Music Theory, M.M.

Center for the Performing and Cinematic Arts / BOYER COLLEGE OF MUSIC AND DANCE

Learn more about the Master of Music in Music Theory.

About the Program

The Master of Music in Music Theory provides a comprehensive collection of courses designed to develop skills in the areas of music theory research, music analysis, and musical composition.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 6 years

Campus Location: Main

Full-Time/Part-Time Status: The degree program can be completed on a full- or part-time basis.

Accreditation: This degree program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

Areas of Specialization: The master's program in Music Theory is organized into a series of small seminars, with an emphasis on developing strong analytical skills and the application of music theory in the academic environment. The program's primary purpose is to prepare majors for further academic studies at the doctoral level.

Job Prospects: The program prepares students for various careers related to music, and for further academic and musical training at the doctoral level.

Non-Matriculated Student Policy: With permission from the Dean's Office, individuals may be granted permission to enter the College as a non-matriculated student, taking up to 9 graduate credits (excluding private lessons) before applying for admission to a program.

Financing Opportunities: Boyer College of Music and Dance offers a number of assistantships and academic internships to matriculated graduate students. Full awards carry a cash stipend plus full tuition remission for the Fall and Spring terms. Partial awards also are available in values of 1/4 or 1/2 of a full award. Duties for assistantships and internships vary, but typically include teaching, tutoring, classroom assistance, research, artistic performance, and/or direct service related to academic programs. Assistantship and internship awards are made only in the Fall term for up to two terms: Fall and Spring. Awards may be renewed on an annual basis (typically up to one additional year for master's students and up to three years for doctoral students) based on departmental needs as well as satisfactory academic and musical progress by the recipient.

Admission Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadline:

Fall: January 7
Spring: November 1

Decisions regarding admission are rendered after receipt of all required credentials. Late applications may be considered for admission.

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:
Number Required: 2

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from evaluators who can provide insight into the applicant's abilities, talents, and aptitude for graduate study.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration: All applicants must present credentials that are the equivalent of the appropriate Bachelor of Music degree at Temple University, which is based on a curriculum of 124 to 135 hours.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline: A degree in Music is expected.

Statement of Goals: Include your special interests within the discipline and expectations for the program.

Standardized Test Scores:
Applicants who earned their baccalaureate degree from an institution where the language of instruction was other than English, with the exception of those who subsequently earned a master’s degree at a U.S. institution, must report scores for a standardized test of English that meet these minimums:

  • TOEFL iBT: 79
  • IELTS Academic: 6.5
  • PTE Academic: 53

Resume: Current resume required.

Writing Sample: An applicant must submit with the application for admission an undergraduate-level paper demonstrating her/his ability to do musical analysis and/or report research. The applicant must submit an assignment of:

  • A compositional nature, such as counterpoint, a figured bass, a harmonized melody, an original composition, or the like; and
  • An analytical nature, such as a formal analysis, a harmonic analysis, a pitch-class set analysis, or the like.

Transfer Credit: A student who wishes to transfer credit should speak with her/his academic advisor and obtain a "Request for Transfer of Graduate Credit" form, found in TUportal under the Tools tab within “University Forms.” Transfer credits must be approved by the advisor, the department chair, and the Associate Dean. The maximum number of credits a student may transfer is 6.

Other: Due to the large number of applications for admission and the competitive nature of its music programs, the College admits only a portion of its applicants. In addition to the general admissions credentials required of all Temple University graduate applicants, specialized admission criteria (i.e., auditions, portfolios, interviews, recommendations, departmental term papers, and standardized examinations) are very heavily weighted in admission decisions of the Boyer College of Music and Dance. Graduate applicants may be rejected for admission for failing to obtain the required level of proficiency in any one area of the specialized admission criteria regardless of the level of success in meeting the Temple University general admission criteria. In addition to the level of success demonstrated in the above-mentioned criteria, a final admission factor is the College's Optimum Enrollment Policy. This policy may preclude the admission of any student who meets the minimum requirements.

Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 32

Required Courses:

Core Courses
MUST 8701Research in Music3
MUST 8713Canon and Fugue3
MUST 8742Seminar in Theoretical Analysis (Post-Tonal Music)3
MUST 8742Seminar in Theoretical Analysis (Schenkerian Analysis)3
MUST 8749Current Topics in Musicology and Theory3
One course involving Music and Technology3
Electives 112
Capstone Course
MUST 9996Final Written Project: Music Theory (2 terms)2
Total Credit Hours32

Language Examination: Students must pass an exam in a foreign language. French and German are strongly recommended, but a different language is possible with approval of the division coordinator. The exam is waived for students who had 2 years of a foreign language as an undergraduate, or for students who reached the final term of a foreign language as an undergraduate.

Additional Requirements:

All degree credits are to be earned at Temple University.

Diagnostic Examinations:
Diagnostic examinations in Aural Theory, Written Theory, and Music History are required for all entering master's students. The exceptions are students in Jazz Studies and Music Therapy who have their examinations arranged within their respective departments. In addition, Keyboard students take an additional two-hour examination in Keyboard Literature. As stated in the Boyer College Graduate Handbook, master’s "students may not take final qualifying examinations nor perform graduation recitals until all diagnostic examinations have been successfully completed."

The exams may be taken in one day or split over three days, or the exams can be taken online for a fee. Preparations are provided upon registration. Visit the Boyer College of Music and Dance website for the graduate music examination schedule and registration form.

Please note that registration for a student's first term of study is completed in consultation with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Please re-read the admission letter, especially the “Special Notes” section on page 2, regarding any entrance deficiencies. If any remedial coursework is required, it must be completed by the end of the first year of study. It is also best for students to complete MUST 8701 Research in Music, which is required of all students except those in Jazz Studies, Music Education, and Music Therapy in the first year of study.

A. Graduate Diagnostic Examination in Aural Theory

The examination lasts approximately 40 minutes and consists of a written portion in which students are asked to:

  1. Dictate a chord progression that modulates and contains chromatic harmony by writing out the bass line and identifying chords by Roman numerals and inversions.
  2. Complete a two-part melodic dictation that modulates and contains chromatic pitches.

B. Graduate Diagnostic Examination in Written Theory

The examination lasts one and one-half hours and is in two parts: 

  1. Harmonic analysis of two chorales: one that uses diatonic harmony, and one that uses chromatic harmony.
  2. Analysis of the form, motives, and phrase structures of the first movement of a Classical-era piano sonata.

C. Graduate Diagnostic Examination in Music History

The examination lasts one hour and contains objective questions in a multiple choice and/or true/false format. It covers composers, forms, instruments, musical works, styles, and terms from 1450 to the present. Sample questions are:

  1. The basso continuo came into use in about which year?
    (a) 1500  (b) 1600  (c) 1650  (d) 1700
  2. Who composed Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth)?
    (a) Mahler  (b) Bruckner  (c) Brahms  (d) Schumann
  3. Which of the following instruments would not be found in the score of a symphony by Haydn?
    (a) horn  (b) oboe  (c) timpani  (d) trombone  (e) trumpet

D. Conditions for Exemption from Diagnostic Examinations

The requirement to take the Diagnostic Examination in any area is waived only for graduates of the Boyer College of Music and Dance who:

  • matriculate and enroll in the term immediately following completion of all undergraduate degree requirements; and
  • received grades of "B-" or better in every undergraduate course taken in each individual examination area to be waived.

Keyboard Examination:
This exam is scheduled by the student with a member of the Music Theory faculty. Although it can be scheduled at any time, the student is strongly encouraged to complete the exam in the first year of study. Students prepare the following:

  1. Score reading of the exposition of the first movement of an 18th-century symphony.
  2. A simple lied accompaniment.
  3. A Bach chorale.
  4. A figured bass.

Professional Development Policy:
In addition to taking the required subjects for their degrees, all students in the Boyer College of Music and Dance are obligated to serve in a number of capacities in order to enrich their academic and musical expertise. Boyer College of Music and Dance believes that such experiences give impetus to successful professional careers. Among the duties that may be required are conducting laboratory classes; tutoring; teaching private lessons; coaching; participating in the distribution and inventory control of Temple University-owned musical instruments and instructional materials; participating in ensembles; accompanying; performing at admissions and open house events; supervising performance classes; and engaging in other academic activities.

Independent Study Courses:
Independent study courses provide a special opportunity for graduate students to work in a highly individualized setting with one or more faculty members. All such study must receive the approval of the faculty member providing the instruction, the students' major advisor, and the Associate Dean. Approval will be granted only after the student has presented a detailed description of the intended independent study project. Approval of independent study projects will be granted only for students whose academic and musical record provides substantial support for the benefits of this type of study. In no case may more than 20% of a graduate student's curriculum be taken as independent study. Private lessons beyond those required in the curriculum are not an appropriate form of independent study.

Acceptable English:
All students, including those for whom English is not the native language, are expected to present all written work in acceptable English. No double standard exists to differentiate students on the basis of proficiency in the use of the English language. Students are also responsible for becoming familiar with the College's statement on plagiarism and academic honesty.

Applied Music Study:

  1. Graduate students in non-performing curricula may take up to 6 credits of applied study toward the degree with the permission of the major advisor. Such non-required lessons may be taken only if the student can pass the normal graduate-level performing audition expected of performance majors. In this event, a fee of $200, not covered by tuition remission, is charged.
  2. Regardless of major, graduate students with a demonstrable performing proficiency that may not meet the more rigorous requirements of a graduate-level audition may, by audition, qualify to take 2 credits of applied study per term for graduate credit. These courses carry a fee of $400 plus tuition and may be applied to the non-performing curriculum for degree credit. Up to 6 credits may be taken with the approval of the major advisor.
  3. Graduate assistantships and other forms of University-sponsored financial aid do not cover private lesson or Recital Extension fees.

Incompletes:
All incomplete grades and keyboard proficiencies must be fulfilled by the first day of the month in which the student expects to graduate.

Culminating Events:
Comprehensive Examination:
This three-hour written examination includes two lists: one of terms to identify, and the second of music theorists to describe and explain. The examination also requires short essay answers about current theory and an analysis of a work provided. Students should contact the Associate Dean of the Boyer College of Music and Dance in writing at least one month before the scheduled date of the examination. This exam is generally given in the first week of April. Scheduled by Assistant Dean David Brown, the exam is graded by two members of the department’s graduate faculty.

Final Written Project:
Music Theory majors write a final written project (MUST 9996 Final Written Project: Music Theory) — not a thesis — that is 30-40 pages in length. Students choose an advisor, who approves the topic of the project in Music Theory. Students are strongly encouraged to begin their final project no later than the beginning of the second year of study and complete the project in their final term of study. The completed final project must be approved by the advisor and a second reader, generally a faculty member in Music Studies.

Contacts

Program Web Address:

https://www.temple.edu/academics/degree-programs/music-theory-mm-bc-mthr-mmus

Department Information:

Dept. of Music Studies

Center for the Performing and Cinematic Arts/Boyer College of Music and Dance

2001 N. 13th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19122-6079

cynthia.folio@temple.edu

215-204-8316

Submission Address for Application Materials:

https://apply.temple.edu/Boyer/

Department Contacts:

Admissions:

James Short

jshort@temple.edu

215-204-8598

Program Coordinator:

Dr. Cynthia Folio

cynthia.folio@temple.edu

215-204-8316

Chairperson:

Dr. Cynthia Folio

cynthia.folio@temple.edu

215-204-8316