Composition and Music Theory

At Boston University, the Composition & Music 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.

The Master of Arts in Music Theory program 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 a close connection with the wider community of students and faculty in the Composition and Musicology graduate programs.

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Undergraduate Programs

Graduate Programs

Degrees Offered

  • Bachelor of Arts  in Music
    with concentration in Music Theory
  • Bachelor of Music in Composition & Theory
  • Master of Music in Composition
  • Master of Arts in Music Theory
  • Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition

Faculty Members

  • Martin Amlin

    Mildred P. Gilfillan Professor of Music; Chair, Composition and Theory


Music Theory

  • Deborah Burton

    Associate Professor of Music, Composition and Music Theory

  • David Kopp

    Associate Professor of Music, Composition and Music Theory

  • Jason Yust

    Associate Professor of Music, Composition and Music Theory; Director of Undergraduate Studies

Unique Opportunities

Notable Graduates

Recent graduates in composition are teaching in music schools and universities throughout the world. They are recipients of Guggenheim Fellowships, Fulbright Grants, the Prix de Rome, as well as ASCAP and NACUSA prizes.

Graduates of the theory program have gone on to enroll in some of the leading doctoral programs in music theory, including Yale University, Eastman School of Music, Florida State University, and Louisiana State University.