Music – Theory
College: Arts and Sciences
Ohio State's music theory program equips students with the skills and knowledge necessary for virtually any music-related career. Core courses in theory and aural training foster strong musicianship through creative exercises in improvisation and composition, while upper-level courses more deeply examine topics such as counterpoint, music theory and music technology.
After applying to the university, students planning to pursue a music major must complete a separate School of Music application and schedule an audition. Transfer students and students already at Ohio State must also complete these steps before entering the program. Find a step-by-step application guide at music.osu.edu/apply.
Music courses required for the degree:
- first- and second-year music theory and aural training
- Music History
- World Music
- lessons on principal instrument (two years)
- minor instrument (must be piano if piano is not the principal instrument)
- Keyboard Harmony
- beginning conducting
- orchestration, counterpoint, composition
- extended tonality, theory and analysis, theory electives and advanced counterpoint
- senior project: senior paper and presentation of paper
The Office of International Affairs offers more than 100 study abroad programs in 40 different countries, Students have the opportunity to take classes through an exchange program or foreign university, complete an independent study or service-learning project, conduct research or participate in an internship program.
Education abroad allows you to engage in cross-cultural interactions and enjoy a rewarding educational experience in another country — all at the same time. It can expand your worldview, enhance your career prospects and ultimately change your life. Learn more at
Students are encouraged to (and often do) find educational, performance and administrative internship opportunities with local arts organizations such as the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts, Opera Columbus and ProMusica Chamber Orchestra.
The Arts Honors Program is open to students pursuing majors in the arts (Art, Art Education, Dance, Design, Music, Theatre) in the College of Arts and Sciences. The purpose of the Arts Honors Program is to provide opportunities for students with exceptional capabilities and motivation to achieve personal satisfaction and intellectual growth through honors courses, advanced course work, and special academic enrichment programs.
Students in the Arts Scholars program may have a major in any university college or department. The program offers students the opportunity to participate in programs that enhance their educational experience. These programs include lectures and specialized workshops, group excursions to museums and professional performances, a juried student art exhibition and performance showcase, community involvement, and trips outside of Columbus.
Music students may be interested in organizations offered through the Office of Student Life, such as the Jazz Club, Music Industry Club and Music Producers Club; ensembles such as Men’s Glee Club and Women’s Glee Club; music fraternities such as Sigma Alpha Iota and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia; and local and national professional organizations such as the National Association for Music Education, American String Teachers Association, American Choral Directors Association, Central Ohio Flute Association and many more. Learn more about these organizations here and here.
Most music theorists continue their studies in graduate school and earn a doctoral degree before becoming a college teacher or university professor. Recent Ohio State music theory majors have gone on to graduate school at Indiana University, the University of Ottawa, The University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music and SUNY at Stony Brook, as well as at Ohio State.
More than resumes, the Center for Career and Professional Success (Career Success) is the center of opportunity and connections for arts and sciences students at The Ohio State University. As early as your first year on campus, our signature programs and events provide you with opportunities to network and learn about career options from alumni and connect with employers to learn about internships and other career opportunities. Leverage resources such as funding for unpaid or minimally paid internships, workshops, digital guides, career coaching and more to prepare for your lifetime of opportunity. For more information, visit go.osu.edu/CareerSuccess.
Students majoring in music theory will achieve the following learning outcomes:
- Students must demonstrate achievement of professional, entry-level competence in the area of specialization, including significant technical mastery, capability to produce work and solve professional problems independently, and a coherent set of artistic/intellectual goals that are evident in their work.
- Students will engage in applied studies each semester that will provide appropriate skills, knowledge and experience to prepare students for graduate programs and professional careers in the field. They will demonstrate an understanding of a wide range of historical styles and periods.
- Students will complete courses in music theory, music history, and area-specific literature and pedagogy that will provide appropriate skills, knowledge and experience to prepare them for professional careers in the field. These courses will represent a wide range of historical styles and periods.
- Students will have the ability to communicate musical ideas, concepts and requirements to professionals and lay persons related to the practice of the major field. Such communication may involve musical, oral, written and visual media.
- Students will complete curricular requirements that include courses designed to develop oral and written communication skills.
- Students will gain knowledge and experience in pedagogical methodologies in their area of specialization.
- Students will gain an understanding of the nature of the music field in the professional world, particularly related to organizational structures, work ethics, technological resources and entrepreneurial skills required for advancing their careers.
- Students will complete a required course in music technology. They will prepare numerous assignments in music theory and music history courses employing a wide range of software, web-based sources and skills covered in this course.
- Students will build workplace skills through independent studies with applied faculty and ensemble directors.
- Students must gain experiences in general studies sufficient to prepare them for a range of career options.
- Students will gain skills sufficient for clear and effective verbal and written communication.
- Students will include a broad range of general studies courses in their curricula appropriate for complementing degree requirements that address their specific music concentrations.