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Best Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in Music

Explore the top online bachelor's programs in music, including degree requirements, common courses, and in-person requirements. Also, learn about different music-related careers you could pursue after earning your music degree.

Best Online Bachelor's Programs in Music

To decide on which schools and programs have the best bachelor's programs in music, we took into consideration program cost, flexibility, and specialty area. You can explore the top online bachelor's degree programs in music below.

1. Berklee College of Music

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Boston, MA $44,140 70%

Berklee College of Music offers several online bachelor's degrees in music, including in the fields of:

  • Music production
  • Music business
  • Guitar
  • Songwriting
  • Songwriting and producing
  • Electronic music production and sound design
  • Music composition for film, TV, and games

Students even have a chance to design their own music degree. Online classes at Berklee College of Music include interactive, collaborative, media-filled lessons and assignments that provide students practical training and responsive feedback from professors and peers. These online bachelor's programs are flexible with part- and full-time attendance options, accept up to 60 transfer credits, and offers up to 30 credits for prior learning, professional, and life experience. For the 2019-2020 academic year, the tuition for most online bachelor's degree programs was $59,880 (the guitar major is about $5,000 more).

2. Grace College of Divinity

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Fayetteville, NC $6,100 86%

Grace College of Divinity has an online Bachelor of Arts in Worship Ministry degree program that prepares students for careers as worship ministers, pastors, or leaders who use music within their practice. This online program's curriculum features classes on theology and the Bible, leadership skills, general education, and ministry. Students also take instrumental and vocal training courses that focus on musical theory and practical skills. Along with online classes, students are also required to complete worship team experiences in their local churches and communities. For this online bachelor's program, the cost of 4 courses a semester is $2,400, making the total cost of the degree $24,660.

3. The Baptist College of Florida

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Graceville, FL $11,400 90%

At the Baptist College of Florida, students can earn an online music-focused bachelor's degree in the following subject areas:

  • Music education
  • Worship leadership
  • Music

The online music education bachelor's degree is for students who wish to teach music at the K-12 school level. At the end of the program, they are eligible for a Florida state temporary teaching certificate in Music, grades K-12. The worship leadership bachelor's program allows students to pursue a career as a professional Christian music artist or a worship pastor. The general music bachelor's program also allows students to become worship ministry professionals but has a wider focus on all musical vocations and training. The price per credit for online programs at the Baptist College of Florida was $360.00 for the 2019-2020 year.

4. Valley City State University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Valley City, ND $7,626 99%

Valley City State University offers an online Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science in Music degree program that features coursework in the following subjects:

  • Music theory
  • Conducting
  • Song arraignment and scoring
  • Music history
  • Aural skills

The academic coursework part of this program can be completed in an online format. Music ensembles and lesson requirements need to be taken on campus at Valley City State University or at a college or university close to students with credits transferred and applied to the online bachelor's degree. Students are also required to complete a final capstone project, which can consist of a written thesis, a musical recital, or an original musical arrangement or composition.

5. Judson College

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Marion, AL $18,510 100%

Judson College has a Bachelor of Arts in Music degree program that allows students to complete some coursework online. Along with online classes in music theory, music history, and ear training, students must also take applied lessons and music ensembles and transfer those credits to their Judson College bachelor programs. Lessons can be taken with private teachers, while ensembles can be completed at local colleges or with community ensembles. Additionally, students must come to campus to perform two recitals or must write a research paper, if they cannot perform in-person.

All table statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Bachelor's Programs in Music

There are a variety of online bachelor's degrees in music that allow students to study music in theoretical and practical ways.

Credits and Length

Typically, these programs require about 120 total credits with music-focused coursework and general education coursework in math, composition, the humanities, the social sciences, and the biological sciences. Students can earn an online bachelor's degree in about 4 years. However, those with prior college credit or an associate degree may be able to complete their degree in less than 4 years, depending on their university's transfer credit and prior learning credit programs.

Format

Students complete most of their classes in an online format through online assignments, interactive media, forum discussions, and recorded lectures.

However, many online music bachelor's degree programs also feature some real-world requirements. These in-person elements could include attending music ensemble classes at local colleges or universities, which then require the student to transfer and apply those credits to their online music bachelor's degree. Students may also be required to take private, applied music lessons or complete a real-world internship. Last, some online programs require a recital as a final project.

Specialization Areas

While some online bachelor's degrees have a general focus on music, others focus on a specific subfield. Below are some common specialized music degree options.

Music Education

This area of musical study prepares students to become music teachers, usually at the K-12 level. Along with courses on music theory and music practice, students also take educational-focused courses on teaching methods, literacy, and teaching musical instruments.

Music Business

Music business specializations focus on the business side of music, including music publishing, artist management, booking, and business management. Students usually take classes on a range of business-focused topics, such as copyright law, venue management, and music marketing.

Music Production

This is an area that centers on technological methods and techniques used to create and record music. Students could take courses that focus on music mixing and mastering, live sound recording, and music composition.

Worship Ministry

Worship ministry is a field of musical study that prepares students for careers as worship ministers or pastors who use music and performance in their religious ministry. This area mixes Biblical study with music theory, history, and performance.

Commercial/Popular Music

These types of music bachelor's degrees have a wide-ranging focus on music performance, composition, arrangement, and technology. Students are prepared for careers as professional musicians, music business professionals, or music production professionals.

Prerequisites for Online Bachelor's Programs in Music

Along with standard admissions materials, such as an application, transcripts, a personal statement, and letters of recommendation, many online music bachelor's degree programs require an audition or a demonstration of musicianship. Depending on the type of music program you are applying to, you could be required to submit:

  • A video recording(s) of a vocal or instrumental performance
  • Samples of original musical compositions

Some programs also require that you take a music theory assessment exam or a music knowledge assessment exam to help your program understand your musical skills for placement in theory courses.

Common Coursework in Online Bachelor's Programs in Music

While the exact coursework of online bachelor's programs depends on the type and focus of the program and university requirements, there are some common topics that you will likely study in your program.

Music History

This course usually focuses on the history of Western music beginning in ancient Greek times and moving into modern times. Students learn about different musical styles, structures, and influence, and how music has evolved and changed over time.

Music Theory

Students learn the basics of musical composition and musicianship. This course teaches students how to read, understand, write, and even perform music.

Aural Skills

This is a class that develops students' basic skills in reading and hearing music. Students focus on understanding such musical concepts as rhythm, meter, scales, and melody.

Basic Conducting

This course teaches students the basics of conducting music, including the physical methods of the left hand, keeping the beat and time, and reading musical scores.

Scoring and Arrangement

A course on musical scoring and arrangement teaches students about the techniques and methods for creating and directing musical compositions and arranging vocals and instruments within those compositions. Students also are exposed to musical technologies for scoring and arranging, including programmable synthesizes and Logic Pro software.

How to Choose an Online Bachelor's Program in Music

When deciding which online bachelor's program in music is right for you, it's important that you factor in program costs, including extra fees and expenses, the specializations offered, and any practical or technical requirements.

Cost

To choose a program, you should determine the total cost of your online music degree, including tuition and other fees.

Tuition

The base tuition price for an online bachelor's degree in music is usually calculated on a per-credit basis. Typically, the price per credit can range anywhere from $200 to $499. For 120-credit programs, that means your total tuition for earning your degree would range from $24,000 to $59,880.

Other Fees

Universities typically also charge fees on top of tuition, including technology fees, graduation fees, or online program fees. Bachelor's programs in music can also charge additional fees for certain classes (on top of the price per credit), such as required private lessons, ensembles, or recitals. These fees can range from $25 to $350 and upwards.

Specializations Available

You should also choose a program specialization that fits your career goals. For example, if you want to become a music teacher, then choose an online music education program. Conversely, if you want to be on the business side of music, choose a music business program. Each musical specialization area has a unique focus and develops different skills and knowledge.

Practical Requirements

Most online music programs have in-person practical requirements that you must complete to earn your degree. For example, some online worship ministry music programs require that you have a connection to a local church so that you can complete worship ministry experiences. Other programs may require that you take in-person ensemble classes at a local college. If you aren't able to complete practical in-person experiences, then be sure to choose a program that doesn't have these requirements.

Technical Requirements

Online music programs could have some technical requirements. For example, some programs require that you have audio recording programs, specific music software, such as GarageBand or MuseScore, a microphone, a laptop, and/or headphones. While some programs could provide you these technologies, others will require you to purchase them on your own.

Career Options with a Bachelor's Degree in Music

With a bachelor's degree in music, you will be able to pursue a musical career as a music director or composer, a music agent or manager, a sound engineer, or a music teacher.

Music Director or Composer

A music director, or conductor, is someone who directs choirs, musical ensembles, or orchestras. They are responsible for arranging the music that will be performed, conducting rehearsals and training, and directing performances. Generally, to become a choir conductor or director, you need a bachelor's degree. For music director positions in other fields, a master's degree is preferred.

Composers create original musical works, including popular songs and scores for television or film.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2018, music directors and composers earned a median salary of $49,630. The number of music directors and composers jobs is expected to rise by 1% from 2018-2028.

Agent or Business Manager

An agent or business manager represents a musical artist's business interests. They do everything from negotiating contract terms to promoting the artist and their work.

As per the BLS, agents and business managers earned a median salary of $64,940 in 2018, while those working in the sound recording industry earned a mean annual wage of $77,080 in 2018.

Sound Engineering Technician

Sound engineering technicians are experts at using technology and equipment to record, mix, synchronize, and produce music.

As per the BLS, sound engineering technicians earned a median salary of $52,390 in 2018, while those in the sound recording industry earned an average annual wage of $56,680 in 2018.

Music Teacher

Music teachers can teach music theory and practice to students at the elementary, middle school, or high school level. All teachers must interact with students and parents, create lesson plans, and grade assignments. To become a teacher, you must hold a bachelor's degree, preferably in your content area, and must achieve state teacher certification.

According to the BLS, in 2018, elementary teachers earned a median salary of $57,980, middle school teachers earned $58,600, and high school teachers earned $60,320. From 2018-2028, the number of elementary teacher jobs is expected to increase by 1%, middle school teacher jobs are expected to rise 3%, and high school teacher jobs are expected to rise 4%.