Music programs that combine theory, performance and conducting are recommended for aspiring music directors, because competence in these areas is important. Some programs also offer specializations in musical directing, such as direction for opera or choirs. Music director programs are available at colleges and universities, as well as specialized music institutions.
Ten Schools with Music Programs
The following universities all offer music programs at various levels.
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Program Types||Undergraduate
|Cornell University||Ithaca, NY||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's, PhD||$49,116|
|Yale University||New Haven, CT||4-year, Private not-for-profit||(Bachelor's, Master's, PhD)||$47,600|
|Syracuse University||Syracuse, NY||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's||$43,318|
|University of Virginia||Charlottesville, VA||2-year, Public||Bachelor's, PhD||$15,192 (in-state), $44,365 (out-of-state)|
|University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's, PhD||$50,277|
|Florida State University||Tallahassee, FL||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, PhD||$6,507 (in-state), $21,673 (out-of-state)|
|Lehigh University||Bethlehem, PA||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's||$46,230|
|Arizona State University||Tempe, AZ||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, PhD||$10,158 (in-state), $25,458 (out-of-state)|
|University of Wisconsin - Madison||Madison, WI||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, DMA||$10,415 (in-state), $29,665 (out-of-state)|
|University of Delaware||Newark, DE||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's||$12,520 (in-state), $31,420 (out-of-state)|
Sources: *NCES College Navigator
School Selection Criteria
Students can enroll in bachelor's degree programs that offer concentration options in music education, performance, composition or music theory, while graduate programs may offer more specialization options in subjects such as notation, composition, genre and musicology. Considerations when searching for a school in this field include:
- Students may wish to look for schools with master's degree programs offering broader specializations in courses depending on their interests.
- If interested in teaching at the college level, students should search for schools that offer doctoral programs in music.
- Consider enrolling in programs where conducting and music direction experiences are included in the curriculum.
- Look for schools that arrange music groups and participate in music festivals to gain first-hand experience.
Bachelor's Degree in Music
A bachelor's degree program in music can be completed in four years and may offer a concentration option in composition, music theory or music education. Students enrolled in an instrumentalist or vocalist track take part in several required performances throughout the program.
Master's Degree in Music
Master's degree programs in music offer concentration tracks in multiple areas, including choral conducting, orchestral conducting, stage direction and composition. Coursework focuses largely on the area of study, and students may be required to complete a project and fulfill a residency requirement.
Ph.D. in Music
Ph.D. programs allow a great deal of specialization based on the student's interests. More than performance and direction, Ph.D. programs may focus more on musical concepts, and a dissertation based on original research is commonly required.
There are a wide range of degrees at all levels that will prepare students to become music directors. Students should select the degree level and specialization that is most in line with their career goals, interests and abilities.