MA in Music Theory

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MA in Music Theory students will encounter a wide variety of course options offered by a diverse, energetic faculty. All of our graduate students engage with the important major areas of Western music theory, including Schenkerian analysis, set theory and serialism, and the history of music theory. Additionally, areas of special interest include: critical studies, neo-Riemannian transformation theory, neo-Classicism and chromaticism. A strong contemporary music presence and cross-disciplinary approach to music study ensure a lively, close-knit community of composers, performers and scholars.

One of UB’s greatest resources, and fundamental to all of our degree tracks, is the Music Library, conveniently located on-site in Baird Hall. The Music Library possesses unusually strong collections in the areas of jazz, rare editions and contemporary music, including related graphic arts. 

Students who join the MA in Music Theory track encounter a stimulating environment for exploring and pursuing the many avenues open within music scholarship today.

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Course Requirements

The following is the approved normal course of study for students pursuing the MA in Music Theory. In all cases, a student's particular program should be determined in consultation with his/her academic advisor.  Customized tracks, involving substitutions for required and elective courses, are encouraged. These must be planned in advance with the advisor and will require the approval of the Music Department Graduate Committee.

Courses Credits
MUS 554, 613 or 614 Studies or Seminar in Music Theory 4
MUS 621 Schenker Studies I 4
MUS 629 Pitch Structures I 4
MUS 605 or 606 History of Music Theory 4
MUS 515, 517, 525, 526, 527, 528, or 529 Music History 4
MUS 618 Bibliography 4
Foreign Language (See below)  
Thesis  8
Total 32

foreign language requirement

One foreign language, normally German or French, although a different language can be substituted upon petition. The department advises students to complete the language requirement as early as possible, as many graduate courses require research in a foreign language.


The student must submit a final project that demonstrates advanced competence in research and writing. This project may be a thesis, a series of special papers, or a written work of equivalent scope and depth.

Retention standards

All degree coursework must be completed with grades of "A," B," or "S."

Cooperative Degree Opportunity with Department of Information Science

Students in the music history or music theory masters program can also apply to do a Cooperative degree program with the Department of Information Science in the Graduate School of Education ( This program leaves students with two masters degrees and makes them highly qualified for both music and other librarianship positions.  

The cooperative degree program has a long and venerable history, being one of only 7 such programs in the country to be recognized by the MLA (Music Libraries Association): Students from the program have been notably successful in securing significant job placements including music librarianship posts at the University of Michigan, Belmont University, College of the Holy Cross, National Defense University, and the University of Oregon; and other prestigious positions including Manager of Metadata Services at the New York Public Library, Media and Metadata Librarian at the Curtis Institute of Music, Head of Shared Cataloging and Special Formats Metadata at Brown University, and Technical Services Librarian in the Conservatory Library at Oberlin College.  

The MS in Information and Library Science degree requires 36 credit hours; the MA in music history or music theory requires 32 credit hours. Up to six (6) credits can be shared by both degree programs. The program generally requires five semesters and at least one summer session to complete. Students must be accepted by both the Department of Information Science and the Music Department.


Contact professor Brian Moseley, Music Theory Area Coordinator

Brian Moseley

Associate Professor (Music Theory); Area Coordinator; Music Theory

Department of Music

418 Baird Hall

Phone: (716) 645-0646