Bachelor of Music in Theory

At the University of Missouri, we invite students to explore the many ways of understanding music. Our scholars engage in active listening, vibrant discussions, and thoughtful analysis through compositions, collaborative presentations, and research projects. The skills gained through these activities are essential for those who wish to pursue careers in education, performance, composition, or the academic study of music.

This degree is designed to provide the graduate with a broad survey of approaches of how one might think about music. Following this degree, you might use this knowledge to privately tutor music theory, use it as the foundation for teaching AP music theory in high school, work in the larger music industry, or pursue further study at the master’s level.

Music majors pursuing a degree in theory must apply, typically toward the end of the sophomore year of study: 

File an application with the coordinator of the Theory Area no later than April 1 of the sophomore year. 

Take an examination in stylistic writing and analysis, dictation, sight-singing, and keyboard. Students may be exempt from this exam if a) the application has been approved by the theory faculty and b) a grade of B or better has been earned in all composition and theory courses taken thus far. 

Music Theory and Composition (including Capstone), 40-41 credits 

Students enroll in Music 3085, Problems in Music, and prepare a research paper based on individual projects. Content shall include research about historical information, bibliographic listings, and analysis or application of theoretical studies.

Music History, 12 credits

Applied Music (Studio Instruction), 20 credits 

Secondary Applied Study: four separate one-hour courses (Music 1435) in different media will be chosen in consultation with the composition faculty.

Ensembles, 8 credits 

Students must participate in one major ensemble each semester on their principal instrument, as assigned by the music faculty

Other Music (Group Piano, Conducting, Recital Attendance), 2-6 credits 

Non-piano majors with piano skills may audition to test out of some or all of the sequence, or to take higher-level studio instruction. 

Refer to the appropriate graduation plan in the "PDF Documents" menu on the right-hand side of this screen.

It may be possible to test out of certain non-music requirements or be excused on the basis of Advance Placement or Dual Enrollment credit (see “Advance Standing Options” in the Undergraduate Catalog). All non-music transfer credit is approved and evaluated by the Office of Admissions.

MU General Education Requirements

Generally academic music or non-music courses, although up to four may be taken in Chamber Music (1846) or a large ensemble on a secondary instrument or voice.

A Graduation Plan must be submitted to College of Arts & Science during the semester in which the student passes the 60-credit-hour threshold (normally during the sophomore year) in order to register for subsequent semesters. The Plan must be signed by the student’s advisor and the Associate Director, and then presented, along with two photocopies, to the Arts & Science Advising Office (107 Lowry Hall). Completion of this form is intended to ensure that the student has a clear plan of study, including all college and school requirements, before the beginning of the junior year. 

Grades of D may not be used to fulfill music requirements without the approval of the advisor, Associate Director or Director, and the Dean; and the student must achieve an overall average of 2.0 in all courses taken.

In addition to, theory majors must earn a grade of B in all theory courses. Students failing to do so may continue on a probationary basis only. Reinstatement as a theory major can be accomplished only by approval of the theory faculty.