Program Overview

Bachelor of Music – Music Theory
Department Chair Name
Randall Umstead
Melissa Browning

What is a music theory degree?

Music theory is often thought of as the language of music. A degree in music theory is the academic study of the elemental constructs that help us understand music and how it is created. Music theory methodically places the ideas and practices of music into a written form whereby they can be analyzed and passed on to the generations.


Why study music theory at Furman?

Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music since 1938, the Furman University Department of Music is recognized as one of the highest-rated and most comprehensive among national liberal arts colleges, offering degree programs for passionate performers, composers, theorists and music educators. We attract ambitious musicians from across the globe – those who desire to major in music as well as those who wish to major in another discipline while continuing their music.

Offering a conservatory-quality education, Furman’s music program and those who lead it are committed to preparing you for success in the professional world. You’ll sharpen your analytical, listening, creative, improvisation, communication and problem-solving skills, boosting competencies that are readily transferable no matter the career path you take.

In Furman’s intentionally small studios, faculty are free to mentor, help you advance, assist you in exploring the right repertoire, and are integral to your overall growth as a musician. Plan a visit to Furman’s beautiful campus or start your application today. Learn more about the audition process.

How will you learn?

Furman’s Bachelor of Music in music theory provides an opportunity to engage in the analysis and formulation of music. You’ll complete a series of courses designed to develop your overall musicianship and your understanding of the intricacies and beauty of the elements of music. Including basics, written, aural and keyboard components, the music theory course sequence begins freshman year and is taken by all music majors.

Develop your technique through weekly private lessons with master teachers and acclaimed performing artists. Learn a new instrument (or two). Get to know the members of your new Furman music family, who you’ll study with over the next four years.

All students participate in a least one ensemble each semester during their Furman career. You’ll have the option to showcase your work in recitals and in Furman Engaged, a daylong annual celebration in which students come together to share their research, internships, performances, study away, visual art and more. Underscoring the close-knit relationships that emerge among professors and students, one of our jazz students has recently recorded an album with a faculty member, and has learned firsthand what it takes to perform on, co-produce and bring a project to market.

Featured music theory courses

Central to the curriculum across all music majors are weekly one-on-one applied lessons specific to your voice or instrument, a set of core courses, and participation in a major ensemble such as the Symphony Orchestra, Furman Band, Furman Singers, Men’s Chorale, Women’s Chorale, or Guitar Ensemble for every semester you are on campus.

  • 100%
    Music majors who participate in any engaged learning experience, from recitals to large ensembles, to study away, internships and research
  • 53%
    Music majors who complete at least one internship
  • 28%
    Music students who double major

What our students say

“The music department quickly became my home for creative growth and inspiration at Furman. There is a rich wealth of musical knowledge within the department, with professors encouraging musical growth in all capacities. The department has been the place where I’ve found not only musical inspiration but also my own identity as a musician.”
– Lauren Clifford ’22, B.M., music theory, and B.M., piano performance

Our faculty

Mark Britt

Professor of Music, Low Brass

Omar Carmenates

Professor of Music, Percussion

Anastasia Christofakis

Assistant Professor of Music, Clarinet

Anna Joiner

Visiting Associate Professor Music - Viola, Chamber Music, and String Education

Grant Knox

Associate Professor of Voice; Director of Sarah Reese Lyric Theatre

Matt Olson

Professor of Saxophone and Director of Jazz Studies

Derek Parsons

Professor of Piano; Director, Furman Summer Keyboard Institute

Sue Samuels

Director of Bands, Music Education Coordinator

Benjamin Dobbs

Assistant Professor of Music Theory
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Music Theory Major F.A.Q.