Why This Matters


    A report on 20 studies of students shows that the effect on those involved in arts education was statistically significant. The need for focused intervention from arts and music professionals remains important.


    Musicians and singers will see 1,600 jobs added in the next 10 years, while composers and music directors will see an additional 1,000 jobs added through 2029.


    Music professionals looking for a behind-the-scenes job can turn to broadcast and sound engineering, a field projected to grow 9% in the next decade and add over 13,000 jobs.

Our Research

Our list contains on-campus, online, and blended master’s degrees. Music professionals are often busy and juggle various forms of employment, including teaching and gig work. Online and blended master’s degrees offer the flexibility that musicians need, and many of the nation’s best universities have adopted this modern format.

While regional accreditation is important when considering a university’s master’s in music, accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) is also valuable. This organization was founded in 1924 and is made up of 639 universities and colleges. Institutions with this accreditation have passed NASM’s vigorous review to ensure students are receiving a high-quality experience.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 61 hours to write this article
  • 162 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 395 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Master’s in Music Degree Programs

Best Master's in Music Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

A master’s in music is one of many music-related master’s degrees that U.S. universities offer. A master’s in music education is a similar degree with a different outlook and curriculum. A master’s in music education focuses on teaching and teaches students how to engage with a classroom or an individual. A master’s in music, on the other hand, specializes in music history and theory while offering studies in performance, composition, or conducting.

Regional and national accreditation are the two most significant indicators of a university’s quality and reputation, with the former being of primary importance. Look for accreditation such as the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

Though the field for musicians is small, there are numerous opportunities outside of performance and composition for professionals with a master’s in music. An advanced music degree lends itself to teaching, administration, and production.

There aren’t any required certifications when you graduate, but some music professionals decide to get additional credentials to increase their knowledge and improve their job prospects. For example, sound engineers might choose to obtain a certificate through the Society of Broadcast Engineers for broadcast networking or engineering.

What’s Next?

While considering master’s in music degree programs, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Most master’s in music programs require applicants to have an undergraduate degree in a music discipline. Live auditions are common, with prospective students given an advanced or virtuoso solo piece to perform. Sometimes, universities allow students to submit a recording of their performance in place of a live audition.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? An online master’s in music can typically be completed in one to two years, depending on the program and the course load a student can take on. Online courses may offer more freedom in this regard, but the rigor of the coursework is still likely to be demanding.

There are dozens of graduate programs that confer music degrees, and you should keep your obligations and financial situation in mind while you conduct your research. Visit each program’s website or contact the admissions department directly to learn about required materials and deadlines before you apply.

Be sure to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if you qualify for federal funds. And if you’re employed, speak with your company to see if it will cover all or part of your tuition.