Online Music Graduate Degree Program Options

Dec 04, 2019

Get info about online programs in music. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, as well as career options, to make an informed decision about graduate level distance learning.

Essential Information

Many schools offer online graduate degree programs in music education. These programs generally can be completed entirely through online education, which allows students to view lectures and access course materials and assignments at any time, within set deadlines. A computer with a current operating system and a fast Internet connection is required, and students may need to purchase special software for their courses.

Applicants to a master's-level program must hold a bachelor's degree in music education or a related field. Some programs require admission tests. The program covers the fundamentals of music education as well as current issues in the profession. These programs place great emphasis on developing research skills, and students usually must complete a research project.

A doctoral program usually calls for a master's degree and teaching experience. Courses may cover issues in music education, music cognition and international perspectives in the field. Courses in statistics and research are important, and much of the program is spent researching and developing a dissertation.

Master's Degree in Music

Students of online master's degree programs in music learn advanced skills in musical education. Prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree, usually in music or music education, from a regionally accredited college or university. A minimum cumulative grade point average (G.P.A.), submission of transcripts and a formal application may also be required. Some schools require a professional portfolio and proof of musical experience as well.

Program Information and Requirements

These programs use state-of-the-art educational technology to deliver online assignments and readings, support systems with peers and professionals, media presentations and discussion sessions. Coursework can usually be completed within two years, depending on a student's schedule.

In addition to having a personal computer and access to the Internet, students need to have an up-to-date browser. Students may also be asked to purchase textbooks and software programs for online courses.

List of Popular Online Master's-Level Music Degree Courses

Although classes vary by school, several areas of music are covered in an online program including theories, foundations, research practices and different types of music. A dissertation with defense is also a standard requirement.

Music Education Foundations and Principles

This course teaches both philosophical and historical foundations and practices of musical education throughout history. Reading and research are the main methods used in learning, and a project may be required at the end of the class.

Research Techniques and Policy in Music Education

Students learn practices and methods of applicable music education policies and techniques with an emphasis on analysis, implementation and evaluation. A research project may be a requirement of the course using these concepts.

Jazz Theory

In this class, students explore the improvisational techniques, theory, chord vocabulary, arrangements and notational methods of Jazz. Students also learn to use lead sheets to develop materials and arrangements in class performance.

Career Information

A master's degree in music prepares graduates for a wide-range of careers in the field. Individuals can begin careers writing, composing and arranging music or work as a teacher at the junior high or high school level. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that musicians and singers made median hourly wages of $24.20 in May 2015, with the lowest 10% earning less than $9.20 and the highest 10% earning more than $68.98 ( According to, as of 2016, the median salary for a music teacher is $40,795 per year.

Ph.D. in Music

Online doctoral-level music degree programs follow the same rigorous curriculum as traditional Ph.D. programs. Optional on-campus research studies are available at some schools, providing opportunities for students to study with peers and faculty. Some schools require a residency at the end of the program, which allow students to interact with classmates, meet with faculty for directions on the dissertation and use the school's available resources.

Program Information and Requirements

These programs take approximately three to four years to complete, including two years of coursework and one to two years preparing a dissertation and defense. Courses are delivered online by faculty via the Internet. All books and materials are ordered online and delivered by mail. Students are able to communicate with instructors and other students through instant messenger, chat rooms and message boards.

List of Popular Online Doctoral-Level Music Degree Courses

Coursework in these programs may change each year, but some of the studies are common to all programs. Typical classes include studies in music education, research, theory and analysis.

Music Education Foundations and Fundamentals: History and Philosophy

This class teaches students how to apply historical and philosophical concepts to solve practical problems in music education. Popular music, modern performers and western music are also some areas of concentration.

Techniques in Music Analysis

Participants in this class systemically analyze historical musical styles through observation. Empirical and systemic compositional strategies and procedures are also investigated through class projects.

Research in Music Education

This course teaches students musical research tools, as well as techniques using statistics, analysis, philosophy and aesthetics. Using research methodology, students also expand their knowledge in the areas of hypotheses, observational, experimental and evaluation skills.

Career Information for Graduates

The BLS reported in May 2018 that the median annual salary for postsecondary art, drama and music teachers was $69,960 (

Students interested in studying music online can enroll in online master's and doctoral programs in music education to learn about music analysis, research techniques and music education. Graduates may choose to work as postsecondary music teachers.

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