Music Theory

  • Bachelor of Music
  • Major

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.

Related programs:
Music Music Theory


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Program Overview

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..

Learn more about the School of Music.

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.

Career Outlook

The demand for talent is always high, and students graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree, whether in composition, performance or theory, will discover career paths aligned to their specific talents and capabilities. Some students go on to more in-depth study in graduate programs, and some find their calling by bringing music to their communities and schools. The Career Insight tool is built on a national database of job openings, postings and requirements, but for many students in Stetson's School of Music, career connections are made during their course of study and through their practice and performance, and with the guidance of their faculty and colleagues. Approximately one-third of positions related to performing arts and teaching ask for a Bachelor's degree, and nearly half of all openings are for candidates with one to two years of experience — a good indication there is demand for music graduates.

Source: Burning Glass Technologies 2019.

Use the Career Insight tool to see what opportunities look like for you.

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