Music Theory

Music theorists seem to know just about everything about music.

Music theory majors often enter Stetson pursuing a different music-emphasis major, only to find they have an affinity for studying the intricacies and structure of many different types of music.

From the masterful counterpoint of J.S. Bach to the contemporary writings of Sydney Hodkinson, you will be exposed to and receive thorough training in theories of tonal and contemporary music, counterpoint, orchestration, composition and pedagogy.

Program Overview

  • Bachelor of Music
  • Possible second majors: Music Performance; Music with an Outside Field

At Stetson University, music theory majors focus on developing the complete musician. From academic studies in music theory to private one-hour lessons on an instrument of your choosing with a faculty expert, the Music Theory degree offers a unique combination of practical performing skills to aid in the theoretical knowledge you will gain. You will be prepared to teach music theory to individuals or to large groups.

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Program Benefits

With a major in music theory, you will complete a senior research project in some form through a recital, composition or research paper. You will take multiple upper-division theory courses that prepare you for work in an area of interest. Recent student projects include Harmonic and textual relationships in Gustav Mahler’s Rückertlieder, Thematic comparisons of Superman soundtracks by Hans Zimmer and John Williams, and Spectralism in the music of Gérard Grisey. Whatever your interests are, the Theory program offers guidance and support as you immerse yourself in a project that will prepare you for entrance into graduate study.

Outside of our innovative and thorough curriculum, you will also be given personal attention towards advanced studies in music theory, including one-on-one study for senior research projects or training as a theory tutor for other students. Also, you will be encouraged to take part in the Stetson Undergraduate Research Experience. Each year undergraduate scholars are selected in a university-wide competition for grants to work with a faculty mentor on a summer research project.

Music theory, aural training and functional keyboard placement tests are given at the beginning of the fall semester to students with prior experience in those areas. For information on the requirements and materials included on these tests, see the audition page and/or the placement exam preparation guide.


Career Significance

Students who major in music theory have continued their studies at outstanding graduate schools in multiple areas, including composition, music therapy and music theory. Recent graduates accepted graduate scholarship offers from the Eastman School of Music, Indiana University, Penn State, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Florida State University and Radford University. A number of those students have completed or are currently completing doctoral studies in music theory.

Completing a degree, in theory, does not limit the graduate study to that field; you may choose to continue on to be a music therapist, composer, musicologist, music educator or a collegiate theorist.