Whether students aspire to a career in music or wish to pursue their own love of the art, they will find that the Department of Music offers courses in theory and composition, in the history and current trends of Western, World, and Popular styles, and provides lessons in voice and/or an instrument. All students, regardless of musical background, are welcome in any course unless a prerequisite or an instructor’s permission is indicated (for example, in certain theory courses).

The Music Department offers a variety of courses (MUSA1100, MUSA1200, MUSA1300, MUSA1701) that satisfy the University Core requirement in the Arts and 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 functions as a prerequisite to Harmony and further upper-level courses in theory and composition, such as Chromatic Harmony, Counterpoint, as well as Jazz Harmony, Tonal Composition, and the Seminar in Composition. MUSA1200 Introduction to Music offers a broad historical survey of the styles and genres of Western music, while upper-level courses focus on specific periods of music history (Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical Era, Romantic Era, Modern Era), the historical development of specific genres (Opera, Symphony, Keyboard Music, Dance), or the contributions of various individual composers (Monteverdi, Bach, Beethoven, the Schumanns). MUSA1300 History of Popular Music offers a socio-historical approach to the broad history and context of Popular music; upper-level cross-cultural courses deal with Popular traditions (Music in America, History of Jazz, Hip-Hop, the Beatles) and regional styles of World music. MUSA1701 Aesthetic Exercises is an Enduring Questions class which, with THEO1701 Spiritual Exercises, satisfies the Arts Core and one of the two Theology Core requirements. 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 perspective than that offered by conservatories or schools of music. In this comprehensive 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, or liturgical music, or may major in music to provide a firm enriching discipline for the mind or a source of lifelong enjoyment. Some students go on to graduate school or a conservatory to become professional performers, composers, musicologists, ethnomusicologists, educators, or arts professionals. Within the major, all students acquire a common base of knowledge with a specialization at higher levels in such areas as composition, performance, music history, or cultural studies. A broad grounding in Western art music and World Music and Popular traditions is considered indispensable.