Earning a Master's in Media Communications Online

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Due to its constant evolution, the media landscape consistently demands new, skilled communication professionals. A communication degree represents one of the most popular for undergraduates, and earning a master's degree in media and communication can serve as a direct path to management positions or specialized roles in the field.

The following information outlines online media and communication master's degrees, providing information related to career options, salary potential, and financial aid opportunities. Interested students can uncover what this degree track entails and what they can look forward to after graduation.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master’s Degree in Music?

An online master’s in music allows bachelor's graduates to expand their expertise in the discipline. Master’s degrees in music offer specializations in music education, composition, and performance. These degrees can prove ideal for learners who want to pursue careers in K-12 or post-secondary education. Professional musicians also develop skills applicable to the competitive music industry by learning about the business and economics of music in the world today. Students interested in music theory and music research develop analytical and critical-thinking skills in an online master’s program, as well.

Why Get a Master’s Degree in Music?

Pursuing Specialization

Online music master’s programs offer specializations in music education, music business, and other subsets of music performance and composition. Learners who want to advance in the music industry benefit from advanced knowledge of music marketing, management, and talent development. Those looking to advance in the music education field or strengthen their music performance and songwriting skills develop expertise in music history, theory, and composition.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Elementary, middle, and high school music teachers with bachelor’s degrees in music expand their competencies in the discipline with an online master’s in music. Music educators can pursue leadership positions within their current school, earning more responsibility and higher-paying positions. An online master’s in music qualifies music educators for positions in post-secondary music education, as well, since colleges and universities require music instructors to hold a graduate degree.

Online Learning Technology

An online master’s in music allows students to interact with peers and instructors using the latest communication technology. Learners make connections and develop networks with other musicians, music educators, and music industry professionals. Students gain a leg-up in the music industry through hands-on experience with music technology.

Prerequisites for Online Music Programs

Graduate program applicants must submit a formal application and supporting documentation. Prerequisites for online music master’s degrees vary by institution and department.

    • Work Experience: Online master’s in music programs rarely require applicants to hold prior work experience in the field, but such experience may benefit graduate students. Music teachers already working in classrooms can apply their instruction competencies to coursework in an online master’s program in music education. Similarly, music industry professionals can leverage their knowledge of the field through a music business graduate degree.
    • Exams and Test Scores: Graduate programs may require GRE scores for admission. Online master’s in music applicants should check whether their prospective school imposes minimum test score requirements. GRE scores remain valid for five years. Work experience may exempt applicants from exam requirements.
    • Coursework: Online master’s in music degrees may require students to have completed coursework in music theory, performance, composition, or business, depending on the nature of the program. Graduate programs often require applicants to meet GPA minimums in previous college coursework, as well. When applying, students submit transcripts to demonstrate GPA and completion of previous coursework.
    • Recommendations: Most graduate schools require students to submit one to three letters of recommendation. For online music master’s programs, applicants submit letters from individuals who can vouch for their music skills, professional experience, work ethic, and overall character. Applicants should contact letter writers early to make sure letters arrive by deadline.
    • Essays: Graduate school applications include essays, through which applicants write about their personal and professional goals as they relate to their field of study. For music graduate programs, an essay may accompany a recorded performance, a conducting technique video, a sample song, or a music composition.
    • Interviews: Music master’s programs may interview applicants or have prospective students perform as part of the admission process. Music performance programs, for example, invite vocalists and instrumentalists to demonstrate their talents. Interviews may include discussion of degree curricula with faculty and staff. Applicants and program personnel assess mutual needs and goals.
    • International Students International students submit the same materials as domestic students, but may also need to demonstrate English language competency. International students can complete an English language competency exam or submit a writing sample to demonstrate their skills. International students should also secure documentation for international study through the appropriate institutional and governmental offices.

How Much Can I Make with a Master’s Degree in Music?

A graduate degree in music prepares learners for higher-paying careers and qualifies students for more advanced positions in the field, including roles in education, performance, and composition. A master’s in music builds research, analytical, and critical-thinking competencies. Students can apply these skills to roles in music therapy, entertainment direction, and creative design. Music students also build skills to work in sound engineering, music marketing, and music management.

Traditional Careers for Master's in Music Graduates

Careers Stats Description

Musicians and Singers

Median Pay: $26.96 per hour

Job Growth: 6%

Musicians and singers perform for live audiences and record music in studios. Musicians and singers may audition for bands, choruses, and other types of performance groups. They rehearse, practice, promote themselves, and travel and collaborate with other performers. Musicians and singers often play musical instruments, work as backup singers, and master various musical styles to enhance their marketability.

Music Directors and Composers

Median Pay: $50,590

Job Growth: 6%

Music directors lead orchestras, music groups, and individuals in music performances. Often called conductors, music directors rehearse, oversee auditions, and focus on creating a cohesive sound and style. Music composers write music for groups and individuals, preparing original pieces or reworking existing music. Composers may specialize in one type of music or incorporate several genres into their work.

Recreational Therapists

Median Pay: $47,680

Job Growth: 7%

Recreational therapists work with patients and clients to develop treatment plans and programs based on individual needs. They may incorporate music into their practice to help patients develop social skills, cope with physical or mental ailments, and build confidence. They keep records, observe patient progress, and make changes to treatment plans and programs as needed.

High School Teachers

Median Pay: $59,170

Job Growth: 8%

High school teachers prepare lessons, activities, and assessments for students in grades nine through 12. They communicate with parents, colleagues, and administrators about students' progress, needs, strengths, and weaknesses. High school music teachers may instruct students in class and extracurricular activities, such as marching band, jazz band, orchestra, and drama.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Non-Traditional Careers for Music Graduates

An online master’s degree in music can also open up careers outside of traditional music roles. Students develop creative skills and knowledge applicable to numerous disciplines, and learn about the science of voice, sound, and communication. Graduate degrees in music build business and managerial skills as well, preparing learners to work with and supervise other entertainment industry professionals.

Career Stats Description

Producers and Directors

Median Pay: $71,620

Job Growth: 12%

Producers and directors develop television shows, movies, theater shows, commercials, and other performing arts productions. Producers fulfil business and financial roles related to the production, including raising money, hiring personnel, and setting a budget. Directors oversee creative elements of a production, including casting performers, holding rehearsals, and supervising other creative personnel.

Skills Overlapped: Producers, directors, music directors, and composers all work on performing arts productions. They develop creative and business aspects of television shows, films, plays, and other performances. These positions all include oversight of cast, crew, and project personnel, and require collaboration with other entertainment professionals.

Art Directors

Median Pay: $92,550

Job Growth: 5%

Art directors oversee the visual aspects of a performance, written work, project, or advertising campaign. Art directors develop layouts and concepts for productions after consulting with clients, directors, designers, and art staff. Art directors manage budgets and project timelines, use technological tools to demonstrate design elements, and inspire creativity in their staff.

Skills Overlapped: Similar to music directors, composers, and other creative professionals, art directors help create an overall look, feel, and presentation of a project. They work with fellow artists to develop a unified concept, make changes to creative outputs, and hone designs to meet clients' and audiences' needs.

Special Education Teachers

Median Pay: $58,980

Job Growth: 8%

Special education teachers assess students with special needs and adapt lessons to best serve their abilities. Special education teachers teach, mentor, and supervise students, keeping track of their progress and adjusting education programs as needed. They may use interventions, including music, in implementing an education program.

Skills Overlapped: Special education teachers and rehabilitation therapists work with individuals to manage physical, emotional, and mental challenges. Both fields use music to build skills, coping techniques, and general knowledge. Special education teachers work with parents, administrators, and colleagues, comparable to their music teacher counterparts.

Speech-Language Pathologists

Median Pay: $76,610

Job Growth: 18%

Speech-language pathologists diagnose, treat, and help prevent communication and swallowing ailments. Speech-language pathologists develop plans to build vocabulary, help with speech impediments, and improve voice sound and pitch. They may work with patients who have experienced trauma, suffer from voice or muscular disorders, or have difficulty understanding language.

Skills Overlapped: Speech-language pathologists may use music in their practice to strengthen muscles, aid in voice repair, and help patients develop speech rhythm and fluency. Similar to rehabilitation therapists and teachers, speech-language pathologists work with both individuals and groups.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Paying for an Online Master’s in Music

The cost of an online master’s in music program varies based on tuition rates, degree timelines, and the student's state of residency. When students apply to an online graduate program, they should submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which determines their eligibility for financial aid including grants, scholarships, and work study. The FAFSA also provides learners with options for subsidized and unsubsidized loan programs.

Colleges and universities offer additional financial aid opportunities to students, as do individual departments and programs. Music students should check for discipline-specific grants and scholarships available through their potential programs.

Scholarships for Online Music Master's Students

Scholarships and grants for music students can help supplement other financial aid opportunities. Music students can pursue funding through private organizations, professional associations, music industry businesses, and performing arts programs. Practicing music teachers and music professionals may also receive funding through their current employers.

What to Expect from a Master’s Level Online Music Program

An online master’s degree in music features 30 to 36 credit hours, which students complete in roughly two years. During a graduate program in music, learners complete core classes and electives in anticipation of a final project, paper, or performance. An online master’s in music requires introductory coursework in music theory, analysis, and research. Electives allow learners to specialize their studies in subjects including business, composition, and instruction. A master’s program also prepares students to continue to doctoral study in the field.

Major Milestones

  1. Graduate Capstone Project

    Final Term

    A graduate capstone project emphasizes performance or research, allowing students to synthesize course information with personal music interests and skills. Learners integrate information on music theory, pedagogy, aesthetics, and foundations as they demonstrate advanced competencies applicable to future career goals.

  2. Introduction to Music Research

    Early in a Program

    Introductory coursework on music research provides students with information on and access to research tools, methods, and practices. Students work together to develop a research project, collect data, and assess their findings in anticipation of independent research carried out during the degree. Learners also use citation methods to gain familiarity with various reference styles.

  3. Music Theory

    First Term

    Music theory coursework introduces students to music from an analytical perspective. Learners explore harmonic, melodic, rhythmic, and formal elements of music while looking at specific pieces, styles, and composers. Music theory prepares students to assess music from an objective perspective based in structure rather than aesthetics.

  4. Student Teaching

    After Completion of Core Coursework

    Graduate degrees in music with an emphasis in education may require learners to complete a student teaching practicum. Degree candidates instruct students in a classroom with the help of an experienced educator. Learners develop lesson plans, activities, and assessments.

  5. Internship in Music

    Final Term

    Students studying music technology, music business, and music recording can complete an internship to gain field experience. During their internships, learners develop networks and make connections for future career opportunities.

  6. Application to Doctoral Study

    Final Year

    Master’s in music programs prepare learners for doctoral programs in the field. Interested students should apply for Ph.D. programs during their final year in a master’s degree. Applicants provide research data, writing samples, and performance videos to potential schools.

Coursework

Coursework varies between online master’s degrees in music, but most programs include common classes that build advanced knowledge and skills. Learners explore the theoretical foundations of music before taking classes in specialized aspects of the discipline.

Foundations of Music Education

Courses in the foundations of music education provide students with information on the cultural, philosophical, psychological, and historical role of music. Students learn how to teach music and how to use music in teaching other disciplines.

Ethnomusicology

Ethnomusicology studies the role of music in cultures around the world. Coursework explores music use, creation, and changes over time, as well as the role of individuals and institutions in music. Learners integrate information on anthropology, sociology, and history into assessments of specific musical styles and works.

Principles of Music Technology

This class introduces students to the technologies that have shaped music over time. Learners explore the use of technology, technological tool choices, and instruction techniques for music technology devices. Degree candidates also study contemporary music tools and techniques as they assess the future of the music technology field.

Techniques for Music Performance

Classes on techniques for music performance build understanding of acoustics, sound quality, harmonization, and projection within different contexts. Students learn about stage, film, television, and online music performance practices.

Music Business Management

Music business management classes build leadership competencies and managerial capabilities applicable to the competitive music industry. Learners gain insight into the environment of the music industry through simulation exercises. Students develop communication, analytical, and business expertise. These courses also include strategies for navigating the business of music.

Degree Timelines

Online master’s in music programs allow students to complete their degrees on part-time, full-time, or accelerated timelines. Learners choose a schedule that meets their individual needs, time constraints, and career goals.

Enrollment Status Time to Complete Description

Part-Time

3-6 years
(3-6 credits per semeter)

Students studying music part time usually take one to two classes per semester. Ideal for working music teachers and professionals, part-time instruction permits learners to earn an online music master’s while staying in the workforce full time. Learners complete their degrees in three to six years. Asynchronous programs offer part-time students the best options for graduate study.

Full-Time

1-3 years
(6-12 credits per semester)

Learners coming directly from undergraduate study and individuals not working full time often choose a full-time master’s in music program. Learners can complete an online music master’s degree in one to three years. As full-time students, learners can enroll in synchronous cohort-model programs, which may offer a preset sequence of courses along a specific program plan.

Accelerated

1 year
(3-12 credits per 8-week session)

Accelerated programs benefit individuals with previous credit hours, learners with extensive work experience, and working professionals. These programs provide a faster option for completing a degree. Accelerated programs may also combine bachelor’s and master’s degrees into a single five-year curriculum.

Licenses and Certifications

Students in an online master’s program in music can pursue licensure or certification to add to their knowledge and skills. Licensure and certification demonstrates expertise to colleagues and future employers. Music educators and industry professionals develop career competencies and add to their job marketability through national, state, and organizational certifications. Many positions, including music teachers and therapists, require state or professional licensure.

    • Board Certified Musical Therapist: Board-certified musical therapists demonstrate competencies in national standards by completing an exam through the Certification Board for Musical Therapists. Applicants who have completed academic and clinical requirements as established by the CBMT, or equivalents set by the American Music Therapy Association, pay $275 to take the exam. Certification lasts five years.
    • Music Teacher License: Requirements for teachers vary by state. Music instructors may require additional state endorsements, certification, or licensure in music education. The National Association for Music Education provides extensive information about state music education policies, reciprocity, and music teacher preparation programs.
    • Certified Audio Engineer: Offered through the Society of Broadcast Engineers, this audio engineer certification requires a three-hour, 50-question exam. Candidates demonstrate competency in basic electronics, safety, theory, problems, and operating practices. Applicants must possess five years of experience in the field to take the SBE exam.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Music students, performers, and professionals at all career stages can benefit from joining a professional organization or association. Organization membership creates opportunities for networking, professional development, and career advancement among music educators, therapists, performers, and directors. Professional organizations offer continuing education programs, collaboration opportunities, research resources, career guidance, and news and updates in the music industry. Face-to-face events and conferences build strong communities of like-minded music scholars, performers, educators, and professionals.

  • National Association for Music Education: As the largest arts education organization in the U.S., NAfME supports music instructors at all academic levels. The association provides resources to teachers, instructors, students, and administrators in accordance with their standards. NAfME also advocates for music educators and music education at the local, state, and national levels; facilitates communication and collaboration in the field; and provides its members with publications and news updates.
  • Music Teachers National Association: The MTNA brings together music education professionals through competitions, conferences, and award programs. The MTNA also offers certifications for music teachers. Members gain access to publications, professional support resources, discounts, and educational resources, including webinars and seminars. The MTNA provides information to parents, students, and teachers about wellness, studio use, and essential music skills.
  • Conductors Guild: Founded in 1975, the Conductors Guild represents symphony, band, wind ensemble, ballet, chorus, and opera conductors. Members can access workshops, conducting opportunities, and mentorship connections. The guild facilitates discussion and collaboration among conducting professionals. Members receive access to guild publications, events discounts, and networking resources.
  • American Federation of Musicians: With more than 8,000 members in the U.S. and Canada, the AFM functions as a union of music professionals in film, television, stage, and sound recording. The AFM offers travel resources, emergency assistance, news updates, and insurance resources for members.
  • American Musicological Society: Founded in 1934, the AMS unites music scholars from around the world to enhance research, learning, and scholarship in numerous subsets of music. Members network and enhance their knowledge of the field through annual meetings, publications, blogs, online forums, and industry announcements.
  • Carnegie Hall Music Teacher Resources: Carnegie Hall provides online lesson plans, activities, videos, and assessments for elementary school music teachers. Divided by grade level, these teacher resources include tips and tools to teach music fundamentals, including rhythm, meter, pitch, and performing.
  • Recording Industry Association of America: An organization dedicated to protecting intellectual property and the rights of artists and consumers, the RIAA provides information on the music industry to educators, musicians, performers, and music researchers. The RIAA offers information on music piracy, music statistics, licensing, parental advisory labels, technical standards, and up-to-date research.
  • Keep Music Alive: Keep Music Alive offers resources for music educators and therapists. Users can find information on Kids Music Day, helpful links, Teach Music Week, opportunities, and partnerships.
  • Songwriters Resource Network: The Songwriters Resource Network helps songwriters collaborate and exchange ideas while providing information on lyric-writing, music composition, and the intricacies of the music industry. The Songwriters Resource Network also gives members access to marketing and publishing guidance. The network oversees songwriting and lyric competitions.
  • College Orchestra Directors Association Resources: Orchestral conductors can access CODA resources, including promotion and tenure guidelines, teaching materials, fundraising and outreach tools, and program notes. Members can access publications and the Bowings Library.