Music Theory M.A. Admissions

Program Overview

The M.A. in Theory is for students interested in exploring how specific pieces of music are put together and how this understanding may be generalized to relate to the way other pieces of music are composed. Music theory and elective seminars develop expertise in various analytical models and familiarity with the critical issues that define the discipline as a basis for developing individual thesis projects. In the Non-Thesis option, expertise in two areas is developed through two written papers. Opportunities to explore interdisciplinary research topics in perception and cognition exist through collaborations with CIRMMT.

Students demonstrating academic excellence in their first year of the M.A. at McGill may be allowed to transfer directly into the PhD program in theory, applying their first year of M.A. coursework towards the requirements for the PhD.

An option exists for specialization in:

Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies

This program is open to students who are interested in cross-disciplinary research that focuses on issues centrally related to gender, sexuality, feminist theory, and/or women’s studies.

Music Theory requirements are augmented by participation in a Graduate Feminism Symposium that engages with a diverse array of critical and empirical perspectives.

This program draws on the resources of the McGill Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies that includes faculty and graduate students from across the University. In Gender Studies, supporting music faculty members have interests in opera, film studies, aesthetics, theory of performance, and popular/jazz studies.


The Faculty has a breadth of experience in early music theory, formal functions, Schenkerian analysis, mathematical models, theories of rhythm and meter, serialism, and popular music analysis.

Resources & Opportunities

Students benefit from:

  • Collaborations with students from other areas and the doctoral program facilitate out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Wide ranging seminar topics develop analytical breadth, including history of music theory and contemporary developments.
  • Valuable pedagogical training through teaching assistantships in undergraduate theory courses.
  • Grant writing and paper presentation mentoring with international success.


Students in this program have received funding from sources such as: SSHRC, IPLAI, CIRMMT student awards, RA (supervisor support), Dean's Essay Prize, International Graduate Student Research Competition.


Graduates have been accepted into doctoral programs at McGill, Yale, Eastman, Harvard, Columbia, Oxford, and Cambridge, among others.

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