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Best Online Music Education Degree Programs

Learn about the different types of online music education programs and music education careers. Also, explore common music education coursework and get tips on how to choose the right program for your needs.

Best Online Degree Programs in Music Education

The top online music education programs, which you can explore below, are affordable, flexible, and fully prepare students for music education careers. Most online programs are available at the graduate level.

1. Kansas State University

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Manhattan, KS $11,069

Kansas State University offers a hybrid 32-credit Master of Music (MM) program that offers concentrations in the following areas:

  • Orchestra
  • Choral
  • Instrumental
  • Elementary/General

Students complete most of their coursework online and also complete a 1-week class session on campus each summer of their degree program. Core courses center on the history, theories, and philosophy of music education, and concentration courses span the study of arranging for bands to choral rehearsal techniques. In this MM program, all students, regardless of residency status, pay the same rate of $599.20 per credit. Kansas State University's School of Music, Theatre, and Dance has received important accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

2. Illinois State University

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Normal, IL $9,509

Illinois State University offers a Master of Music Education (MME) degree program that is the only degree of its kind in the state that can be completed 100% online. This MME program is flexible with full- and part-time attendance options and on-campus courses available for students who may want to attend an in-person class. Students can also customize their own area of concentration that best fits their teaching goals or may choose one of the following areas:

  • Conducting
  • Applied Instrumental
  • Vocal Lessons
  • Education Administration

The School of Music at Illinois State University has received accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). In-state students in this MME program pay $403.59 per credit and out-of-state students pay $838.30. The School of Music also offers exclusive scholarships, such as the Lloyd and Eleanor Fengel Scholarship, for students in the music education program.

3. University of Southern Mississippi

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Hattiesburg, MS $8,624

At the University of Southern Mississippi, current teachers or educational professionals can earn a Master of Music Education (MME) degree in a convenient online format in only 18 to 24 months of study. Students take core courses on music curriculum development and the foundation of music education, and some classes may require a 2-week residency in the month of June. As this program is especially designed for working teachers, students can take 2 or 3 classes during the school year, and there is no thesis requirement. The graduate tuition rate at the University of Southern Mississippi comes in at $488 per credit plus fees. And not only is the University of Southern Mississippi accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools of Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), but the music school is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

4. East Carolina University

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Greenville, NC $7,485

East Carolina University's online Master of Music in Music Education (MM/ME) degree program appeals to a wide variety of music students with concentrations available in:

  • Pedagogical Studies
  • Choral Conducting
  • Instrumental Conducting
  • Music Therapy
  • Suzuki Violin Pedagogy
  • Performance
  • Music Theory/Composition

Every concentration, except the pedagogical studies concentration, has a residency requirement that includes the participation in an ensemble, choir, or band. The online music education program also features a non-licensing track and a teacher licensing track that leads to North Carolina teacher licensure. Additionally, the music therapy concentration prepares students for therapy licensing and requires the completion of an in-person clinical therapy practicum. East Carolina University's School of Music has the distinction of being accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).

5. University of Northern Iowa

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Cedar Falls, IA $10,432

The University of Northern Iowa offers an online 33-credit Master of Music in Music Education (MM/ME) degree program that is designed for teachers who want to enhance their credentials, improve their pay scale, or expand their teaching skills and knowledge in the field of music. This online program features interactive, live classes that use streaming video that allows students to participate in class discussion and ask questions of their professors. Students can choose from a thesis or non-thesis option and courses center on music history, research in music education, and music learning. This online MM/ME program costs $509 per unit for all students no matter their residency status.

Rank School Name Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6 The Baptist College of Florida Graceville, FL $3,360
7 Kent State University at Kent Kent, OH $11,536
8 Georgia College & State University Milledgeville, GA $7,206
9 University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC $8,128
10 Kutztown University of Pennsylvania Kutztown, PA $14,634
11 Northern State University Aberdeen, SD $6,468
12 Southern Utah University Cedar City, UT $8,338
13 University of Georgia Athens, GA$10,982
14 University of Florida Gainesville, FL $12,737
15 University at Buffalo Buffalo, NY $13,705
16 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX $8,015
17 Adams State University Alamosa, CO $7,311
18 Temple University Philadelphia, PA $17,378
19 University of North Texas Denton, TX $7,338
20 Florida International University Miami, FL $11,097
21 Lebanon Valley College Annville, PA $47,740
22 SUNY Buffalo State Buffalo, NY $11,877
23 Eastern Washington University Cheney, WA $12,381
24 Campbellsville University Campbellsville, KY $10,380
25 Anderson University Anderson, SC $9,309

All 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 Music Education Programs

Online music education programs are typically designed for current or aspiring teachers who want to hone their musical skills and knowledge as well as their teaching techniques. Online bachelor's programs in music education are available; however, they are more common as on-campus programs. Some online bachelor's degrees that have a general focus on music, such as a Bachelor of Music degree, may offer a concentration or classes in music education.

The most popular types of online music education programs include master's degree programs and doctoral programs with some examples of degree types being:

  • Master of Music in Music Education
  • Master of Music Education
  • Master of Arts in Teaching in Music Education
  • Master of Arts in Music Education
  • Doctor of Music Education
  • Doctor in Music Arts in Music Education

Most, but not all, online music education programs feature online coursework plus some in-person requirements. For example, some programs may require a student teaching practicum or clinical training or that students participate in on-campus music ensembles, bands, or choirs. Further, some programs require that students attend 1- or 2-week summer classes on-campus.

Graduate-level music education programs sometimes also allow students to concentrate their degree in one area of music, such as:

  • Music Therapy
  • Music Theory/Composition
  • Conducting
  • Choral
  • Instrumental
  • Pedagogical Studies
  • Performance

Some music education programs include multiple tracks as well, including licensing and non-licensing tracks. The licensing tracks generally help students achieve state teacher licensing in a specific state, while non-licensure tracks do not. Master's-level programs require either a thesis, final master's project, or comprehensive exams, and most allow students to choose a thesis or non-thesis track. Doctoral-level programs require a thesis or dissertation as well.

Length of Online Music Education Programs

The length of online music education programs mainly depends on the type of degree you are earning as well as your enrollment status. Bachelor's degrees typically take 4 years to earn. Master's degrees in music education take about 2 years to complete; however, if attending part-time, it could take about 3 to 4 years. The length of online doctoral programs varies greatly with some programs designed to be completed in 2 to 3 years and others designed to be completed in 6 to 7 years.

Music Education Degree Comparison

While the most widely available and common degree type in this field is the online Master of Music Education (MME) degree, there are also Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degrees that offer concentrations in music education. Though subtle, there are some key differences between music and art degree types, which applies to master's degrees as well as bachelor's degrees. Arts degrees have a larger focus on liberal arts and may include literature review courses and music workshops, while most teaching degrees require student teaching experiences. Unlike the art and teaching programs, music education programs typically include practical musical courses, such as ensemble or band.

Common Courses in Online Music Education Programs

Generally, all music education-focused degrees include a curriculum that encompasses teaching methods, music pedagogy, and music research, and some specific course topics can be found below.

  • Curriculum Development - Centers on music education curriculum design and implementation, including creating lessons for different developmental levels and analyzing student outcomes.
  • History and Philosophy of Music Education - A survey course of the important historical and philosophical issues, ideas, and theories in music education.
  • Music Pedagogy - Covers methods and techniques for teaching music to a diverse range of students.
  • Choral Literature - Explores choral materials and masterworks, and teaches students how to choose choral pieces for school, church, and other choirs.
  • Administration of School Music Programs - Focuses on elements of managing a school music program, including policy development, budgeting, and developing positive relationships with students, parents, and other administrators.

How to Choose an Online Music Education Programs

Committing to earning a music education degree is one of the biggest life decisions you can make, which makes it difficult to then choose which degree program is right for you. You want to make sure that your program not only prepares you for your chosen career but also fits into your current life situation. That's why it's suggested that you consider your career goals, whether an online program has any real-world requirements, and the total cost of earning your degree.

Career Goals

First, you want to make sure that your music education program helps you pursue your chosen career. For example, if you want to become a music teacher in a public school, then you want to choose a program that leads to teaching licensure in your specific state. Likewise, if you want to become a music therapist, then you want to choose a program that not only offers that concentration area but also helps you become licensed. You can narrow down your list of potential programs by eliminating those programs that don't help you meet specific licensing requirements for your career.

In-Person Requirements

Most online music education programs have real-world requirements, so when choosing a program, you want to make sure that you can complete those requirements. That means being sure you can come to campus during the summer for classes or participate in on-campus ensembles or bands. If you can't complete in-person requirements, then you want to find a program that is 100% online.

Cost

The entire cost of earning your degree should also guide your decision. Typically, programs in music education charge a per credit rate plus additional fees, such as technology, library, and online classes fees. However, some use a flat semester tuition structure. If you are looking at programs outside of your state of residency, it's important to know that often universities charge out-of-state students more than in-state students. Also, if your program requires you come to campus during the summer, you want to factor in the cost of travel, lodging, and food. Additionally, there may be costs associated with participating in ensembles, bands, or choirs as well.

Accreditation for Music Education Programs

Accreditation is a process a school or program goes through in order to prove and document that it has met high, independent standards that include academic quality, student resources, and faculty credentials.

Regional Accreditation

Regional accreditation matters for two major reasons: one, only students who attend accredited institutions can receive federal financial aid, and two, universities generally only accept transfer credits from other colleges or universities that are accredited. You need to make sure your prospective university is accredited by an agency approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Examples of reputable regional accreditors include the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Program Accreditation

Music schools and programs can receive accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), which is an organization that has established standards for undergraduate and graduate music degrees and programs. Music therapy programs can also receive accreditation from the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). Additionally, some music education programs achieve accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), which is an organization that accredits teacher training degree programs.

Steps to Becoming a Music Teacher

With a degree in music education, you can pursue a career as an elementary, middle, or high school music teacher. In this career, you work with children to increase their musical skills in voice or instruments, grade assignments, manage a classroom, and interact with students, parents, and other educational professionals.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to become a music teacher, including educational and licensure requirements.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

The first step in your journey to becoming a music teacher is earning a bachelor's degree. Preferably, you will want to earn a bachelor's degree in the field of music education or a similar field, such as elementary education or general music. However, it's important to know that some master's degrees in music education require that students have earned a bachelor's degree in music.

Step 2: Complete a Student Teaching Program

Usually, your college and educational degree program will help you complete student teaching experiences or practicums that fulfill this requirement. Student teaching programs require that you work in a classroom setting under the supervision of a mentor so that you gain real-world teaching experience.

Step 3: Earn Teacher Certification or Licensure

After earning your degree and completing your student teacher program, you will be ready to earn your teaching license or certification. Although varying by state, this process usually involves passing a certification exam, such as the Praxis exam, in the music teaching area.

Step 4: Earn a Master's Degree

Some states require that after becoming licensed and obtaining their first teaching position, teachers earn a master's degree. Also, if you are a current teacher who wants to switch fields or someone outside of the educational field, earning a master's degree in music education can help you transition into a teaching career.

Other Career Options with a Music Education Degree

Beyond becoming a public school music teacher, you will also be able to pursue other educational careers with a music education degree. For example, those with a master's or doctoral degree, can become a music professor in a college or university. In this role, you teach music classes within your specialty, create syllabuses and develop courses, and conduct your own research. You might also work with student ensembles, bands, or choirs.

You might also choose a career as a music director , and this type of career requires that you lead bands, orchestras, or choirs. You will choose and arrange music, conduct rehearsals, and audition performers. Music directors work in a variety of settings, such as churches, youth orchestras, or dance and opera companies.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2019) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers $59,420 3%
Middle School Teachers $59,660 3%
High School Teachers $61,660 4%
Postsecondary Teachers, art, drama, and music teachers, $69,530 8%
Music Directors and Composers $51,670 1%

Salary information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Professional Certification

Music educators and teachers can enhance their careers by earning the MTNA Professional Certification from the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA). This credential demonstrates that you have advanced skills and knowledge regarding performing music, planning music courses of study, understanding and assessing students, and participating in professional development. To apply, you must create Teacher Profile projects that show your readiness, skills, and background; however, those working at universities or colleges can skip the projects and use the Administrative Verification form instead. After paying all fees and becoming certified, you will have the title Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM).