BA in Music: Music Theory

Students in APU’s music theory major equips those seeking graduate education and/or careers in music composition, arranging, music theory, or musicology.

60-65 units

The Bachelor of Arts in Music with a music theory emphasis provides students with a music and General Education background appropriate for graduate studies in music theory or musicology.


School of Music Core Requirements
Piano Proficiency (if needed)0-4
Beginning Piano Class (F/S)
Elementary Piano Class (F/S)
Intermediate Piano Class (F/S)
Advanced - Intermediate Piano Class (F/S)
Advanced - Intermediate Piano Class (F/S)
Advanced Piano Class (F/S)
MUS 121Music Theory I (F/S, Fr, So) 13
MUS 122Music Theory II (F/S, Fr, So)3
MUS 133Practical Musicianship I (F/S, Fr, So)1
MUS 134Practical Musicianship II (F/S, Fr, So)1
MUS 210Performance Forum (F/S, 8 semesters)0
MUS 217Practical Musicianship III (F/S, So, Jr)1
MUS 220Practical Musicianship IV (F/S, So, Jr)1
MUS 221Music Theory III (F/S, So, Jr)3
MUS 222Music Theory IV (F/S, So, Jr)3
MUS 296Introduction to Music Technology (F/S, Fr)2
MUS 352Writing 3: Baroque, Classical, and Early Romantic Music Literature (F/S, Jr) 23
MUS 361Introduction to Conducting (F, Jr)2
MUS 441Music in Worship (F/S, Jr, Sr)3
MUS 455Late Romantic and 20th-Century Music Literature (F/S, Sr) 33
Applied Music (must be in one instrument (voice counts as an instrument); must be enrolled in applied lessons each semester until degree is complete, minimum of 8 units, F/S)8
Ensemble Requirement 48
Select one of the following if not enrolled in Applied Voice:0-1
Beginning Voice Class (F/S)
Intermediate Voice Class (F/S)
Select one of the following:3
History and Literature of Commercial Music (F)
Ancient, Renaissance, and World Music Literature (F, Jr)
Select one of the following:2
Choral Conducting (S, Jr)
Instrumental Conducting (S, Jr)
Music Theory Requirements
MUS 321Counterpoint (S, Jr, Sr)3
MUS 423Orchestration I (F/S, Jr, Sr)3
Select one of the following electives:4
Arranging and Rehearsal Technique (F/S, Jr, Sr)
Choral Arranging (on demand, Jr, Sr)
20th Century Compositional Techniques (S, Jr, Sr)
Projects in Music Theory (on demand, Jr, Sr)
Form and Analysis (F, Jr, Sr)
Arranging II (S, Jr, Sr)
Total Units60-65

Meets the General Education Humanities: Fine Arts requirement.


Meets the General Education Writing 3 requirement.


Meets the General Education Humanities: History requirement.


Taking four semesters of musical ensembles meets the General Education Civic Knowledge and Engagement requirement.

Course Requirement Availability: Recommended Year:
F = Offered every fall Fr = Freshman
S = Offered every spring So = Sophomore
E = Even Year Jr = Junior
O = Odd Year Sr = Senior

Music Theory Proficiency

The Music Theory Placement Examination is given to incoming students who are not transferring credit for Music Theory I from another college or university. This examination measures the student’s background in music theory and ensures placement at the appropriate level. The examination may be taken online. Students who are not ready for Music Theory I take MUS 120, and upon successful completion of MUS 120, begin the music theory sequence in the next semester. Music theory is taken in sequential order (I, II, III, IV). Before advancing to the next level, a grade of C or better is required. If a C or better is not achieved at any level, the course must be repeated.

Practical Musicianship

Practical musicianship is taken in sequential order (I, II, III, IV). Before advancing to the next level, a grade of C or better is required. If a C or better is not achieved at any level, the course must be repeated.

Piano Proficiency

Each student must register for a piano class or Applied Piano until the Piano Proficiency Examination is passed. Examination fact sheets are available in the School of Music office. Students will not be cleared to graduate until they have passed the proficiency examination, which is usually met at the conclusion of MUS 106.

Grade-Point Average

Music students must maintain a 2.5 GPA for all upper-division music classes (those classified as 300- and 400-level). Students with a cumulative GPA lower than 2.0 or who are on probation are not eligible to participate in a performing group other than Masterworks Chorale.

Performance Forum

MUS 210 meets every Monday at 4:20 p.m. and features a variety of presentations including student recitals, guest artists, and lecturers. Music students must be continuously enrolled in Performance Forum for eight semesters. This class is graded pass/fail based on attendance. Students who do not pass the course will be required to take MUS 353 Concert Music to make up the deficiency. Transfer students must enroll in MUS 210 and an approved ensemble every semester in attendance, up to eight semesters.

Recital Performance

Each performance major must present a solo performance annually in a student recital. This requirement can be met through performance forum student recitals, a junior recital, or a senior recital. Any other performances proposed to meet this requirement must be requested through the petition process and submitted to the associate dean for undergraduate studies of the School of Music.

Non-performance majors must present a solo performance annually in either a studio recital or performance forum student recital. In the case of a student who is taking instruction in more than one applied area, recital performance is required only in the primary applied area.

All students must take applied jury each semester. Bachelor of Arts in Music students with a concentration in Applied Music may present a recital during their junior year (shorter program) and an additional recital in their senior year (full-length program). Only Bachelor of Music in Performance students must present a recital during their junior year as well as a recital in their senior year and register for MUS 491. Students giving recitals should follow the guidelines in the Azusa Pacific University School of Music Recital Confirmation Packet (available through the School of Music office).

Applied Music

  1. Each student is required to take at least 8 units in one applied area.

  2. Students must take at least 1 unit of applied lessons each semester, even if the minimum number of units for their emphasis has been met.

  3. Jury examinations are required each semester for all students taking private lessons. Presentation of a junior or senior recital fulfills this requirement.

  4. All students, in conjunction with the instructor, are responsible for selecting an accompanist for juries by the indicated deadlines. There are three ways to select an accompanist:

    1. Faculty may request an accompanist with the Accompanist Request Form available in the School of Music office by the indicated deadlines.

    2. Faculty may request a specific accompanist by submitting an Accompanist Request Form available in the School of Music office by the indicated deadlines.

    3. If no Accompanist Request Form is submitted, or is requested after the published deadlines, faculty members are responsible to make arrangements for their students.

  5. Private lessons:

    1. Grades for private lessons are issued based on a minimum of 12 lessons per semester. The grade will be lowered if the student attends fewer than the minimum of 12 lessons. Additionally, if the student does not meet the mandatory annual solo performance requirement, an F will be assigned for the spring semester applied grade.

    2. The area director will assign an instructor.

    3. When the student is ill and notifies the teacher in advance, a makeup lesson will be rescheduled if possible. “No-show” students do not receive makeup lessons.

Upper-Division Concentration

Each student in the music program is required to select an upper-division concentration in at least one of the following areas: for the BA in Music—performance or music theory; for the Bachelor of Music—commercial music, composition, music education, music and worship, or performance. Students must earn a grade of C or higher in all of their upper-division concentration courses; otherwise, the course(s) must be repeated.

Ensemble Requirement

In each of eight semesters as a music major, students must participate in an appropriate performance ensemble. The information for the appropriate ensemble for each degree and concentration is clearly articulated in the Undergraduate Music Student Handbook and further communicated through the music student advisement process. Membership in multiple ensembles in a given semester counts as only one semester toward the ensemble requirement. Transfer students must participate in a performance ensemble each semester until they graduate or accumulate eight semesters.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this program shall be able to:
  1. Command of Skills: Demonstrate a command of skills required for comprehensive musicianship, including sight singing/ear training, functional keyboard, music technology, and analysis.
  2. Contextual Understanding: Demonstrate understanding of music in historical, cultural, and stylistic context.
  3. Creative or Interpretive Utilization: Demonstrate creative or interpretive utilization of skills and contextual understanding.
  4. Career-Oriented Application: Demonstrate career-oriented application of skills.
  5. Music and Faith: Demonstrate appropriate understanding of the intersection of music and faith.