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 Music, BA

The BA in Music at Northeastern engages students in the study of how music works and the many contexts in which it is created and received. Students encounter a wide range of musical repertories, theoretical approaches, and research strategies. 

  • Academics
  • Experiences
  • Interests

The Bachelor of Arts in Music at Northeastern provides a course of study through which students develop a breadth and depth of musical knowledge, engaging with how music works technically, psychologically, and socially, and its cultural importance both historically and across the world. As a field, music encompasses a diverse set of skills, including performance, composition or songwriting, quantitative analysis, cultural interpretation, and research. 

While many students opt to major in music alone, many others enroll as part of a double major. This is especially true of young scholars who are aiming for careers in engineering, sciences, business, medicine, and fields in the humanities and social sciences but who still want to pursue their interests in music. 

The BA in Music offers a set of advising paths to help students tailor their course of study to their particular musical interests and goals. Students are not required to follow one advising path, but are encouraged to explore them and consult relevant path advisors as they discover their passions and the field’s possibilities. Advising paths for Music BA students include: Popular Music Studies, Music Performance, Music Composition & Songwriting, Music History & Ethnomusicology, Music Theory (Analysis & Visualization), Music in the Community (Education, Activism, Outreach), Music & Health Research, and Music Humanics. 

Students graduating with a B.A. in Music are expected to have acquired the following competencies:

Musical Aptitudes

1. To identify and apply the fundamental principles
behind the melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, and formal
components of music from a variety of time periods
and cultures.

2. To hear, identify, and work conceptually with the
elements of music, including intervals, scales,
chords, meters, rhythm, melody, harmony,
modulations, structure, and other elements.

3. To understand the basic principles and structures
of at least three or four other systems of musical
performance, including improvisation from genres,
cultures and ethnicities beyond the European/North
American “classical” canon.

Cultural Knowledge and Analytical Skills

1. To demonstrate a familiarity with the broad trajectory of music and its history up through the present day.

2. To demonstrate an understanding of listening, aesthetic properties of style, and the ways these shape and are shaped by artistic and cultural forces.

3. To identify and define musical, aesthetic, and cultural styles, the lives and processes of composers, the activities of performers and performance traditions, and the technological advances that have affected musical production from centuries past to the present in all parts of the world.

3. To integrate a broad range of cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural knowledge into a comprehensive understanding of music, aesthetic properties of style, and the ways these shape and are shaped by artistic, cultural, societal and political forces in cultures around the globe.

4. To demonstrate the ability to write fluently about music, its history, evolution, cultural meaning and social impact (These skills should be transferable such that students who concentrate in the BA in Music will be able to apply for a broad range of jobs once they graduate).

Research Skills

1. The ability to think critically, write, and present musical analyses and research.The ability to present original research, both written and oral through developing a primary (& possibly secondary) area of interest.

Note: Following successful completion of the capstone class, students should have built a portfolio of projects and papers that will aid them in applying for jobs or graduate school.

View University Course Catalog

Interests of  Music, BA Students

  • arts
  • community engagement
  • culture
  • ethnomusicology
  • global
  • history
  • music analysis
  • music criticism
  • musicology
  • performance
  • philosophy of music
  • psychology of music
  • songwriting

Co-op Opportunities

  • Boston Symphony Orchestra
    Boston, MA
  • World Music/CRASHarts
    Cambridge, MA
  • Rolling Stone
    New York, NY
View all co-ops for Music

Career Opportunities

  • Multidisciplinary Skills
    • research and analysis
    • critical reasoning
    • critical listening
    • persuasive writing
    • public speaking
    • creativity
    • improvisation
    • cross-cultural knowledge
  • Careers of Tomorrow
    • Advocacy
    • Arts administration
    • Culture writer
    • Editor
    • Ethnomusicologist
    • Music critic
    • Music theorist
    • Musician
    • Musicologist

University Requirements

Major Credit Requirement Complete 49 semester hours in the major.
Major GPA Requirement Minimum 2.667 GPA required in the major
Program Requirement 128 total semester hours required

 Music, BA Requirements

Music Theory and Musicianship

All students take a music theory placement exam. Students who do not place into MUSC 1201 first take MUSC 1119 Fundamentals of Western Music Theory.

Required Music Theory

A grade of C or higher is required in each course:

Music in Context

Choose one from each category below. From the categories "Traditional," "Ethnomusicology," and "Contemporary," at least two must be at the 2000-level or higher. Courses may not double-count across the five areas.

Music Electives

Complete three additional courses in music (MUSC, MUSI, or MUST). At least two must be at the 2000-level or higher.

*For complete program course listing, visit the University course catalog.

Resources for Current Students

Course Catalog

Visit the Registrar website for a course catalog and information on university core requirements.

View University Course Catalog

Course Plan

Through the paths below, students can pursue specialized areas of musical study. It is not required to select a path, but students are invited to explore them and consult relevant path advisors to help tailor their course of study to their musical interests and goals.

Composition and Songwriting Path

Music in the Community Path

Music and Health Path

Music Humanics Path

Music History and Ethnomusicology Path

Music Performance Path

Music Theory, Analysis & Visualization Path

Popular Music Studies Path


Department Chair:

Daniel Strong Godfrey

Department Chair, Professor


Kelli Alvarez

Administrative Officer

Academic Advisors:

Jocelyn Faber

Academic Advisor

Greg Zuch

Academic Advisor

Co-op Advisors:

Craig Bettinson, EDM

Co-op Faculty Coordinator

Kellianne Murphy

Senior Faculty Member

View Music faculty and staff