Compare School Options

Most schools have rolling admissions and financial help so you can start your degree in a few weeks!

If you are interested in the music industry, consider getting an online bachelor’s in music to make music your career. This degree prepares students for various jobs in the music industry, from music instructors to composers, sound technicians, producers, and promoters.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth of 4% for musicians from 2021 to 2031, with a median pay of about $30 per hour in 2021, the most recent year available. Music directors and composers have a projected job growth of 5%, while sound and broadcast technicians have a projected job growth of 10%, with a median annual salary of $49,000.

A bachelor’s degree usually takes four years to complete, but this depends on how many credit hours you take per academic year. Many schools require 120 to 132 credits for a bachelor’s degree in music. As for tuition costs, some schools charge between $200 to $600 per credit, depending on whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student. Generally, the average undergraduate tuition for a private institution costs just under $46,000 yearly, while public institutions are roughly $19,000 yearly.

How to Choose an Online Bachelor’s in Music Degree Program

Choose your area of study

A bachelor’s degree in music goes beyond learning an instrument or embracing a particular style. An online bachelor’s in music often blends music theory and practical applications, training students for diverse opportunities that incorporate technology.

Many schools provide concentrations, such as songwriting, where students learn about song structure, lyrics, melody, arrangements, voice performance, piano performance, or guitar performance. A concentration in music education is for those who wish to share their love of music by teaching other students. Other concentrations might provide a background in music therapy, music ministry for places of worship, electronic sound design and music production, or music composition for TV, film, and video games.

Music students also can study the music business for a potential career as a promoter, manager, or publisher. Such training might involve learning about digital audio systems for recording, mixing, and editing music.

Regardless, note whether the school requires on-campus elements, such as a recital or in-person performances. Some schools allow online students to submit a thesis instead of these.

Research schools and programs

As you research schools and what they offer, check whether the school or the program is accredited through the U.S. Department of Education, the Higher Learning Commission, or the National Association of Schools of Music. Accreditation ensures that the program meets specific quality educational standards and impacts whether the school receives any federal financial aid.

In addition to accreditation, look into the school’s support services for online students, such as career counseling, mentorship programs, and library services. The school may also have networking opportunities through an alumni association. Students can typically find this information on the school’s website, social media profiles, and marketing materials. You also can reach out and ask program representatives more detailed questions.

Prepare for tests and applications

Each program varies in its application requirements and process. However, most bachelor’s degree programs in music require:

  • A high school transcript or GED test scores
  • Standardized test scores, such as from the SAT or ACT
  • A personal essay or statement outlining your interest and long-term goals
  • Letter(s) of recommendation from former teachers or music professionals

Depending on the program to which you’re applying, there might be other prerequisites, such as a minimum GPA, audition tape, or other samples of your work.

Select your program

Deciding on which program you want to attend can take time and effort. Consider each program’s factors and compare them with your priorities to narrow down your choices. Some students apply to a single program that meets their needs and goals, while others submit several applications to improve their chances of acceptance. Whatever you decide, most schools charge an application fee, a cost that can add up if you apply to multiple schools. If you’re concerned about expenses, contact the school to ask about a fee waiver.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Every school with an online bachelor’s in music program specifies the financial support students can receive, including scholarships, work-study, assistantships, fellowships, and grants. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines eligibility for federal student loans and need-based institutional aid.

If you’re already working, your employer may cover some costs through employer tuition assistance benefits if your degree relates to your current job. Talk with your school’s financial aid office for specific information about how to pay for your degree.

The Top 50 Online Bachelor’s in Music Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Music Programs Badge

Berklee College of Music

Valley City State University

University of Maine at Augusta

Liberty University

Fort Hays State University

Virginia Wesleyan University

University of Michigan - Flint

University of Rochester Eastman School of Music

University of West Georgia

The Juilliard School

Texas State University

Rutgers University

Washington State University

Discover More Options

How We Rank Schools

This list features some of the best online bachelor’s in music programs at top colleges nationwide. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. Many of the schools on our list have been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, reputation, and the student resources provided for online students. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online bachelor’s in music programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect from an Online Bachelor’s in Music Degree Program?

Online programs to earn your bachelor’s degree in music vary based on the school. Still, you can expect a core curriculum to include music history, music theory, genres, improvisation, and training one’s ear. Students also learn how to play alone and as an ensemble. Additionally, they often receive instruction in recording audio and some music production techniques.

Depending on your concentration, you might have more training in entrepreneurship, leadership skills, the music business, electronic music production, music technology, or songwriting. Some schools even allow students the flexibility of creating an interdisciplinary major that combines core music and liberal arts courses with concentrations such as touring, artist management, music promotion, music finance, sound engineering, or sound design.

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

  • Music Production Analysis: Here, students interested in songwriting learn what makes a successful song. Although the genres, lyrics, and messages might differ, the craft still involves conveying emotion through music, taking an elegant approach to repetition, and mixing a groove with vocal and instrumental performances. Expect to develop stronger listening skills throughout the course.
  • Music Theory: Students here learn about foundational concepts in music, such as notational systems, scales, chord progressions, and tonality. This course also covers minor and major key harmonic phrases and melodic cadence.
  • Sound Design for the Electronic Musician: This course involves hands-on activities in sound design concepts and explores how synthesizers work. Students learn more about imitating acoustic instruments, advanced modulation, and other technological skills.
  • Music Composition: Building on music theory, a course like this instructs students in identifying and writing melodic elements. Students broaden their understanding of chords, scales, and harmonics while learning about hybrid chords, secondary dominants, and more.
  • Music Recording: Students learn about the recording studio and managing sound systems. Coursework typically covers analog and digital sound systems and electronic and acoustic applications.

Online Bachelor’s in Music Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online bachelor’s in music degree program?

Check the application process for each school you are applying to. Some schools have online portals for accepting applications, while others link to apps, such as the Common Application or Common App. This streamlined admissions application system allows students to apply to multiple schools. Be sure to have electronic or digital versions of all the required information, including PDFs or images of test scores, college transcripts, work experience, and letters of recommendation. If the school requires an audition tape or demo, you’ll want to have this in the proper format (such as a mp3) and file size. If you choose to mail in hard copies, be sure you double-check the submission deadlines and send everything in on time. Lastly, talk with a school admissions counselor to verify that you meet all the requirements.

How much does an online bachelor’s in music degree cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), an undergraduate degree costs nearly $26,000 annually from 2020 to 2021 (the most recent statistics available). This cost includes tuition and fees for both four-year and two-year programs.

These records show the average undergraduate tuition for a private institution costs about $46,000 yearly, more than double that of a public institution at about $19,000 yearly.

However, all school costs vary depending on the charge per course credit, fees, the number of credits per course, and other expenses, such as books and course-specific software. Some schools charge a fee per semester or by term, while others vary in cost depending on whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student, even if you attend online.

How long does it take to earn an online bachelor’s in music degree?

While this depends on the curriculum and the school, most schools say their online bachelor’s programs in music take about four years to complete, although some schools offer accelerated programs. Attending part-time or full-time affects that timeline, as does the total number of credits involved and whether the school provides synchronous or asynchronous courses. With synchronous classes, students meet virtually with the instructor on a set schedule. Asynchronous courses provide a syllabus with lessons and assignments for students to complete independently.

Compare School Options

Related Degrees