Best Online Master’s in Music Programs
Share this Article
As colleges and universities navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we're continuing our efforts to provide you with useful student resources and the latest online program information. Check our coronavirus resources page to learn more.
Musicians record, perform, and teach in various settings. Depending on their interests and career goals, musicians may not need a degree for employment, but an online master's in music can expand their professional options and better equip them for success in the field.
BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Ready to Start Your Journey?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of musicians to grow at a slower than average rate between 2019 and 2029, but professionals with extraordinary talents and advanced training should still enjoy opportunities.
Aspiring musicians can find in-depth degree information on this page, which can help them navigate their academic and professional options. For more information, consult our master's in music program guide.
What Are the Best Online Master's in Music Programs? Here Are Our Top 10:
Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.
|#1||Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO|
|#2||Azusa Pacific University Azusa, CA|
|#3||Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey New Brunswick, NJ|
|#4||Stephen F. Austin State University Nacogdoches, TX|
|#5||University of Nebraska Kearney Kearney, NE|
|#6||Eastern Illinois University Charleston, IL|
|#7||Southeastern Oklahoma State University Durant, OK|
|#8||Southern Utah University Cedar City, UT|
|#9||Morehead State University Morehead, KY|
|#10||Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY|
How We Rank Schools
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.
Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
Best Accredited Online Master's in Music Programs
Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Music Program?
Typically, MA degrees feature heavier research and liberal arts components, MS degrees emphasize technical studies, and MM and MFA degrees center on composition and performance.
Successful students in master's in music programs typically possess strong dedication, determination, and talent. These programs usually last 1-2 years and require 30-75 credits. All degree-seekers should consider their academic and professional goals when choosing between degree types and program options.
Musicians may encounter various degrees at the master's level, including an MA, MS, master of fine arts (MFA), and master of music (MM). While students can pursue many music careers with any of these degrees, each option offers something different educationally and professionally. Typically, MA degrees feature heavier research and liberal arts components, MS degrees emphasize technical studies, and MM and MFA degrees center on composition and performance.
While many MM and MFA degrees feature similar end goals, some MFA programs offer more flexibility and freedom. MM degrees often combine performance and musicology training, whereas MFA students may focus more on performance. These two degree types also tend to feature additional residency requirements.
In each program, learners can choose concentrations that focus their training in a specific direction or genre. Possible concentrations include music technology, community music, performing, composing, and music leadership.
Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Music Programs
In general, most master's in music programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree for admission. Prospective students must often submit standardized test scores and professional recommendations. More competitive programs set grade and standardized test score minimums.
Performance-heavy degrees, like the MFA and MM, usually require an audition or portfolio review. Many of these programs require a music-related bachelor's degree, as well.
Visit the graduate admissions guide for more information.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Music Program?
Many master's in music programs allow students to customize their training to fit their interests and career goals. However, most programs offer similar core courses. Titles and descriptions may vary, but the following list examines some of the most popular courses in this field.
In music research courses, students examine scholarship in music. They learn to analyze, critique, and build on different ideas. Coursework teaches advanced concepts and research methods and prepares learners to complete their own in-depth research projects.
Music bibliography courses teach students how to best use the library for research purposes. Learners explore how music students and scholars prepare research work, write research papers, and cite music-related sources. Students learn various research tools and techniques and discover how to distinguish between sources and types.
Music history courses explore the evolution of music and performance. Students look at the major moments and influencing factors that contributed to the contemporary art form. They also examine moments in history and the cultural and social contexts that helped shape music at those times.
In these courses, musicians practice their art in front of their peers and instructors, incorporating feedback and critiques to better their craft.
Music technology courses teach students how to use the various technologies in the field. Students look at the hardware and software required to create digital music, along with different applications and creative new uses of older technologies.
Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree
What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Music Degree?
Graduates with a master's in music can pursue many music-related careers. Despite decreased demand for traditional stage performances, the music industry continues to expand and offer new opportunities for professionals.
The allure of a musical career makes for plenty of competition for jobs, but non-performers enjoy a better outlook. The BLS projects faster than average job growth for sound engineering technicians and postsecondary teachers.
See where a master's in music can take you. Learn more about music careers here.
Musicians perform live or make recordings for various media and purposes. They also attend rehearsals and deal with promotional work. Travel may play a big part in their day-to-day activities.
Musical Director or Composer
Musical directors lead musical groups in their performances. Directors may write and arrange music, oversee rehearsals and practices, and handle various public relations tasks.
High School Teacher
High school music teachers lead music classes and teach students the fundamentals of the discipline. They also create lesson plans that challenge and encourage students to appreciate music.
Postsecondary music teachers educate students in the area of their specialization. Teachers at this level also conduct their own research and scholarly work. According to the BLS, art, drama, and music departments employ the second-most postsecondary teachers (over 116,000).
Sound Engineering Technician
Sound engineering technicians manage sound and electrical equipment for various broadcasts and presentations. They set up and maintain sound equipment and technology for movies, concerts, and recordings.
Music Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Music Programs
Is a master's in music worth it?
In a master's in music program, students sharpen their musical knowledge and strengthen their performance abilities. The degree can provide the advanced training needed for some of the most prestigious musical careers. Students in these programs must be passionate about pursuing music as a career, not just a hobby.
What can I do with a master's in music?
Graduates can become musical performers in various contexts and settings. They can also work as music directors or teachers or apply their technical knowledge to a sound-related profession.
Is music a good career?
The BLS projects 1% job growth for musicians between 2019 and 2029. This slower than average rate results from reduced attendance and funding for traditional performances, but musicians still enjoy great career flexibility and freedom. Digital, social media, and streaming platforms have made it easier than ever for musicians to create and promote their music.
How much money can I make with a master's in music?
Salaries for graduates with a master's in music can vary considerably. According to the BLS, musicians make a median hourly wage of around $30, more than $11 higher than the median hourly wage for all occupations. The highest 10% make more than $80 per hour.