Music Theory

Music Theory

Master of Music (M.M.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

The following information is for entry into the 2025-2026 school year.


  • Prerequisite for M.M. in Music Theory: Bachelor's degree (B.M. or B.A.) in music
  • Prerequisite for Ph.D. in Music Theory: Master’s degree or substantial coursework in music theory.
    • Students with outstanding credentials may apply directly from a bachelor's degree.

Prescreening portfolio

Submit the following via the JSOM Supplemental application by Dec. 1.

  1. A writing sample:
    • M.M. applicants: a major music analysis paper (eight pages or more) from an upper-level undergraduate class, or a similar project
    • Ph.D. applicants: an extensive music analysis paper (20 pages or more), a master's thesis or similar large project, or two or more contrasting shorter papers
    • The writing sample may be on any topic, but if it does not include analysis of tonal music, applicants are encouraged to also submit one or more items that provide evidence of their understanding of tonal music. Examples might include a harmonic analysis of an extended passage of music or a model composition in a contrapuntal or other style.
    • The admissions commmittee will consider non-traditional modes of scholarship (blog posts, video essays, etc.) as supplemental to the application, but applicants must include one traditional music analysis paper as described above.
  2. Three letters of recommendation via the JSOM Supplemental application
  3. Academic records/ transcript(s) via the JSOM Supplemental application or by email at
  4. GRE General Test Scores, optional. Normally, the music theory department does not consider GRE scores as a factor in our admissions decision. However, if you would like us to consider your scores, please submit them with your JSOM Supplemental application or by email at

Live interview and musicianship evaluation

Applicants invited for an on-campus interview will meet with the department chair and other members of the theory faculty.

You will also complete a musicianship evaluation in order to determine your eligibility for an Associate Instructorship. Associate Instructors in music theory gain valuable teaching experience in our undergraduate courses in music theory and literature and in aural skills. The audition includes evaluations of:

  • Your skills in harmony, analysis, musical style, and music literature.
  • Your skills in sight-singing, dictation, and keyboard facility.
  • Your prior teaching experience.
  • Your ability to explain musical materials clearly and correctly.

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