Music Theory

Music Theory interview requirements

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

In response to the ongoing pandemic, the Jacobs School of Music Office of Admissions and Financial Aid is adapting our audition procedures for 2021-2022 admissions to meet state and university guidelines related to COVID-19.


  • 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.

Prescreen portfolio

Submit the following via the JSOM Supplemental application by Dec. 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.
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Academic records must also be sent to
  • 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 send them to by December 1, 2020.

Live virtual interview and musicianship evaluation

Applicants invited for a live virtual interview will meet with the department chair and other members of the theory faculty. We will communicate with you via email after December 1 to schedule your live virtual audition and/or interview event(s).

You will also complete an audition 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.

Applicants must have access to a piano or keyboard for the musicianship evaluation.

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