Whether students desire a career in music or want to pursue their own love of the art, the Department of Music offers courses in theory and composition, in the history and current trends of both Western and non-Western music, and lessons in performance. All students, regardless of musical background, are welcome in any course unless a prerequisite or permission of instructor is indicated (as for certain theory courses).

The Department offers a variety of courses (MUSA1100, MUSA1200, MUSA1300) that satisfy the University Core requirement in the Arts and that serve as introductions to the various areas of musical knowledge. MUSA1100 Fundamentals of Music Theory focuses on technical aspects of the language of music and serves as a prerequisite to Harmony and further upper level courses in theory and composition, such as Chromatic Harmony, and Counterpoint, as well as Jazz Harmony, Tonal Composition, and the Seminar in Composition. MUSA1200 Introduction to Music offers a broad survey of music history and styles of music, while upper level courses focus on various periods of Western music history (Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical Era, Romantic Era, Modern Era), the historical development of various genres (Opera, Symphony, Keyboard Music, Dance), or the contributions of various individual composers (Monteverdi, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms). MUSA1300 History of Popular Music in the U.S. offers a socio-historical approach to the broad history and context of popular music; upper level cross-cultural courses deal with popular traditions (such as Irish Folk Music, Music in America, History of Jazz, Hip-Hop, the Beatles) and world music. In world music, MUSA1320 Introduction to Musics of the World, MUSA2303 Afro-Brazilian Music, MUSA2304 Musics of India, MUSA2306 Musics of Africa, MUSA2307 Musics of Asia, and MUSA2309 Music and Culture in the Middle East satisfy the Cultural Diversity requirement of the Core but not the University Core requirement in the Arts.

For the music major, a liberal arts framework offers a broader outlook than that of a conservatory or a school of music. In a liberal arts framework, students encounter historical, theoretical, cultural, ethnographic, and performance perspectives on music. The student majoring in music at Boston College may find employment in teaching, communications, arts administration, liturgical music or may major in music simply to provide a firm discipline for the mind or a source of lifelong enjoyment. Some students plan to go on to graduate school or a conservatory to become professional performers, composers, musicologists, ethnomusicologists, or educators. Within the major, all students receive a common base of knowledge with a specialization at higher levels in such areas as composition, performance, music history, or cross-cultural studies. A grounding, not only in the traditional musical skills of Western art music, but also knowledge of American music and of the traditions of other cultures, is considered indispensable.