Bachelor of Musical Arts: Degree Program Summaries

Oct 13, 2019

Bachelor of Musical Arts degree programs combine music with liberal arts studies. Students in this program receive extensive hands-on training since they are required to join different musical activities.

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Essential Information

According to the College Music Society (, a Bachelor of Musical Arts (BMA) degree program usually focuses on liberal arts studies as well as music, with each making up about half the curriculum. Students may declare a double major or a music major with a liberal arts minor. The goal is to promote wide proficiency and preparation for specific careers, such as music therapy, which require a more rounded education.

A High school diploma or GED is a common prerequisite for admission to a bachelor's program in musical arts. Some schools may require music major applicants to play at least one musical instrument proficiently, to have the ability to read music and to demonstrate knowledge of basic music theory, and to have at least basic piano playing skills. These schools may also require a formal audition.

Students who would prefer to concentrate exclusively on music might consider earning a Bachelor of Music, while the curricula for a Bachelor of Arts or Science music program include more general studies than a BMA. A few colleges combine music studies with music specializations, such as pedagogy, composition or performance, rather than liberal arts. All programs require students to take private music lessons every semester, give a senior recital and participate in ensembles such as choirs, bands or orchestras.

Bachelor of Musical Arts

Because approximately half of a Bachelor of Musical Arts program must be liberal arts courses, some schools recommend specific second major or minor programs. These include business, art, history, literature, theater or psychology. Typical music course requirements include:

  • Music arranging and scoring
  • Music composition
  • Music history
  • Music literature
  • Music technology
  • Music theory

Popular Careers

Many people are unaware of the wide variety of music careers that exist. For someone with a BMA degree, the minor or second major may open up careers not available to those with a more traditional music background. Careers include:

  • Teacher in a private studio or schools at any level
  • Performer, as an individual or part of a group
  • Music therapist
  • Music librarian or reporter
  • Conductor, composer

Salary and Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) combines musicians and singers together and estimates that these workers will experience a 0% job outlook in the years 2018 through 2028. The BLS reported that as of May 2018, musicians and singers earned a median salary of $28.15 an hour.

Continuing Education

Musicians in any music-related career may want to research the need and opportunities for continuing education. School music teachers are required to earn continuing education credits to maintain licensure. Most states require that music therapists be licensed or certified, with continuing education requirements for renewal. Some careers in music, such as music performance, may require continued practice in lieu of continuing education, although many professional performers continue to take music lessons in their specialty.

A BMA program prepares graduates for a wide variety of careers by combining music training with different courses in general education and other fields. Professional growth options and licensure are available for BMA graduates, though these vary by the specific profession and from state to state.

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