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Music theory at Ohio State provides students with skills and knowledge for all careers in music. The innovative undergraduate curriculum fosters strong musicianship through creative exercises in improvisation and composition, as well as analysis of various repertoires including Western classical, pop and jazz. Upper-level undergraduate courses, also taken by master's students, include analysis of popular music; video game music; 18th, 19th and 20th century music; extended tonality, counterpoint, and music technology.

Graduate study in music theory consists of two degree programs, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. The graduate program emphasizes interdisciplinary studies and theory pedagogy, to guide scholars on paths to professional careers, typically but not exclusively in academia. Recent graduates are teaching at colleges and universities, and several others have chosen to take positions in the information economy. Areas of faculty and graduate student research include music and media, rhythm and meter, ludomusicology, esotericism, avant-garde music, and popular music. Students are encouraged to take advantage of multi-disciplinary collaborations within the university and the College of Arts and Sciences. Many students take coursework offered by Theatre, Film, and Media ArtsDance; the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design; and some elect to pursue a graduate minor, certificate, or interdisciplinary specialization in addition to their core disciplinary training in music theory. Graduate students develop a broad range of teaching strategies for the undergraduate music theory classroom through their appointments as teaching associates, and some complete the Graduate Certificate in College and University Teaching. 

The program is enriched by guest speakers on the William Poland Lecture Series.

Not accepting undergraduate students for the BM in Music Theory for Autumn 2024.

Theory Assessments and Diagnostic Exams

All undergraduate students seeking to enroll in 2000-level theory coursework should take the Theory Skills Assessment.
All graduate students take Graduate Entrance Assessments in theory prior to enrolling in coursework.

Want to learn more?

Future undergraduate and graduate students, explore our degree programs, application and audition details and more, in the navigation menu.

High school students, learn about outreach programs, admissions visit days, request an appointment with our admissions coordinator, and more at Undergraduate Admissions.


  • Future undergraduate students — contact Tanya Sparks, admissions coordinator, at sparks.348@osu.edu.
  • Future graduate students — contact Graduate Studies at mus-grad@osu.edu.