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Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Music Education

Majors Overview August 16, 2015

This article talks about master’s degree programs in music education and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master’s Programs in Music Education

Students seeking to enhance their pedagogical and musical technical skills could benefit from enrolling into a graduate program in music education; they also gain an overview of current issues in education. Most schools offer flexible programs that students can complete in 1-3 years. Schools offer programs for currently licensed teachers in on-campus and online formats; classroom-based programs are available for those without certification. Program graduates can expect to become adept at classroom management and curriculum development for music class levels from kindergarten to high school.

A specialization, such as instrumental or choral music, may be chosen by students enrolled in the program, based on their interest and background. Schools offer various degree options, including Master of Music (M.M.) and Master of Arts (M.A.). The programs share similarities in structure and curricula and combine lecture and practical coursework; students may also be required to complete a thesis.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in music, in addition to having prior teaching experience; applicants also have to complete a performance audition. Coursework depends on students’ prior teaching certification status. Music theory exams for determining areas of focus are available to new students.


Program coursework includes philosophy and music history courses, to augment substantial practical training. The student’s area of interest can determine specific training, and the coursework typically includes a thesis project. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Music history and theory
•Instrumental conducting
•Developing curriculum
•Philosophy of music education
•Teaching music
•Choral conducting
•Music education research

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a job growth rate of twelve percent has been predicted for kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers. Over the same period, high school teachers are expected to see a six percent job growth (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, elementary, middle and high school teachers brought in an average annual wage ranging between $53,090 and $55,050 (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates who seek continuing education may pursue doctoral degree programs in music education. In some programs, the focus is on scholarly training in the field that could lead to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). In others, the primary focus is on practitioner training, leading to a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.).

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