Music Cognition Specialization

The Music Cognition specialization within the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University is unique within all North America universities, providing students with a double background in cognitive neuroscience and music, thus preparing them for interdisciplinary research into the cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience of music, as well as applied careers in audiology and music therapy.

The coursework required for the degree involves not only a strong curriculum in music (including music history, harmony, and music analysis) but an equally strong curriculum in psychology, including specialized core courses in 1) Music Cognition, 2) Neuroscience of Music Cognition, and 3) The Science of Performance.

The Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour offers a wealth of research opportunities to explore many aspects of music processing, including brain imaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalography), development, cognition, evolution, and even cross-cultural aspects of world musical styles. The research covers both perceptual and motor aspects of music cognition. A listing of department faculty can be found here.

Students in the Music Cognition specialization also have access to the activities organized by the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind, which puts together symposia, journal clubs, and joint lecture/concerts related to numerous aspects of music.

Both Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts programs are offered. A related Music Cognition specialization is offered through the School of the Arts for students who prefer to have a degree in music.

Students in Psychology are admitted to the Music Cognition program during Year 2, after having successfully completed the first-year admission requirements.

Note that entrance into the first-year Theory & Analysis course (MUSIC 1CA3) requires Grade 2 Rudiments from the Royal Conservatory of Music (a grade of 80% or above) within the last 2 years, or a grade of 65% or above on a qualifying music-theory exam administered by the School of the Arts (SOTA). Appointments can be made with SOTA to write the exam on specific dates between February and May. The content of the exam is summarized at

Contact Information

For inquiries into the Music Cognition specialization in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, please contact Dr. Steven Brown.

For inquiries into the Music Cognition specialization in the School of the Arts, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Contact Department

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour (PNB)
Psychology Building (PC), Room 102
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton Ontario L8S 4K1