Earning a Master’s in Music Education Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Music Education Online?

Teachers inspire students to learn, achieve, and reach for their full potential. As an aspiring music educator, you will help foster the next generation's engagement with music, which offers educational benefits beyond the music room. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 7% growth for elementary school teachers and 8% growth for both middle and high school teachers from 2016 to 2026. A master’s degree can prove the difference in this competitive market.

For those with a general undergraduate music degree transitioning into education, you will need to complete your state’s teaching certification program before you can begin teaching. While doing so, you may decide to enroll in a master's in music education online program. As opposed to on-campus programs, an online music education master's allows you to pursue your studies from home. Even working full time, it is possible to complete most online master's in music education programs within two years of dedicated study.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Music Education Graduates

Master's in Music Education Salary

Various factors impact teacher salary, with location and experience among the top influences. California leads in both employment numbers and salary. Meanwhile New York, despite having only a quarter of California’s population, employs nearly as many teachers. Experience also affects pay for teachers, with late-career teachers making almost double the salary of entry-level teachers or those with less than five years experience. In some states, certified teachers must pursue their master's degree after obtaining a job. Given this, an educator's highest degree earned is likely a factor when discussing teacher pay.

Top Paying States for Art, Drama, and Music Teachers at Postsecondary Institutions

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
California 11,010 $101,680
District of Columbia 470 $99,440
Massachusetts 5,190 $97,510
New York 10,940 $95,090
New Hampshire 620 $91,140
United States 95,110 $78,720

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Music Teachers

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):

Source: PayScale

Master's in Music Education Careers

Earning a master's in music education online degree and obtaining a teaching credential for your state qualifies you to teach music at accredited primary, intermediate, or secondary schools. With a master's degree, you can also work as a choir director, private tutor, or leader of a community music group. A master's is also the minimum credential to teach at community college. Most career paths for music educators center on teaching and fostering musicianship and knowledge.

High School Teacher

Annual Median Salary: $59,170

Projected Growth Rate: 8%

High school teachers help students through their secondary education years. To teach high school, you must hold at least a bachelor's degree and state certification. An online music education degree would could set you apart when applying for job openings at this level. Note that some states require teachers to pursue a master's after becoming a certified teacher.

Postsecondary Teacher

Annual Median Salary: $76,000

Projected Growth Rate: 15%

Postsecondary teachers educate students at a level beyond high school. While you will usually need a doctorate to teach at a four-year institution, many community colleges hire candidates with a master's degree. With an online music education master's degree, plus experience, you should qualify for consideration at most junior and community colleges.

Music Director or Composer

Annual Median Salary: $50,590

Projected Growth Rate: 6%

Music directors direct the performance of an orchestra or choir. A composer, meanwhile, creates songs and original works of music. To work as a composer, you don't need to hold a degree. However, job prospects for music directors increase for with a master's degree. Choir directors generally hold a bachelor's degree, but a master's may give you a competitive advantage.

Instructional Coordinator

Annual Median Salary: $63,750

Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Instructional coordinators help create and implement a school's curriculum and educational programs. They work with teachers and school administrators to determine the effectiveness of lessons and instruction. Becoming an instructional coordinator requires a master's degree at minimum, as well as relevant work experience in teaching or school administration.

Department Chair (College/University)

Annual Median Salary: $84,451

Projected Growth Rate: 10%

A department chair at a college or university oversees the department's curriculum and goals. The school’s dean chooses a department chair from a member of the school’s faculty. To attain this leadership role at the college or university level, you will need a doctorate and years of experience.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statstics / PayScale

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Music Education Program?

Through a master's in music education online program, you gain a strong foundation in philosophy, research, and curriculum design. Typical courses include music theory, musics of the world, and teaching fundamentals. Note that program details vary depending on which school you attend.

Curriculum for an Online Master’s Degree in Music Education

Music Theory Review

In a master's in music education online program, this course reviews the fundamentals of music theory and harmonic analysis. At this level, students must demonstrate basic proficiency in music theory. Topics include chord grammar, harmonizations, and voice-leading principles.

Music Education Curriculum

This class is a core course in most online master's music education programs. In it, students research and focus on the development of a music curriculum. In addition to addressing the philosophical, psychological, and sociological foundations of a sound curriculum, students must also explain steps for implementation, assessment, and review.

Music Pedagogy

A master's of music education online program may split pedagogical courses into different education levels: primary, intermediate, and secondary. Such courses cover topics like goal setting, lesson planning, assessment of learning, and use of technology in the music classroom.

Music Education Research

This master's in music education online course introduces students to the research methodologies used in music and music education. Students learn to critique and to apply qualitative and quantitative research in their scholarly writings.

Musics of the World

In this course, students explore how different world cultures use music as expression. The class surveys different instruments, musical forms and practices, aesthetic systems, and the functions of music within society. The course also examines music in relation to the other arts.

Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Music Education Prepares For

  • State Teacher License: To teach K-12, a teacher must hold a state-issued certification. To obtain this license you must complete a teacher preparation program, typically as part of a bachelor's degree. You also need to pass your state's certification exams. For example, to teach music, you need to take the Praxis I: Core, Praxis Subject Skills Assessment: Music Content Knowledge, and Praxis Principles of Teaching and Learning.

  • MTNA Professional Certification: Issued by the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), this certificate is available to all music teachers actively engaged in the profession. To become a nationally certified teacher of music, you must complete five projects related to a specialty: piano, voice, violin, flute, or organ. This certificate requires annual renewal.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Professional organizations bring together individuals who share common goals for their field and specialty. While networking is the most-cited benefit of joining an organization, it's only one of many which such associations have to offer. Continuing education, for example, is mandatory for teachers to maintain their credentials, and most organizations offer programs and discounts on courses. Professional organizations also hold annual conferences, which offer networking, updates on legislative news and industry trends, and professional development opportunities.

  • Music Teachers National Association: Founded in 1876, MTNA supports continued music study and professionals who teach music and music-making. The association serves over 20,000 members across all 50 states.

  • National Association for Music Education: Established in 1907, NAfME works to ensure students have access to comprehensive, well-balanced music programs. NAfME operates at the local, state, and national levels. The association provides resources, tools, and opportunities to members.

  • International Society for Music Education: With members hailing from over 80 nations, ISME fosters a global, intercultural understanding among music educators. The society promotes music education for students at all levels.

  • National Association of Teachers of Singing: With nearly 7,000 members in the U.S. and 35 other countries, NATS makes up the largest professional organization for teachers of singing in the world.

  • American String Teachers Organization: Founded in 1946, ASTA provides teachers of string music with career building services and a community of peers. Members enjoy state chapter membership, professional development, a certification program, and discounted fees to the annual conference.

  • We Are Teachers: Though not music-specific, this site helps teachers looking for further reading, ideas, and resources about curriculum planning, classroom management, and student engagement. The site publishes daily articles, videos, and giveaways.

  • Band Directors Talk Shop: This site offers support for band directors. Users can access advice and insights from band directors, private lesson teachers, and administrators. Useful for recent graduates of an online master's of music education and anyone who aspires to work as a band director, this site offers helpful, well-maintained resources.

  • Carnegie Hall | Music Educators Toolbox: Carnegie Hall developed this compendium of teacher resources from its five-year residency at a New York City elementary/middle school. Music teachers can find lesson plans, classroom activities, and summative and formative assessments.

  • MTNA | Education Resources: Hosted by MTNA, this list of websites focuses on the integration of technology into music lesson plans. Users can apply new ways of reaching students and keeping them engaged in a digital world.

  • TeacherVision | Music Teacher Resources: This resource offers various printables to help with lesson-planning. Teachers can download worksheets, lessons, and activities that focus on music styles, appreciation, theory, composition, history, and performance.

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