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Church Music Concentration

Church Music Concentration

The MTh in Applied Orthodox Theology with a concentration in Church Music provides a graduate theological education across a range of topics – Scripture, Doctrine, Fundamentals of Orthodoxy, Liturgical Theology, Pastoral Theology, Church History, Patristics, and Canon Law – as well as coursework in Byzantine Church Music with either a Chanter or Choir Director focus. An overview of the courses for the Church Music Concentration is provided below. See also the more general description of the MTh Program in Applied Orthodox Theology.


The courses in the Church Music Concentration are identical to those in the standard Applied Orthodox Theology concentration, with the exception of three courses which specifically focus on Church Music. Courses are as follows:

Unit I:

  • Fundamentals I: An Introduction to Orthodoxy
  • Church History I: The Christian Church from Its Foundation through the Seventh Century
  • Liturgical Theology I: Introduction to Liturgical Theology, Baptism and Eucharist

Unit II:

  • Church History II: The Orthodox Church from the Seventh Century to 1453
  • Byzantine Chant I*
  • Project I

Unit III:

  • Liturgical Theology II
  • Patristics: The Fathers of the Church During the First Five Hundred Years
  • Byzantine Chant II*

Unit IV:

  • Pastoral Theology I
  • Doctrine I: The Doctrine of Knowledge In the Tradition of the Church
  • Project II

Unit V:

  • Doctrine II: The Orthodox Doctrine of the Holy Trinity
  • Canon Law: The Canon Law of the Orthodox Church
  • Byzantine Chant III*

Unit VI:

  • Master’s Thesis

*courses specific to the Church Music Concentration

Directed-Project Courses

The directed-project courses of the Church Music Concentration are offered in the spring semester of each year (Units II, IV) and will generally address a particular need in the area of Church Music. They will include a proposal submitted for approval to the Church Music Program Director and the Projects Director; the directed Project itself; and a Project paper with supporting detail.

The following details are currently being updated and therefore may not be current (Nov. 2019):

Both Chanter and Choir Director students will conduct in-depth study in the Psaltic Art; with assignments completed via audio podcasts and web conferencing / correspondence.

For students with the Chanter focus, work will include:

  • Lessons in reading and chanting Psaltic, mode by mode, through examples available in books and via audio podcasts
  • Lessons based on practical applications of the hymnology for Vespers, Matins, and Divine Liturgy using examples from English language sources that utilize Byzantine notation
  • Beginning exploration of more difficult works such as Papdic chants used for Cherubic and Communion Hymns
  • Interaction with and coaching by the instructor via electronic submission of performance samples and video conferencing via the internet
  • Practical application/teaching of the Psaltic Art wherein students prepare and teach some basic lessons in the Psaltic Art to students on the parish level, and evaluate their success in a multi-page praxis narrative which includes a lesson plan outline, samples of handouts/materials used, list of references/bibliography, and video excerpts recorded during the teaching sessions

For students with the Choir Director focus, work will include:

  • Lessons in reading and chanting the basic Psaltic neumatic notation, exploring transliterations of both Byzantine and non-Byzantine melodies in Western notation
  • Practical applications of the above in various liturgical situations where choirs may not be a feasible alternative because of the nature of the parish
  • Exploration of simple arrangements of chant such as Obikhod or other simplified (2-3 part) arrangements for small choir or Children’s choir
  • Lessons based on practical applications of settings that are from both the student’s tradition and others, using examples from English language sources that are both linguistically and musically adept at conveying the essence of the text
  • Creation of a choral director’s “bag of tricks,” including methods for improving blend, intonation, diction so that the ensemble conveys the texts/music intelligibly and in a manner befitting the Orthodox Christian liturgical ethos
  • Creation of methodologies that will promote congregational participation, especially during the Eucharist and the sharing of same with students in a forum style arena
  • Interaction with and coaching by the instructor via electronic submission of performance samples and video conferencing via the internet
  • Practical application of choral techniques through the rehearsal/performance of select musical settings explored above, utilizing an ensemble or multiple ensembles in the student’s parish, and evaluation of their success in a multi-page praxis narrative that will include rehearsal plans, samples of arrangements used, a list of supplementary materials/bibliography on the subject, and video excerpts recorded during the teaching sessions/final performance during synaxis (worship).


An intensive week-long Residency takes place in late August or early September at the start of the first two academic years, and is held at the Antiochian VIllage Conference & Retreat Center in western Pennsylvania.

Master’s Thesis

Students who successfully complete the required coursework of the Applied Orthodox Theology curriculum, and who satisfy the other prerequisites, may enter the final phase of the Master’s Degree program which will include research and thesis composition focusing on a practical application of Orthodox Theology. During the spring semester of their second year, Master's degree students will be enrolled in a year-long preparatory course titled "Master's Thesis: Sources and Methods" which covers:

  • Presentation of a Thesis Proposal (abstract)
  • Thesis research and preparation
  • Thesis approval process and deadlines
  • Completion and defense of the Master’s Thesis.

Review the Application Process or Apply Now.