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Music Theory, History, and Composition

Graduate Program

Contact Music Theory, History, and Composition  

Music Theory, History, and Composition

Swope Music Building 
817 S. High Street 
West Chester, PA 19383

Phone: 610-436-2739 
Fax: 610-436-2873 

Faculty Contact Information



Graduate assistantships are available to qualified graduate students for up to four semesters. Recipients receive full tuition waivers. If interested, graduate students should contact the Graduate College at610-436-2943.


Master of Music in Music Theory/Composition  students are required to take:

  • Composition
  • Computer Music
  • Form
  • Orchestration
  • Counterpoint
  • Electives in Music History and Music Theory/Composition

Depending on their area of concentration, MM students prepare either a masters thesis (advanced research paper) or a large-scale composition under the supervision of their advisor. Recent MM thesis papers have studied the works of Stravinsky and Bernstein. Recent MM thesis compositions have been written and given their world premieres at WCU, scored for large percussion ensemble, orchestra, and concert band. Graduates from the MM in Theory/Composition program have gone on for more advanced study in composition and/or theory at the doctoral level. Most students from these programs aspire to become college-level instructors, while others have gone on to become freelance composers and arrangers.


The interview for the MM in Theory/Composition is based on two factors as well:

  • 75% of the interview is a measure of the student's composition and/or analytic skills.
    Prospective Composers will be expected to show and discuss three of their original scores. If a recording is available of the score, students are encouraged to bring it to the interview. Prospective Theorists will be expected to take a written analysis test, providing harmonic and formal analysis of three short compositions from different musical eras.
  • 25% of the audition is a measure of the student's skills in sight-singing, dictation and piano.
    Students will be expected to sing diatonic and chromatic melodies at sight, take dictation of diatonic and chromatic chord progressions, and aurally identify a variety of tertian and non-tertian sonorities. Students are expected to prepare a piano work of early-intermediate level difficulty.

Learn about the Graduate Program Admissions Process

Learn about the Graduate Placement Test

Register for the Graduate Placement Test


The Master of Music in Music History  at West Chester University has been designed to serve a diverse student population, from those with specific research interests to those simply seeking greater exposure to music history and literature for educational purposes. Music educators attempting to strengthen their own teaching curricula are especially encouraged to apply, as the program meets state requirements for an advanced degree for school teachers. Any undergraduate music degree (education, theory, history, performance) fulfills the prerequisite for the program.

The M.M. program is now more compact and easier to complete, as the previous 33 credit requirement has been reduced to 30. Degree requirements include:

  • 15 credits in Music History (five courses, three from the sequence MHL 610-615)
  • 6 Elective credits (two courses, may include Music History)
  • 3 credits in Music Theory
  • 6 credits directed toward thesis-related research (two courses, MHL 698 and MMU 699)
  • Foreign Language requirement
  • Thesis Defense

Students may complete the 6 elective credits in subjects of their own choosing, drawn from the full spectrum of offerings across the Wells School of Music and university, including music education, music theory, and performance, and other fields. Students may satisfy the language requirement by exam or by applying elective credits to language study.

Recently the department's core offerings were revised to direct students better toward thesis work. Traditional survey courses have been replaced with "topics" courses in which fewer works are examined in greater depth. The masterworks of the past are studied in their political and cultural contexts to demonstrate the manifold interconnections of music, the other arts, and society. Sample topics (drawn from different courses in the curriculum) include:

  • "The Palestrina Style and the Counter-Reformation"
  • "Lully and Music for the Court of the 'Sun King' "
  • "Vivaldi's The Four Seasons and the Concerto"
  • "Mozart's Le Nozze de Figaro and the Enlightenment"
  • "Schubert's Songs and the Romantic Cult of Sensibility"
  • "The Influence of Ragtime and Jazz on European Art Music in the 1920s and 1930s"
  • "Music and Minimalism: Riley, Reich, and Glass"

View a sampling of recent completed M.A. theses

  • "The Music of a New Nation: The Music Industry in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia"
  • "The Keyboard Sonatas of Frantisek Xaver Dusek (1731-99)"
  • "Alfonso Ferrabosco the Younger (ca. 1575-1628) and His Unpublished Works for Lyra Viol"
  • "Abramo ed Isacco by Josef Myslivecek (1737-81): An Italian Oratorio for the Electoral Court in Munich (1777)"
  • "The Influence of the Dodworth Family and Dodworth's Brass Band School on Nineteenth-Century Brass Bands"
  • "Sporting Houses, Juke Joints, and Road Shows: Social Context in the early Development of a Vernacular Afro-American Piano Style"

Learn about the Graduate Program Admissions Process

Learn about the Graduate Placement Test

Register for the Graduate Placement Test

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