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Online Master's Programs in Music Education

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Updated on: 10/24/2018

Teachers who want to advance their careers and undergraduate students who know they want to focus on music education should consider a master's in music education online. Attending school online allows you to take courses on your own schedule, and accelerated or intensive programs allow you to complete your degree faster. Browse this guide to determine if a master's in music education suits you.

What Can I Learn in an Online Master's in Music Education Program?

Earning a master's in music education online takes one to two years. Your graduation date may vary depending on how many classes you take in a term. Registering for more than a full-time load, or taking accelerated courses, will translate to getting your degree sooner, whereas attending part-time will take longer. This portion of the guide considers classes and specializations. It is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you an idea of what to expect from your program.

What common courses are offered in a master's in music education program?

The courses below serve as examples of those you might take during your program; course names and focuses may differ across schools.

Music Technology

These courses center on the technology that can be useful in teaching music to students: MIDI, computer-assisted instruction, and social media, for example. These courses offer hands-on experience in order to familiarize students with the technology.

Privilege in Music Education

Students explore how music and music education have and continue to intersect with power, privilege, and marginalization. They also learn how to identify their own biases in order to avoid reinforcing these problems.

Music Education Research

Students read contemporary and established research and discuss the techniques and methods used by researchers. These courses train students to do their own research at the highest standards possible and to develop their own writing and research skills.

Issues in Music Education

These courses focus on contemporary issues that impact music education, from politics to policy to budgets.

Curriculum Design

Students discuss processes that go into designing and implementing curricula in different educational environments. Classes feature the design of individual curricula and may be taught as part of a thesis or other capstone project in a program.

What specializations are available in a master's in music education program?

You may have the opportunity to specialize your online master's in music education in order to focus more closely on a specific aspect of the field. Some programs will require this, while others forego it all together. Read further to understand three specializations you might see during your program.

Classroom Teaching

Specializing in classroom teaching means focusing on curriculum design, which is especially useful for students with teaching experience.

Conducting

Students who want to lead orchestras or bands within a school setting will learn about the history and techniques of conducting music.

Research

Students interested in improving their understanding of how music is taught and learned should specialize in research, which involves working with students in schools and pouring over archival documents.

What Can I Do with a Master's in Music Education Degree?

The obvious answer to this question is that you can teach. Many positions only require a bachelor's degree, but a master's will make you a more valuable candidate. This section provides an overview of options to which an online master's in music education can lead.

Elementary School Teacher

Music teachers at this level may teach the most basic concepts of music or lead student bands and orchestras. Elementary music teachers introduce students to music and lay the foundations of lifelong practice and appreciation. In many school systems, music is entirely elective after this point.

High School Teacher

High school music teachers shape students into skilled performers. During high school, students begin to develop fully their own music styles and tastes, all of which can be supported by teachers at this level.

College Professor

Most four-year institutions and universities require professors to have a Ph.D. or equivalent in order to teach, but exceptions can be made for highly qualified teachers and professionals, and most community colleges only require a master's. At this level, students are either seeking individual training in an instrument or are already skilled enough to participate in orchestras and the like. Here, the music teacher guides students toward their own style or ideal career path.

Music Ministry Director

Music directors might lead or train choirs, teach music during Sunday school or other equivalents, or play instruments during services. Opportunities to teach are mostly self-made, though larger congregations may offer educational experiences for children and other members, and there can be crossover between this and more traditional teaching positions within religious schools.

Professional organizations can help you advance your career through networking, job search assistance, and funding. Consider the five organizations below.

National Association for Music Education

Since 1907, this organization has worked to help teachers develop their careers and their field. NAfME works at state, local, and national levels to advocate and educate.

Music Teachers National Organization

MTNO has supported music teachers and advocated for the role of music in education and society at large since 1876.

International Society for Music Education

ISME supports music and music education within an international, intercultural context.

American String Teachers Association

ASTA dedicates itself to the professional development, networking, and knowledge-sharing of teachers and players focused on stringed instruments.

International Association for the Study of Popular Music

This interdisciplinary organization studies the evolution and role of popular music within cultures.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in Music Education?

The chart below outlines the salary potential of the careers detailed above. Except for the music ministry director, these numbers represent teachers overall, as music education is not considered a separate career by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Earning a master's in music education online can increase your chances of obtaining a job or of advancing your career by making you a more competitive candidate.

Job Title Lowest 10% Earned Annually Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Earned Annually Job Growth 2016-2026
Elementary School Teacher Less than $37,340 $56,900 More than $92,770 7%
High School Teacher Less than $39,080 $59,170 More than $95,380 8%
College Professor Less than $39,040 $76,000 More than $170,160 15%
Music Ministry Director Less than $16,000 $40,461 More than $67,000 No data

BLS 2018 and PayScale

While there are many careers that require only a bachelor's in education, earning a master's degree makes you a more valuable job candidate and can have a significant impact on your salary. According to the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, a music teacher with a bachelor's degree earns roughly $46,000 per year, while a music teacher with a master's earns roughly $61,000.

Online Master's in Music Education Program Accreditation

Accreditation allows schools to grant degrees to their students, having met standards set by either a national or regional board. Most schools list their accreditation status online; if you're having trouble locating it, rethink that school. A school that is not accredited cannot grant degrees.

Programmatic accreditations exist as well, offered by organizations within different fields to indicate a program has met specific standards. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation is one such organization, and its approval suggests the program is worth attending. Programmatic accreditation is not required for a good education, but it ensures you will be getting one and it looks particularly impressive to future employers familiar with the process.

How to Pay for a Master's in Music Education Degree

Paying for college is stressful, but several options exist to help you get started on your own search for funding. Here are four:

  • Federal Financial Aid

    Start with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which will not only allow you to get student loans, but is required for many other funding opportunities and even admittance to some programs. The process is relatively quick and easy, and it opens up a wealth of options.

  • TEACH Grant

    One option specifically for educators is the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant, which requires your completing a FAFSA and teaching in a low-income area.

  • NAfME Scholarships

    The National Association for Music Education offers various scholarships that can help you pay for your education.

  • State Awards

    Many states offer useful financial aid options. Use the U.S. Department of Education site to find more information about programs in your state or the state where your school is located.