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Best Online Music Schools

Discover the top online music schools and learn about what studying music online can be like, from the types of programs offered to practical requirements, and how to choose the right program for you.

The Best Online Music Programs

To compile our list of the best online music schools, we looked at flexibility, affordability and unique program features. Below is a list of top schools for music programs that range from partially to fully online.

1. The Baptist College of Florida

Location In-State Tuition & Fees % Receiving Financial Aid
Graceville, FL $11,400 90%

The Baptist College of Florida offers 3 online music degrees; an Associate of Arts in Music, a Bachelor of Arts in Music, and a Master of Arts in Music and Worship Leadership. The undergraduate music programs are designed to give students the foundation for musical careers in faith-based settings, such as music ministry and worship, as well as other vocations. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and these programs have achieved accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music.

2. Foothill College

Location In-State Tuition & Fees % Receiving Financial Aid
Los Altos Hills, CA $1,563 40%

Foothill College offers various online music degrees and certificates; an Associate of Arts in Music, an Associate of Arts in Music Technology, a Certificate of Achievement in Music History and Literature, a Certificate of Achievement in Music Technology, and a Certificate of Proficiency in Music Business. Foothill College's music department hosts a faculty of musicians who are active in their fields as authors, composers, performers, publishers, and arrangers.

3. Berklee College of Music

Location In-State Tuition & Fees % Receiving Financial Aid
Boston, MA $44,140 70%

Berklee College of Music offers several different pathways for both students and professionals at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Through their Bachelor of Professional Studies program, students can choose from a variety of programs that include Music Production, Music Business, Electronic Music Production and Sound Design, Songwriting, Guitar, Music Composition for Film, TV, and Games, and an Interdisciplinary Music Studies option, which enables students to create their own major. Graduate students can choose from a Master of Music in Music Production, Master of Music in Film Scoring, and a Master of Arts in Music Business. Professionals in the music industry and graduate students can enroll in one of several certificate programs that offer a wide variety of topics, from songwriting and composing to production and orchestration.

4. University of Nebraska Kearney

Location In-State Tuition & Fees % Receiving Financial Aid
Kearney, NE $7,512 93%

The University of Nebraska Kearney offers an online Master of Education in Music Education program. The program features faculty members with extensive experience in both music and education settings to guide students in research, concepts, and methods in the music education field. The program includes 36 credit hours and a low tuition rate of $309 per credit.

5. Colorado State University-Fort Collins

Location In-State Tuition & Fees % Receiving Financial Aid
Fort Collins, CO $11,707 80%

Colorado State University-Fort Collins offers 3 online music degrees; a Master of Music in Conducting, a Master of Music in Kodaly Music Education, and a Master of Music in Music Therapy. While most of the courses can be completed online throughout the academic year, these programs include 1-3 in-person sessions to give students hands-on experience. Students in the Kodaly Music Education program have the chance to receive training through the Colorado Kodaly Institute, a prestigious annual music learning event.

Rank School Name Location In-State Tuition & Fees % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Rowan University Glassboro, NJ $13,697 84%
7 Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania Butler County, PA $10,757 93%
8 University of Maine at Augusta Augusta, ME $7,988 94%
9 Rutgers University - New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ $14,974 69%
10 Washington State University Pullman, WA $11,584 90%
11 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY $9,666 99%
12 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA $22,584 97%
13 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX $8,296 89%
14 Southern Utah University Cedar City, UT $6,770 93%
15 Eastern Illinois University Charleston, IL $11,803 92%
16 Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis Indianapolis, IN $9,465 88%
17 Bowling Green State University - Main Campus Bowling Green, OH $11,105 95%
18 Morehead State University Morehead, KY $9,070 99%
19 Stephen F. Austin State University Nacogdoches, TX $8,316 85%
20 Valley City State University Valley City, ND $7,626 99%
21 New Mexico State University - Main Campus Las Cruces, NM $6,686 91%
22 Southeastern Oklahoma State University Durant, OK $6,750 95%
23 Shorter University Rome, GA $22,370 100%
24 Eastern Washington University Cheney, WA $7,323 94%
25 Dickinson State University Dickinson, ND $6,768 91%

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.

Types of Online Music Degrees

Earning a music degree is more than studying an instrument. The course of study can be as unique as the students themselves. Indeed, there is a huge range of program options, such as performing, composing, teaching, and conducting. Many of them including specializations, or tracks of study, in:

  • Music Education
  • Music Technology
  • Composition
  • Conducting
  • Music Therapy
  • Music Business

Even students in a general music program can tailor their education towards their interests and professional goals by choosing elective courses and certificate programs.

Online Music Degree Levels

Like many other degrees, music degrees are commonly offered at the associate, bachelor, and master's level, with additional certificate options available depending upon the school. The curriculum and intensity of the subject usually advance with each level. For example, a master's program will require students to study and train more rigorously than a bachelor's program. Each level will prepare students for different career and education outcomes as well.

Certificate

Certificates can be completed alongside a degree program or on their own as a professional certificate. The length and number of courses vary by school, but they can usually be completed in less than a year. The curriculum is typically tailored towards one highly focused topic, such as using Pro Tools or learning rock guitar.

Associate

Associate's degrees require around 60 credits and typically last 2 years. Many associate's degrees in music are for general music education, but other options do exist, such as music technology. They are often designed for transfer to a bachelor's program.

Bachelor

Bachelor's degrees require around 120 credits and typically last 4 years. Bachelor's programs often offer more choices as far as program type or specialization, but this varies by school. Training and study in a bachelor's program are usually more rigorous than an associate's program. Graduates of bachelor's programs can either enter the workforce or continue their education in a master's program.

Master

Master's degrees typically last 2-3 years and are sometimes the most advanced level of study in the music field. They consist of a rigorous curriculum that is commonly focused on one or two subjects, such as music education, composing or music history.

Practical Requirements for Online Music Degrees

Music students need to practice their instruments or vocals in addition to their studies. Because of this, some schools require students to take part in ensembles, recital labs, private lessons, or hands-on training for a period of time. Depending on the school, online students may need to go to campus for regularly scheduled requirements or they will need to go to campus for a one-time residency.

Common Courses in Online Music Degree Programs

The courses offered in an online music program will vary by school and the program but there are some common classes you might expect to take. Below are a few of them.

General Music Courses

Students majoring in music without a specialization learn fundamental music concepts, such as music theory, ear training, and harmony. The courses listed here are often common in associate's degree programs.

  • Theory and Musicianship: Usually taken multiple times throughout a program, students learn music fundamentals such as structure, cadence, and harmony, and apply them to musical practice.
  • Piano: Students use the piano to practice how to fluently read music on sight.
  • Music Appreciation: Students listen to and learn about music across all types of genres, movements, and periods.

Music Production Courses

Students majoring in music production learn about the technology and techniques used to produce music for soundtracks, film scores, and live performances. The courses listed here are common in bachelor's degree programs.

  • Pro Tools: Students learn how to use Pro Tools, an industry-standard audio software program, to record, process, mix, and edit projects.
  • Music Fundamentals: Students learn ear training techniques to listen to music critically.
  • Music Theory: Usually a foundational course, students learn the basic concepts of music, such as harmony, scales, chords, and rhythm.

Music Education Courses

Students majoring in music education learn about the history and evolution of musical genres and how to apply pedagogical techniques in a musical classroom setting. The courses listed may be common in master's degree programs.

  • Intro to Music Education: Students gain foundational knowledge of the historical, psychological, cultural, and philosophical approaches to music education.
  • Music of the Romantic Era: A study of Western music during the 19th century, students learn about the compositional elements of the Romantic era and how it shaped the future of music.
  • Music Analysis: Students learn how to study the style and structure of music from many genres to gain a broad understanding of it.

How to Choose an Online Music Program

With so much variety in music programs, it can be overwhelming to decide which one is right for you. There are several factors to consider when deciding on your education.

Accreditation

Accreditation ensures that a college is meeting standards of excellence and it's important because only students attending an accredited institution can qualify for federal financial aid. For your school, you'll want to look for accreditation from one of the six regional accrediting agencies approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Individual music programs can also be accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.

Any school you are looking into should state their accreditation on its website. Making sure your school is accredited by a reputable agency can give you peace of mind.

Programs Offered

Your passion and career goals should guide you in finding the right program. Many schools give an overview of what their programs are about, list each program's courses, provide course descriptions, and possible learning and career outcomes for graduates of the program. Taking a look can help you get a feel for what you will learn and whether the program aligns with your goals.

Look Up Faculty Members

Many music programs hire faculty members who either have extensive previous experience or are currently active in their fields. Faculty member bios can also be found on a school's website so you can read about who your potential professors are and see their professional accomplishments.

Does the School Support Students?

Many schools offer support services specifically for online students. This can include 24/7 tech support, one-on-one tutoring and academic advising. Ask your prospective schools about how they help ensure the success of their students.

Career Options with an Online Music Degree

Depending on your specialization, there are several career opportunities available to you upon graduation from a music program.

Musician

Musicians perform musical instruments for live audiences and recorded soundtracks. They may perform solo or join a band, an orchestra, or play on recording sessions. Musicians spend much of their time practicing their craft and auditioning. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for musicians and singers in 2019 is $30.39 per hour. The job outlook from 2018-2028 is 0%, indicating little to no change.

Music Director

Music directors, also known as conductors, lead musical groups such as choirs and orchestras for recording sessions and performances. They are in charge of ensuring the group's sound, rhythm, volume, timing, and melody are cohesive. They may also provide feedback for the performers and hold auditions. Music directors can work with orchestras and choirs of all types, from school bands to church choirs and opera and dance companies. While a bachelor's degree may be sufficient for smaller positions, many music directors have a master's degree in music theory, conducting, or composition. PayScale reports an average salary of $39,867 for music directors as of March 2020. The BLS reports a job outlook of 1% from 2018-2028 for music directors and composers.

Composer

Composers write and arrange music for solo artists and musical groups. They may work with a specific genre of music, such as jazz, rock or rap. Sometimes composers can write original music for musicals, operas, and other live productions. Composers may also write the music score for films and television shows, and they can write jingles for commercials. Composers typically have a master's degree in composition or music theory, but there are no formal education requirements, especially for those who work in popular music. The job outlook for music directors and composers from 2018-2028 is 1%, according to the BLS. The website PayScale.com reports an average salary of $48,602 for composers, as of March 2020.

Sound Engineering Technician

Sound engineer technicians work behind the scenes with technical equipment to record, mix, synchronize, and reproduce music, voices, and various sound effects for recording studios and live events, such as concerts, theater productions, and sporting events. They also record the audio from performances and events and put together multiple audio tracks to form a final product. Sound engineer technicians typically need an associate's degree or a postsecondary nondegree award. The BLS reports that in 2019, the median pay for sound engineering technicians was $54,740. They additionally report a job outlook of 8% from 2018-2028.

Music Organizations for Professional Development

The music industry can be a tough one to navigate. Luckily, there are associations dedicated to helping music professionals navigate their fields.

American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers

The ASCAP is a society for music professionals in all fields as well as all stages of their careers. The organization works to protect the creative and licensing rights of its members and ensures they receive fair pay when their work is used in a commercial environment.

International Society for Music Education

ISME is an organization that promotes unity across cultures and countries through music and music education. It provides standards of excellence for music educators and advocates for access to music and music education across the world.

American Music Therapy Association

The AMTA is an association that promotes the use of music in rehabilitation and special education. In support of the music therapy profession, AMTA supports the advancement of training, professional standards, research, education, and credentials.