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An online master’s in music degree prepares students with various skills to apply in multiple careers. One of the most popular paths is that of a music teacher in an elementary school setting, where individuals earn an average annual salary of $63,670. Students may also choose to direct or compose music, earning a median annual salary of $62,590, or perform as a professional musician.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that the average cost of graduate school tuition is $12,596 at public universities and $28,017 at private universities.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Music Program

Choose your area of study

One of the first important decisions when choosing a master’s in music program is what type of degree to obtain. Options for graduate degrees in music include:

  • Master of Music (MM)
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Science (MS)

While it depends on the program, MM and MFA options are often designed for students who plan to write or perform music, while MA and MS options are better for those who plan to become teachers, technicians, or entrepreneurs.

Some programs will also allow you to select a concentration and focus your studies on a particular niche in this field. Common concentration options include composition, production, performance, teaching, theater, music business, music history, and sound engineering.

If you already know what you would like to do after you graduate, look for programs that closely match these career goals.

Research schools and programs

You should only apply to institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Ideally, your master’s in music program will also be accredited by a respected industry group like the National Association of Schools of Music. This accrediting organization has particularly high standards for music-related programs.

Additional questions to answer include the following:

  • Who are the faculty, and what are their credentials?
  • Which jobs do most graduates land?
  • Which student support services are available?

To learn more about any schools that you’re interested in, you can visit the school’s website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

Prepare for tests and applications

Students researching various online master’s in music degree programs will find that each has different requirements regarding tests and applications for admission. Creating a spreadsheet and a checklist for each program can help you stay organized and avoid missed deadlines.

Some schools require an entrance exam, while others do not. The ones that do typically require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

Other application materials may include:

  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of personal philosophy
  • Resume
  • Audition

All materials can be submitted online, along with the application and fees. Before submitting an application, always contact an admissions counselor to ensure you have the most accurate information regarding requirements and deadlines.

Select your program

Your personal preferences will help you narrow the list of schools. Students should also consider application fees, as they can quickly add up. This may impact the number of schools a student applies to as well.

Before making your final decision, review your needs and goals again. Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Do you want your program to be as online as possible, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has a fair amount of in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer? Your school should accommodate your scheduling needs and learning preferences.

Determine how you will pay for the program

There is plenty of financial support available for those earning an online master’s in music degree. Attending a public, in-state university is typically the most cost-effective option since these institutions tend to have the lowest tuition. However, students should consult with a financial aid officer at all schools they’re considering to get the most accurate information about overall program cost. Other ways to offset the cost of a master’s in music degree include:

  • Local, state, and federal scholarships
  • Local, state, and federal grants
  • Fellowships
  • Assistantships
  • Work-study programs

Some employers support a tuition assistance program within their organization, helping students reduce the money they must spend.

Contact the school’s financial aid office to learn how to apply for every type of financial aid. They will likely tell you to start with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). They may also introduce students to specific scholarships, ranging from the Lessons In Your Home Scholarship for $500 to the Gucci Changemakers North America Scholarship for $20,000.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Music Programs

Best Online Master's in Music Degree Programs

Colorado State University

Azusa Pacific University

Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts

Stephen F. Austin State University

Eastern Illinois University

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Boston University

Southern Utah University

University of Georgia Hugh Hodgson School of Music

University of Florida

Georgia College & State University

Morehead State University

University of South Dakota

University of Missouri

Liberty University

Tarleton State University

Eastern Kentucky University

William Carey University

ECU School of Music

Kent State University

University of West Georgia

University of Hawaii at Manoa

New Mexico State University

Bowling Green State University

Texas Tech University

Rowan University Global Learning and Partnerships

University of South Florida

Ball State University

Florida International University

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How We Rank Schools

For this list, we researched master’s-level degrees in a variety of music-related fields, including performance, education, therapy, and production. The types of degrees vary based on the particular area of study, but they include Master of Music (MM), Master of Arts (MA), and Master of Science (MS). Students can complete most of these programs online, although some are only available as hybrid options.

We only included regionally accredited schools on this list as an assurance of quality in higher education. Many of these options also have programmatic accreditation through the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), which sets national standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees in music-related fields.

Our team evaluated each program for its faculty, flexibility, outcomes, 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 an Online Master’s in Music Program?

The best online master’s in music degree programs typically create a two-year schedule for completion for full-time students, with a set group of courses taken in four semesters. However, depending on the program’s flexibility and number of credit hours, some students may finish in less time, and part-time students may need three or more years.

The number of credit hours required to earn this degree ranges from 30 to 50. Depending on the student’s chosen specialty, classes may involve performing, composing, analyzing, or editing music. Many online master’s in music degree programs require a final thesis project, which students present to a committee of music faculty.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in music degree program

  • Music History. This course covers the composers, genres, styles, and works that shaped music from its beginning to today. Topics may include music and dance, methods of research, and instruments. Students learn how music influences different cultures, ethnicities, and societies.
  • Music Technology. Students learn how to use various types of software and other technology to compose, record, and produce music. They also study how technology has evolved and the future of music technology.
  • Music Research Methods. Students learn the basics of conducting music research, including creating a hypothesis, collecting data, analyzing results, and reporting findings. They complete a research project using the skills they learn.
  • Music Composition. This course focuses on teaching students the different aspects of composing music. Students will learn how to combine lyrics, vocal performances, instruments, and technology to create an end-of-course performance.
  • Music Curriculum. Students entering a career in education will learn how to choose appropriate music curricula for various age groups, including elementary, middle, and high school music programs. They will learn essential concepts to teach students, such as instruments that build motor skills, music history, and musical performances.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Music?

Career outlook

The career outlook for individuals with an online master’s degree in music is diverse, offering opportunities in performance, education, composition, and various music-related fields.

Indeed, graduates with an online master’s in music have a range of potential career paths, including becoming music educators, performance artists, and music composers/arrangers. Graduates may also explore roles in music administration, technology, or music therapy, contributing their expertise to the vibrant and evolving landscape of the music industry.

Here are some common avenues for individuals with advanced education in music:

  • Film editor or camera operator — Capture and manipulate footage for television, film, and other media.
    • Median annual salary: $65,070
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 7%
    • New job openings projected: 8,200 annually
  • Broadcast, sound, or video technician — Set up and operate the electrical equipment that’s needed to produce media programs.
    • Median annual salary: $54,160
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 2%
    • New job openings projected: 12,900 annually
  • Producer or director — Select scripts, audition cast members, oversee performances, and make other business and creative decisions regarding film and television productions.
    • Median annual salary: $82,510
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 7%
    • New job openings projected: 16,000 annually

Online Master’s in Music Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for an online master's in music degree program?

The application process should always involve contacting an admissions counselor to verify their requirements. Each program may be different. Some schools may require a musical audition, while others may require proven work experience for at least one year. Most online master’s in music degree programs require transcripts from an undergraduate program showing completion and overall GPA.

Other general requirements include a resume or curriculum vitae, letters of recommendation from people who can attest to the student’s abilities in the music industry, and a personal statement. The GRE is not a requirement for many programs. However, students must check with each one for verification.

How much does an online master's in music degree cost?

Cost varies for every student due to unique personal and program factors. In addition to the base tuition, schools may charge fees for technology, student services, and activities. Also, private schools are usually more expensive than public schools, and public schools tend to charge out-of-state students a higher tuition rate than in-state students.

How long does it take to earn an online master's in music degree?

Program length varies based on the type of degree a student is earning. Some degree programs require a relatively high number of credit hours, while others have longer practicums or internships. While the typical master’s program takes two years for full-time students, part-time students usually finish in three or four years. Students in an accelerated program can finish in less than 18 months.

When unexpected obstacles occur, professional and personal obligations may interfere with a graduation timeline. The best online master’s in music degree program is the most flexible path.

Is an online master's in music degree worth it?

Earning an online master’s degree in music provides numerous benefits. Musicians with advanced degrees often have access to more job opportunities and higher pay. Graduates gain a deeper understanding of music theory, composition, and performance, positioning them for various roles within the music industry.

Online programs usually offer specialized tracks, allowing students to tailor their program according to individual career goals and interests. Many online programs feature faculty who are accomplished musicians and scholars in their respective fields. This direct access to experienced professionals provides valuable insights, mentorship, and networking opportunities.

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