Music Theory (PhD)

The University of Oregon is one of only four universities on the West Coast that offers a doctoral program in music theory. The program is distinctive in the way it prepares students for careers both as practicing theorists and as teachers of music theory.

The placement record for graduates of the doctoral program in music theory during the last twenty years has been impressive. Doctoral students have become widely known across the United States for their excellent national and regional conference presentations.

The Ph.D. program emphasizes both intellectual and practical skills while enabling students to become as broadly knowledgeable in the field as possible. Included in the course of study are classes in advanced analysis (including Schenkerian, post-tonal and Neo-Riemannian analysis), form in tonal music, analysis of popular music, history of theory, world music, pedagogy, college music teaching, composition, and electronic/computer music, among other subjects.

Each student experiences a great deal of personal attention from the faculty, and most students gain teaching experience through participation in our Graduate Employee program. There is an especially supportive relationship between the student and his or her major advisor and with members of the student's doctoral committee. The Ph.D. program culminates in a public presentation of the candidate’s research, as well as a dissertation.

At the doctoral level, the basic orientation is scholarly or research activity that makes an original contribution to the chosen field. Advanced scholarship and research are intensely disciplined efforts; intuition and creativity are important in the gathering, processing, and interpretation of information.
The program most appropriately culminates in the awarding of the degree, Doctor of Philosophy.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate advanced competencies in music theory. Studies in this area comprise as much as two-thirds or at least one-third of the total curriculum.
  • Gain knowledge and skills in one or more fields of music outside the major such as history and literature, composition, musicology and ethnomusicology, performance, and pedagogy. Such supportive studies in music that broaden and deepen musical competence comprise at least one-third of the total curriculum.
  • As a culminating demonstration of professional capability in the major field, the student must submit a dissertation that demonstrates advanced competence in theoretical research and writing.

Doctor of Philosophy in Music Theory Requirements

MUS 615Current Trends in Music Theory3
MUE 641College Music Teaching3
Music in Historic Era - select two from the following:6
Music in the Middle Ages
Music in the Renaissance
Music in the Baroque Era
Music in the Classical Period
Music in the Romantic Era
Music in the 20th Century
Non-Music Courses 18
Research Development Courses (2 courses or 8 credits) 26-8
MUE 639Pedagogy and Practicum: [Topic]3
Three Music Theory Seminars12
Seminar: Music Theory: [Topic]
MUS 516Post-Tonal Theory I3
MUS 634Advanced Post-Tonal Theory3
Tonal Analysis/Theory - select three from the following:9
Tonal Analysis: Linear Prolongational Analysis
Tonal Analysis: Form in Tonal Music
Tonal Analysis: Analysis of Popular Music
Post-Tonal Theory II
MUS 533Counterpoint4
MUS 534Counterpoint4
MUS 631History of Theory II3
MUS 632History of Theory III3
Counterpoint/History of Theory - select one from the following:3-4
History of Theory I
Comprehensive Exam
Final Lecture and Oral Defense of Dissertation
Total Credits91-94