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Music Theory

  • Music Theory Colloquium
    Colloquium at the University of Washington
  • Music Theory students know the score.

Students of Music Theory at the University of Washington conduct their studies at one of the nation’s premiere research institutions, with abundant opportunities for submersion in a wide array of musical contexts.

Music Theory encompasses many areas of study, ranging from the relatively traditional (Schenkerian analysis, set theory) to the more recently emergent (neo-Riemannian theory, semiotics). In recent times, strong links have developed between theory and other disciplines, such as mathematics, psychology, ethnomusicology, and philosophy. 

The masters and doctoral programs in music theory at the University of Washington prepare students for careers in teaching and research, providing a firm grounding in the essentials of the discipline while keeping pace with a field that is constantly changing.


Students in the program live and work in a notably stimulating musical environment, both within the School, with its vigorous commitment to contemporary art music, jazz, and world music as well as to the Western classical tradition; and in Seattle at large, with its first-rate professional orchestra, opera, ballet, repertory jazz orchestra, and lively contemporary music scene.

Extensive Resources

The School’s faculty and graduate students regularly present their research findings at conferences and seminars, publish in respected academic journals, and benefit immensely from access to the University’s impressive library system and special collections. The School’s own extensive Ethnomusicology archives of field recordings from around the world and manuscript collections housed in the UW Music Library provide unique resources for specialized research unavailable anywhere else in the world.

Student Support

In addition to student support distributed by the University of Washington’s financial aid office, the School of Music distributes more than a half million dollars annually in merit- and need-based student support. Graduate teaching assistantships are highly competitive and are  granted in all areas of study.


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