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Academics / B.A. Pop Music Design / FAQ

FAQ Pop Music Design

When is the application deadline?
Every year on April 30. Upload until 23:59.

Is there a numerus clausus?
No. There is no numerus clausus for the Pop Music Design programme.

Are there tuition fees at the Popakademie?
The Popakademie Baden-Württemberg is a public university of the state of Baden-Württemberg. There are no tuition fees for your first course of study at the Popakademie. However, there are tuition fees for some international students as well as those pursuing a second undergraduate degree.

Is the Pop Music Design degree accredited?
Yes, the degree in Pop Music Design is accredited through ACQUIN.

Degree Information

How many students are accepted?
Roughly 30 students are accepted per year.
How long does the degree programme take?
Three years, i.e. six semesters.
Can I enrol at any time?
You can only enrol for the winter semester.
Which musicians should consider the Pop Music Design programme?
The programme is for creative, talented composers, songwriters, lyricists, singers, rappers, DJs, instrumentalists (keyboard, drums, electric guitar, electric bass), arrangers and aspiring producers from all areas of popular music (pop, rock, hip-hop, DJ culture, soul, funk, drum&bass, house, jungle, R&B, grunge, nu-metal, etc.).
Do I have to play multiple instruments to apply?
No, but you will have to learn a second instrument, either guitar, keyboard or producing during your studies.
As a singer/songwriter, do I have to play an instrument to apply?
No, but you will have to learn an instrument, either guitar, keyboard or producing during your studies.
Do I have to be able to read music?
A workable foundation in music theory must be present. Here you can find a sample exam (in German), with explanations.
Are there mandatory internships?
Yes, currently there are 2 mandatory internships of 12 weeks each in the 3rd and 5th semester.
Will I be assigned an internship?
The students are generally responsible for arranging their own internships. Offers from our cooperation partners and other institutions are posted for the students on our WebBoard.
Can I study abroad?
Students can take a semester abroad at one of our partner universities, e.g. in Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Norway and the U.S.. In addition, our band camps offer the chance to make music with musicians from our partner institutions over a shorter time period (one week).
Can I also do an internship abroad?
Yes, of course!
Can I get credits from a different degree programme counted?
For general subjects such as History of Popular Music or Music Theory/Ear Training, it is possible. For subjects very specifically oriented toward the music industry, other credits can not be counted.
Can I also become a sound engineer?
We do not offer a degree in sound engineering. However, the major in Producing contains many topics from sound engineering with stylistic and technical applications for popular music.
Is there an Open House?
Yes, our Open House day usually takes place in February. The exact date will be posted on our calendar.


How can I apply?
Applications are accepted online and will be available starting after our Open House in February.
Is there an age limit for applicants?
Do I have to have taken the A-levels/high school leaving exams?
To enrol in Pop Music Design you must have a general or subject-specific university entrance qualification. Without this qualification, you must take an additional exam. The additional exam takes place as an oral exam as part of the entrance exam/audition.
What kind of practical experience do I need to apply?
Several years of musical experience. Singers do not have to play an instrument for the entrance exam but will be expected to learn an instrument - either guitar, keyboard or producing - as a minor.
How important is the technical recording quality of the demos I send?
Only your artistic abilities count towards the application - we understand that not everyone has access to a professional recording studio!
How important is the technical recording quality of the videos I send?
Only your artistic abilities count towards the application - we understand that not everyone has access to high-end video recording equipment! You must be visible in the video, as the focus is on your playing and/or singing. The audio track must be identical to that of the recording and not edited or replaced. The file must be under 200 MB.
What can I do if I don’t have my graduation diploma yet?
In place of your graduation diploma (general or subject-specific university entrance qualification), please attach your most recent report card to your application. You can deliver your graduation diploma at the time of the entrance exam or upon enrolment.
How many applications were received last year?
The Pop Music Design programme generally receives between 400 - 500 applications per year.

International Applicants

Can I apply as an international student?
Yes, of course! In order to apply, you need to get your (foreign) diploma recognised and show evidence of sufficient German language skills if you did not graduate from a German-speaking school.

For refugees, more information can be found on the website of the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst).
Where can I get my foreign diploma recognised?
The State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart is responsible for the recognition of educational qualifications. Click here to apply for the certificate of recognition for foreign applicants.

Studiensekretariat der Akademie der Bildenden Künste
Am Weißenhof 1
70191 Stuttgart
Tel.: +49 711 284400

For German citizens with foreign secondary school degrees, please contact:

Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart
Abt. 7 Schule und Bildung
Postfach 103642
70031 Stuttgart
Tel.: +49 711 904 17170
How do I prove my German language skills?
German language skills at level C1 are required for studying at the Popakademie. The following certificates are recognised: DSH-exam from a German university, assessment test from the Studienkolleg, German Language Diploma Level II (Deutsches Sprachdiplom Stufe II), Goethe Institute’s Kleines Deutsches Sprachdiplom (KDS) or Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom (GDS), Goethe Institute’s Central Upper Secondary Exam.

Entrance Exam

When do the entrance exams take place?
The date for the entrance exam for your degree programme will be posted under Facts.
What does the entrance exam entail?
The entrance examination consists of two main parts:
  • The first part consists of a theoretical entrance exam, which in turn is divided into two sections, a music theory section and an essay.

    For the essay there are three topics to choose from, usually these are questions from the field of the history of popular music, pop culture or from the field of music business.

    In the music theory section, the following assignments will be given:
    • notating chords according to chord symbols (four-note chords).
    • point dictation (recognizing 10 notes from a key, root note is given)
    • one- to two-part melody dictation
    • recognition of chords (three and four voices)
    • recognition of typical chord combinations of popular music
    • noting a rhythmic example e.g. a drum pattern/­drum groove
    • Identify a formal flow and name the parts of the form (excerpts from a popular music song)
    • Questions about terms from music theory e.g. explain the term "cadence".
  • The second part consists of the practical exam. This begins with a public live audition either with accompanying band (up to three fellow musicians) or solo with playback. A maximum of three titles with a total playing time of 15 minutes (own or third-party compositions in own interpretation) can be played here. Afterwards, an ad hoc examination will take place in private, in which musical skills will be tested. The examination is concluded with a one-on-one interview on music-related issues and personal motivation.
How can I prepare for the entrance exam?
What are the requirements for the live audition?
  • Stylistic confidence, good sound in music, sensitivity, having fun playing, good timing, flexibility and spontaneity
  • Rhythm guitar: Knowledge of simple chords (major, minor, Min7, Maj7, Dom7)
  • Solo guitar: Pentatonic (in several positions = different fingerings), scales (major in several positions = different fingerings)

  • Musicality: melodic/harmonic, timing, style, versatility: from a solo piano performance to playing in a band or with playback, from solo to tasteful accompaniment and from traditional to unusual sounds. You do not have to present all aspects, but one is not enough! Show what you can do well, because then your enjoyment of playing usually speaks for itself!
  • Next: play along to given playbacks, accompanying simple harmonies or soloing. Standard sounds are available (stage piano Korg "SV1" and a Workstation Korg "Kronos"), but you are welcome to bring your own equipment.
  • More tips for preparing can be found in the preparation tips for keyboard applications (in German)

  • Recording: 3 songs with a band or play-alongs that reflect your musical breadth. At least one of which must contain a solo or be a solo piece. The bass must be clearly audible.
  • Live audition: 3 songs with band (max. 3 additional musicians) or with playback. Of particular interest is the band's suitability, the variety and stylistic confidence, timing, originality, sound and the technical skills (including a solo in at least one title or an entire solo piece).
  • Ad-hoc exam: Questions about relevant styles of popular music. Recognising grooves (such as odd meter) and creating appropriate bass lines.

  • Originality (unique style), timing, groove, sound, technical skills
  • Ability to play simple rudiments at the skill level of All American Drummer, Ch. Wilcoxon.
  • Playbacks can be recordings of your own band without drums or commercially available play-alongs.

  • Performance of 3 self-written songs or covers with self-accompaniment or with a band (or playback). We do not provide piano accompaniment for the audition.
  • Improvisation: improvising over a musical pattern with and without lyrics, rhythm and call & response improvisation
  • Phoniatric report: If necessary, the applicant’s vocal technique will be examined

  • Playing self-produced tracks on CD or your own laptop (here with the possibility of listing to the original track). Please bring productions that are as close to finished as possible, and works that show off your musical breadth.
  • Questions about your songs: how you created them, recorded them, produced them
  • Questions regarding, taste, technical abilities and market-related aspects of your tracks
  • Questions about current and past recording technologies and methods
  • Ad-hoc exam: Creating a rough mix from provided tracks
Will all applicants be invited to audition?
Unfortunately we will not be able to invite all applicants to an entrance exam/audition, which is why we do a pre-selection based on your submitted application materials.
How often can I take the entrance exam?
You can take the entrance exam twice.
Can you recommend useful materials to prepare for the music theory exam?
For harmony
  • Mike Schönmehl: Jazz und Pop Musiklehre
  • Frank Sikora: Die neue Jazz-Harmonielehre
  • Markus Fritsch, Andreas Lonardoni, Peter Kellert: Harmonielehre und Songwriting: Professional Music Musikarbeitsbuch

For popular music history (see also subsequent point)
  • Larry Starr, Christopher Waterman: American Popular Music: From Minstrelsy to MP3
  • Reebee Garofalo: Rockin Out: Popular Music in the U.S.A.
  • Peter Wicke: Rock und Pop – Von Elvis Presley bis Lady Gaga

In addition, we recommend the programme Earmaster to prepare for ear training.
Can you recommend materials for preparing for the additional exam for applicants without a university entrance qualification?
The additional exam for applicants without a university entrance qualification requires the applicant to have a sound knowledge of current and past popular music history and is not limited to the applicant’s favoured music genre. Knowledge about influential artists and groups is required, as is the ability to classify them within an overall historical context and to recognize developments and connections between them. The following books (among others) are suitable for studying popular music history:
  • Peter Wicke, Kai-Erik Ziegenrücker: Handbuch der populären Musik
  • Peter Wicke: Von Mozart zu Madonna: Eine Kulturgeschichte der Popmusik
  • Peter Wicke: Rock und Pop – Von Elvis Presley bis Lady Gaga
  • Larry Starr, Christopher Waterman: American Popular Music: From Minstrelsy to MP3
  • Reebee Garofalo: Rockin Out: Popular Music in the U.S.A.
  • Martin Büsser: On the wild side: Die wahre Geschichte der Popmusik
  • Martin Büsser: Popmusik

Studying at the Popakademie

How high are the student union fees?
The student union fees are currently 107,80 € per semester.
Can I apply for BAföG funding as a student at the Popakademie?
Yes, as a Popakademie student you are entitled to funding through BAföG.
Is there a semester ticket for public transport?
The Popakademie is a member of the Mannheim Student Union. Since our students pay student union fees, they are entitled to a discounted semester ticket.
Is there a student dormitory at the Popakademie?
The Popakademie does not have its own student dormitories. However, through membership in the Mannheim Student Union, our students can take advantage of its housing referral service. One of the largest student dormitories is located very close to the Popakademie.
Can I attend a lecture as a guest?
Unfortunately it is not possible to attend a lecture as a guest. However, we offer open lectures during our Open House, which is usually in February - this is a good opportunity to see what a lecture is like.