Bachelor of Music (BM) in Composition & Music Theory

At Boston University, the Composition & Theory programs will help you gain a broad knowledge of contemporary and historical compositional practices, and a mastery of analytic techniques for tonal and post-tonal music. Studying with composers and theorists who are significant figures in the musical life of Boston, our programs prepare students for meaningful careers as composers, theorists, teachers, and academics.

The Composition program will help you work to attain a personal compositional aesthetic and the techniques to express it through sound. Through performance opportunities, comprehensive training, and collaborations with accomplished musicians and artists, you will be presented with an array of opportunities to hear and discover diverse musical styles and develop the skills necessary to navigate the professional world. Programs are offered at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Learning Outcomes

All students graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree are expected to demonstrate:

  • A practical knowledge of basic music theory, musicianship, and analytical skills.
  • An appropriate level of technical and interpretive performance skills.
  • A broad knowledge of music history and associated repertories of music.
  • An appropriate level of pedagogical skills.
  • The ability to apply creative approaches to problem-solving and self-directed study.

Students graduating with a Bachelor of Music in Composition & Music Theory are additionally expected to:

  • Demonstrate evidence of a developing personal compositional voice through a portfolio of original works, and basic understanding of the prevalent approaches to music theory, created over the course of their undergraduate career.

BU Hub Requirements

All students entering as freshmen in Fall 2018 and after will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major and, in some cases, through co-curricular activities. Students majoring in Composition and Music Theory will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness, Quantitative Reasoning, some of the Communication requirements, and some requirements in the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, co-curricular experiences.

In addition to BU Hub requirements and specific major requirements, CFA School of Music students must also meet all requirements for obtaining a Bachelor of Music. School of Muisc requirements can be found here.

Major Requirements

Students in the major take a combination of professional development courses, literature and pedagogy courses, and electives, as outlined in the Program of Study below.

During the final year of study, candidates for the BM in Composition & Music Theory must present a program of original compositions of approximately 30 minutes’ duration, which must be approved by the faculty. Candidates must participate in the rehearsal preparation and/or performance of at least one of the works.

Program of Study

First Year 1st 2nd
Applied Music (varies by instrument/voice) 2 2
MT 101, 102 Music Theory 1, 2 3 3
MT 111, 112 Aural Skills 1, 2 1 1
MT 121, 122 Basic Composition 1, 2 2 2
MT 520 Composers’ Forum 0 0
Music Organization (varies by ensemble) 1 1
First-Year Writing Seminar (e.g., WR 120) 4
Writing, Research, and Inquiry (e.g., WR 150/151/152) 4
Approved Modern Language 4 4
Electives 1
Total credits
18 17
Second Year
Applied Music (varies by instrument/voice) 2 2
MT 201, 202 Music Theory 3, 4 3 3
MT 211, 212 Aural Skills 3, 4 1 1
MT 221, 222 Composition 3, 4 2 2
MT 520 Composers’ Forum 0 0
MH 211, 212 History and Literature of Music 1, 2 4 4
Musical Organization (varies by ensemble) 1 1
MP 111, 112 Group Piano 1, 2 1 1
BU Hub requirement(s) outside the major 4 4
Total credits
18 18
Third Year
Applied Music (varies by instrument/voice) 2 2
MT 301, 302 Music Theory 5, 6 2 2
MT 321, 322 Composition 5, 6 2 2
MT 341, 342 Modal and Tonal Counterpoint 2 2
MT 520 Composers’ Forum 0 0
Electives in Music History 4 4
Music Organization (varies by ensemble) 1 1
BU Hub requirement(s) outside the major 4 4
Total credits
17 17
Fourth Year
Applied Music (varies by instrument/voice) 2 2
MT 421, 422 Senior Composition 7, 8 3 3
MT 431, 432 Orchestration 1, 2 2 2
MT 435 Composing with Electronic Sounds & Computers 1 2
MT 520 Composers’ Forum 0 0
Music Organization (varies by ensemble) 1 1
MP 390 Conducting 1 2
MP 391 Conducting 2 2
BU Hub requirement(s) outside the major 4
Electives 1
Total credits
13 14