's Degree Program Overview

Focus intensively on the Catholic Church’s rich musical tradition, including Gregorian chant, sacred polyphony, and the great works of all ages through the sacred music bachelor’s program at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. Receive a thorough understanding of the history and tradition of sacred music as well as contemporary and secular music. With concentrations in voice or organ, this music major is designed for students who want to pursue graduate studies in music or pursue music jobs, such as Catholic church musicians, performers, or music ministers.

One-on-one advising from accomplished Catholic faculty

Your professors at Franciscan University will teach you how theological and philosophical truths can be revealed through music. These Catholic faith-filled mentors will also regularly meet with you to discuss careers in music so that you can accomplish what the Lord is calling you to do. As a music major at Franciscan, you’ll come to deeply know what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI meant when he said sacred music is “an audible and perceptible rendering of the truth of our faith. Listening to all of these great works … suddenly we feel: it is true!”

Explore More of the Sacred Music Bachelor’s Degree Program

Here are just a few other ways Franciscan’s sacred music bachelor’s degree program stands out from the rest:

  • Financial aid and scholarships: From explaining the cost of college tuition to helping you complete the FAFSA so you can secure financial aid and scholarships, the Franciscan Office of Financial Aid will help ensure your bachelor degree at Franciscan is as affordable as possible.
  • Degree concentrations: Prepare for music jobs inside and outside the Catholic Church by selecting a concentration in either voice or organ. You may also choose to learn skills to write beautiful, true music that inspires listeners to transform culture. Strengthen your degree and expand your options for music careers in the Catholic Church by adding another major (or two) in theology or catechetics.
  • Applied learning: Beyond gaining firsthand experience in sacred music by being part of the music ministry team at Franciscan, you’ll also have other opportunities to put your music studies to work in the real world through practicums. Vocal music students can take on private students in the Steubenville, Ohio, area, and then teach them for review in front of professors and peers. Organ music majors have opportunities to go into Pittsburgh and work with — and receive feedback — from performing musicians.
  • Experienced faculty: Your music professors at Franciscan are accomplished musicians with a wide range of performance experience on national and international stages. They also have active performing lives so they can share with you trends in the field. Thanks to the low student-to-teacher ratio at Franciscan, you’ll have the opportunity to work in close partnership with them — collaborating and performing together on and off the Franciscan campus in Ohio.
  • Music competitions: Gain musical excellence and performance experience through competitions, even as an undergraduate student in music. Competitions for organ students are offered through entities such as the American Guild of Organists. One of Franciscan’s voice students performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City after winning a major Tallis Scholars competition.
  • Attend professional productions: Join sacred music majors and others in the Franciscan community for outings to Pittsburgh for the ballet, theatre, and other performing arts. Visualize the future the Lord has planned for you while you witness God in action through these extraordinary performances.
  • Study abroad: Like all undergraduate students at Franciscan, you’ll have the opportunity to study abroad in Gaming, Austria, through the Austria Program. Walk where Mozart and Strauss walked and experience music performed in sacred spaces. Your music professors at Franciscan will work with you to make sure you make the most of your study abroad experience.
What Can You Do With a Sacred Music Degree?

A bachelor’s degree in sacred music from Franciscan University equips you with a thorough understanding of the history, theory, and tradition of sacred music, along with the performance background you need to continue on to graduate studies or pursue careers in music — both in the Catholic Church or wherever you choose to serve God in the world.

Graduate Programs for Sacred Music Majors

  • Master of Sacred Music
  • Master of Music
  • PhD in Music
  • Doctorate in Musical Arts

Potential Job Titles for Sacred Music Majors

  • Catholic School Music Teacher
  • Catholic Music Recording Artist
  • Director of Music at a Catholic Parish
  • Music/Sacred Music Professor
  • Music Theorist
  • Music Conductor
  • Soloist
  • Music Performer (Organ and Voice)
Academic Catalog

View the Sacred Music Program on the Undergraduate Catalog

Program Auditions

Sacred music applicants are evaluated on the basis of both musical and academic qualifications, as well as on potential for development before being offered a place in the in-coming class. All applicants for the Bachelor of Arts in Sacred Music must complete an audition and submit the supplementary music form and the music teacher’s report (see below) in addition to the normal admissions materials. Admission to the university will be offered separately from admission to the program in Sacred Music due to the limited number of spots available in the program. Students should follow the regular university application and financial aid procedures and pursue the audition process simultaneously. Notification of admission to Franciscan University must be given prior to notification concerning admission to the sacred music program.


Students applying for the fall semester must submit their materials and complete their audition by April 30th of the preceding spring semester.

Students applying for the spring semester must submit their materials and complete their audition by November 30th of the proceeding fall semester.

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Sacred Music Ensembles

Franciscan University’s Sacred Music Program enables students to become classically trained professional musicians, either in voice or organ. The program opens doors to careers as church musicians and performers, and provides an excellent foundation for graduate studies. The Sacred Music Major explores a wide range of sacred and secular music. Along with the traditional courses of private study, theory, and history, your studies will focus intensively on the Catholic Church’s ancient musical tradition, including Gregorian chant, sacred polyphony and the great works of all ages. If you choose, you can compose and premiere music that, through beauty, communicates truth and goodness. Acceptance to the program is by audition only. A Sacred Music Minor is also available for students of any major who wish to become more immersed in the culture of sacred music.

Music Ministry

If you want to use your talents in voice or with an instrument to give glory to God, music ministry is for you. Music ministry students provide the music for the 20 Masses held at Christ the King Chapel at Franciscan University each week, as well as for Sunday Vespers, monthly Festivals of Praise, and other occasions. Music ministry auditions are held at the start of each semester. If accepted, you’ll be assigned to a group according to your talent and availability. Each music ministry group is committed to the same Mass each week for the entire semester.

Schola Cantorum Franciscana

Interested in learning more about the Church’s rich tradition of sacred music? Consider auditioning for the Schola Cantorum Franciscana, the liturgical choir of Franciscan University. Students chosen for the choir are immersed in liturgical music through Gregorian chant and the English and Latin traditions of polyphony. The schola sings regularly for liturgies in the University’s Christ the King Chapel, while also giving concerts on campus and in the greater Pittsburgh area. Acceptance to the schola is by audition only.

Franciscan Chamber Orchestra

“You are invited to use your creative intuition to enter into the heart of the mystery of the Incarnate God and at the same time into the mystery of man” (Bl. Pope John Paul II, Letter to Artists, 1999). The Franciscan Chamber Group welcomes instrumentalists, singers, and composers who seek to put their art at the service of the new evangelization. Open to all musicians at the University and in the Steubenville area, the chamber group specializes in the great orchestral music of the Western tradition as well as multimedia and multigenre performances. There are also opportunities to premiere new music. Acceptance to the chamber group is by audition only.

Franciscan University Chorale

If you want to deepen your knowledge of vocal music, as well as have the opportunity to perform, the Franciscan University Chorale is what you’re looking for. The chorale is the University’s concert choir. Singers present a wide variety of music, from chant and polyphony to modern pieces and Gospel music. The chorale gives concerts each semester, sings for special University events, and collaborates with the Schola Cantorum to present the annual Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols. Acceptance to the chorale is by audition only.

Alumni Profiles
Beyond the Classroom
Music Ministry

Use your talent as a musician to give glory to God and gain invaluable hands-on experience by being part of the music ministry team at Franciscan. You’ll have opportunities to provide music for the 20 masses held each week at Christ the King Chapel on the Franciscan University campus in Ohio as well as for Sunday Vespers, monthly Festivals of Praise, and other sacred occasions.

Performance Opportunities

As a music major at Franciscan, you’ll have an abundance of performance opportunities, from the Schola Cantorum Franciscana, which sings for liturgies in the Christ the King Chapel and gives concerts on campus and throughout Ohio and western Pennsylvania, including in nearby Pittsburgh, to the Franciscan Chamber Group and the Franciscan University Chorale. Through student-led recitals you can also transform culture through music.

Composition Workshops

Through composition workshops that form part of your theory and analysis coursework, you can compose new works of sacred music that communicate the good, the true, and the beautiful. You’ll then find and rehearse musicians who will perform your work for your Franciscan University professors and peers. You’ll learn from their feedback what you need to develop your work for possible publication one day.

Austrian Semester Abroad

Grow, develop, and be formed into a more mature student by spending a semester in Franciscan’s Austrian program. You’ll expand your major in unbelievable ways by traveling to places such as Rome and the holy sites of Christendom, and through courses taught at a 14th-century monastery that also serves as your home.

Programs Related to the Bachelor’s in Sacred Music

Still undecided? You might also be interested in these other undergraduate degree programs at Franciscan.

Department Faculty
Dr. Monica Anderson

Dr. Monica Anderson

Department Chair

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Dr. Jessica Ewell

Dr. Jessica Ewell

Associate Professor

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Professor Linus Meldrum

Professor Linus Meldrum

Associate Professor

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John H Walker

Prof. John Walker

Associate Professor

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