MA in Music History

Composition by Mozart.

The MA in Music History offers a broadly interdisciplinary, humanistic approach to musical scholarship. From the first semester, students participate in a central component of this degree track: the musicology seminar. By engaging with music through primary sources, analysis and critique of style, and in wider historical, cultural and philosophical contexts, graduate students develop their own unique questions about the capacity for music to both shape and be shaped by the social condition in which it was created, as well as interpretations and applications past, present and future.  

Courses are taught by distinguished Department of Music faculty whose scholarly work has been featured in many of the leading English-language journals, including The Journal of the American Musicological Society, Early Music History, The Musical Quarterly, Music and Letters, Popular Music, Nineteenth-Century Music Review, Women and Music and The Journal of Musicological Research. Generally, students complete the degree after two years of full-time study, with the fourth semester dedicated to the thesis. The timeline is also flexible to accommodate students with employment or other commitments.

Within a close, collegial atmosphere, students form supportive relationships with their peers. Encouraged to share research, attend performances by fellow students, and participate in professional development opportunities together—such as conferences with the American Musicological Society (AMS) —our graduate students leave the department equipped with a strong network of professional contacts.

Regardless of whether a student’s background is in academic or performance-based music, the MA in Music History serves as excellent preparation for both a doctoral degree and a myriad of career opportunities

Course Requirements

The following is the approved normal course of study for students pursuing the MA in Music History. 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. Students may also take cognate courses outside the Department of Music to augment their areas of interest. These must be planned in advance with the advisor and will require the approval of the Music Department Graduate Committee.

Courses Credits
MUS 515/517, 525-530 Seminars in Musicology (3 courses) 12-14
MUS 618 Bibliography 4
MUS 625 or 626 Notation 4
Music Theory Elective 4
Foreign Language (See below.)  
Thesis 0-8
Total 32

foreign language requirement

Reading proficiency in German. 


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 James Currie, Musicology Area Coordinator

James Currie

Director of Graduate Studies; Associate Professor (Historical Musicology); Area Coordinator, Historical Musicology

Department of Music

306 Baird Hall

Phone: (716) 645-0629