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student-led worship service at outdoor amphitheater

Church Music Major

Join SBU's church music program

Do you have a love for music and a passion for ministry? SBU's church music degree will prepare you for service in music ministry by teaching you the foundations of church music concepts and skills with emphasis on performance.

You will benefit from courses in both music and Christian ministry, including a required internship. Choose a concentration in either instrumental, keyboard or vocal music. You also can choose to complete a performer's certificate, which demonstrates superior music performance ability.

The Church Music degree is offered through SBU's College of Arts and Sciences


Degree plan

SBU students

The SBU Advantage

  • Learn from faculty who are actively involved in church music in a variety of roles.
  • SBU's music program is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music.
  • Nearly 100% of music graduates find positions within the music industry upon graduation; most church music graduates pursue either full-time or bivocational employment leading music at a church.
  • Many of SBU's performance ensembles tour regionally, nationally and even internationally. You will have unique performance opportunities in both sacred and contemporary performance venues.

Faith Integration

SBU's church music degree naturally integrates academic discipline with Christian faith through the unique combination of music theory and performance courses with Christian ministry coursework. As you pursue your church music degree, you are preparing for full-time or bivocational ministry and SBU faculty are committed to preparing them to be both academically equipped and spiritually prepared.

Faculty in SBU's department of music are all professing Christians while also highly acclaimed musicians in their own rights. Courses are intentionally taught through a Christian perspective and the personal faith of the faculty is naturally integrated in how they teach and interact with students.


Most church music graduates are employed in either full-time or bivocational music ministry. Examples include:

  • Dierra Dawn Blankenship '12 — Music Associate, First Baptist Church, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Berrik Brumley '05 — Pastor of Worship Arts and Discipleship, Pine Bluff, Ark.
  • Scott Davis '12 — Minister of Music, First Baptist Church, Valley Mills, Texas
  • Nathan Elder '05 — Executive Pastor of Worship Arts at Element Church, Wentzville, Mo.
  • Jennifer Hoover '07 — Music Missions, Rio Vista Baptist Church, New Orleans, La.
  • Tim McCarty '05 — Administrator of Global Outreach/Worship Pastor, Edgewood Baptist Church, Seattle, Wash.
  • Nathan White '12 — Worship Leader, Springfield, Mo.


SBU Church Music majors have the opportunity to complete internships in various area churches and ministries while enrolled at SBU. These internships will enhance your degree and give you important experience as worship leaders, church choir directors, music ministers, and more.

Several SBU students recently have completed semester-long internships at the Contemporary Music Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Graduate Schools

Several church music graduates have gone on to pursue further education in music and/or ministry, and have studied at institutions such as:

  • Baylor University
  • New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Kyle Sparks
"I attribute to SBU both my understanding of music and my professional attitude toward excellence in music. SBU prepared me well to serve my church professionally as I received a top-notch musical and theological education."
Kyle Sparks '14
Minister of Music and Ministry Development at First Baptist Church, Chappell Hill, Texas

Clubs and Organizations

Pi Kappa Lambda

Join SBU's Zeta Zeta chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda, a national music honor society. It is the only music organization recognized by the Association of College Honor Societies. Each year, a select few of the top junior and senior music majors are voted upon by music faculty to join this distinguished national organization.

Student Advisory Council

Student presidents of Chorale, Concert Choir, Wind Symphony, University Band, Chamber Orchestra, Church Music Conference, and National Association for Music Education, along with a representative of keyboard students and one at-large member comprise the Student Advisory Council. This group serves the department of music by assisting in planning social events, identifying problem areas, and setting goals for the future. By serving on this council, you will help represent other music students to faculty and administration, and grow in leadership opportunities.

Performing Groups

wind symphony performing on stage

More than 15 music performance ensembles provide you many opportunities for developing your music performance skills. Ensemble options include various vocal ensembles, bands, orchestra and more.

Audition for one or more of these groups as you put your learning into action!

Learn about music ensembles

Church Music Conference

Join SBU's student chapter of the national Baptist Church Music conference. Membership is open to all students with an interest in worship leadership regardless of major. By joining this organization you will have the opportunity to attend the annual conference each spring and benefit from fellowship and informational meetings each semester.

Collegiate National Association for Music Education

SBU's collegiate chapter of NafME introduces music education students to the world of professional music educators. In addition to regular on-campus meetings, you also will have the opportunity to attend the Missouri Music Educators Association in-service conference each January.

Faculty Associates

Marc Baker, Percussion

Hannah Fong, Elementary Music Education

Carol Harrison, Violin/Viola

Charlton Miller, HigherGround

Renee Waters, Intro to Music/Theory/Orchestration

Esther Clifton, Cello

Crystal Grosvenor, Intro to Music

Eric Jackson, French Horn

John Trew, Guitar

Tim Wootton, Trumpet

Michelle Draper, Flute

Dawn Gutierrez, Voice

Andy Johnston, Chamber Orchestra

Jeff Waters, Clarinet/Saxophone/Woodwind Ensemble



The majority of SBU music students are selected to receive financial assistance through a music performance scholarship in one or more areas (keyboard, vocal and instrumental). Awards are renewable annually. Requirements for receiving scholarships are listed with each scholarship:

Choral and Instrumental Scholarships — Participate in an assigned role in SBU ensembles
Keyboard Scholarships — Perform assigned accompanying duties for soloists and/or ensembles in the department

All scholarship recipients must maintain a 2.5 minimum grade point average in all college coursework.

Music Scholarship Application (PDF)

Repertoire Guidelines (PDF)