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Information for Crane Transfer Students

Information for Music Transfer Students

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the Frequently Asked Questions students who are interested in transferring to The Crane School of Music from another school. Make sure to examine the auditions area of our website as well. If you have other questions, please email the Crane School of Music main office at or call us at 315-267-2417.

1. What non-music courses will transfer?

The SUNY Potsdam Admissions Office evaluates transcripts for non-music courses. Details on this process can be found at their part of the website at Note especially the link here for our Course Equivalency Tables. Typically non-music courses will transfer without much fuss. However, if you examine our degree plans you will note that the General Education requirements for Bachelor of Music majors do not contain all of the courses required for other majors on campus. If you are transferring to Crane after completing an Associate's Degree at a SUNY school, this is not an issue, but if you are transferring to Crane after one year at another school, for example, you can use this information to select those general education requirements that students in your major have to take outside of the courses required for the major.

2. What music courses will transfer?

The Associate Dean at The Crane School of Music evaluates transcripts for music courses. Please note that to count, music courses must have a grade a 2.0 (C) or better; this is true for courses taken at Crane as well. Music Education majors will also need at least a 2.0 in courses required for certification (Child Development, Literacy, and School Health).

Most music courses transfer without issues. For example, a college-level music history survey course taken elsewhere will count for the appropriate Literature and Style course. However, there are three important exceptions to this policy:

1. Applied Studio: Students will receive their studio placement in their acceptance letter. This is based on their audition, and students are often given a lower studio placement than they could receive based on transferred lesson credits. So a student with 4 semesters of lessons at their first school might receive a studio placement of 3, which means they are considered to be in the 3rd semester of lessons (instead of the 5th). We are conservative about this number for several reasons:

  • As one of the requirements of studio, students must pass certain performance levels. Which ones and when they must be passed by depends on the degree program you are in. Transfer students with higher studio placements will have to pass a Level A sooner. For example, transfer students in the BM Performance degree program who are placed in the junior level or higher of studio are required to take the Level A at the end of their first semester at Crane. By giving students lower studio placements, faculty give them time to better prepare for this important barrier. Students can always do their level early, but it is important that students are set up for success in this important benchmark. (For more on levels, consult the Crane Undergraduate Student Handbook.)
  • Students who transfer after two years (for example) may take longer than two more years to complete their degree (see below for more on time-to-graduation). At Crane, once a student has completed their lesson requirement (typically 7 or 8 semesters), they are usually not permitted to continue lesson as we simply don't have the studio space. Therefore, a low studio placement assures the student of lessons for the length of their time at Crane.
  • The two points above are protections for you. Balancing those is the understanding that when transfer students complete their degree requirements, including the performance requirements (levels and recitals), they can be granted additional semesters of lessons, transferred from their previous school, if their initial studio placement was low. We have a form and policy for this, and it is important to note that this is what actually occurs. When we look at transfer students who graduate from Crane, we simply do not find students who have had to return for a semester just to take studio (or ensemble, as ensemble credits are typically tied to studio credits). What we do see are transfer students who had additional semesters of studio transferred in their last semester.

2. Keyboard courses: Transfer students will have to test out of each semester of keyboard regardless of how many semesters they have already taken. There are placement exams for each level of keyboard, with the first one offered the day before classes start each semester (so this is not part of your audition). Typically transfer students will attempt to test out of the same number of keyboard courses they passed at their first college, but it is possible to test out of additional keyboard courses. In fact, all students may do so. Details about the keyboard credit by exam can be found online at


3. Music Theory and Aural Skills: Because we do not want to place students in a theory or aural skills class they are not prepared for, or give students credit for completing the two year theory and aural skills curriculum without demonstrating the appropriate knowledge and skills (as Theory IV and Aural Skills IV are prerequisites for a number of upper-level courses), students must "show what they know" in these two areas. Transfer students have two options: either take a placement exam and accept placement based on that, or accept placement based on our default system:


Please note that Theory and Aural Skills classes must be on the same "level" as we teach these courses in an integrated manner.

Regarding the placement exam: the aural portion of the exam consists of several brief melodic and harmonic dictation examples, played three times each. The theory portion includes sections on fundamentals (scales, intervals, chord types), partwriting from a figured bass, identifying the tonal center of musical passages, form identification, and twentieth-century materials. The exam is not assigned a grade; rather, student responses are assessed in order to make the most appropriate placement. The exam is given the day before classes start.

A decision about which placement system a student wishes to use is made during advising over the summer (or in January for students entering in the spring semester).

For more details about the theory placement and other transfer issues, you can see section IV (starting on p. 34) of the Crane Undergraduate Student Handbook.


3. How long do transfer students typically take to graduate from Crane?

This varies greatly from student to student, and depends on many factors - what degree program you are in, what courses transfer into Crane, and so. When students transfer after two years, they are often Juniors in some respects and Sophomores in others, and sometimes even Seniors or Freshman in still other ways. but the details vary. However, some generalizations are possible.

Music Education students who transfer into Crane after two years from a community college typically take three years at Crane to complete their degree. This is due to a number of factors. For example, students transferring from a community college often have not started taking courses in music education. Additionally many of the courses in music education are sequential, and some courses cannot be taken until other courses are completed. Note also that the semester of student teaching, when no other courses can be taken, impacts student time-lines as well. Noe that students completing the A.S. Performing Arts: Music degree program at SUNY Schenectady, and who take the appropriate music education coursework at Schenectady and meet other criteria of the transfer agreement between the two schools, are able to complete the B.M in Music Education degree in a total of four years.

The situation is similar for the Music Business degree. Coursework in music business is typically taken over a three year period, and includes a semester off-campus for the Music Business Internship.We have an articulation agreement with SUNY Broome for this degree, making it possible for those who complete the Associate in Science (A.S.) Music degree with approved Sound Engineering and Music Industry electives at Broome to earn the B.M. in Music Business from Crane with two additional years of coursework plus the full-semester internship (which can be taken during the summer as well as the fall or spring semesters).

It is harder to generalize for our other Bachelor of Music degrees (Performance, Musical Studies - Composition, Music Theory or Music History), but it is probably also not unusual for these students to take 5 or 6 semesters at Crane in order to fulfill all of the degree requirements. Students transferring into the Bachelor of Arts in Music degree, which presents fewer challenges than the Bachelor of Music degrees, are more likely to complete all degree requirements on time.

These generalizations assume the student has been majoring in music before entering Crane. If this is not the case, students should count on spending four years at Crane if they are planning to be in a Bachelor of Music program. The number of semesters of studio and ensemble in these degree programs typically require students to be in the music program for four years, and it is not possible to "double up" on these requirements. However, the Bachelor of Arts in Music degree only requires four semesters of studio and ensemble, so the situation is different with that degree. For more details, see our degree plans.

Students transferring from four-year schools, and who remain in the same degree program they had been in prior to transferring to Crane are likely to complete their degree on time. Like music majors who start at Crane, the first year classes for most music majors are extremely similar, so students transferring to Crane after one-year in another college music program typically can graduate one time regardless of their degree program.


4. What schools do Crane transfer student come from?

The Crane School of Music accepts excellent transfer students each year from a variety of two- and four-year colleges. However there are three New York community colleges which account for the majority of our transfer students: SUNY Schenectady, SUNY Onondaga, and Suffolk Country Community College. A number of students also come from SUNY Broome, Nassau Community College, and Duchess Community College.  By naming these schools specifically, we are not endorsing them over other programs, but we are proud to recognize the special relationship we have with them. There are, of course, many other schools we receive fine transfer students from.