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The fine arts, generally—and jazz music, specifically—develop important human intelligences that are often critical to the success of both individuals and groups within our quick-paced and ever-evolving society. A fully practical and hands-on course of study, the Certificate in Jazz provides foundational concepts in creativity, improvisation, body/mind coordinative relationships, and, jazz-specific theory, history, and (musical) performance training. There is also an interdisciplinary opportunity within the final capstone course (i.e. INCC 220.1) in this certificate program.

This program allows students to earn a Certificate of Proficiency, which is a qualification that recognizes a focus of study in a specific area, requiring 15 to 30 credit units of university-level courses. A student may earn a certificate on its own, concurrently with a degree, or may earn a certificate after having received a degree from the University of Saskatchewan or another institution.

Program Options

Additional Information

This program is open to any student admitted to the University of Saskatchewan.  If you are interested in more information about this certificate, please contact student-advice@artsandscience.usask.ca.

What is the Certificate in Jazz?

This certificate program is a 15 credit unit course of study that provides foundational training for musically inclined, life long learners. It can be completed over two academic years. Although certain cognate jazz courses are sequential, the certificate can be completed over a longer period of time (e.g. four years while a student is completing a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree at the U of S). The Certificate in Jazz is open to all U of S students, including unclassified students. Twelve of the 15 required credit units focus specifically on the development of jazz-specific fundamentals, while the remaining three credit units can be completed either within jazz (e.g. MUS 386.3 Jazz Arranging—as rotational course offerings allow), or within a broadly defined list of disciplines that will facilitate interdisciplinary learning. This option provides an opportunity for the incorporation of non-jazz interests and training, enabling students to explore interdisciplinary perspectives within the certificate’s final performance project (i.e. INCC 220.1: Jazz and Related Creative Studies Capstone Course).

Certificate in Jazz: Is it for you?

Most job marketplaces in the 21st century—including university graduate and professional programs, such as the health sciences—are interested in applicants with music training. This is because such music training demonstrates an ability to work in an unsupervised environment and to work well collaboratively, quickly, creatively, and logically. Students with career aspirations in music (e.g. music education and/or music performance) and students with career aspirations external to music will find this certificate program valuable in broadening their knowledge base and musical skill sets, and to augment their curriculum vitaes in substantive and meaningful ways.

Ultimately the most important outcome of the Certificate in Jazz is to enable people to express themselves artistically, through practice and performance of jazz music, as it is broadly defined.

Students must have a basic command over a musical instrument prior to entry into this certificate to be successful. Students with non-jazz-specific, formalized (classical) music training and students who are accomplished musicians without extensive formalized (classical) music training have done well in this course of study. As a guide, any student with grade 8 Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) performance ability, or equivalent, is musically qualified for this course of study. If you are uncertain whether you have the minimum pre-certificate music training to be successful in the certificate program, contact dean.mcneill@usask.ca.

Sample classes

  • MUS 184: Jazz Materials
    Course includes development of jazz theory, ear training, transcribing and keyboard skills. This course is the prerequisite to Jazz Improvisation (MUS 283.3) and Jazz Arranging (MUS 386.3). This course is the suggested co-requisite for Jazz Pedagogy (EMUS 337.3) and Jazz Ensemble. MUS 184.3 is open to students of all colleges.
  • MUS 283: Jazz Improvisation
    Focuses on the study and development of musical skills as they pertain to the performance of jazz improvisation. Topics such as basic jazz-related theory; chord/scale relationships; motivic, chord based and modal improvisations are presented in a systematic manner. This course assumes no pre-existing knowledge base of jazz improvisation but does presume a basic working knowledge and control over any given musical instrument. This course is open to all instrumentalists.
  • INCC 220: Jazz and Related Creative Studies Capstone Course
    This course serves as the summative experience for students enrolled in the 15 CU Certificate of Proficiency in Jazz and Related Creative Studies. The final project for this course will be a 30 minute - 1 hour public performance of the student’s original work via an art performance piece which has jazz music as one of the central themes and/or components.

Career Opportunities

  1. Entrance into a Bachelor of Music in Jazz program (at another post-secondary institution)
  2. Enhance career opportunities for Bachelor of Music and Master of Music classical performance majors and music education majors
  3. Broadens students' curriculum vitaes for those interested in non-music career paths in the health sciences, natural sciences, social sciences, education, administration, public service, etc.

Skill Sets Gained

  • Musicianship
  • Improvisation
  • Creativity
  • Increased awareness of art and culture
  • Project planning and delivery
  • Ability to think linearly and abstractly

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