Music Certifications and Diplomas

Find out about programs that can provide music training and the topics these programs cover. Get information about skills you can learn along with professional certifications. Schools offering Ethnomusicology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Music Diploma Programs Are Available?

These programs can be found at universities, music conservatories, state colleges and schools of music. Post-baccalaureate and post-master's diploma programs are the most common diploma programs found. You may also be able to find undergraduate diploma programs, though these aren't as common. Post-baccalaureate and post-master's diploma programs usually award an Artist Diploma.

Distance education courses aren't available for these diploma programs. Many music diploma programs may require you to participate in private instruction, live rehearsal, ensemble performance and solo performance. You may also learn how to conduct an orchestra, sing in a different language and play various instruments.

Program TypesPost-baccalaureate and post-master's diplomas are most common, undergraduate diplomas exist but are not as common
Common Course TopicsMusic fundamentals, harmony training, foreign language performance, sight-reading techniques, musicology
CertificationThe National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) offer certification

What Courses Can I Expect?

Undergraduate diploma programs might take you two or three years to complete. These programs may differ from bachelor's degree programs in music by not requiring as many general education courses. Regardless of the instrumental focus, you can expect to learn how to detect tone and pitch, music fundamentals, genres of music and performance techniques. You can expect to take courses in music history, classical music, harmony training and musical form. While pursuing this type of diploma, you should be able to specialize in a particular instrument, vocal performance or music composition.

Post-baccalaureate and post-master's diploma programs usually consist of the same content. To be admitted to most programs at these levels, you may be required to pass a recital entrance exam. Most Artist Diploma programs have an overall focus on performance.

Your program can educate you in foreign language performance, music theory, private instruction techniques, performing with a piano accompaniment, sight-reading techniques and professional development. You can expect to take courses in graduate theory, world music, pedagogy, music history, chamber music and musicology. Many programs might require you to participate in solo recitals, ensemble performances, orchestra performances or opera. Some of your program may be altered depending on the instrument you play, the language you choose to sing in or the genre of music you decide to specialize in.

What Music Certifications Are Available?

Two major certifications are available if you have a background in music. These certifications are available through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT).

The NBPTS offers two certification designations for music teachers focusing on early and middle childhood or adolescent through young adulthood. These certifications aren't required for employment. Rather, they're awarded to demonstrate and recognize an extended knowledge of teaching techniques. To be eligible for certification, you'll need to hold a bachelor's degree, have three years of teaching experience and hold a teaching license.

You'll be required to complete the same process to earn both types of certification. To earn either certification, you'll need to complete a career portfolio and an assessment. Your career portfolio will be used to demonstrate your skills in planning, instruction, developing musicianship and documented accomplishments. Some of these may need a video recording as proof of your skills. Your assessment will be a written exam focusing on diagnostic skills, historical repertoire, applied theory, instructional strategies, world music samples and curriculum demonstration.

The NBPTS certification lasts ten years. Beginning with your seventh year of certification, you'll be recommended to apply for renewal. To renew your certification, you'll be required to develop a profile explaining your growth as an educator during your certification.

The CBMT grants a Music Therapist-Board Certified (MT-BC) designation that remains active for five years. To be eligible to apply for certification, you'll need to have completed a music therapy bachelor's degree program and 1,200 hours of clinical work. The CBMT requires you to complete an exam at a recognized computer-testing site. This exam will cover topics in patient assessment, assessment interpretation, treatment planning, treatment execution, safety, closure, documentation, evaluation, professional development and responsibilities. To renew your certification after five years, you may have the choice of retaking the CBMT exam or documenting recertification credits.

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