The Certificate Programmes in Music Literacy were established by the former Head of Department, Professor Hans Roosenschoon and the Head of Music Education at the time, Associate-Professor Ria Smit, to provide access to formal music education to historically disadvantaged learners. The late Albert Engel, former brass lecturer in the Music Department, was responsible for the significant expansion of this programme in the community. Satellite campuses were established in Caledon (2002), under Stefne van Dyk and at the SA Army Band, Cape Town (2005), the latter in partnership with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), a collaboration initiated, in its formative stages, by Prof Hans Roosenschoon, Sergeant-Major Jack Simpson and Pamela Kierman, brass lecturer in the Department since 2004.

Felicia Lesch was appointed as co-ordinator of the CP in 2006 and her extensive contribution has established this programme as the most significant programme of its kind at higher education institutions in South Africa. Under her leadership and guidance the programme has  drawn students from across South Africa, the SADC countries and affiliates (Namibia, Botswana, Congo-Brazzaville, Zambia, Swaziland, Rwanda etc.) and graduates from the CP are employed in all spheres of the South African music industry. Her long time involvement in jazz education was the catalyst for the introduction of a jazz component to the programme and led to the establishment of the highly-acclaimed University of Stellenbosch Jazz Band.

In 2014, Felicia Lesch, together with the Head of Choral Conducting, Martin Berger, established the Certificate Programme Choral Academy, which trains aspiring choir conductors who work with community choirs in the Western Cape.

In 2015, the Certificate Programme Brass Quintet was established, which had its debut performance at the 2015 Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival.  In 2013 the Centre for Music was established, which incorporates all Social Impact initiatives of the Music Department, such as the CP in Music Literacy, Service Learning (Community Service Learning component), CP Ensembles (US Jazz Band, CP Brass Quintet) etc.