Eastman offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees in music theory.
Undergraduates can pursue the Bachelor of Music in Theory, which combines advanced theoretical study of music with concurrent work in applied music performance or composition. The Master of Arts in the Pedagogy of Music Theory is intended for students who wish to focus on a teaching career (with emphasis in pedagogy, aural skills, composition, and cognition) or who wish to graduate with a double major in Performance and Literature (MM or DMA) and Theory. A Certificate of Advanced Achievement in Music Theory Pedagogy is also offered for current Eastman graduate students (by application); this program is designed for students who are interested and skilled in music theory pedagogy, but who do not wish to pursue two concurrent degrees.
The Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in Theory prepares graduates for university careers in teaching and research. Within the last several years the entire MA/PhD program has been revised, beginning now with a series of introductory courses covering the broad range of research in music theory; these lead to more narrowly focused pro-seminars, thence to seminars and independent studies. The student gradually becomes adept at independent research, the goal of the PhD. Since the department strongly encourages individual research initiatives, especially those that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries, students form provisional dissertation committees that share their research interests early in their study. The committees continue to work closely with the students to help define and refine their research direction throughout graduate study.
All graduate students are expected to teach in the theory department curriculum for at least two years during their enrollment at Eastman; most students teach in every year of enrollment. For this service, they will receive a teaching stipend. The department views the teaching requirement as co-curricular preparation for a career in music theory, in that it gives students important teaching experience, professional development, and faculty mentoring around teaching.