MA in Music

The Master of Arts in Music is for students who are working toward entrance to a PhD program, performing students with academic interests, and students preparing for positions in the music industry. To enter, students normally possess an undergraduate degree in music or its equivalent. The MA in Music is offered by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS) in close collaboration with the College of Fine Arts (CFA) School of Music.

Course Requirements

A minimum of 32 credits is required for the degree of Master of Arts.

Candidates choose one of the following fields of specialization:

Historical Musicology

Requirements are as follows:

  • CFA MH 820: Pro-Seminar in Musicology and Ethnomusicology (taken in first semester)
  • CFA MH 711: Research and Bibliography (Music) (taken in first year)

There are no specific course requirements for the MA specializing in Historical Musicology other than CFA MH 820 and CFA MH 701, but students should customize their program in consultation with their advisor. A general guide for the distribution of remaining courses can be found on the department website.

Ethnomusicology

Requirements are as follows:

  • CFA MH 820: Pro-Seminar in Musicology and Ethnomusicology (taken in first semester)
  • CFA MH 860: Research Methods in Ethnomusicology
  • CFA MH 861: Contemplating Ethnomusicology
  • CFA MH 336/436: Musical Cultures of the World, either as auditor or teaching fellow
  • 4 credits in CFA MH 799: Master’s Thesis
  • At least two semesters of CFA MH 561 or MH 562: World Music Ensemble, either as student, auditor, or instructor (worth 0 to 1 credit)
  • 16 credits of approved electives from areas such as anthropology, musicology, music education, history, or specific area studies

Music Theory

Requirements are as follows:

  • CFA MT 761: Advanced Tonal Analysis (3 cr)
  • CFA MT 762: Advanced Post-Tonal Analysis (3 cr)
  • CFA MT 661: Schenkerian Analysis I (3 cr)
  • CFA MH 799: Thesis (2 cr)
  • CFA MH 842: History of Music Theory II (3 cr)
  • Advanced musicology course (3 cr)
  • Composition course from among the following (2 cr):
    • CFA MT 671: Fugue
    • CFA MT 641: Modal Counterpoint
    • CFA MT 741: Tonal Counterpoint
    • CFA MT 672: Advanced Tonal Composition

Approved electives (13 credits total from among the choices):

  • CFA MT 851/MT 852: Seminars in Tonal/Post-Tonal Music Theory (3 cr)
  • CFA MH 841: History of Music Theory I (3 cr)
  • CFA MT 761: Schenkerian Analysis II (3 cr)
  • Advanced courses in musicology, composition, or other disciplines (2–4 cr)
  • At least 6 elective credits should be in music theory or approved closely related areas.

Music Education

Requirements are as follows:

  • 12 credits of music education courses
  • 6 credits of graduate-level musicology and music theory courses
  • 2 credits in CFA MH 799: Master’s Thesis
  • 12 credits of approved electives

Composition

Requirements are as follows:

  • CFA MH 601: Music Research Techniques
  • 18 credits to be chosen from the following:
    • CFA MT 621: Graduate Composition
    • CFA MT 741: Advanced Topics in Counterpoint
    • CFA MT 631/632: Orchestration I, II
  • 6 credits of graduate-level musicology courses
  • 6 credits of approved electives

Language Requirement

All students pursuing an MA in Music are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in a foreign language prior to completion of the degree. Language proficiency can be demonstrated through either a language examination or successful completion of a non-credit graduate-level foreign language reading course offered by Boston University.

Comprehensive Exams

MA candidates in the historical musicology specialization must pass a Comprehensive Exam. This exam should be taken no later than the beginning of the fourth semester of course work. The one-half hour oral exam will consist of short answers to questions about some fundamental areas of scholarship, the work of some of the main scholars in the field, and landmark repertories and genres.

MA candidates in the ethnomusicology specialization must pass a Comprehensive Exam. This exam should be taken no later than the beginning of the fourth semester of course work. The one-half hour oral exam will consist of questions about the theory, history, and practice of ethnomusicology. Candidates must display a general knowledge of the field and its history.

Master’s Thesis

Candidates in the historical musicology, ethnomusicology, and music theory specializations must write a thesis. Students should discuss and formulate a topic with their advisor by the end of their second semester.

Candidates in the music education specialization must write a thesis as outlined in the Music Education Department handbook.

Candidates in the composition specialization must write an orchestral composition requiring a minimum of 15 minutes in performance or an instrumental, vocal, or chamber ensemble composition requiring a minimum of 20 minutes in performance.