What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Music Education Program?

Those who have an intense passion for music would be well-suited to complete an online master’s degree in music education. Distance learners partaking in an online master’s in music education program gain skills on developing lesson plans, explore modern teaching methods and learn how to implement various tools and techniques in their music classrooms.

Graduates of these programs teach music at the elementary, middle or high school levels, may offer private lessons, lead chorus groups and serve as directors of bands or orchestras.

With an online master’s degree in music education, students can expect to receive the same type of professional education and attention to detail that they’d receive in traditional on-campus classes. Online formats are convenient for working professionals or individuals who have other family commitments, as many allow students to complete courses at their own pace for enhancing their careers. When choosing an online master’s in music education program, it’s important to consider all the options and different academic offerings to find a program that aligns with your career goals.

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Music Education

Coursework offered in an online master’s in music education program allows students to gain musical knowledge and become effective teachers. Nearly all online master’s in music education programs include classes on topics such as music theory, history and curriculum design, but some programs may specialize in more specific areas, such as instrumentation, choral music or Kodaly methods. Below are a few courses you can expect to take in an online master’s in music education program.

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Foundations of Music Education – History and Philosophy Discover the origins and foundations of music, all the way back to ancient Greece.
Research in Music Education Explores research proposals, criteria evaluation, data collection, interpretation and analysis, and the application of those findings to teaching practices. As part of this course, students usually conduct interviews, develop stronger writing skills and learn to critically examine literature, resources and music education materials.
Pedagogy and Instructional Design in Music Education Learn to develop, plan, design and implement music lesson plans and curricula. Coursework usually involves examining conceptual frameworks, learning theories, teaching approaches, learning tools and assessment techniques.
Psychology of Music Investigate the acoustics of music and the science behind human responses, hearing and perception to understand how humans interact with music.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Music Education?

Usually, an online master’s degree program in music education requires between 30-36 credits, which full-time students can usually complete in 18 months to two years. Completion time depends on several factors, including any applicable transfer credits and whether you are attending full-time or part-time. Part-time students may take more than two years to complete their program.

Length of individual classes can vary, too; some run for eight-week quarter sessions, while others last for entire semesters.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Music Education Prepares For

Requirements for teacher certification and licensure vary widely by state, so it’s important to check with your home state, or the state where you plan to teach, what its specific requirements are for obtaining a music teaching license. Many programs have the licensure track built into their progress, so when you graduate, you’ll obtain both the master’s degree and the appropriate state license.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Music Education

Accreditation demonstrates that a music education program meets minimum standards of quality for academic excellence. Online music education programs may be accredited by regional bodies or institutions. A total of six agencies in the United States award regional accreditation to schools that meet strict standards.

Institutional accreditation applies to a specific department or program at a specific school, and the organizations in charge of institutional accreditation focus on particular areas of study.

Music education majors should look for programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), an organization made up of more than 600 accredited conservatories, schools, universities and colleges.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Music Education Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

While a bachelor’s degree in music education can certainly help you get your foot in the door at a school’s music department, such as an assistant or volunteer, most jobs in music education require a master’s degree. Individuals with a master’s degree in music education are qualified to direct bands, choruses and orchestras, along with teaching music classes at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Some also may conduct private less.

Expected Salary

Source: PayScale.com, Bureua of Labor Statistics.

It should be noted that salaries will vary widely depending on the job type and the age group. Elementary music teachers, for instance, may earn more or less than high school music teachers, and those who direct music groups may earn a different salary, depending on if it’s a chorus, orchestra or band.

Experience also makes a big difference when it comes to salary. Below is a table that outlines the average salary for a music teacher based on their levels of experience. Notice that the more experienced a music teacher is, the higher salary they can expect to earn.

Music Teacher Average Wage vs Experience Level

Source: PayScale.com

Career Opportunities

Students who earn a master’s degree in music education qualify for positions teaching music in public and private schools at their chosen level. Some individuals with master’s in music education choose to teach at the elementary level, while others may choose middle school or high school. Many other music education master’s degree holders provide their own private lessons or direct bands, choruses and orchestras. Below are some of the most common career pathways for master’s degree holders in music education.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Music Directors and Conductors Music Directors lead music groups, including orchestras, bands and choirs. They use their skills to balance the music’s melody, timing, volume and rhythm and provide feedback to musicians. They also typically select compositions and arrangements for concerts and other performances. $50,590 per year 6%
Elementary School Music Teachers Music Teachers at the elementary school level share musical knowledge with young children. They create lesson plans, make classroom rules and use classroom management strategies. They teach basic musical concepts, including rhythm, speed, timing and volume. $56,900 per year 7%
Middle School and High School Music Teachers Middle and High School Music Teachers build upon the foundational knowledge gained in elementary school, and some students may choose a specific area of music to focus on at this age, whether that’s an instrument, chorus or general music. $57,720 (middle school) and $59,170 (high school) per year 8%
Music Teachers, Postsecondary Music Teachers at the postsecondary level teach music classes to aspiring students. Some may do a combination of teaching and research, and they usually specialize in a specific area of music. $76,000 per year 15%

Professional Organizations

Joining professional organizations can be helpful to your success in the music education field. These organizations provide a wide range of member benefits, including professional development opportunities, networking events, job boards and online training courses. Resources such as the professional organizations listed below are invaluable to those completing master’s degrees in music education.

College Music Society: Consisting of a consortium of college, university, conservatory and independent musicians and scholars who are interested in all disciplines of music, its purpose is to promote the importance of music teaching and learning, musical creativity and expression, research and dialogue.

Music Teachers National Association: A national organization for music teachers, the MTNA hosts annual conferences at a different location around the United States each year, hosts webinars, has resources for parents, students and teachers, and offers teaching tips for music teachers. It also has a host of member benefits, including discounts, resources, educational opportunities, professional development and access to exclusive publications, including the American Music Teacher journal and MTNA e-Journal.

National Association for Music Education (NAfME): This organization for music teachers is devoted toward the celebration and preservation of cultural heritage through music and advancing music education.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Music Education

While online degrees are generally less expensive than traditional on-campus classes, many students still need financial aid to help them pay for their education. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a good place to start — filling it out can help you find out more information about grants, scholarships and other financial aid options from the federal government. Private grants and scholarships are also typically available through private companies, nonprofit organizations or even at the school you’re interested in completing your program at. Be sure to investigate what scholarships or grants are offered through your chosen program in addition to consulting the resources listed below.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

Inspire Our Future Scholarship

Award: $2,500

Deadline: April

Eligibility: Any postgraduate or undergraduate student pursuing a degree in education with at least a 3.5 GPA.

TEACH Grant

Award: $4,000

Deadline: October

Eligibility: TEACH Grant recipients are eligible to receive up to $4000 annually to fund their pursuit of a master’s degree in education if they make a four-year commitment to teach at a low-income school upon program completion.