Singing Degree and Course Information

Degree programs in music with concentrations in vocal performance teach students about music theory and vocal technique and provide performance and teaching experience. Programs are available at the associate, bachelor's. and master's degree levels.

Essential Information

Degrees in vocal performance prepare graduates for careers in performing or instructing in the music industry. Through classes and performance opportunities, students learn harmonies, melodies, and voice techniques. Some programs allow students to specialize in different types of music, such as country, opera, rock, or pop. Students at the graduate level must have a recital in order to graduate.

Applicants to an associate degree program must have a high school education. Students pursuing singing at the bachelor's level must also gain music department acceptance, take a placement test, and complete an audition. Conservatories also require auditions for admittance. Master's degree candidates must hold a bachelor's degree in music or a similar field. Some schools require candidates to complete evaluations in ear training and music. Online courses and programs are typically not available in this field.


Associate of Arts in Performance (Vocals)

Associate degree programs focusing on voice familiarize students with vocal education and performance skills, while giving them a solid foundation for future studies. Students participate in clinics, seminars, and open coaching sessions. Associate degree graduates possess sufficient skills and knowledge to sing modern day vocal styles.

Students enrolled in an associate degree program are trained in multiple dimensions of voice and music. Coursework includes participation in choir and other ensembles and solo recitals. Students gain expertise through the following courses:

  • Ear training and development
  • Fundamentals of music and recording
  • Practical music
  • Musical genres
  • Voice methods

Bachelor's Degree in Vocal Performance

Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts in Music programs emphasize vocal performance for individuals pursuing a career in singing. A Bachelor of Music emphasizes performance, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music includes more music theory. In both, students learn performance techniques as they increase their vocal capabilities. Some colleges offer students hands-on training including auditioning for and performing with groups, both on and off campus.

Some bachelor's degree programs include general courses in musical styles, the art of singing and vocal prose. Language courses are required to singing in other languages. Other courses include:

  • Acoustic training
  • Basics of directing
  • Group choirs
  • Philosophy of music

Master of Music in Vocal Performance

The Master of Music in Vocal Performance is intensive training for performing, with a substantial requirement for staging recitals and other performances. Students continue to develop their vocal skills. Graduate programs are designed for students wishing to pursue careers in performing or vocal music instruction in secondary or postsecondary schools. Graduates enter professional singing careers, such as in modern music, opera, or musical theater.

Courses in master's degree programs include performing, expression, and movement for singers, isolated voice techniques, song selection, stage performance, and various singing styles. Students specialize in opera, jazz, or modern music. Students explore courses including:

  • Auditory conception
  • History of music
  • Group and concert performances
  • Music cataloging, research, and philosophies
  • Vocal ranges

Popular Career Options

Bachelor's degrees open employment opportunities for graduates in teaching and performing. Graduates are prepared to enter some of the following career paths:

  • Ensemble member
  • Opera singer
  • Private instructor
  • Soloist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), jobs for musicians and singers are expected to increase by three percent between 2014 and 2024; those with above-average talent will likely have the best job prospects. A May 2015 BLS report showed that musicians and singers earned a median wage of $24.20 per hour.

The proficiencies gained through master's degree programs qualify graduates to obtain positions instructing music. According to the BLS, jobs for music directors and composers were expected to increase by three percent between 2014 and 2024. In May 2015, the BLS reported that music directors and composers earned a median annual salary of $49,820.

Continuing Education

Graduates may choose to pursue their singing career or further their education in a bachelor's degree program. Some colleges offer the opportunity for graduates to transfer their associate degree credits to a bachelor's degree program.

Those who wish to further their education and gain even more employment opportunities may wish to enroll in a master's degree program. A master's degree focusing in vocal performance is available to bachelor's degree graduates.

Master's degree graduates may choose to pursue a Doctor of Musical Arts in Voice Performance. Doctoral degree program requirements may include participating in multiple presentations and completing a dissertation.

Individuals wanting a singing career have both undergraduate and graduate degree options. Those in the associate's program focus on vocal education, while bachelor's and master's students take advanced courses and specializations to prepare for vocal performances.


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