Master of Music (MM) in Music Theory

The Master of Music in Music Theory at Boston University is designed for students seeking to acquire a secure foundation in scholarly music theory prior to entering doctoral study. This foundation can be crucial to success in graduate school and beyond, bridging the gap between undergraduate curricula and advanced PhD programs. Through a series of graduate courses and seminars, students develop a close familiarity with essential approaches and techniques for the theory and analysis of tonal and post-tonal music. Emphasis is also given to secondary fields of interest such as musicology, composition, and performance. MM candidates benefit from the greater surroundings of a major school of music, its distinguished faculty, and an energizing community of fellow students.

Degree Requirements

The MM is granted upon successful completion of a program of study, a comprehensive review, and terminal projects appropriate to the student’s field of specialization. Students must earn a minimum of 32 course credits with grades no lower than B− in graduate-level coursework. All degree requirements must be completed within five years of the date of matriculation.

Proficiency Examinations

All entering Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts students are required to take the Proficiency Examination in Music Theory and the Proficiency Examination in Musicology. These examinations are given before the start of classes. Incoming students are notified of the exam dates and are responsible for taking them. Exam results are used for purposes of advisement and may establish prerequisite or required coursework. Material covered in these examinations is commonly presented in most undergraduate degree programs in music. Detailed descriptions of these exams are supplied to incoming students in advance of exam dates. Students in composition, music theory, and musicology will also be examined in fugue.

Students with insufficient background in music theory may be required to take CFA MU 400 Graduate Theory Review, which may be used as elective credit. MU 400 is a seven-week, online course given three times per year in the second half of Fall, Spring, and Summer Terms.

Music Theory Program Outline

Advanced Tonal Analysis 3 cr
Advanced Contemporary Analysis 3 cr
Schenkerian Analysis 1 3 cr
History of Music Theory 2 3 cr
Composition 2 cr
Musicology 3 cr
Thesis 2 cr
Approved electives in music theory, composition, musicology, or related fields.
(May include Applied Music Level 7a and 7b or ensemble participation.)
13 cr
Total 32 cr

Terminal Projects

Each student must write a thesis demonstrating his or her ability to accomplish significant research in the field of music theory.

Master of Music Comprehensive Reviews

A satisfactory comprehensive review or examination is required for graduation. The faculty in each major area determines standards for this review and its format, and conducts the evaluation. In each case, the comprehensive review concentrates on the major area and other related fields. Unsatisfactory performance on this review may require remedial work and/or a repetition of the review after counseling with the student’s advisor. Descriptions of the departmental comprehensive reviews or examinations are found in the School of Music Graduate Handbook, available to enrolled students on the School of Music website.