Five months into its newly-minted status as a university, MacEwan is pushing ahead with plans to add more degree options for students, despite funding cuts from the provincial government.

Officials announced Tuesday the facility will offer a new four-year Bachelor of Music in Jazz and Contemporary Popular Music, starting September 2011.

MacEwan's board of governors will use reserves to finance the degree after the province cut millions from the university's budget for new programs.

The appeal, says officials, is students will be able to study under working professionals in an academic setting, focusing on other genres than classical music.

"The studies of jazz and contemporary popular music are different," said Denise Roy, dean for the Centre for the Arts and Communications.

"But the generic musical skills have a degree of synergy that contributes to the instruction and learning of performance and composition in both areas."

The dean says MacEwan made the decision to move ahead with the program because of conviction it will provide the right combination of training to young musicians.

"Building this degree has been a 10-year labour of love," said Roy.

"This degree is the right credential for these times. It will add value to the academic study of music - and to the skills and industry-readiness of our graduates."

After the first year, students will be able to choose among the following options : general stream, performance and competition.

Those in performance can focus on voice, piano/keyboard, bass, percussion, guitar or winds.

Composition majors will learn how to compose artistic and commercial works that fall into the jazz and popular music genres.

The general route, meanwhile, offers streams in music technology and production and music career management.

The school's two-year diploma program will still be offered, allowing students to specialize in writing, performance or the recording arts.

The Bachelor of Music marks the sixth degree program that will be offered at the university.