Academic Programs Catalog

College of Music

Graduate Study

Music Theory - Master of Music

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Music students must meet the requirements specified below.


To be considered for admission to the Master of Music degree program in music theory, an applicant must submit to the College of Music:

  1. A one–page, type–written statement, written in English, that addresses the applicant's interest in the field of music theory and in Michigan State University's music theory program.
  2. At least two examples of original compositions, arrangements, orchestrations, or counterpoint exercises, as well as a scholarly writing sample. Applicants are invited to include items representative of their work in music theory.

To be admitted to the program on regular status, an applicant must have a bachelor's degree in music theory from a recognized educational institution, or have completed the courses in music theory that are required for the Bachelor of Music degree in music theory at Michigan State University or their equivalents.

Requirements for the Master of Music Degree in Music Theory

The program is available only under Plan B (without thesis). A total of 30 credits are required for the degree. The student’s program of study must be approved by the student’s academic advisor, who must be a member of the music theory faculty. The student must meet the requirements specified below:
1. All of the following courses (15 credits):
MUS  874 Schenkerian Analysis  2
MUS  876 Keyboard Skills and Practical Musicianship  3
MUS  970 Pedagogy of Theory I  3
MUS  971 Pedagogy of Theory II    3
MUS  974 Proseminar in Post-Tonal Theory and Analysis 2
MUS  979 Proseminar in Music Theory  2
2. One of the following courses (3 credits):
MUS  870 Advanced Modal Counterpoint  3
MUS  871 Advanced Tonal Counterpoint  3
Students who take both MUS 870 and 871 may count one of the courses toward requirement 3., below.
3. A minimum of 5 credits from the following courses:
MUS  875 Analysis of Musical Scores  3
MUS  976 Performance and Analysis  3
MUS  977 Schenkerian Analysis II  3
MUS  978 Analysis of Contemporary Music  2
4. Complete two semesters of MUS 973 Readings in Music Theory totaling 4 credits. If a student completes a third semester of MUS 973, it may be counted towards requirement 3. above.
5. Complete 3 credits in musicology at the 400-level or above. MUS 830 may not be used to fulfill this requirement.
6. Participate in music activities during two semesters of enrollment in the program. The activities must be approved in advance by the student’s academic advisor and selected from band, chamber ensemble, chorus, jazz band, new-music ensemble, or orchestra.
7. Complete a Teaching Demonstration. The demonstration must take place after the student has completed MUS 970 Pedagogy of Theory I. The demonstration will occupy a class period of an undergraduate course in music theory to be determined by the area chairperson. It will be graded by a three-person committee selected by the area chairperson and comprised of the course supervisor, another member of the music theory faculty, and one faculty member from outside the area. The grade will be pass/fail, based upon a majority vote of the three committee members.
8. Complete a capstone research project publicly at a music theory colloquium, to be advised and approved by a member of the music theory faculty. The project may be on either a research-related or a pedagogical topic, and must be similar in scope and format to a conference presentation. Students may choose a project begun or completed as part of a graduate seminar in music theory (such as MUS 971, MUS 973, MUS 974, MUS 977, MUS 978, or MUS 979) and revise or expand it as determined by the faculty advisor, or they may work on a new project or an expansion of a research paper from a different course.