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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, middle, or high school setting, where individuals can earn an average annual salary of $61,585. Students may also choose to direct or compose music, earning a median annual salary of $49,150, or perform as a professional musician.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that for the 2020-21 academic year, the average cost of a master’s degree was $12,394 at a public university and $26,621 at a private university.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Music Program

Choose your area of study

Students must make many decisions affecting their careers while getting the best online master’s in music degree. It is much easier to make these decisions after clarifying short-term and long-term goals for education and employment.

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

  • Master of Music
  • Master of Music Education
  • Master of Arts
  • Master of Fine Arts

Students can explore numerous concentrations, including composition, production, performance, teaching, theater, music business, music history, and sound engineering.

Research schools and programs

Students benefit from researching online master’s in music degree programs to find the best one that fits their goals. A search can begin with studying the school’s website and social media pages. Taking virtual tours and making contacts with key representatives also helps.

Making a list of questions about the program can help students manage the information they need to help them decide on a program. The first question to answer is whether the program and school are accredited. Accreditation means the school meets high standards that allow students to receive a quality education and can also affect financial aid eligibility. You can confirm a school’s accreditation through the Department of Education and a program’s accreditation through the National Association of Schools of Music.

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?
  • How flexible is the program?

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.

Select your program

Your personal preferences will help you narrow the list of schools. Some may prefer an accelerated program, allowing them to graduate in one year. Others may select a school that provides numerous networking opportunities.

Students should always consider application fees, as they can quickly add up. This may also impact the number of schools a student applies to.

Determine how you will pay for the program

There is plenty of financial support 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 programs. Others offer their curriculums in on-campus settings as well.

We only included regionally accredited schools on this list as an assurance of quality in higher education. Many programs 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.

Credit hours depend on the type of master’s degree, with some requiring as few as 30 credit hours and others requiring more than 50. Master of Fine Arts programs focus on improving music skills for students who want to perform professionally. Master of Music Education programs prepare students for classroom teaching. Depending on their specialty, students can expect to perform, compose, analyze, and engineer music in the classroom, hands-on activities, and final projects.

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. These courses cover the composers, genres, styles, and works that shaped music from its beginning to today. They study musical eras, including classical, romantic, baroque, and modern. 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. These courses focus on teaching students the different aspects of composing music. Students will learn how to combine writing 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. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of musicians and singers is projected to grow by one percent from 2022 to 2032, with continued demand for musical performances and education. The median pay for a musician is $39.14 an hour, or roughly $80,000 a year.

Career paths

Graduates with an online master’s in music have a range of 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:

  • Music administrator — oversees the administrative aspects of music organizations such as orchestras or choirs, including concert planning, budgeting, and logistics.
  • Music journalist — writes about music, reviewing performances, interviewing artists, and contributing to publications or online platforms.
  • Concert promoter — organizes and promotes concerts or musical events, coordinating logistics, marketing, and ticket sales.
  • Music librarian — curates and manages music collections for libraries or institutions, assisting musicians and researchers in accessing resources.
  • Private music instructor — provides individualized lessons to students, either independently or through music schools.

Music Educator

Earning Potential: $41,375-$82,505 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in music, education, or a related field

A music educator guides students in their musical journey. They teach the fundamentals of music, including theory, history, and performance techniques. Music educators tailor lessons to students’ skill levels in schools or private institutions, fostering a love for music and honing their abilities. Whether instructing choirs, orchestras, or general music classes, they inspire creativity, critical thinking, and teamwork. Beyond technical proficiency, music educators instill a lifelong appreciation for the arts, nurturing the next generation of musicians and fostering a positive impact on students’ academic and personal development.

Music Composer/Arranger

Earning Potential: $48,877-$67,877 annually
Education Required: Masters degree in music or a related field

A music composer/arranger creates musical works that captivate and inspire. Composers craft original compositions, weaving melodies, harmonies, and rhythms into expressive pieces. Arrangers take existing compositions, adapting and reimagining them for different contexts, such as orchestras, films, or ensembles. Armed with technical expertise and artistic flair, they translate emotions into musical language, evoking powerful responses. Whether crafting new symphonies or orchestrating familiar tunes, composers/arrangers contribute profoundly to the world of music, shaping sonic landscapes and enriching the cultural tapestry with their creative expressions.

Music Therapist

Earning Potential: $47,058-$60,933 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in music, counseling, or a related field

A music therapist employs the transformative power of music to address emotional, cognitive, and physical needs. In clinical settings, they design therapeutic interventions using music to enhance well-being. Tailoring sessions to individual or group requirements, music therapists engage clients in activities like songwriting, listening, or playing instruments to achieve therapeutic goals. They work with diverse populations, including those with mental health challenges, developmental disorders, or medical conditions. Through the universal language of music, these therapists foster self-expression, communication, and emotional resilience, contributing to holistic healing and improved quality of life for their clients.

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.

However, attending an online master’s degree program can save students money in various ways. Students can save on costs like housing, transportation, and meals. Because of the flexible schedules in an online program, students may also be able to continue working while enrolled in their program.

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 more credit hours than others, while others have longer practicums or internships. While the typical master’s program takes two years for full-time students, part-time students 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. According to the BLS, musicians with advanced degrees often have enhanced job prospects. Programs offer a flexible learning environment, allowing musicians to continue their careers while expanding their knowledge and skills. Some positions in the music world are lucrative, with high school music teachers, for example, earning a median salary of $65,100.

An online master’s in music provides access to expert faculty, diverse musical genres, and innovative technologies. Graduates gain a deeper understanding of music theory, composition, and performance, positioning them for various roles within the music industry.

Online programs often offer specialized tracks, allowing musicians to focus on areas such as performance, composition, or music education. This customization tailors the program 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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