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Music History


Programs in music history teach people how music has evolved over time.

Music history programs include topics such as:

A background in music history can help prepare students for careers in:


Many colleges and universities offer music history programs that lead to bachelor's or master's degrees. A few schools offer doctoral (PhD) degrees. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years of full-time study. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Doctoral degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master's degree.

See schools that offer this program.

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Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

Some schools require a personal interview. If you are entering a general music program with a concentration in music history, you may have to play an instrument or sing in an audition.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need to have a bachelor's degree in music and good grades. If you don't major in music, you should have a strong background in music, either by taking several courses or through private study. In order to pursue a doctoral degree, you may also need a master's degree in music history or another music-related field.

Additional requirements at most schools include:

You also usually have to pass diagnostic exams in music history and theory. This is especially true if you didn't major in music. The exams help determine whether you need to take undergraduate courses to prepare for graduate-level course work.

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

Music history courses can focus on historical periods, musical genres, individual composers, or even geographical regions. You may start with a survey of music history and then take electives based on your interests. Here's a sample curriculum of the courses you could take in this undergraduate program:

Graduate Program Courses

Graduate course work tends to vary depending on the program and your individual focus. However, the outline of a typical graduate curriculum looks like the following:

Many schools require you to pass reading proficiency tests in one to two languages other than English. The most commonly recommended languages are French, German, or Italian. You may be able to study other languages, especially if they are more appropriate to your concentration. For instance, you might study Latin if you wanted to focus on the history of church music.

Things to Know

A bachelor's or master's degree in music history prepares you for many related jobs in the field. If you want to teach at the college level, you should pursue a doctoral degree.


East Side Area

Whitman College

King-Snohomish Area

University of Washington - Seattle

Spokane Area

Eastern Washington University

Gonzaga University

West Side Area

Western Washington University