Jazz has been an integral part of the University of Northern Iowa School of Music for nearly 50 years. The original band, formed and run by student musicians in the early 1950's, eventually evolved into the jazz studies program. This nationally recognized program has grown to include several large and small jazz ensembles as well as a full curriculum of jazz studies courses. Comparing the UNI Jazz Studies program with other programs across the nation, Arts Midwest saluted the UNI program as "one of the best." Jazz studies students study weekly with these experienced professionals, and combine their studies with practical experience in one or more of UNI's exemplary jazz ensembles.​