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Music Theory Exam

Students in all graduate degree programs in music, with the exception of M.A. Music Therapy and Ph.D. Music Education students, must take two elective music theory courses for the Master's degree and three elective theory courses for the Doctoral degree. Music Theory electives are listed under “Graduate Programs: Master of Arts” in the University of Iowa General Catalog.

All incoming graduate students must take the Graduate Advisory Examination in Music Theory.  Students who fail to pass the examination must take MUS:5200 Review of Undergraduate Music Theory before taking the required number of electives. Note: MUS:5200 does not count toward Music Theory degree requirements. 

The exam covers fundamentals (intervals, chords, rhythm, scales, meter, instrumental transpositions), harmony, form, and tonal analysis.

No preparation is officially required of the student who has satisfactorily completed an undergraduate course sequence in music theory. However, students wishing to review may study any standard undergraduate harmony text, such as Kostka & Payne, Tonal Harmony.

What Happens after the Exam
Should a student not pass the graduate theory advisory exam, they must schedule an advisory meeting with a member of the theory area. The student must then remediate their music theory knowledge before taking any graduate-level music theory courses for credit. They may complete this remediation requirement by either:

a) Taking and passing the course MUS:5200 Review of Undergraduate Music Theory, or

b) Studying on their own and retaking the graduate theory entrance exam the following semester. 

During the advisory meeting, the faculty member and student may decide together that the student is ready to take one of the 5000-level music analysis classes while studying to retake the exam. If the student does not pass the exam a second time, they will be required to take and pass MUS:5200 Review of Undergraduate Music Theory.