Online Music Education Doctorate Degree Program Info

Apr 28, 2021

Essential Information

Online doctoral programs for music educators are rare, but a few schools do offer them. Students can generally complete the programs entirely online, downloading recorded class lectures and course materials at any time. They can interact with classmates and instructors through message boards, video conferencing and e-mail. Students will need a computer with a current operating system and Web browser, along with a high-speed Internet connection. The only in-person requirement involves a brief on-campus residency.

These programs are open to music educators with bachelor's or master's degrees and three years of teaching experience. GRE scores may be required as well. Doctorate programs can usually be completed in about four years. Doctoral students in music education complete courses in topics such as music history, styles of music and orchestration. They look at current issues in music education and may be required to complete a research project and paper. A dissertation is required as well.

Doctorate in Music Education

Online doctoral degree programs in music education are rare. Program course work encourages students to explore musical styles, ethnography, music history and research methods. The program aims to produce a network of professional music educators, expand the scope of music research and improve the quality of music research. Applicants need to have earned a bachelor's or master's degree, submit passing scores on the GRE and have accumulated at least three years of teaching experience.

Information and Requirements

Apart from a brief on-campus residency, coursework in an online doctoral program in music education may be completed entirely online. Courses are typically completed in two years, and the doctoral dissertation in another 1-2 years, for a total time of 3-4 years. Lectures, reading material and audio and video files are accessible through a school's website at the convenience of students. Students are strongly encouraged to interact with each other via chat sessions, message boards and email.

A multimedia-capable computer, Internet access and basic productivity software are the primary technical requirements to take part in an online program. Schools recommend a broadband connection to expedite the transfer of large files.

Course Topics

Doctoral degree programs in music education consist of a set of core courses, elective courses and a dissertation. Elective courses generally address either performance technique or popular performance styles.

Music Education Critique

This course reviews the most current writings and research in music education. Students choose an area and complete a short research project.

Music Education Research

Students refine their research comprehension, interpretation and application skills in this course. Course work emphasizes the stages of the research process, which include the development of a hypothesis, identification of a problem or problems, gathering in of sources and synthesis of sources into a conclusion.

American Musical Styles

This course provides an overview of American musical styles from the colonial era to the present. Topics discussed include the geographic diversity of sources and prominent composers through history.


Students in this course hone their skills at writing scores for a full orchestra of brass, wind, string and percussion instruments. Melodic projection, chord spacing and instrumental technique are among the concepts considered in the syllabus.

Career Information for Music Education Graduates

An online doctorate in music education qualifies graduates to teach music at all levels of the educational system, from elementary schools to colleges and universities. Degree holders may also offer private lessons. Opportunities for formal teaching positions are currently somewhat better at the postsecondary level than at the elementary and secondary level because many public school systems have been cutting back arts education for budgetary reasons.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects opportunities for postsecondary art, drama and music teachers will grow by 6% between 2019 and 2029. reports that as of May 2019, postsecondary music teachers with 0-5 years of experience earned a median salary of $38,974.

Online doctoral level programs in music education are targeted at working educators with several years of experience, and address topics like orchestration, music education critique and research. Graduates are qualified for work at all education levels, but postsecondary institutions offer the best opportunities.

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