Jazz Studies

Michael Smith, area coordinator

Faculty list

Jazz Area collage image

The Jazz Studies program offers comprehensive training to undergraduate and graduate students for careers in jazz performance, arranging and composition, education, and in the music industry. Staffed by a faculty of experienced and prominent artists/teachers, the major in Jazz Studies provides a BM degree with a concentration in jazz performance or jazz composition. Applied instruction in jazz is provided in saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar, bass and drums. Music education majors may elect a jazz instrument for their applied study. Students may also pursue a BA in Music with a jazz emphasis. Visit Undergraduate Degrees for more information on degree programs.

See special information available for Jazz Drum Set.

Course work includes jazz theory and composition, history and styles, improvisation, small and large group arranging, jazz pedagogy, jazz piano, applied study, and jazz ensembles. Jazz classes are open to all students with the appropriate prerequisites.

Three big bands and five combos, each directed by a faculty member, anchor the ensemble offerings and are open to any university student by audition. The Ohio State Jazz Ensemble has performed throughout Ohio and the United States.

The Ohio Show Band is a commercial music ensemble that produces tour-quality shows, including live video sync, automated lighting, dance and featured guest artists. The ensemble covers a vast array of repertoire including R&B, gospel, fusion, rock and pop.

The Gospel and Spiritual Choir is a non-auditioned group for students who enjoy or are curious about singing gospel music. The group rehearses a wide variety of gospel literature derived from the African American religious experience and performs for the Columbus community at least once per semester. Musicians who play piano, bass, guitar, drums, etc. are also welcome to join to accompany the choir. Music majors may participate in this group for small ensemble credit only, and music education majors are especially encouraged to do so.

Learn more about joining our Jazz Ensembles.

The jazz program hosts the annual Ohio State Jazz Festival and has offered numerous outreach events for aspiring high school jazz musicians. Festival guest artists and clinicians in recent years include John Fedchock, Carl Allen, Byron Stripling, Quamon Fowler, Quincy Davis, Xavier Davis, Bobby Floyd, Vincent Chandler, Rusty Burge, Donald Harrison; and in 2021, Christian Howes, Camille Thurman and Victor Wooten.

Graduates pursue performing and teaching careers. Some continue their formal studies in jazz at prestigious graduate programs. Others are active performers and educators around the country.

Want to learn more?

Future undergraduate and graduate students, explore our degree programs, application and audition details and more, in the navigation menu.

High school students, learn about outreach programs, admissions visit days, request an appointment with our admissions coordinator, and more at Undergraduate Admissions.


  • Future undergraduate students — contact Tanya Sparks, admissions coordinator, at sparks.348@osu.edu.
  • Future graduate students — contact Graduate Studies at mus-grad@osu.edu.