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Getting your master’s in music education can prepare you for a jump in your career. For example, this specialty degree can help you develop knowledge and skills that support a career as a high school music teacher or get a promotion as a college marching band director.

Music directors make, on average, $62,590 per year. Teachers of all types in elementary, middle, and high school environments make between $63,670 and $65,220 per year. Music teachers in post-secondary education environments make $101,500 per year on average.

The cost of a master’s degree in music education also varies. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition for a graduate degree in 2021 was $19,749 per year. Many students take around two years to complete these degree programs, but that timeline can also vary depending on whether you attend full or part-time and what type of program you attend.

How to Choose a Master’s in Music Education Degree Program

Choose your area of study

Always begin research into graduate degree programs with your own goals. What do you hope to achieve in seeking a master’s in music education, and how will it impact your career? Answering these questions helps you understand what type of program and concentration might be best.

Some examples of concentrations offered by schools that have master’s in music education degree programs include:

  • Music studies and teaching. These programs focus on teaching strategies and the skills you need to pass music knowledge to students.
  • Conducting. A concentration in conducting can help you prepare for a career in orchestra or band leadership.
  • Performance. Programs with a performance concentration focus on music as a performance art and may be a good choice if you want to teach in theater or fine arts programs.

Research schools and programs

Start your search online. Review program options to determine if they:

  • Are accessible: Some programs are more competitive than others, and you should review admissions requirements to see if you qualify.
  • Fit your budget: In-state public schools tend to be the most cost-effective options, but private schools may offer affordable programs and financial aid, too.
  • Support your learning style: Online and hybrid programs are convenient, but they don’t work well for every learner and may not be ideal when working on performance skills.

Prepare for tests and applications

Admission test requirements vary by program and school. Many schools don’t require GRE or other test scores, especially for applicants who have a related bachelor’s degree or professional experience. Because you need time to schedule testing, sit required exams, and receive your scores, review admission guidelines early to understand whether there are testing requirements.

Other application requirements might also take some prep work. If you need letters of recommendation, make a list of people you can ask. Have a few backups in case some letters fall through, and provide plenty of time for people to do this favor for you.

Select your program

It’s typically a good idea to apply to more than one program. Consider all your options and choose two to three schools to apply to — that way, if you don’t get into your first-choice program, you have some backups.

Once you receive any acceptance letters, you can consider your options. Dig a bit deeper into all the details, including the cost of the programs, classes, timelines, and whether the school offers unique learning opportunities.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Make a plan for covering the cost of your degree before you officially sign up for classes. Complete the FAFSA to find out what type of federal student aid you might be eligible for. Grad students are considered independent, which means you won’t need to include any income related to your parents, and this opens more doors for some people for aid. Work-study programs, personal savings, and loans are other common ways grad students pay for their education.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in Music Education Degree Programs

Best Master's in Music Education Degree Programs_2024 badge

Teachers College, Columbia University

Boston University

University of Southern California

New York University

Fredonia State University of New York

Boise State University

University of Florida

Kutztown University

University of Washington - Seattle

University of Hawai’i at M?noa

Hunter College

University of Missouri

Queens College

Lehman College

Anderson University

Brooklyn College

Old Dominion University

Pennsylvania State University

Syracuse University

Longy School of Music of Bard College

Northwestern University

University of Northern Colorado

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

University of Louisiana Monroe

Hofstra University

University of Rochester

Southern Utah University

University of Louisville

Vandercook College of Music

Discover More Options

How we rank schools

We reviewed many master’s in music education programs, including Master of Music Education (MME) and Master of Music (MM) degrees. The two degrees have different emphases, but each can prepare you for a career teaching others about music.

This list includes online, on-campus, and hybrid programs to make it easy for many people to find a suitable option. Online programs may have a brief in-person component.

Every school listed is regionally accredited, and most of these options also have programmatic accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). Accreditation ensures the quality of a program and the widespread acceptance of the program’s degrees.

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.

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in Music Education Degree Program?

A master’s in music education program typically offers a selection of coursework that balances music knowledge, skills, teaching, and educational topics. Students may work on projects relevant to teaching music skills, directing and conducting performances, and creating music curriculum tools.

Your program may require you to select a concentration and participate in real-world situations relevant to your specialty. Master’s students who are already in teaching positions can often use their own classrooms as research and project grounds. While remote learning is possible and hybrid approaches common, depending on your concentration, you may not be able to complete a master’s in music education program without attending at least some in-person classes.

Some programs are targeted to existing educators as accelerated options for obtaining a master’s degree. These programs typically take a cohort approach and may take a year to complete.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in music education degree program

  • Music Theory. Digging deeper into music knowledge and theory helps shore up your own foundations so that you’re better able to prepare and teach students.
  • Teaching Theory and Methods. While the focus is on teaching music, this type of degree is still an educator’s degree. You’ll cover topics such as classroom management, curriculum design, and instruction.
  • Music Technology. This class helps you stay up-to-date with current music technology and learn ways to integrate and use it in teaching.
  • History of Music Education. Many programs require a history of music or a history of music education course. These classes help you see the big picture of music education and how methods have evolved over time.
  • Early Childhood Music Education. If you plan on working with younger children, an early childhood education course can help you understand how little minds think and connect with information.
  • Music and Performance. Conductors and theater leaders may want to delve into coursework that concentrates on teaching music as a performance art.  

Master’s in Music Education Degree Program Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in music education degree program?

The majority of graduate degree programs now offer online admission applications. After you create a short list of schools you’re interested in, review each program’s admissions requirements on the school’s website. Even though you may think all the information is online and clear, consider reaching out to the admissions office. An admissions counselor can help you understand the specific requirements of the program and may even offer some tips for customizing your application for a better chance at success.

Remember that most graduate programs require more than a completed application. You may need to write an essay, submit a video, attach letters of recommendation, and have your transcripts sent to the school. In some cases, you might also have to complete the GRE or another test.

How much does a master's in music education degree cost?

The cost of your program depends on factors such as your timeline to completion, the type of school you attend, the cost per credit hour, and how many credit hours you need to graduate.

The NCES numbers indicate that the national average for graduate program tuition is around $19,749 per year. However, programs at private schools cost more, with an average of $26,621. Tuition at a public college is likely to be much lower, especially for students who can attend as in-state residents.

As a graduate student in a music education degree program, you also have to consider the costs of supplies and equipment. You may need to invest in purchasing or renting instruments for practical coursework, and you will likely need a laptop and some technology equipment.

How long does it take to earn a master's in music education degree?

The average for most master’s in music education degree programs is two years for full-time students. Teaching and music professionals who qualify for an accelerated program may only need one year to earn their degree. If you must attend school part-time while you work or handle other obligations, it might take a few years to complete your degree program. In some cases, schools allow six or more years to complete a program for part-time students.

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