Online Music Theory Degrees with Course Information

Dec 04, 2019

Get info about online programs in music theory. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Degree programs in music theory are rarely available online, but music theory can be studied through online master's degree programs in music education. Applicants need a bachelor's degree in music or music education, a 3.0 GPA and classroom teaching experience. A master's degree program in music education prepares the graduate to work as an elementary or secondary school music teacher. Teachers in public schools are required to be licensed; check for state-specific licensing requirements when choosing an educational program. Some postsecondary teachers are also able to work with a master's degree, particularly at community colleges, although a doctoral degree is more common for postsecondary educators.

Master's Degree in Music Education

Available online programs in the field may lead to a Master of Music in Music Education, Master of Arts in Music Education or Master of Arts in Education with a specialization in music. Candidates for the master's degree program must first have earned a bachelor's degree in music or music education with a GPA of at least 3.0 and possess some classroom teaching experience. Students enrolled in this program expand their knowledge of concepts like chords, voice reading, sight reading and harmony, as well as methods for conveying that knowledge to others.

Program Information and Requirements

A master's degree in music education consists of 30-36 credit hours. It can be completed entirely online. An online course management system is used to deliver assignments and exams, as well as provide discussion forums and chat rooms for instructor and peer interaction. The online component may be supplemented by additional textbooks and course packs, which may be provided by the school and shipped directly to students.

Common Music Education Courses

The curriculum of a master's degree in music education contains courses covering music theory and music history topics. Students must also typically complete a capstone project.

Music Analysis and Analytical Techniques

This course provides an in-depth examination of the subtleties of music as well as a summary of music analysis theories. The processes involving the composition of widely accepted musical masterpieces are investigated. Stylistic counterpoint, atonal compositions and Schenkerian analysis are also discussed.

Music Education Foundations

Music and music education are viewed from historical, philosophical, psychological and sociological perspectives. Key theories involving the teaching of music to others are covered, as well as strategies for applying these theories to real-world instructional situations. The National Standards for Music Education set forth by the National Association for Music Education are identified and analyzed in depth.

Research, Bibliography and Library Resources in Music

Students learn about music-related resources, effective research techniques and acceptable citation formats in this course. Web-based computer catalog search and retrieval skills are acquired. Students learn how to work with relevant bibliographies and bibliographical aids. This course also acquaints students with the process of studying the style and history of music across ages and cultures, also known as musicology.

Career Information

A master's degree in music education helps graduates extend their music education career at elementary, middle or secondary schools; some states require public school teachers to receive a master's degree in education within a certain period of time once they start teaching. A career in postsecondary education is also possible with a master's degree.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of May 2018, there were 94,310 employed postsecondary art, drama and music teachers earning an average yearly salary of $82,560 ( The BLS also reported that elementary, middle and secondary school teachers, except special education and vocational teachers, earned an average annual salary of $62,200, $62,030 and $64,340 respectively.

Continuing Education Information

Students looking to expand their music theory and education knowledge can do so through a Doctor of Musical Arts program, although these are rarely offered online. This degree program may have a music education focus that can include advanced music theory, research, performance and teaching components.

Students interested in studying music theory can enroll in online master's degree programs in music education to learn about music analysis, library resources in music and music education. Graduates of these programs can work as teachers at various levels of education, but will need to obtain the proper state licensure for educators.

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