What is a Master’s in Music Education? A Comprehensive Overview

A master’s in music education is an advanced graduate degree for musicians, music teachers, and other music professionals who want to further their knowledge, skills, and career opportunities. This degree provides advanced training in music theory, history, performance, and teaching methods to help students become more effective music educators and leaders in the field.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about earning a master’s in music education including an overview of typical curriculum program formats, admissions requirements, accreditation, careers and salaries, and the many benefits this degree offers. Whether you are researching programs or ready to apply, this article will provide key insights to help you make an informed decision about pursuing a master’s in music education.

What is a Master’s in Music Education?

A master’s in music education is a graduate program that builds on an undergraduate degree to provide specialized training and knowledge in music and education. These programs aim to cultivate skills in areas like music theory, history, and performance, while also honing teaching abilities and leadership skills.

The curriculum covers advanced topics in music education philosophy, psychology, sociology, curriculum development, assessment, and research Students also take advanced courses in music theory, history, conducting, and performance The goal is to equip graduates with expertise that allows them to take on leadership roles as music educators and researchers.

Common program titles include:

  • Master of Music (MM) in Music Education
  • Master of Arts (MA) in Music Education
  • Master of Music Education (MME)

Programs are often offered through university music or education departments. They require 30 to 60 credits of coursework and culminate in a final recital, capstone project, thesis, or comprehensive exam.

Typical Curriculum and Courses

Master’s in music education curriculum provides advanced studies in music and pedagogy along with music education history, philosophy, psychology, and research. While specific program requirements vary, core curriculum often includes:

  • Music Theory and History – Advanced courses in music theory, analysis, and history provide historical context and strengthen skills needed to teach these subjects.

  • Conducting – Advanced instrumental and/or choral conducting helps refine technical skills and rehearsal techniques.

  • Performance – Private lessons, ensembles, and recitals develop individual musicianship and practice crucial to classroom teaching.

  • Music Education Methods – Courses examine new innovations in teaching techniques, curriculum design, assessment, and how to meet diverse learning needs.

  • Music Education Foundations – Topics like philosophy, sociology, and psychology provide context for examining issues and trends in the field.

  • Research Methodology – Courses teach how to design and conduct research studies that inform evidence-based practices.

  • Final Project/Thesis – A culminating experience (e.g. thesis, recital, capstone project) synthesizes learning.

Programs often allow elective courses or concentrations in areas like instrumental/vocal music, K-12 teaching, or conducting.

Program Formats: Online, On-Campus, Hybrid

Master’s in music education programs are available through on-campus, online, or hybrid formats. Each offers different benefits:

  • On-campus – Take classes at the university campus, often with more hands-on learning like ensemble groups and access to facilities. Requires attending regular classes.

  • Online – Virtual classes allow distance learning from anywhere with an internet connection. Convenient for working professionals.

  • Hybrid – Combines online and on-campus classes. Allows some flexibility with less travel to campus.

When researching programs, look for formats that match your location, schedule, and learning preferences. Accredited online programs offer the same curriculum as on-campus options.

Admissions Requirements

Admissions to master’s programs can be competitive, so it’s important to understand the typical requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree – A 4-year bachelor’s degree in music education or related field from an accredited institution is required. Common majors include music education, music performance, theory, or composition.

  • GPA – Most programs require a minimum 3.0 GPA. The higher your grades, the better your chances.

  • Test scores – Some schools require GRE or MAT exam scores, while others waive testing requirements.

  • Prerequisite courses – Expect to show undergraduate coursework in music theory, history, and education foundations.

  • Letters of recommendation – Strong references from professors or employers familiar with your music abilities and teaching skills can boost an application.

  • Music auditions – A live or recorded audition demonstrating musical proficiency is often required.

  • Essays/personal statements – Admissions essays detail your background, interests in music education, and goals.

  • Teaching experience – Prior classroom teaching experience strongly preferred and sometimes required. Student teaching may suffice.

Meeting minimum admissions standards gets your foot in the door. Standing out with a strong GPA, test scores, audition, and experience can improve your chances at competitive programs.


When researching master’s in music education programs, it’s important to verify accreditation. There are two types of accreditation to look for:

  • Regional/National Accreditation – Institution-wide accreditation awarded by agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Required for access to federal financial aid.

  • Programmatic Accreditation – Specialized accreditation of specific degree programs like music education. Indicates quality standards are met.

Relevant programmatic accreditors include:

  • National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) – Accredits music and music-related programs like music education based on national standards.

  • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) – Accredits educator preparation programs including graduate degrees.

Attending an accredited program ensures you receive a high-quality education that meets industry standards. It also makes it easier to qualify for financial aid and may benefit job prospects after graduation.

Career and Salary Outlook

A master’s degree opens doors to more advanced teaching jobs, salary potential, and leadership roles in music education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for music directors and teachers was $62,960 in 2021. Typical positions pursued include:

  • High School Music Teacher
  • Music Faculty at Colleges/Universities
  • Music Curriculum Specialist
  • Music Program Administrator
  • District Fine Arts Coordinator

A master’s may also be required for specialized positions like instructing music education courses at the university level. Some principal and administrative jobs may favor candidates with advanced qualifications as well.

Beyond formal teaching roles, music educators use these degrees to advance their freelance careers teaching private music lessons or conducting clinics and workshops.

Benefits of Earning a Master’s

Pursuing a master’s in music education offers many professional and personal benefits:

  • Specialized knowledge – Gain advanced expertise in music theory, history, instructional methods, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and research.

  • Improved teaching skills – Develop new techniques and strengths in areas like assessment, differentiated instruction, and incorporating technology into the classroom.

  • Higher salary potential – A master’s degree qualifies you for senior positions and salary boosts according to teacher pay scales.

  • Career advancement – Opens up leadership roles like music coordinator, administrator, college faculty, or researcher.

  • Preparation for doctoral programs – Master’s coursework lays the academic foundation for pursuing a PhD or EdD.

  • Networking opportunities – Interact and build connections with faculty, visiting scholars, and fellow graduate students.

  • Personal enrichment – Pursue your passion for music and teaching at a higher level.

Finding the Best Online Programs

Online master’s degrees offer a flexible way for working music teachers to advance their education and careers part-time. When researching online programs, look for:

  • Reputable, accredited schools – Verify accreditation and school reputation.

  • Qualified faculty – Look for professors with robust music and teaching backgrounds.

  • Hands-on learning – Seek programs that incorporate live/virtual ensemble groups, teaching observations, or practicum experience.

  • Solid technical support – Ensure access to orientation, tutorials, help desk services.

  • Special resources – Superior online programs provide music software, audio/video capabilities, libraries, tutoring.

  • Affordability – Compare tuition rates and availability of scholarships or financial aid.

  • Convenient services – Admissions, advising, course registration should be accessible online.

With careful research, you can find high-quality online master’s in music education programs that meet your needs and academic interests while also fitting your schedule and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to complete a master’s in music education?

Most master’s in music education programs take 1.5-2 years to complete as a full-time student. Part-time students may take 2-3 years. Programs generally range from 30-60 credits.

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what is masters in music education

Master of Music in Music Education

Develop your teaching skills, delve into research or further your music education in preparation for doctoral studies with a Master of Music in Music Education degree in Temple’s Boyer College of Music of Dance. The comprehensive graduate program—offered both online and in-person—is structured to help students gain a deeper understanding of advanced educational and music learning theories, key music education principles and effective practices, and research methodologies.

Fully accredited by National Association of Schools of Music, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Pennsylvania Department of Education, this 30-credit degree provides opportunities for studies in music education practice and music education research.

Through a rigorous course of study, students are prepared to seek permanent teaching certification in Pennsylvania, advance existing teaching careers, or apply to music education doctoral programs. Coursework hones knowledge of

  • effective practices in music education throughout the lifespan;
  • appropriate and effective measurement tools for use in music instructional programs and research;
  • artistry in music and music teaching;
  • contemporary theories in education and culturally responsive music teaching; and
  • modern investigative techniques in music and music education.

You may take up to six years to earn your master’s degree, and you can enroll on a part-time or full-time basis.

You have the option to earn the Music Education MM entirely online. This flexible option allows you to study from home thanks to fully online coursework, earning your degree in a format that meets your personal and professional schedule.

Students in the online Music Education MM work with internationally recognized Boyer faculty in all areas of music education. The online Music Education MM is open to all practicing music educators. The program may be completed in two years.

Master of Music in Music Education

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