The music program at Howard University has a rich history which may be traced to 1870, when a few courses were offered. In 1892, the program was organized as a stable department of the Normal School, and in 1914 it was established as an independent conservatory.
In January 1974, the School of Music was reorganized as a department in the College of Fine Arts. With the merger of the College of Fine Arts into the College of Arts and Sciences in August 1998, the Department of Music became one of three departments in the Division of Fine Arts—College of Arts and Sciences.
Effective Fall 2021, the departments of Art, Theatre and Music will be removed from the College of Arts and Sciences and comprise a new College of Fine Arts. The University is currently conducting a nationwide search for a dean.
The Department of Music celebrated its centennial in 2014.
The School of Music (now Department of Music), under the dynamic leadership of Dean Warner Lawson, was admitted to membership in the National Association of Schools of Music ("NASM") on September 1, 1944, the first music program in the Washington area to gain such membership. NASM completed a comprehensive review of the Department in 2010, and is currently in the process of completing its 2019-2020 review.