Today’s Best Online Master’s Degrees in Music Education

The best online master’s degrees in music education help working teachers learn advanced teaching strategies and music techniques in a flexible study plan. Browse top schools, review the curriculum, and more in this guide.

If you love music and you love teaching, a master’s in music education online might sound like the right next step for you. With a combination of art and science, these degrees teach advanced theories on music education that help teachers take their skills—and their careers—to the next level.

You’ll learn and apply the latest theories on teaching music and delve into music research to build your expertise, all with a goal of taking a leadership role in your school or district music department. Continue reading to find out what else you’ll study in an online music education master’s degree program, which schools offer the best programs, how much your degree may cost, and what job options will be open to you once you graduate.

2021 College Spotlights: Best Online Master’s Degrees in Music Education

Deciding to earn an online master’s degree in music education is a great step toward opening more career options and increasing your earning potential. But it’s imperative that you do your homework to find the best option for your career goals. To help, we created the Best-in-Class initiative, which is our list of the best schools that offer master’s degrees in music education online. These rankings are based on the schools’ curriculum, affordability, and convenience. With the right program, you can start your studies while still being able to work full time and attend to personal obligations. Continue reading to find which schools made the short list, then check back later in 2021 for the comprehensive list of top picks.

Boston University

Boston University offers a master’s of music education online that can be completed in one-and-a-half to two years. Students in this program acquire new skills that enable them to provide the highest-quality music education to their students, learn about the latest teaching techniques, and become familiar with cutting-edge music education research. This is all done through a curriculum that includes courses in community music perspectives, music technology, analytical techniques, orchestration, qualitative research methods, and music education curriculum design. Students complete all of their classwork online; however, Boston University gives them the opportunity to come to campus during summers to participate in intensive elective classes that last one to two weeks.

To be admitted to this program, students must have a bachelor’s degree in music or music education, a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, and recent teaching experience. When students submit their materials for consideration, they should include their college transcripts, a personal statement, a resume, two letters of recommendation, and a scholarly writing sample.

Ball State University

Ball State University has an online master of music degree program with a music education concentration. Prospective students must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, a minimum GPA of 2.75, and at least two years of experience teaching music in a K-12 school. Applicants submit a resume, a professional essay describing why they want to be admitted into this program, and academic writing samples.

When students enroll in this program, they take coursework in music education research, teaching and learning music, assessment techniques, and the history of music education. There is also a performance requirement, which students fulfill by providing online private lessons or virtual mentoring or by participating in a performing ensemble approved by the school. To complete the program, students must do a thesis or research paper or craft a creative project.

Liberty University

Liberty University’s master of arts in music education program, which is 39 credit hours and two years long, is made up of convenient online courses in eight-week sessions. The curriculum focuses on music, research, and music education studies and includes classes that cover curriculum development, contemporary arranging techniques, music education research methods, and worship music. To successfully finish the program, students must complete a music education curriculum project, a performance recital, or a thesis.

Those who want to be admitted into this program should have a bachelor’s degree in music, music education, or worship, and a 3.0 minimum grade point average. When students apply to the program, they’ll submit their official college transcripts, along with proof of English proficiency.

Key Benefits of Earning a Master’s in Music Education Online

Earning a master’s in music education online is a big commitment in terms of time and money. But it has a pay-off, too. The following are some of the advantages that you can gain from enrolling in an online master’s degree in music education program.

  1. Access to music education professionals

    Just as you would with a traditional degree program, an online master’s degree provides access to music education professionals with many years of teaching and research experience. Their practical knowledge and experience can make a big impact on your skills inside and outside of the classroom.

  2. Increased opportunities

    If you want to explore more career opportunities, earning an online master’s in music education will open new doors for you. In addition to teaching, you may be able to work as a consultant or teach at a community college. You can also go in a completely different direction and use your master’s in music education online degree to pursue a job as a music director. Each new skill brings the chance to increase your salary as you gain experience and build your reputation.

  3. Networking opportunities

    From faculty members to other students, an online master’s degree in music education program helps you make connections with other professionals that can last you the rest of your career. In an online format, you’ll communicate via message boards and during class discussions as you build relationships and learn from each other.

  4. Advanced music education knowledge

    Whether you are a new or veteran teacher, earning a master’s in music education online helps you build on your existing knowledge by introducing you to the latest music education theory and giving you best practices to apply in the classroom. If research is of special interest, you’ll learn to conduct your own research and critically review existing research before incorporating it into your curriculum.

What You’ll Learn in an Online Master’s in Music Education Program

An online master’s degree in music education allows you to get advanced skills and knowledge that you can apply to your classroom. Through a combination of education and music theory, you’ll expand your knowledge of the technical and artistic sides of music. Continue reading to get an idea of the types of classes you may find when you enroll in one of the online master’s in music education programs.

Popular Courses

  • Music Education Research

    Students in this class learn about the research that guides the way music education is delivered in schools. In addition, they learn to critique research studies and delve into the methodologies for conducting research, from the development of a hypothesis to the presentation of study findings.

  • Curriculum Design in Music Education

    This class covers how a course’s curriculum is created and implemented. Specific topics include learning theories, best practices for the curriculum planning process, and assessment specific to teaching music education. Requirements may include using these principles to create a curriculum.

  • Assessment Techniques in Music Education

    This class covers the importance of conducting assessments and techniques to measure music aptitude. Students learn about standardized tests to assess student skills and how educators create effective assessments to administer in their classrooms.

  • Community Music Perspectives

    Students in this course learn about the role of community music in education, music therapy, and ethnomusicology, which is the study of music from different cultures. Topics covered may include the social, political, cultural, and economic factors that contribute to community music. As part of the course, students may also create and critique their own community music project.

  • Psychology of Music

    This course provides a look at psychological principles and theories related to music and how people respond to it. Students learn about the ways teachers, performers, composers, and consumers interact with music and the role that music plays in a society.

Specialization Options

Online master’s degrees in music education may offer specializations so that students can become experts in a specific area of the field. The following are examples of some of the concentrations that you may be able to choose.

  • Special Education

    Those who want to work with children who have learning disabilities or physical or mental challenges can enroll in this specialization to learn the best techniques for teaching music to these students. This concentration also covers how to use music to help students in special education classes overcome their unique challenges.

  • Performance

    This concentration explores the psychology and history of musical performance. Students may learn about recital research, performance theories, and trends in teaching performance to students.

  • Music Technology

    Students in this concentration explore technologies that can be used to make or teach music. Coursework covers music theory, music research, and philosophies of music education.

  • Early Childhood Music

    Students who are interested in teaching music to young learners can enroll in this concentration. Students may learn pedagogical theory, conducting, and specific techniques that can be used when teaching the youngest music lovers.

  • Conducting

    This specialization addresses the nuts and bolts of conducting, whether it be a school band, choir, or orchestra. Coursework covers score preparation, curriculum development, rehearsal strategies, and advanced conducting techniques.

Accreditation for Online Master’s Degrees in Music Education

Enrolling in a master’s in music education online program is a huge step, so you want to make sure you don’t choose a program that strikes a sour note. To ensure that you’re getting the best education for your career goals, it’s important to only consider programs that have been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. That’s because these programs have been vetted for the quality of the curriculum, credentials of the faculty, and resources offered to students.

What You Can Do with a Master’s in Music Education

When you graduate from an online master’s in music education program, you’ll leave with strong research, writing, teaching, critical thinking, assessment, and evaluation skills that you can bring into the workplace—which can make you eligible for higher positions that command higher salaries. The following are some examples of jobs people who earn a master’s in music education may step into after they graduate.

Music Curriculum Developers

Music curriculum developers improve the education offered in a school district by evaluating what is being taught in the classroom and revising it as needed. To do this, these professionals review data to find out how students are performing on tests, evaluate and recommend classroom materials, and provide training for other teachers to help them be more successful in the classroom.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$45,000 $61,000 $82,000

Source: Glassdoor, 2021

High School Music Teachers

High school music teachers may instruct students on how to play instruments and perform in front of an audience, or teach students about different musical topics, such as music history. The job duties may include creating a class curriculum, assessing student skills and providing guidance to help them improve, and creating classroom policies.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$39,080 $59,170 $95,380

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Elementary School Music Teachers

Elementary school music teachers use their knowledge to instruct students on how to play an instrument or understand the importance of music. These teachers produce lesson plans that are age-appropriate for young learners, create and grade student assignments, and work with children individually to give them extra help as needed.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$39,020 $59,670 $97,900

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Music Directors and Composers

Music directors and composers are responsible for overseeing the activities of music groups during recording sessions and live performances. Their duties include leading rehearsals to prepare for a performance in front of an audience or in the studio, selecting the musical arrangements that will be played, keeping abreast of music in different genres, and creating original compositions.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$21,640 $49,630 $112,820

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Music Ministry Directors

Churches large and small rely on music ministry directors to select the music performed during services and provide guidance to choirs and musicians. Job duties may include auditioning performers, leading rehearsals, and planning music for special events such as holiday services.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$14,000 $40,000 $71,000

Source: PayScale, 2021

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Master’s Degrees in Music Education

No research on a school would be complete without finding out the cost of the degree program. The amount that you’ll pay for an online master’s degree in music education depends, in part, on whether you enroll in a public or private institution. To give you an idea of the cost, we’ve compiled information from three schools. Remember that you’ll want to investigate financial aid options, too. Our financial aid page provides information on scholarships, loans, and grants to defray the cost of your graduate education.

What Your Online Master’s in Music Education Could Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Total Tuition Cost

University of Florida

33

$600

$19,800

Ball State University

30

$449 in-state

$661 out-of-state

$13,470 in-state

$19,830 out-of-state

Liberty University

39

$565 full-time

$615 part-time

$22,035

$23,985

Frequently Asked Questions About Earning Your Master’s in Music Education Online

What are the admissions requirements for an online master’s in music education?

As you explore your options for online master’s degrees in music education, make sure you know the admissions criteria for the schools you’re interested in. The exact requirements will vary from one school to the next, however schools generally expect applicants to:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college
  • Earn a minimum grade point average of at least 3.0
  • Have an active teaching license
  • Have teaching experience
  • Submit a statement of purpose
  • Supply letters of recommendation
  • Pass an entrance examination to demonstrate knowledge of music topics

How long will it take to finish my master’s in music education online?

Usually a full-time student can finish a master’s in music education in about one and a half to two years. As a part-time student, it will take longer. Depending on the course load, part-time students typically complete their degrees in three to four years.

Can I earn a master’s in music education 100% online or do I need to visit campus?

A master’s in music education can be earned 100% online. However, students may have the opportunity to participate in classes on campus, particularly music performance courses.

Does an online master’s degree in music education prepare you for initial teaching certification?

No. Online master’s in music education programs are designed for those who have already earned their initial teaching certification and want to sharpen their skills and music knowledge.