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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Music Education

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Editor's Picks: Online Schools for Music Education

The best online master's degree in music education for value is Boston University, which offers an online Master of Music in Music Education. The university has an annual return on investment of 7.6%, according to's ROI Rankings. For students who received financial aid, that percentage went up to 9.5%. In addition, Boston University is ranked in the top 100 national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

Featured Online Programs

Anderson University, located in South Carolina, wins the award for best online master's degree in music education for flexibility. Not only is the university's Master of Music in Music Education program delivered 100% online, but students also have the option of participating in optional on-campus workshops, according to the program website. The 30-hour program is designed with the working adult in mind, with accelerated, 8-week-long courses to help students complete their degree more quickly. The program provides the flexibility and convenience of being able to complete the program at home; in contrast, many other online master's programs in music education have mandatory residency requirements at selected times in the program.

Career Support
The University of Florida, which offers an online Master of Music in Music Education, wants to make sure its online students have access to the same career support services as their on-campus counterparts. The university's Career Resource Center offers a variety of services, including resume and cover letter help, mock interviews (including online mock interviews), networking opportunities with potential employers, professional development workshops, and a variety of career services tailored exclusively for distance learners. Online students also have access to Gator CareerLink, an online resource that allows you to search for full-time jobs, internships, career fairs, and more. Because of its commitment to helping its online graduate student succeed in the working world, the University of Florida wins the award for best online master's degree in music education for career support.

Financial Support
The University of Florida wins the award for best online master's degree in music education for financial support. The university's Student Financial Affairs office is committed to helping remove financial barriers to higher education and strives to help students utilize a wide variety of financial resources to pay for their education. The SFA office offers grants, scholarships, student employment opportunities, and loans, and also helps connect students with aid that's not administered by SFA, such as state and other outside scholarships, according to the SFA website. The University of Florida has a reputation for providing generous financial aid; in fact, 99% of full-time beginning undergraduate students received some sort of financial aid, and 32% received institutional grants or scholarships, according to College Navigator.

Technology Support
The best online master's degree in music education for technology support is Kent State University, a public university in Ohio that offers an online Master of Music in Music Education. One of the hallmarks of Kent State University's online programs is its multi-level support network, which includes 24/7 live technical support and a facilitator that helps you access your online course content, according to the program website. This support network, as well as faculty, are available to help you overcome any issues that crop up as you master the online learning system.

Student Engagement
Colorado State University receives the award for best online master's degree in music education for student engagement because of its unique program that combines online course work with hands-on residency experiences in the summer. The Master of Music in Music Education program includes three, two-week, on-campus visits to the Fort Collins, Colo., campus where students get to participate in the Colorado Kodály Institute, a training center for music teachers of all stripes, according to the program website. During the spring and fall semesters, students stay engaged in the program by collaborating on projects with fellow classmates and participating in online discussion board conversations. This set-up is perfect for working K-12 music teachers, who typically have summers off, but need the flexibility of online courses during the spring and fall.

Disability Support
While all universities must comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, some universities go above and beyond in providing for students with physical, psychological, or learning disabilities. One of such colleges is Boston University, which provides referrals for evaluation and assessment, personalized accommodation plans, note taking services, provides textbooks and other learning materials in alternative formats, and provides adaptive and assistive technology, if a student has a documented disability and requests support, according to BU Disability Services. The university also provides career development, personal counseling, study skills tips and tutoring, and academic support, and encourages a student toward self-advocacy, the website notes. For these reasons, Boston University wins the award for best online master's degree in music education for disability support.

Library and Research Support
The University of Florida wins the award for best online master's degree in music education for library support. Online students have access to the largest information resource system in the state of Florida, including a substantial music library that contains 33,328 monograph volumes, 13,788 scores, 145 current journal titles, and more. Distance education students can take advantage of multiple e-resources as well as inter-library loan privileges. Aside from being able to communicate with UF librarians via email, live chat, or phone, online students also have access to a subject librarian who specializes in music and can assist students with their research.

Learning Support
The award for best online master's degree in music education goes to Kent State University for providing five levels of support to its online students. Those five levels include an admissions representative, student services manager, a facilitator to guide you through your course content, faculty who develop the program's curriculum, and 24/7 technical support, according to the program website. Online student services also include distance education complaint resolution, online academic advising, an online writing lab, and proctored testing, the university website notes.

Faculty Credentials
Overall, the University of Florida employs more than 4,200 faculty members with prominent records in teaching, research, and service, including 40 Eminent Scholar chairs and 27 faculty elections to the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, or the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, according to the university website. Faculty awards have included a Fields Medal, two Pulitzer Prizes, NASA's highest award for research, and a Smithsonian Institution's conservation award. The Master of Music in Music Education program in particular is made up of nationally and internationally known teachers, researchers, conductors, authors, and clinicians, according to the program website. For this reason, the University of Florida wins the award for best online master's degree in music education for faculty credentials.

Faculty Accessibility
Faculty accessibility is important when it comes to distance education because online students seldom, if ever, have the opportunity to meet with their professors in person. Therefore, the most successful online programs are those with professors that are easily accessible. In Boston University's online Master of Music in Music Education courses, students are placed in groups of 10-15 students, making for small class sizes, according to the program website. Many faculty members hold virtual office hours where students can discuss course assignments in real-time, and instructors hold live classroom sessions from time to time. For these reasons, Boston University wins the award for best online master's degree in music education for faculty accessibility.

Alumni Engagement
The University of Florida wins the award for best online master's degree in music education for alumni engagement because of the vast network of alumni —340,000 strong — that students become a part of after they graduate. In fact, UF's alumni association is among the 15 largest alumni associations in the country, according to the UF website, with nearly 100 Gator Clubs around the world. Alumni association members have access to the Gator Nation Network, a Web-based service where alumni can network and find ways to advance their careers; participate in reunions; and receive access to UF Today, an award-winning magazine that keeps alumni up-to-date on what is going on at their alma mater. Last but not least, the alumni association has a Young Alumni Program for alumni who are 35 and younger.

Prior Learning Options
The University of Hawaii at Manoa, which offers an online Master of Arts in Music Education, wins the award for best online master's degree in music education for prior learning options. The program allows students to bring in up to 12 transfer credits, which is beneficial for students who have completed a significant amount of graduate course work in another institution's music program. In contrast, other online master's programs in music education accept three to six transfer credits. To receive transfer credit, students must submit a request for transfer credit to the university music department's graduate chair with a copy of the course description or syllabus, if possible, according to the program website.

New Online Student Orientation
Boston University is the recipient of the best online master's degree in music education award for new online student orientation. Each course offered in an online program starts off with an orientation to familiarize students with online learning before the course begins, and the university contacts the student to let them know when they need to complete their orientation, as well as a link to the orientation itself, according to the BU website. This orientation also helps students ensure that their computers are configured correctly for online learning.

Explore a Master's Degree in Music Education

Music educators are responsible for teaching music classes, composing or rearranging music for an orchestra or band, planning concerts and events, auditioning, and more. If teaching others about music theory and how to play an instrument appeals to you, then you should consider enrolling in an online master's degree program in music education. Some online music education programs require the successful completion of 40 credit hours of study, although the length of the program can vary by institution.

Class Curriculum

Although the curriculum varies by school, music education students typically participate in music education research and take an introductory course in foundations of music education. Music education students may also enroll in American music, music from world cultures, analytical techniques, and inquiry in music teaching and learning courses. Read on for a closer look at three common music education courses:

  • Foundations of Music Education. This course delves into the philosophy, history, psychology, and sociology of music education so that students may make their own instructional choices. The foundations of music education course may be split into two separate classes, depending on the institution.
  • American Music. This course examines the history of music in the United States, from the colonial era to modern times. It also looks at the musical influences from other cultures that shaped American music, including those from Europe, Central America, and Africa, as well as jazz, folk, and religious music.
  • Orchestration. An orchestration course teaches students about contemporary orchestral techniques, including arranging music for wind, brass, and string instruments as well as a full orchestra. Students learn chord spacing, melodic projection, layering, and instrumental techniques through readings, listening, and writing music.

Depending on the college or university, a student of an online master's degree program in music education will learn from course material delivered in an audio and video format. Students may be expected to complete reading assignments from academic text books, write essays to demonstrate their understanding of the material, compose or analyze music, and take exams.

Building a Career

Graduates of a music education master's degree program may find employment as band directors, church choir directors, and music directors. Band directors direct and manage the music and marching band programs for a school, and they plan activities to compete in state or regional competitions. They teach each member of the band to play and improve their skills with their chosen instrument, and they manage rehearsals and school concerts. Church choir directors work to develop a choir that can sing traditional and contemporary Christian music, assist the choir in memorization of the music, and direct them during weekly church services. Finally, music directors select musical arrangements, prepare orchestral groups for performances, and direct them during a concert.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median salary for music directors was $45,970 per year and employment within the field is expected to increase 10% between 2010 and 2020. The BLS expects employment growth because of an anticipated increase in attendance at symphonies, concerts, and theatrical performances. Meanwhile, the mean annual wage for a postsecondary music teacher is $72,660, according to the BLS. However, these statistics are not guarantees of actual salary or employment opportunities, which are determined by the hiring agency, the condition of the economy, an individual's experience, and other factors.