The major in organ prepares students for careers as informed church musicians, soloists, and teachers, and for doctoral-level programs.
The departmental seminar is devoted to a comprehensive survey of organ literature from the seventeenth century to the present. For one week each year the department invites a visiting artist/teacher to be in residence. In recent years the visiting artists have included Marie-Claire Alain, Sophie-Véronique Cauchefer-Choplin, David Craighead, Vincent Dubois, Hans-Ola Ericsson, Michael Gaillit, Jon Gillock, Naji Hakim, Martin Haselböck, Susan Landale, Jon Laukvik, Rachel Laurin, Ludger Lohmann, Karel Paukert, Peter Planyavsky, Simon Preston, Daniel Roth, Thomas Trotter, Dame Gillian Weir, Michel Bouvard, Renée Anne Louprette, Thomas Murray, and Erik Wm. Suter.
Students have the opportunity for practice and performance on the extensive collection of fine instruments at the University: the H. Frank Bozyan Memorial Organ in Dwight Memorial Chapel (Rudolph von Beckerath, three manuals, 1971); the organ in Battell Chapel (Walter Holtkamp, Sr., three manuals, 1951); the organ in Marquand Chapel (E. M. Skinner, three manuals, 1932); and the Newberry Memorial Organ in Woolsey Hall (E. M. Skinner, four manuals, 1928), one of the most famous romantic organs in the world. The 2007–2008 academic year saw the inauguration of the Krigbaum Organ (Taylor & Boody, three manuals, meantone temperament, 2007) in Marquand Chapel. The Institute also possesses a Taylor & Boody continuo organ (2004). Two-manual practice instruments by Flentrop, Holtkamp, Casavant, and others are located in Woolsey Hall and at the Institute of Sacred Music, which also houses five Steinway grand pianos, a C.B. Fisk positive, a Dowd harpsichord, a two-manual Richard Kingston harpsichord, and a two-manual organ by Martin Pasi.
Working with their adviser, organ majors elect three courses from the ISM, Yale Divinity School, or Department of Religious Studies course guides. With the approval of the adviser and ISM director, required School of Music Hearing and History courses may take the place of one or more of these electives. Students may petition the ISM director for exceptions to these expectations.