Best Online Master’s in Music Education Programs

The experts at BestColleges have ranked the top online master's in music education programs. Use this resource to compare schools by cost, convenience, and academic quality to better understand your...

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by Juliann Scholl, Ph.D.

Published on March 24, 2022 · Updated on April 25, 2022

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A master's in music education helps students develop advanced instructional skills and exposes them to music theory and history. Students learn how to develop teaching methods, plan lessons, and use advanced instructional materials. This program prepares graduates to help others build their appreciation for the musical arts and teach future educators.

Tuition for a master's degree costs between $30,000-$120,000. Students can expect to pay more if they attend private schools or register with out-of-state status. Many online programs offer affordable degrees because students generally do not pay for housing or on-campus services.

Depending on the program format and students' schedules, most master's degrees take up to 24 months to complete. Enrolling in accelerated classes can reduce the time necessary to graduate. Some online master's programs offer asynchronous courses that allow learners to work through readings and assignments at their own pace.

A master's in music education from an on-campus program or top online school can give a job seeker a more competitive advantage. Many employers prefer applicants with advanced degrees. Also, the demand for educators will likely increase in the next few years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for postsecondary teachers will grow 12% from 2020-2030. The BLS also projects that elementary and secondary teacher jobs will increase by 9% in the same period.

Salaries for people with a master's in music education vary by location, employer, education, and occupation. According to the BLS, postsecondary music instructors earned a median wage of $69,690 in May 2020. According to PayScale, musicians make a mean yearly salary of $43,110.

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

People who possess a passion for music and other art forms might find an online master's in music education appealing. Prospective students must also demonstrate patience in working with students and appreciate cultural, socioeconomic, and intellectual diversity.

A master's in music education enables students to develop their skills and expand their theoretical knowledge. Courses typically include music theory and history in addition to more advanced classes like educational leadership, curriculum development, psychology of music, and communication. Students will complete 30-46 course credits in about two years.

Students in a music education master's program typically choose elective courses that reflect their career interests. They can specialize in vocal or instrumental music or focus on special education. Other aspiring educators might concentrate on elementary or high school teaching.

Besides core and elective courses, most graduate students must complete a capstone or thesis project. Depending on the program or specialization, this additional requirement can involve creating a course curriculum or conducting original research on a focused topic.

Students' career goals can influence which track they pursue, such as pedagogy or research. Schools vary slightly on the degree title itself. Some institutions use the label master of music in music education (MM/ME), and others apply the designation of master's in music (MM) with a music education concentration.

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Popular Online Master's in Music Education Programs

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

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Music Education Program?

American Music

This course explores the origins of music in the United States, including influences from Europe, Africa, and other regions. Students also learn about the development of uniquely American genres like blues, jazz, and rock.

Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Music Education

Students learn about the historical development of musical education from ancient Greece to contemporary times. They also get exposure to its philosophical fundamentals, covering music education's functions and instructional theories.

Instructional Design in Music Education

Instructional design involves the instructional materials and methods teachers and instructors use. The class also teaches future educators lesson planning, teaching practices, and measurement of learning objectives.

Music Technology Pedagogy

This course helps students understand how technology can enhance music education. The class also sheds light on how learners interact with technology. Future educators gain skills in incorporating technology into their curricula.

Psychology of Music

Psychology of music covers the psychological research on teaching, learning, composing, and making music. This course also explores how people connect with music and make sense of it in their own experiences.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Music Education Program?

Most online programs' admission standards demonstrate as much academic rigor as the typical traditional school. Many departments offering a master's in music education require a bachelor's in music education, music, or a relevant field.

Applicants should expect to complete an application and submit a fee. They must also provide official transcripts from accredited schools, entrance exam scores, resumes, and letters of recommendation. The admissions process might also involve an interview or musical audition.

Application

Applicants to most online master's in music education programs must complete an application that requests their contact information and relevant documents. Most schools use an online platform for their application that can be found on the school website.

Test Scores

Many programs require applicants to submit scores for entrance exams like the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Admissions officials consider these scores when determining applicants' preparedness and likelihood of success in graduate school. Students should allow enough time to take their exams and submit their scores before application deadlines.

Letters of Recommendation

Most graduate programs request one or more letters of recommendation from former instructors, mentors, or other qualified professionals. These letters should address an applicant's academic strengths, achievements, and readiness for graduate study. Applicants should give writers enough time to complete their letters before application deadlines.

Resume and Work Experience

Some programs offering an online master's in music education require applicants to show relevant work experience. Therefore, applicants should submit their resumes or curriculum vitae. These documents should include clear bullet points and strong action verbs to highlight volunteer activities and work-related outcomes.

Essays

Application essays describe a student's career goals and reasons for attending graduate school. These essays enable students to demonstrate their writing skills and highlight academic strengths that their entrance exams, undergraduate GPAs, and other documentation might not include. Effective essays show clear organization, active voice, and specific examples of achievements.

Official Transcripts

Most master's in music education programs require academic transcripts from previous accredited institutions. These documents list completed courses, grades, and GPA for each term or semester. Students should determine which of their previous credits will transfer to the programs to which they apply.

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Music Education Degree?

Career Outlook

The BLS projects that jobs for elementary and high school teachers will grow 9% between 2020-2030, compared to a growth rate of 8% for all occupations. Also, postsecondary instructors will see projected job growth of 12% in the same period. The need to replace educators who retire or switch careers will likely drive the demand for music educators.

Graduates with master's degrees can earn more than individuals with bachelor's degrees in music education. According to the BLS, elementary and high school educators can make more than $60,000 annually. In contrast, musicians earn a mean salary of $43,110, according to PayScale.

Some individuals pursue an online master's in music education to teach future music teachers. Graduates can work in elementary and secondary schools or obtain jobs as college instructors. Other professionals direct music groups or perform as musicians.

With a master's in music education, you can prepare the next generation of music educators. Learn about careers in music education.

Career Paths

Elementary School Music Teacher

Kindergarten and elementary school music educators teach children basic skills and concepts and encourage music appreciation. They also prepare students for music instruction in middle school. Elementary music teachers develop pupils' interpersonal skills, plan and carry out lessons, and update parents on their children's progress. In addition to working in classroom settings, teachers often provide individual tutoring.

Median Annual Salary: $66,660

High School Music Teacher

Most music educators at the secondary level specialize in teaching band, symphony, or choir. They typically work with students in large classrooms and provide one-on-one instruction. They might also teach classes on music history or theory. Other duties include preparing students for performances, creating lesson plans, and assigning grades.

Median Annual Salary: $62,870

Musician

Individuals pursuing a master's in music education also aspire to work as professional musicians. They perform live or create recordings as vocalists or instrumentalists. They can play individually or with groups or ensembles. Musicians might also provide individual music lessons. A graduate degree can increase musicians' earning potential and expand employment opportunities.

Median Annual Salary: $43,110

Postsecondary Music Instructor

A master's in music education qualifies professionals to teach at the community college level. Universities require professors to have a doctorate. Most community college music instructors create and carry out lesson plans, prepare students for recitals and ensemble performances, and teach courses in music theory, history, and appreciation.

Median Annual Salary: $80,560

Music Director

Music directors lead community and professional musical groups and prepare them for live performances and music recordings. Duties include leading rehearsals, auditioning new musicians, and practicing their conducting skills. Many directors also handle public relations responsibilities, promote upcoming performances, and engage in fundraising. Some directors compose arrangements that their musicians perform.

Median Annual Salary: $52,250

Music Education Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Music Careers Higher Education Careers Teaching Careers

Continuing Education

Most graduates with an online master's in music education need to obtain a state license to teach in a K-12 classroom. Educators must renew their licenses every 3-5 years and take continuing education courses. Professionals can also pursue Music Teachers National Association certification to boost their professional credibility and expand their job prospects.

Some individuals with a master's in music education pursue a doctorate for further specialization in music education. Doctoral students in music education obtain theoretical and practical instruction at higher levels.

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Music Education Program?

Cost

According to the Education Data Initiative, the average total cost of a master's in music education is $66,340. Tuition and other expenses vary by the public or private status of the school, location, and state residency. Students who want to save money might pursue online degrees to avoid paying for housing and campus fees.

Program Format

The need to balance work and class schedules can impact the choice between an online and traditional degree. Online schools with asynchronous courses benefit part-time students who want to complete course requirements at their pace. Also, learners who wish to enter the workforce sooner might prefer accelerated online classes that allow them to graduate in less time.

Location

Traditional degree programs might appeal to students who thrive in physical classroom environments. Individuals who prefer online courses should remember that some online programs mandate attendance at on-campus seminars and meetings. These requirements make it necessary for students to enroll in online schools nearby.

Accreditation

National or regional accreditation verifies that a school upholds strict academic standards and meets educational requirements. Prospective students should choose online master's in music education programs with accreditation. Attending accredited schools allows students to obtain financial aid and transfer their credits to other institutions.

Student Support

Applicants should determine what student services prospective online schools offer. Offices for student services can assist attendees with finding financial aid, exploring internship opportunities, seeking academic advising, and building mentor relationships.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Music Education Programs

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Best Online Master's in Music Education Programs

  1. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $11313

    Established in 1858, UF values research, innovation, and academic excellence. To that end, the university operates over 200 research and service centers. UF also emphasizes student-centered learning and offers programs across many disciplines.

    Students with an affinity for teaching and music can pursue UF's online master's degree in music education. The program helps emerging teachers create dynamic lessons. The curriculum requires 33 credits, and students typically graduate in two years. Core courses include historical and philosophical foundations of music education, research in music education, and instructional design in music education.

    Over 56% of UF students graduate with no student debt. UF accepts transfer credits on a case-by-case basis. UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. University of South Florida
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    Tuition

    $10460

    Based in Tampa, USF offers a diverse college experience, serving over 50,000 students who hail from more than 140 countries. USF also serves working professionals through distance learning.

    USF's online master's degree in music education provides ample flexibility through asynchronous coursework. The program's 30-credit curriculum includes coursework in approaches in music education, research design and methods in music education, data analysis and report writing in music education, and literature review in education. Participants also complete a one-week intensive on campus.

    Admission requires two years of music teaching experience, recommendation letters, and a minimum 3.0 GPA. However, this program does not require GRE scores for admission. USF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  3. Boston University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $29154

    BU serves about 35,000 students from over 130 countries. Learners gain access to over 300 programs and a vast alumni network. BU also boasts small class sizes, maintaining a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

    BU's College of Fine Arts offers a master's in music education that requires 32 credits, including 12 music education credits, four music theory credits, and 16 elective credits. Students typically earn their degree in 18-24 months. Courses include psychology and sociology in music education, advocacy and policy in arts education, and analytical techniques. Each course lasts seven weeks, and students take one course at a time.

    BU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

  4. University of Georgia
    Location

    Athens, GA

    Tuition

    $15539

    Founded in 1785, UGA is the Peach State's flagship university. The school values student excellence, rigorous learning environments, and applied experiences. Graduate students can enroll in over 30 master's programs, and UGA also accommodates working professionals through distance learning.

    UGA offers an online master's degree in music education that has no in-person requirements. Notable courses within the 33-credit curriculum include pedagogical efficacy, psychology of music, trends and issues in music education, and music theory. Each online course incorporates videos, text, and segmented lessons.

    Admission requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited school and an unencumbered music education license. The program accepts up to six transfer credits from accredited institutions. UGA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  5. Florida International University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $9180

    FIU serves nearly 54,000 students through approximately 265 programs, and its alumni network contains over 200,000 graduates.

    The university offers several online programs that do not have any in-person requirements, including a master's in music education. This program's 30-credit curriculum includes courses such as electronic music lab, directed research, keyboard literature, and graduate music history review. All students must complete a thesis.

    Admission requires a bachelor's in music from an accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Distance learners can access one-on-one support from a personal success coach. FIU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  6. University at Buffalo
    Location

    Buffalo, NY

    Tuition

    $15895

    UB is the largest school in the State University of New York system, offering over 420 programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. The university also provides distance learning programs that primarily serve working professionals.

    UB offers a 33-credit master's degree in music education that can be completed online. Participants must hold an unencumbered teaching license. Students typically complete the degree in four or five part-time semesters. Courses include musicianship and theory for early childhood, technology in music education, and Laban movement analysis. The curriculum also requires a culminating capstone course.

    Admission requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. UB is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  7. University of Minnesota Twin Cities
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    Tuition

    $16691

    UMN values diversity, inclusion, and civic engagement. To that end, the university's roughly 47,000 students represent over 130 nations. UMN also serves working professionals by offering several programs online.

    The university's online master's degree in music education prepares graduates to create differentiated lessons to accommodate various learning needs. Small class sizes allow students in the program to develop meaningful relationships with their instructors. The curriculum includes a pedagogical track and a research track. Courses are delivered synchronously and cover topics like theory and analysis of popular music, topics in tonal analysis, topics in 20th-century analysis, and directed research. This program also requires a thesis.

    Distance learners access coursework through the Canvas learning management system. The program prefers applicants with music teaching experience in K-12 environments. UMN is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  8. Texas Tech University
    Location

    Lubbock, TX

    Tuition

    $15531

    Established in 1925 in Lubbock, TTU values diversity. To that end, Hispanic students represent more than a quarter of the student population, and enrollment by African-American learners has increased by almost a third in recent years. TTU also prioritizes accessibility by offering over 40 online graduate programs.

    TTU's online master's in music education offers a 30-credit thesis track and a 36-credit non-thesis track. Courses include Kodály pedagogy, choral conducting methods, styles in wind literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, and music for students with exceptionalities. Students who choose the thesis track must give an oral defense of their thesis.

    Admission requires a personal interview or audition, although the program does not require GRE scores. TTU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  9. San Jose State University
    Location

    San Jose, CA

    Tuition

    $14519

    SJSU provides rigorous programs and student-centered learning. The university offers over 250 degrees to nearly 36,000 learners. SJSU's students also benefit from a vast alumni network that includes over 270,000 members.

    SJSU's 30-credit master's in music education can be completed in three summer semesters. While students access most coursework online, they must also complete a two-week residency in person. Required courses include research in music education, instrumental conducting and rehearsal techniques, and string pedagogy.

    Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree in music with a minimum 3.0 GPA and have some teaching experience. However, the program does not require GRE scores. Prospective students must also submit a portfolio, complete an interview, or prepare an audition. SJSU is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  10. Georgia College and State University
    Location

    Milledgeville, GA

    Tuition

    $20478

    Georgia College is a public liberal arts university that values transformative leadership, engaged learning experiences, ethical principles, and inclusion. The school's small graduate class sizes allow students to build meaningful relationships with instructors.

    Online learners at Georgia College can earn a master's in music education that does not include residency requirements. The 30-credit curriculum includes courses in American music and politics, curriculum development, community and philosophical music perspectives, and wind band literature. Students also take a capstone course and a comprehensive exam.

    Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA to apply. Students must also submit GRE scores, letters of recommendation, a professional resume, and an applicant statement. Georgia College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Music Education Programs

Is a master's in music education worth it?

Depending on a person's career goals and circumstances, a master's in music education can be worth the time, effort, and financial investment. People who show a passion for music and preparing future music educators might find a music education master's appealing. A graduate degree in this field can also expose individuals to employment opportunities and salaries unavailable to bachelor's graduates. Furthermore, an online program can make an advanced education more attainable to people limited by finances, work schedule, or location.

What can I do with a master's in music education?

An online master's in music education prepares graduates for work in various occupations. Individuals with an advanced degree in this field can teach music at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels. In addition to traditional educational positions, professionals can also offer private instruction, direct music groups, work as musicians, and compose musical arrangements for other musicians to perform.

Are music education graduates in demand?

Graduates with master's degrees in music education will likely see demand for their work. The BLS projects that jobs for elementary teachersandhigh school teachers will grow 9% from 2020-2030. Also, the BLS projects that postsecondary instructor positions and musician jobs will grow 12% and 11%, respectively, in the same period. The continued demand for these jobs likely comes from the need to replace workers who retire or leave the industry. Expected COVID-19 recovery might also contribute to job growth in the near future.

How much money can I make with a master's in music education?

Although salaries vary by occupation, location, and work experience, a master's in music education can expand a graduate's earning potential. Although people with this degree can work as musicians, jobs in education tend to offer more competitive pay. According to PayScale, musicians and musical performers make a mean annual salary of $43,110. In contrast, the BLS reports thatpostsecondary music educators earned a median of $69,690 in May 2020. High school and elementary teachers can also make more than $60,000 a year.

What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in music education?

Music educators with advanced degrees tend to earn more money than other professionals in the field. Annual pay for graduates with a master's in music education varies by occupation. For example, the BLS reports that postsecondary music instructors earned a median salary of $69,690 in 2020. Instructional coordinators made a median of $66,970 in the same year. Other factors like location and work experience can play a role in yearly pay. School districts with larger budgets tend to pay more for their master's graduates, as do institutions with teacher unions.

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