May 20, 2024  
Course Catalog 2022-2023 
Course Catalog 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Musicology Major

Course Requirements

For course requirements for the Musicology Major, please see the grid .


Those students coming to Oberlin intending to major in Music History must follow the regular Conservatory admissions procedures concerning performing auditions. Admission to the major will be determined by the Division of Musicology following an interview with the division director, usually in the sophomore year, after successfully completing at least two courses in Music History. Continuation in the major is subject to annual review by the department. Majors must maintain a minimum average of 3.0 in all Music History (MHST) and Ethnomusicology (ETHN) courses. All MHST and ETHN courses required for the major must be taken for a letter grade.

Music Theory and Aural Skills Requirement

All BM students complete a core of music theory and aural skills classes, which includes the following: Music Theory I-II (MUTH 131 and 132), which prepares students to hear, perform, and communicate about multiple aspects of music in diverse repertoires; two additional music theory courses at the 200 level (MUTH 250-299), which include topic- and repertoire-based classes that are chosen in consultation with academic advisors; Aural Skills I-IV (MUTH 101, 102, 201, 202). Students are expected to register for one Music Theory and one Aural Skills course each semester until they have completed the core requirements. 

A music theory placement test score of 80 or higher is a prerequisite for MUTH 131. Students with lower scores must successfully complete MUTH 120 before taking MUTH 131. The placement exam may be taken five times.


An honors program is offered for music history majors qualified to do research leading to a BMus degree with Honors, High, or Highest Honors. Qualified students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Generally, in his or her penultimate year, a music history major wishing to do honors work will submit a detailed proposal to a member of the faculty of the Division of Musicology who has agreed to become his or her advisor. Upon approval by the advisor, the proposal will be submitted to the Division of Musicology for approval. Entry to the Honors Program is contingent upon the Division’s approval of the proposal.

Students admitted to the Honors Program must enroll in MHST 400, 401 (Senior Honors); this may not substitute for the 300-level Music History requirement. The requirements for successful completion of the Honors Program in Music History are:


i. Submitting an acceptable scholarly paper on some topic in music history. Four copies should be submitted to the Director of the Division of Musicology.

ii. Passing a written comprehensive examination in music.

iii. Taking an oral examination to defend the paper and to discuss aspects of the written examination as well as broad areas of music history and theory related to the honors paper.

At the end of Winter Term, the advisor will submit a short report to the Division on the student’s progress. If this progress is such that the Division approves continuation of the project, then the normal schedule for the second semester is as follows:

Paper due: on the first day of classes after spring break.

Comprehensive examination: on two successive days during mid-April.

Oral examination: during the last week of April.

The student should contact the Director of the Division of Musicology as soon as possible after submitting the completed paper-during the first week of April at the latest-in order to schedule exact dates for the comprehensive and oral examinations. Typically, the examination committee consists of four to five people; the Director of the Division of Musicology, at least one other faculty representing the Division of Musicology, one or more other members of the Conservatory or College faculty, and possibly someone from outside Oberlin College. The student’s advisor is invited to sit in on the oral examination as an observer.

Conservatory Writing Requirement

The Conservatory Writing Requirement is designed to help students develop the ability to do the following: communicate effectively in writing, understand writing as a process, engage in writing as a form of critical thinking, demonstrate rhetorical flexibility by addressing various audiences and purposes in their writing, and demonstrate awareness of the conventions and forms of writing in particular disciplines.

As noted in the Conservatory of Music Degree Requirements  section of this catalog, the writing requirement is as follows:

Students are required to complete one writing course, either Writing-Intensive (WINT) or Writing-Advanced (WADV). It is strongly advised that students complete this course by the end of the second year of study. The course must be completed at Oberlin, with the exception that transfer students may petition to count a transferred course with a comparable focus on writing toward this requirement. The petition to request transfer of credit toward the writing requirement can be accessed here. Taking a second writing course during studies at Oberlin is strongly recommended.

Courses carrying the Writing-Intensive (WINT) designation involve explicit instruction in writing, are generally limited in size to allow such instruction, and require multiple writing assignments. These courses are designed to help students develop, compose, revise, organize, and edit prose appropriate to the discipline or course. Courses carrying the Writing-Advanced (WADV) designation are associated with the major and aim at helping students develop as writers within a discipline, employing the conventions and styles appropriate to that field and demonstrating the depth and engagement with disciplinary issues and practices typical of knowledgeable practitioners.

Numerous campus resources are available to help students develop their writing skills, including Oberlin’s Writing Associates Program and the Writing Center. Conservatory students are encouraged to work closely with their Conservatory teachers to hone their music-specific writing skills as they progress through their degree requirements, with particular encouragement to engage in writing artistic statements, program notes, and grant proposals. Students enrolled in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) sequence will fulfill the Conservatory Writing Requirement as part of their ESOL coursework, specifically with the successful completion of ESOL 140 .