*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Music Directors and Composers, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/music-directors-and-composers.htm (visited March 24, 2022).
Unlike many other degrees, music education degrees are not offered solely online. This is mostly due to the hands-on nature of learning music; how can your teacher know if you can play your chosen instrument if they aren’t with you in a classroom setting? Even though some on-campus work is necessary, it may prove possible to complete coursework unrelated to the music education major online. Expect to finish a music education degree within four years if attending full-time and six years if taking classes part-time.
The cost of your degree depends on the school. An online course of study is generally less expensive than a traditional college, since you must generally pay for room and board as well as tuition. You can earn an associate’s degree at a community college. A public college or university, if you are a state resident, is less expensive than a private college or university.
A music education major is not the same as music major, so make sure the school offers a specific music education major. Some schools may offer music business majors, which are useful for those considering the business side of the music industry. However, no other music major will prepare you for the teaching exams required to let you teach in a classroom setting and if you fail to take appropriate classes, you will be disappointed when you graduate, and the state board will not even let you sit the exam for licensure.
The graduation rate tells you a great deal about a school. Avoid schools with low four-year graduation rates, as that might mean students are not receiving the best academic support, or there are issues with the faculty or affordability. While it is just one standard for you to consider, it is indicative of the overall quality of the school. However, it’s important to note that graduation rates have shifted in recent years. Instead of a four-year mark being the norm, even the government has begun using a six-year completion rate to create school’s graduation rates. The information below shows you the percentages for graduation timeframes:
Four-year public schools:
Four-year private schools:
Accreditation is extremely important when choosing a college. Never consider an unaccredited school, as you would end up wasting time and money. When pursuing a career in music education, consider schools accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). In addition, look for schools with regional accreditation. The six regional accreditation agencies are The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, The New England Association of Schools and Colleges, The North Central Association of Schools and Colleges, The Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, The Southern Association of Schools and Colleges and The Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Some music education degree programs may offer internships with record companies, performing arts centers, and other businesses in the music field, along with job placement assistance for graduates. If a college does not provide any career services or post-graduate assistance, then they may be more interested in getting you enrolled than they are in making sure you are able to graduate and succeed in your chosen field.
There are some colleges very well-known in the music education field, and graduation from one of these institutions may make you a more attractive candidate for some types of music education employment. Top schools include Berklee College of Music, Eastman School of Music, Ithaca College School of Music, University of Wisconsin Madison, and Westminster Choir College at Rider University. If all other things are equal, you might want to consider checking the national rankings of your college options to help you make a final selection.
Choosing an accredited college must be one of your highest priorities when looking for a music education program. It doesn’t only make it possible for you to sit for your teaching certification exams, which is not possible with a degree that is not certified. It also will allow you to use federal student aid programs, allowing you access to student loans and grants. Many scholarship platforms also will not accept your applications if you are not enrolled at an accredited school.