Music Certificate and Diploma Program Information

Music certificate programs allow students to explore the art of music through a combination of lecture-based coursework and hands-on practice. Graduate-level certificate programs may emphasize rehearsals and performances.

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Essential Information

Music certificate programs give students a basic understanding of topics such as music theory, music history and songwriting. Students get a lot of hands-on experience in sight-reading and practices as well. After completing an undergraduate certificate program, students may be able to transfer the credits to an associate's or bachelor's degree program in music.

Graduate-level certificate programs are for individuals who have already completed a bachelor's degree, and auditions are usually required for admission. Students hone their craft by spending many hours in private lessons, rehearsals and recitals. In these programs, students develop the skills needed to be professional performing musicians.

At both the undergraduate and graduate levels, music certificate programs can vary considerably in length, depending on the nature of the program. Some can be completed in one year or less, while others last for up to three years.

Undergraduate Certificate in Music

Music certificate programs provide a solid foundation for those entering the music industry, whether it's to play instruments or learn about music production and songwriting. Once students graduate, they can discuss in detail characteristics about musical composers, as well as sight-read and perform simple piano compositions, describe historical periods of music and analyze music theory. This program incorporates a hands-on approach to performing, writing, and understanding music. Typical subjects covered include:

  • Music theory
  • Keyboard skills
  • Music history
  • Popular music
  • Music appreciation
  • Song writing

Graduate Certificate in Music

Graduate certificate programs are available for bachelor's degree-holders who intend to pursue careers as professional performing musicians. The program features intensive activities related to musical performance, such as ensembles, rehearsals and private lessons. For those students enrolled in the artist-based certificate program, the coursework is dependent upon lessons, ensembles and recitals. Students spend as much as 40-50 hours per week in applied study and rehearsals for instruments or voice. Some common areas of study for performance-based music certificates include:

  • Brass
  • Keyboard
  • Strings
  • Voice
  • Guitar
  • Percussion

Popular Career Options

There are numerous musical careers available to those who study music. Some may go on to perform as singers or musicians for orchestras or bands. Although most music-related careers require further education after students obtain a music certificate, they can go on to work in other jobs such as:

  • Music director or conductor
  • Arranger
  • Composer
  • Music school teacher
  • Private lesson instructor

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Musicians and singers find employment at nightclubs, symphony orchestras or as part of world tours. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS,, employment for musicians and singers is expected to increase 3% from 2014-2024, which is slower than the national average when compared to other professions. As reported by the BLS, the median hourly rate for musicians and singers in May 2015 was $24.20.

Continuing Education

After obtaining an undergraduate certificate in music, some students wish to continue their education and seek an Associate in Science for Music or Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music. The 2-year associate's degree program focuses on performance and preparation for the audition students are required to take before entering the baccalaureate program. The 4-year bachelor's degree program explores music theory, applied music, music history and ensemble performances. Students can graduate with degrees that focus on music education, music therapy, musical theater or sound recording technology, among other subjects.

Individuals who are interested in formally studying music without committing to a full degree program can enroll in an undergraduate or graduate certificate program that allows them to explore areas of interest within the field.

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