Online Master’s in Music Programs 2021

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Music careers often require equal parts talent, perseverance, and training, especially for musical performers and composers. Music majors establish careers in a variety of professional arenas. From concert halls to classrooms and from stages to recording studios, music graduates enter a field with opportunities for instrumentalists, singers, composers, teachers, and coaches.

Professionals with a master’s in music can potentially earn a comfortable salary. For example, music directors and composers earn a median annual income of $51,670, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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This page features the top online master’s in music programs, including common courses and scholarships for music students.

Top 10 Online Master’s in Music Programs


  • How long does it take to get a master's degree in music?

    Learners typically need 1-2 years to earn a master’s in music. However, factors such as learners’ enrollment status and program delivery format may impact this timeframe.

  • What kind of jobs can you get with a music degree?

    Music majors often qualify to work as music teachers, sound technicians, musicians, and music producers.

  • What kind of degrees are there for music?

    Students can pursue a degree in music at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.

  • What music jobs pay the most?

    Salaries for music professionals vary widely. For example, music teachers earn a median annual salary of $59,420, according to the BLS, while producers and directors earn $74,420.

Why Get a Degree in Music?

Enrolling in a formal music program allows musically inclined learners to discover and focus on a specific musical arena. Music majors can specialize in musical composition, performing, or teaching music in a school or private setting.

Many music programs require an internship, which allows students to develop valuable industry contacts. However, not all states can support a top-level music program. By enrolling in an online master’s in music program, students can pursue a degree regardless of where they live.

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How Much Does a Music Degree Cost?

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that students who enrolled in public colleges or universities in their home state paid $12,171 on average for the 2018-19 academic year. Learners who enrolled in a four-year, nonprofit private institution paid an average of $27,776. Many master’s in music programs fall within this price range.

Depending on their specialization area, music majors may need to factor in additional expenses. For example, music majors who specialize in performance must often stage a concert or some type of live performance for their culminating experience. Students may need to pay for a concert hall or recording studio rental and the salaries of support personnel such as stage hands or sound technicians.

Students enrolled in online programs save money by not incurring additional housing and transportation expenses.

Calculating the Cost of a College Degree

Attendance costs can vary greatly, even between public institutions in the same state. Prospective students can use the calculation tool below to compare how much their program costs at different schools. Some institutions allow non-resident online students to pay in-state tuition, which can significantly impact the cost of attendance.

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How Much Do Music Majors Make?

Salaries for music majors vary greatly, often depending on the field. According to the BLS, music directors and composers earn a median annual salary of $51,670. Music graduates who teach at the kindergarten and elementary levels earn $59,420, while high school music teachers earn $61,660.

The BLS does not compile data on musicians and similar types of performing artists since many do not work full time year round. However, the BLS notes that musicians and singers earn a median per hour rate of $30.39, which is higher than the average median per hour rate of other workers of $19.33, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Master’s in music degree-holders sometimes teach at the college level, either in two-year community colleges or four-year institutions. Postsecondary teachers earn a median salary of $79,540, according to the BLS. Aspiring music teachers must first secure a state license before they can begin their teaching career.

Courses in Music

Master’s in music programs usually include foundation coursework and concentration classes. Enrollees can typically design an individualized plan of study that supports their educational and career goals.

The culminating experience for a master’s in music program usually depends on a candidate’s concentration. Learners specializing in composition may submit original music, while students focusing on a specific instrument may stage a performance. Many schools offer the foundational coursework below.

This course introduces students to various current and emerging hardware and digital software tools often used to support music education and enhance musical performance. Through hands-on manipulation and training, learners improve their skills in MIDI editing, computerized notation, and recording and audio production.

Students examine the various elements that comprise a piece of music, such as chord progressions, key signatures, and notations. Enrollees develop a broad understanding of music theory that helps them read and memorize music, communicate clearly, and enhance their performance.

This course familiarizes students with the economic, political, and cultural milieu behind the development and growth of community music. Enrollees learn how to analyze the genre’s different aspects in order to create and articulate their own version as an original work and as a scholarly pursuit.

Certifications and Licensure for Music

Music majors who wish to teach must first secure a teaching license from the state where they plan to practice. While typically not required when pursuing a music career outside of the classroom, an industry-recognized certification presents the holder as a learned and trained professional committed to the music field.

Music Educator Certification

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) allows practitioners to determine different states’ certification requirements. NAfME updates information on its website regularly to ensure information remains current.

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Music Therapy Board Certification

The Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) administers the MT-BC credential for candidates who have completed an academic program and finished clinical training approved by the American Music Therapy Association. Candidates must pass an exam on all CBMT domains, including assessment, treatment planning, and documentation.

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Nationally Certified Teacher of Music

The Music Teacher National Association reserves this credential for full-time or part-time college music teachers with dean- or supervisor-verified qualifications. Music teachers not part of a collegiate faculty can apply for the certification by completing the five Teacher Profile Projects described in the application.

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Scholarships for Music

Most colleges and universities offering a master’s in music support their students through scholarship and grant programs. Schools also offer teaching or research fellowships for qualified postgraduate enrollees. Music students can explore financial assistance from nonprofit private organizations and professional associations with ties to the music industry. See below for three scholarships open to students pursuing a master’s in music.

  • Great Value Colleges Music Scholarship for Black Students

    Who Can Apply: Undergraduate or graduate African American students pursuing a music-related degree may apply. Applicants must submit an essay containing 1,500-2,000 words or a video 5-10 minutes long describing their musical journey and future plans.

    Amount: $5,000

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  • Against the Grain Artistic Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Asian American students pursuing a degree in the visual or performing arts, including music, can apply. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must demonstrate leadership through community service or extracurricular activities.

    Amount: $1,000

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  • Mario Lanza Institute Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The Mario Lanza Institute has awarded more than 200 vocal scholarships to talented young singers since the institute’s incorporation in 1962. Aspiring singers ages 21-28 may apply. Applicants must pay a $50 application fee and prepare three opera arias and one song.

    Amount: $1,000-$2,000

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Online Master’s in Music Programs 2021

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