Bachelor of Arts in Music

The Bachelor of Arts in Music is for students who desire a liberal arts education in music without a strict focus in performance. Students in the BA can pursue a general route as well as pivot toward three concentrations, as follows:

  • BA in Music (General): Offers breadth and depth in a liberal arts music degree and provides students with a large selection of courses within the major and the most flexibility of all the routes in choosing music electives. The General BA route contains sufficient elective credits to be used for those students seeking Music Education licensure.
  • BA in Music with concentration in Musicology & Ethnomusicology: Provides students the opportunity to explore the large-scale relationships between culture, politics, and musical repertories of the Western and non-Western world, from the past to the present. Faculty expertise runs the gamut from the Middle Ages to popular music, from Indonesia to Japan, Africa, and the Americas, and from manuscript studies to oral traditions and technology.
  • BA in Music with concentration in Music Theory: Provides students the opportunity to explore the inner workings of music from all styles and periods in depth, utilizing theoretical, analytical, historical, and cultural perspectives.
  • BA in Music with concentration in Global Music Studies: Provides students with opportunities to study music in a global context from a variety of disciplinary approaches, including performance, ethnomusicology, and music theory and analysis.

Since all three routes have a common first year, BA Music students will normally choose a concentration, if they wish, by the sophomore or junior year. Please note: current CFA Bachelor of Music (BM) students seeking to transfer into the BA in Music may require additional time to complete the program and should consult with their academic advisor.

The BA prepares students for graduate work and academic careers in musicology, ethnomusicology, music theory, and composition, and through a choice of electives provides a base to pursue professional careers in music journalism, music librarianship, music publishing, arts management/leadership, and other wide-ranging areas of the music and arts industry.

Unique Opportunities

  • Students may take up to 6 credits of private instrumental or vocal instruction and/or participate in music ensembles toward the degree. Eligibility is determined by audition and faculty availability. BA students who choose private instrumental and vocal instruction will be charged an Applied Music Fee.
  • Cross-curricular experiences in the College of Fine Arts, including the popular Arts Leadership Minor.
  • Flexibility through electives to customize the degree toward making interdisciplinary connections between music and related fields, and toward academic or professional outcomes.
  • The option of pursuing Music Education licensure through the General BA route.

Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a BA in Music are expected to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of music history, theory, and analysis, including formal and compositional idioms from the Middle Ages to the present.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with world music and culture and systems of non-Western music making, including popular music.
  • Understand the relationship between music and social justice, race and politics, gender, cultural contexts, and analogous artistic movements.
  • Be able to connect music in a relevant, disciplinary, and interdisciplinary fashion to the effects of shifting practices of listening (societal, personal, digital) and the new modes of transmission.

Degree Requirements

The BA in Music requires a minimum total of 128 credits.

Hub Requirements

All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students pursuing the BA in Music will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic, and Historical Interpretation; Quantitative Reasoning; 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, cocurricular experiences.

Major Requirements

Students in the major take a combination of core courses in music history, music theory, and musicianship—the amount depending on the concentration—as well as a choice of required electives within the major, and a choice of non-music electives, as outlined below.

Music Theory and Aural Skills

Entering undergraduate music majors may take placement examinations in both music theory and aural skills. Exams are given during the Summer Orientation and at the start of each semester. Based on the results of these placement exams, students may test out of some, but not all, of the required theory and aural skills courses. Students testing into later semesters of aural skills are still required to take the minimum two credits of aural skills, starting from the semester they test into. Any external transfer courses in aural skills and/or music theory will be reviewed for elective credit only, and the placement exam results will supersede any transfer course equivalents.

Group Piano

All undergraduate music majors have a two-semester Group Piano requirement. A non-mandatory Keyboard Proficiency Exam is offered for students wishing to test out of this requirement.