MSU Denver at DIME Denver – Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Studies: Commercial Songwriting


The Metropolitan State University of Denver and DIME Denver partnership enables students to take MSU Denver courses at DIME Denver. As an MSU Denver student, you will pursue a Bachelors of Arts in Individualized Studies: Commercial Songwriting. DIME Denver functions as an extended campus of MSU Denver, where students pursue BA’s in Individualized Studies with concentrations in commercial music performance, commercial songwriting, and music industry studies.

The BA in Individualized Studies offered by MSU Denver at DIME Denver is a liberal arts degree in which music and general studies content is integrated throughout all coursework. Students are exposed to a broad curriculum that includes studies in history, the arts and humanities, and the sciences. Music is integrated into general studies courses, and the liberal arts are integrated into music courses throughout the degree program.

Denver Institute of Music Education is a music institute that is custom built for serious musicians who desire a long-term, professional career in commercial music. Courses offered by MSU Denver at DIME Denver are designed to build strong musical and academic foundations, which allow students to seize opportunities for long and sustained careers in the music industry.

This degree will provide you with an opportunity to specialize in songwriting. It aims to empower learners to develop a diverse and industry-relevant set of songwriting skills. You will generate songs that are suitable for a wide range of formats and create an appropriate songwriting portfolio. Under the guidance and supervision of internationally recognized leaders in the field, the course aims to produce graduates who are conversant with the mechanisms of the modern music industry and can demonstrate a creative and industry-relevant approach to their craft.

Under the guidance and supervision of MSU Denver faculty and highly respected artists, your practical studies will be underpinned by research and writing skills and you will reflect critically on your practice. Participation in projects will help you to contextualize your work within a wider arena, enabling you to identify, forge, and nurture many new career opportunities.

The intensive nature of the course enables learners to become skilled practitioners and provides the freedom for them to develop their own unique and innovative methods of working. Upon completion of the course, you will have built up a varied portfolio and will be equipped to identify, create and respond to the many career opportunities that exist in the ever-evolving music landscape.

MSU Denver at DIME Denver courses are offered as a full-time program, which enables you to complete your degree in four years.


  • MSU Denver at DIME Denver faculty are world class artists and educators, active in the music industry and educational practice.
  • Direct engagement with the industry through project-based work.
  • Students are guided and encouraged to develop their own individual area(s) of expertise.
  • Collaboration within a broader musical community; your regular interaction with peers and faculty groups is enhanced by live events and other extra-curricular activities including: master classes, private tutorial sessions, End of Semester Shows, regular Open House events, and one-off events in which DIME partners with local musicians and organizations.

How are the courses taught?

The teaching strategies deployed within the degree program seek to reflect and apply the educational philosophy of MSU Denver and DIME, and the rationale, aims and learning outcomes of the course. The intention is to engage the active participation of a committed group of academic and technical staff and students. Students at MSU Denver at DIME Denver will benefit from the following modes of teaching:

  • Group lectures within the institute environment, where all students will learn in groups regardless of their individual specialism.
  • Specialist lectures within the institute environment, where students will learn in specialist specific groups.
  • Weekly lectures with instruction by world-class industry professionals who have vast experience in the music industry.
  • Regular One-To-One Tutorial Guidance from the MSU Denver at DIME Denver Campus Manager, DIME Head of Education, your Head of Department, MSU Denver Faculty and DIME Head of Learner Experience and on matters relating to the course, musical performance, career planning and student care.
  • Exclusive Masterclasses from renowned artists, educators and industry professionals.

What you’ll do

For further information, you may visit MSU Denver’s website, or explore the course content by clicking on the sections below:

Year 1: Semester 1

Essential Music Theory Skills
Lyric Writing
Foundations of Songwriting I
Live Songwriting Workshop
Recital Attendance
Introduction to Music
Public Speaking

Year 1: Semester 2

Music Theory I
Music Theory I Lab
Foundations of Songwriting II
Class Piano I
Live Songwriting Workshop
Recital Attendance
Mathematical Modes of Thought
Composing Arguments

Year 2: Semester 1

Music Theory II
Music Theory II Lab
Advanced Lyric Writing
Group Performance Instruction I
Notation and Chart Writing
Large Ensemble (Pop and Soul Choir)
Recital Attendance
Freshman Composition

Year 2: Semester 2

Song Arrangement I
Writing for Artists
Electronic Music Composition
Group Performance Instruction II
African Drum Ensemble
Recital Attendance
World History Since 1500
Art and Visual Literacy

Year 3: Semester 1

Song Arrangement II
Group Performance Instruction III
Domestic Music Market
Musics of the World
Recital Attendance
Introduction to Nutrition

Year 3: Semester 2

Jazz Styles - America's Music
Group Performance Instruction IV
Advanced Songwriting
Recital Attendance
Staging Cultures
Introduction to Journalism and Mass Media

Year 4: Semester 1

Writing for Film/TV
Publishing and Copyright Law
Fundamentals of Record Production
Recital Attendance
Sound and Music

Year 4: Semester 2

Songwriting Portfolio
Songwriting Capstone
DIME Elective
DIME Elective
Recital Attendance
Marketing Around the Globe


Throughout your studies with MSU Denver at DIME Denver you will come into contact with a range of artists, practitioners, educators, support personnel, and administrative staff. Your key contacts will be the MSU Denver at DIME Denver Campus Manager, DIME Head of Education, DIME Learner Experience Administrator, your Head of Department, and MSU Denver faculty. You will enjoy regular contact with these people during your studies.

In addition, your education will be enhanced by input from a range of experts through masterclasses and their contribution to the design and writing of specific classes. Click here to see some of our previous guests.


The modes of assessment used in this degree program include:

  • Portfolio of work
  • Small in-lecture tasks (solo and group)
  • Tests
  • Essays (critical, reflective, research-based)
  • Case Studies
  • Podcasts and digital media
  • Project Presentation
  • Project Documentation

In some cases, more than one mode of assessment will be used within a class to ensure that the learner can demonstrate that they have met all of the learning outcomes. The work produced for these assessments develops graduate outcomes required in employment, such as a high level of managerial and entrepreneurial competency, time management, written and oral communication, portfolio production, critical reflection, and team work. This is alongside self-motivation, independence, and creativity of thought.


MSU Denver at DIME Denver and DIME are deeply committed to providing career advice and support. This starts in the recruitment of a roster of MSU Denver faculty who exemplify the values of a successful self-employed music professional in today’s music industry. MSU Denver at DIME Denver courses and learning outcomes reflect the music business as it is today, and our commitment to degree development will ensure their currency in the future. MSU Denver students are encouraged throughout their studies to form realistic and achievable career goals; these will be underpinned by research and experience, providing a genuine understanding of the structure and operation within the industry. The philosophy is described as ‘designing your own professional life’ and you will see this theme recurring throughout the degree.

Further career opportunities/destinations may include, but are not limited to:

  • Solo artist
  • Songwriter/composer for a range of different areas including popular artists, film, TV and games
  • Music entrepreneur
  • Author of educational materials (e.g. books, DVDs, etc)
  • Teaching

Further study opportunities include, but are not limited to:

  • Graduate Study
  • Masters of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Masters of Arts (MA)
  • Masters of Music (MM)
  • (K-12) Teaching Certification – National Board Certification by the American Board for Certification of Teaching Excellence (ABCTE)