Music Theory (MM)

Master of Music in Music Theory
Unit: School of Music (GU)
Program Website 
Academic Plan Code(s): MUSIMM_MUT

Program Information

The School of Music offers training toward two specific graduate degrees in music: Master of Music requiring a minimum of 36 credit hours of graduate credit, and Master of Music Education requiring 30 credit hours. All programs require a minimum of 24 credit hours of residence at the University of Louisville. 

The Music Theory area is committed to the instillment of a core of performative and analytical skills that will serve musical practitioners throughout their careers. In graduate courses, students apply these core skills to the study of a broad musical repertory. Students pursuing a master's degree in music theory work closely with our faculty to develop their interests in research and pedagogy and prepare themselves for careers in teaching and performance.

General Information Regarding Academic Policies

  1. Detailed curricular and program offerings, including specific requirements and provisions for degree programs, are published in the university catalog. Students will be provided with copies of the "Handbook for Graduate Studies in Music", the "Guidelines for Preparation for the Graduate Music History Entrance Examination," and "Guidelines for Preparation for the Graduate Music Theory Entrance Examination." These documents are also available on the School of Music website.
  2. Students will be required to address any deficiencies revealed by entrance examinations in courses taken within the first two semesters of study. Credit toward the degree is not granted for review coursework.
  3. All students are required to complete MUS 607 Bibliography and Research Methods  by the end of the second semester of study (part-time students by the completion of 15 credit hours of graduate study). Upon satisfactory completion of requirements stated in Handbook sections B.2 and B.3, students will be considered in good standing.
  4. Students will complete a project appropriate to the field of study as defined by the faculty of their program. The completion of this project (public recital, thesis, professional paper) normally takes place in the last semester of graduate study. Preparation and presentation of a recital must follow the guidelines in the "Handbook for Graduate Studies in Music" and the preparation of a thesis must follow the "Guidelines for the Preparation and Processing of Theses" issued by the Graduate School. The preparation of a thesis in music composition must also follow the "School of Music Thesis Formatting Guidelines for MM in Composition".
  5. In order to graduate, a student must be in good standing with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0. No more than six (6) credit hours with any C or C+ grade will be accepted toward a degree, and no grade below a B-minus will be accepted for a course in the student's major subject area. Hours earned beyond the minimum in any curricular areas apply only to that area and cannot be assigned to another area in order to satisfy required credit. At least one-half of the total credit hours in graduate courses must be at the 600 level. Any exceptions to the program of study must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. A student whose cumulative GPA falls below 3.0, or who fails to satisfy the published performance criteria, will be placed on probation. Students are ordinarily not permitted to continue on probation for more than one semester.
  6. When all coursework and projects have been satisfactorily completed, the student becomes a candidate for the degree and is approved to take the graduate oral examination. A candidate who fails the oral examination at the end of one semester may not be given a second one before the end of the following semester. A candidate who fails the second oral examination will not be granted the degree of MM or MME from the University of Louisville.
  7. Upon request, a maximum of six (6) credit hours of earned graduate credit with a minimum grade of B may be transferred from accredited institutions that offer advanced degrees. Credit for applied music will not be transferred, but advanced standing may be awarded at a jury. Ensemble credits appropriate to the student's degree program may be considered for transfer, but not to exceed one (1) credit hour per semester. Music history and music theory credits will be evaluated for transfer by the Director of Graduate Studies and the respective faculty. Transfer of more than six (6) credit hours may be requested provided that they are not earned by extension, or as thesis or practicum hours, and that the residency requirement of 24 credit hours is maintained by the addition of University of Louisville credits to the total program. Transfer of graduate hours within the University of Louisville toward a graduate degree in music may be requested provided that the minimum residence requirement of 24 credit hours is maintained.
  8. Students receiving a graduate assistantship (teaching, research, or service) will be provided with adequate training and will be required to adhere to university policies. Performance of duties in research and service by graduate assistants will be periodically evaluated. Students with teaching assistantships will be evaluated each semester.
  9. Part-time students (with the exception of those in the MME degree program) must participate in one ensemble for every 18 credit hours of completed coursework. If part-time study precludes completing ensemble degree requirements, other coursework may be substituted.

Admission Requirements

  1. Applications for admission to a graduate program require the following:
    1. A completed application;
    2. An application fee;
    3. Official transcripts for all previous post-secondary course work (all transcripts not in English must be certified as authentic and translated verbatim into English);
    4. At least two letters of recommendation;
    5. Scores from the General Test Section of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) that must be submitted prior to the beginning of study.
  2. Applications to specific degree programs require evidence of preparation for advanced study as follows:
    1. In performance, an acceptable audition;
    2. In academic specializations (music composition, music history, music theory), a portfolio of work appropriate to the field of study;
    3. In music education, evidence of classroom teaching experience.
  3. Applicants whose primary language is not English must show English language proficiency in one of the following ways:
    1. A minimum TOEFL examination score of 550 on the paper-based test, 213 on the computer-based test, or 79-80 on the internet-based test;
    2. Documentation of the award of a degree from a recognized English language institution.
  4. Applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution in the area to be pursued in advanced studies, or they must present evidence of equivalent preparation.
  5. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 2.75 on a 4-point scale.

Applicants who meet the requirements listed in items 1-5 will be considered for conditional admission for graduate study at the School of Music. For additional entrance requirements specific to the degree of interest, see below.

Entrance examinations in music history, theory and, if appropriate, jazz, will be administered before the first term of study. The School of Music provides guidelines to assist in preparing for the entrance examinations.

Any exception to the above expectations will be evaluated individually and will require a statement indicating criteria to be met in a specified time frame with provisions for monitoring progress and performance. Justification must be provided in writing and must be accepted by the faculty of the student's proposed program, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Dean of the School of Music.

Students who fail to meet performance standards or who do not meet other requirements as outlined in the letter of admission, program of study, or the catalog of the University of Louisville are subject to dismissal from their programs.

Program Requirements


Core Coursework
MUS 400Theory Review 10
MUS 500Music History Review 10
MUS 509Major Ensembles (Three Semesters)3
MUS 600Graduate Oral Exam Preparation0
MUS 607Bibliography and Research Methods3
Music History Seminar (600-level) 23
Music Theory3
Additional Music Theory or Music History Seminar (500- or 600-level)3
Select one of the following: 3
Advanced Chromatic Harmony and Analysis
Advanced Post-Tonal Theory and Analysis
Advanced Analysis
Concentration Requirements (see tab)14
Minimum Total Hours36

Other Requirements

All students must pass an oral examination after all course work is completed.

Music Theory Concentration

MUS 641Pedagogy of Theory I3
MUS 651Schenkerian Analysis3
MUS 694Research (2 semesters)4
MUS 665Music Theory Seminar (4 semesters)0
Music Electives 14
Minimum Total Hours14