What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Music Education Program?

With an online master’s degree in music education, students can expect to receive the same professional education and attention to detail as they’d receive in traditional on-campus classes. Online formats are convenient for working professionals or individuals with other family commitments, as many allow students to complete courses independently. When choosing an online master’s in music education program, it’s important to consider all available options to find a program that aligns with your career goals.

Common degree curriculum

The coursework offered in an online master’s in music education program allows students to gain musical knowledge and become effective teachers. Nearly all online master’s in music education programs include classes on music theory, music history, and curriculum design. Still, some programs may specialize in more specific areas, such as instrumentation, choral music, or Kodaly methods. Below are a few specific courses you can expect to take in an online master’s in music education program:

  • Foundations of Music Education – History and Philosophy: Discover the origins and foundations of music, all the way back to ancient Greece.
  • Research in Music Education: Explore data collection, criteria evaluation, research interpretation and analysis, and applying such concepts to teaching practices. As part of this course, students usually conduct interviews, develop stronger writing skills, and learn how to examine literature, resources, and music education materials critically.
  • Pedagogy and Instructional Design in Music Education: Learn how to develop, plan, design, and implement music lesson plans and curricula. Coursework examines conceptual frameworks, learning theories, teaching approaches, learning tools, and assessment techniques.
  • Psychology of Music: Investigate the acoustics of music and the science behind human responses, hearing, and perception to understand how people interact with music.

Certification and license preparation

Requirements for teacher certification and licensure vary widely by state, so it’s essential to check with the state where you plan to teach about what its specific requirements are for obtaining a music teaching license. Many programs have a licensure track built into their curriculum, so when you graduate, you’ll receive both a master’s degree and the appropriate state license.

Program accreditation

Accreditation demonstrates that a school meets minimum standards of quality for academic excellence. Indeed, you should only apply to institutions approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, as this ensures you will receive a high-quality education and be able to transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Ideally, the music education program you attend will also be accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). Rather than evaluating entire schools, this organization looks specifically at music-related programs. Graduating from a NASM-accredited program will show employers that you are exceptionally well-prepared for a music education career.

Program completion timeframe

Most online master’s in music education programs require 30 to 36 credits, which full-time students can usually complete in 18 months to two years. Completion time depends on several factors, including applicable transfer credits and whether you attend full-time or part-time. Part-time students may take more than two years to complete their program.

The length of individual classes can vary, too; some run for eight-week quarter sessions, while others last for entire semesters.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Music Education Graduates

While entry-level jobs in music education tend to only require a bachelor’s degree, having a master’s will allow you to stand out from other candidates — this advantage is significant considering that most music education occupations are projected to face slower-than-average job growth over the next decade. Some careers in this field, such as conductor for a symphony orchestra or teacher at a community college, typically require applicants to have a master’s degree.

A degree in music education can prepare you to work in elementary, middle, and high schools. Other possible work environments include concert halls, recording studios, and private lessons at your own home.

Salaries in this field depend on factors such as job title, experience, and location. In general, most music education workers can expect to make somewhere between $60,000 to $80,000, though more lucrative opportunities are available as well. For example, the top 10% of music directors and composers make over $165,760.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)
Music Directors Music directors lead music groups, including orchestras, bands, and choirs. They use their skills to balance the music’s melody, timing, volume, and rhythm and provide feedback to musicians. They also typically select compositions and arrangements for concerts and other performances. $62,940 1%
Elementary School Music Teachers Music teachers at the elementary school level share musical knowledge with young children. They create lesson plans, make and enforce classroom rules, and teach basic musical concepts such as rhythm and timing. $61,620 1%
Middle and High School Music Teachers Middle and high school music teachers help students build upon the foundational knowledge gained in elementary school. Some students may choose a specific area of music to focus on at this age, such as chorus or a particular instrument. $61,810 (middle school),  $62,360 (high school) 1%
Postsecondary Music Teachers Postsecondary music teachers lead music classes at community colleges and universities. Some may combine teaching and research, and they usually specialize in a specific area of music. $77,280 3%

Professional organizations

Joining professional organizations can be helpful to your success in the music education field. These organizations provide various member benefits, including professional development opportunities, networking events, job boards, and online training courses. Resources like the professional organizations listed below are invaluable to those completing master’s degrees in music education.

  • College Music Society: This is a consortium of college, university, conservatory, and independent musicians and scholars who are interested in all disciplines of music. Its purpose is to promote the importance of music teaching and learning, musical creativity and expression, and music research and dialogue.
  • Music Teachers National Association: The MTNA hosts annual conferences at a different location in the United States each year. It also hosts webinars and offers teaching tips for music teachers. Member benefits include discounts, educational opportunities, professional development, and access to exclusive publications, including the American Music Teacher Journal and MTNA e-Journal.
  • National Association for Music Education: This organization for music teachers is devoted to celebrating and preserving cultural heritage through music and advancing music education.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Music Education Degree

While online degrees are generally less expensive than traditional on-campus degrees, many students still need financial aid to help pay for their education. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an excellent place to start — filling it out can help you access grants, scholarships, and other financial aid options from the federal government. Grants and scholarships may also be available through private companies, nonprofit organizations, or even the school you’re interested in attending.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

With all the options available (federal loans, work-study programs, private scholarships, etc.), it can be difficult to figure out exactly how to finance your master’s in music education. The following resources will help you navigate your financial aid situation and significantly reduce the cost of your college degree:

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Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.