Music Teacher Degree and Certification Program Information

Music education degrees are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels, and focus on theory, methodology, and general instruction techniques. Depending on the course of study, graduates may teach music at the elementary to the college level.

Essential Information

Undergraduate music education programs emphasize the philosophy of education and child psychology, as well as music theory. Individuals seeking to teach elementary and secondary classes in public schools must complete a teacher certification program and meet state licensing requirements.

Advanced degree programs prepare students to teach at the college level or work in music education research or consulting. A graduate degree program in music education focuses on the foundation and principles of music education through music techniques and methods, human development and learning.

A high school diploma or equivalent, SAT or ACT scores, letter of recommendation and/or a statement of intent is required for undergraduate admission. An audition may also be necessary. Advanced degrees require a bachelor's degree in music and specific coursework. Some schools require teaching experience.

Bachelor of Music Education

Bachelor's degree programs in music education introduce students to the fundamentals of music and education. Students wanting to teach at elementary and secondary levels may be required to complete courses in assessing music learning and childhood development. Core coursework in this 4-year program may include:

  • Music theory
  • Childhood development
  • Music history
  • Early childhood education
  • Training specific to the primary instrument of study

Master of Music Education

Most schools require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in music with two years in music theory and ear training as well as education courses. Some schools may also require applicants to have a certain amount of experience teaching in the classroom.

A 2-year graduate degree program in music education focuses on the foundation and principles of music education through music techniques and methods, human development and learning. Some schools may offer students opportunity to obtain teacher certification while pursuing their degree. Courses that may be required at the master's level are:

  • Arts and education training
  • Sight reading
  • Musical development
  • Music education
  • Vocal training

Ph.D. in Music Education

Applicants to doctoral music education programs are required to have bachelor's and master's degrees in music or music education. Exams such as the MAT (Miller Analogies Test) may be required for admission. Some schools may also require applicants to have experience working in the classroom.

Students who graduate with a Ph.D. in Music Education are prepared to teach at all levels of study, including the college level. Ph.D. degree holders may also work as researchers, developing educational programs for music courses. Doctoral programs vary in length, and common classes in a Ph.D. in Music Education program may include:

  • Introduction in research
  • History of music education
  • Philosophy of music
  • Dissertation in field or instrument of study

Popular Career Options

Bachelor's degree programs prepare students for jobs such as:

  • Music teacher
  • Studio musician
  • Instrumentalist or vocalist
  • Music librarian
  • Music editing and publishing
  • Computer software development

Those with a master's in music education can also work as a:

  • Music education supervisor
  • Music historian
  • Music researcher
  • Music therapist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Many individuals who have earned a Ph.D. in Music Education choose to become teachers at a postsecondary institution. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage of postsecondary teachers of music, art and drama was $76,710 in May of 2015. This figure includes instructors at 4-year colleges, universities, junior colleges and professional schools. The BLS also reported that the job outlook for these postsecondary teachers was faster than average, with a projected growth of 11% from 2014 to 2024. Job candidates with Ph.D.s should have the best opportunities, according to the BLS (

Continuing Education Information

Those looking to teach in public schools at the primary or secondary level must be certified. Licensure requirements will vary by state, so prospective teachers should contact the Board of Education in the state in which they want to work for specific information. However, all teachers looking to be certified by their state boards must have a bachelor's degree, complete a training program approved by the state, and have a required number of education credits and time spent teaching in the classroom. Some states may require music teachers to obtain a master's degree after a specific amount of time after they begin teaching.

Prospective music teacher have education options at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Bachelor's degree programs in music education offer a foundational education that prepares students to teach grades K-12, while master's and doctoral programs provide advanced courses and research opportunities.

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