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Major Requirements

music department

Minimum of 12 courses / 38 credits

Updated to reflect new course numbers to be offered in Fall 2014. Three digit numbers will no longer be used to reference courses, but are indicated in parentheses for reference.

Optional Introductory Course, depending on previous knowledge of music theory

  • MUSA 1100 (MU 070) Fundamentals of Music Theory

May be substituted for one of the electives, with the approval of the Chairperson.

Theory, Analysis, and Composition Courses - four courses total


  • MUSA 1100 (MU 070) Fundamentals of Music Theory, or equivalent

Required of all majors:

  • MUSA 2100 (MU 110) Harmony
  • MUSA 3100 (MU 211) Chromatic Harmony
  • MUSA 3106 (MU 312) Counterpoint

Choice of any one course:

  • MUSA 3110 (MU 214) Form and Analysis
  • MUSA 3114 (MU 215) Jazz Harmony
  • MUSA 3120 (MU 315) Composition Seminar
  • MUSA 3126 (MU 316) Tonal Composition

Historical Courses - three courses total

Required of all majors:

  • MUSA 2209 (MU 209) Music of the Modern Era

Choice of any two:

  • MUSA 2201 (MU 201) Medieval-Renaissance Music
  • MUSA 2203 (MU 203) Music of the Baroque
  • MUSA 2205 (MU 205) Music of the Classic Period
  • MUSA 2207 (MU 207) Music of the Romantic Era

With permission of the Chairperson, a composer or genre course may be substituted for a period course.

Cross-Cultural Courses - two courses total

Required of all majors, a choice of one from each of the following two groups:

  • Group I - Non-Western tradition
    • MUSA 1320 (MU 301) Introduction to World Music
    • MUSA 2306 (MU 306) African Music
    • MUSA 2307 (MU 307) Musics of Asia
    • MUSA 2308 Music in the Medieval Islamic World
    • MUSA 3342 (MU 342) Music & Ecstasy
    • MUSA 1320, 2306, and 2307 also satisfy the Core Cultural Diversity requirement
  • Group II - Western tradition
    • MUSA 2320 (MU 320) Music and America
    • MUSA 2330 (MU 326) History of Jazz
    • MUSA 2331 (MU 321) Rhythm and Blues in American Music
    • MUSA 2332 (MU 322) Jazz in America
    • MUSA 2340 (MU 330) Introduction to Irish Folk Music
    • MUSA 3330 Contemporary Jazz Scenes

Required Senior Seminar - one semester

The Senior Seminar, MUSA 4941 (MU 405) is ordinarily open only to senior music majors. The Seminar entails a series of weekly projects allowing majors to investigate issues in depth with special emphasis in one of the areas listed above -- theory and composition, history, cross-cultural, or performance. The Seminar serves as preparation for a senior project, with supervised reading, research, writing, and discussion.

Electives - two courses

The student will choose a minimum of two semester courses in whatever category is appropriate to his or her particular interest, whether it is in music theory and composition, performance, history, or cross-cultural studies. Students with performance emphasis must have three semesters of private instruction for credit. The three credits for private instruction will be bundled into a full course only upon completion of the jury at the end of the third semester of lessons. See Credit for Performance.

Co-requisites for the Major

  • Performance/Ensemble Experience
    Minimum of two semesters/  Each major must have two semester of experience in performance in some capacity and may choose from any organized performance group at Boston College, such as Boston College Symphony Orchestra; Chamber Music Ensemble; Popular Styles Ensemble; Irish Traditional Music classes; University Chorale, Madrigals, Voices of Imani, or student a capella group; Concert Band, BC bOp, through more informal students groups, by consultation with Chairperson, or through private lessons.
  • Listening Repertory Lists
    Majors will be asked to identify important works from the Western tradition in a series of Listening Repertory exams. Each year of the music major (normally three), a list of works will be given to the student that they must be able to identify by the end of the year. A listening test on each of three lists of works will be administered until the student passes.
  • Ear Training/Sight Singing
    All Majors will be expected to have passed the minimum competency requirements in Ear Training and Sight-Singing before graduation. The course MUSA 1090-2090 (MU081-082) Ear-Training and Sight-Singing, a one-credit course, is designed and recommended as an aid to passing this test.

Recommended Course of Study

Information for First Year

Included in the University's Core Curriculum is one course in the Arts (Fine Arts, Music, or Theatre). MUSA 1200 (MU 066) Introduction to Music, and MUSA 1100 (MU 070) Fundamentals of Music Theory, and MUSA 1300 (MU 030) History of Popular Music are the Music Department's Core offerings. They are designed for the non-musician as well as the student who has studied music. Prospective music majors and minors should reference the Recommended Course of Study listed below. Students with advanced musical backgrounds and interests should speak to the Director of the Undergraduate Program in Music regarding appropriate upper-level courses. The department offers MUSA 1320 (MU 301) Introduction to World Music as an option for the Cultural Diversity requirement of the Core.

Freshman Year

All students declaring the music major should try as freshmen to take or test out of MUSA 1100 (MU 070) Fundamentals of Music Theory, a course covering the notation of music and fundamental ear-training. Freshmen who feel they may wish to consider majoring in music (or wish to fulfill the Core requirement in Fine Arts by taking a music course) should take MU 005 The Musical Experience or MUSA 1200 (MU 066) Introduction to Music. Either of these courses is a general introduction to the field and its various methodologies, and a student may receive retroactive credit for the major if passed with a B+ or higher.

Sophomore Year

Harmony and Chromatic Harmony should be taken in sequence along with MUSA 1090-2090 (MU 081-082), Ear Training/Sight Singing Labs. Two history courses in Western Music (selected from Medieval-Renaissance, Baroque Music, Music of the Classical Era, Music of the Romantic Era, Music of the Modern Era, or a composer or genre course) or one history course and one cross-cultural course should be taken. The first year's required Listening Repertoire should be mastered. Some performance experience (Orchestra, Chorale, Band, Chamber Music, non-Western performance, and/or private lessons) should be started and pursued throughout the rest of the major.

Junior Year

Counterpoint and a choice of Jazz Harmony, Form and Analysis, Orchestration or Composition and a second or third history course and/or a cross-cultural course should be taken. The second year of the required Listening Repertoire should be mastered.

Senior Year

Any advanced courses in the department relevant to the particular emphasis the student has chosen—performance, composition, history, or cross-cultural—and the Senior Seminar, which will help the student synthesize previous course work, should be taken. The final year of the required Listening Repertoire should be mastered.