With the constantly developing online education world, there are endless degrees that can be earned either mostly or entirely from a distance. Even degrees that are considered hands-on or designed for a specific group of people are emerging online. Recently, what many know as the most acclaimed art school in the world, The Juilliard School, began offering its own online music program at the bachelor’s level.
Other schools have started to do the same, either at the undergraduate or graduate level, but since online music degrees are mostly new territory, it can be hard to decipher which schools are top-notch and which schools need to develop more.
Not all schools have a name so highly regarded as The Juilliard School. However, even if they do, that doesn’t mean this new program matches their other offerings. Therefore, we have compiled a list of top schools that offer an online music degree as a bachelor’s or as a master’s degree.
There are significantly more online music master’s degree programs, so they are categorized in two separate lists.
In both rankings, we considered:
- The quality and rigor of the courses
- The flexibility of courses
- The residency requirements
- The cost
We also considered any unique qualities that gave the specific online music school more value or that would lead to a more valuable experience.
Related Resource: What is a Bachelor’s Degree?
1. The Juilliard School
Established in 1905, the Juilliard School is one of the nation’s leading music schools with notable alumni like Robin Williams and Viola Davis. Juilliard’s core values mark its music and arts programs:
Located in New York City, Juilliard’s ideal location lends itself to offering dynamic online music degrees. Beyond its New York campus, Juilliard also spans across the world to its Tianjin Juilliard School in China!
In the past few years, Juilliard has expanded its undergraduate and graduate education offerings to the online format. Though they are just getting started, their background in education is of a high caliber, so there is a lot to learn from them.
Specialties range from specific instruments as an individual to group work and music composition, including the following:
- Jazz Studies
- Historical performance
- Vocal arts
The course offerings meet many online learning needs, but keep in mind that the high acclaim comes with a high cost. Since Julliard is brand new in this field, this entry is more of an honorable mention than a true ranking, but the school has paved the way for art education and will likely adapt to this new setting as well.
The tuition cost per credit varies by program.
You can find additional information on The Juilliard School here.
2. Full Sail University
If entertainment is more of your desired career route, Full Sail University has a program ideal for that path. Full Sail University, a private school in Florida, has been considered one of the top music programs in the United States by national publications. Full Sail frequently attracts students who are interested in music but may also want to work behind the scenes in music production.
Full Sail is not new to online education—in fact, with more than 12 years of online learning, the music school is an expert. Full Sail University’s online bachelor’s and master’s music programs are for those who want a “fast-paced, immersive learning experience with 24/7 flexibility.”
The online music college allows you to design your bachelor’s degree and work on a portfolio to graduate and to use in the real world. The online network also builds connections for potential jobs in the future.
Full Sail’s offerings include topics such as:
- Show production
- Recording arts
After earning an online music bachelor’s degree, you can continue into a master’s program at Full Sail, as they offer several degrees at both levels. Tuition includes the costs of textbooks, lab and technology fees, and materials needed to complete projects.
You can find additional information on Full Sail University here.
3. Academy of Art University
Known as one of the largest private art and design schools in the United States, the Academy of Art University has a lot to offer! Though based in San Francisco, the Academy of Art University offers many programs for online students and has an impressive track record. Nearly two decades of accredited online art and design programs have earned AAU a handful of awards.
As of today, AAU offers over 120 bachelor’s and master’s degrees online. Included in their offerings are BFA programs in the following:
- Music production
- Music scoring and composition
- Sound design
In each of these online music bachelor’s degrees, you have the flexibility of creating a full time or part schedule, and you can complete those courses at your own pace. You can choose either asynchronous or synchronous online formats depending on your schedule, work load, and personality.
Through AAU’s online music programs, online students learn techniques in not only the creation of the music but also the technical aspects that come from editing and production. AAU graduates have gone on to work for large companies, such as Apple and Sony Pictures.
You can find additional information on the Academy of Art University here.
4. Valley City State University
Founded in 1890, Valley City State University has been recognized as one of America’s “Best Colleges” for 24 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report. VCSU is also a leader in online music education and is fully accredited by the National Association of Music (NASM).
VSCU offers an extensive set of courses and is constantly adding more to meet the demands of unique students. For example, they offer the flexibility of starting as a certificate student and can move onto the full bachelor’s degree program online if they choose.
You can earn the majority of the bachelor’s degree online but are required to audition for the program admission. You also have the option to come to campus to complete certain ensemble requirements, or you can transfer in credit if they’ve done this at another school. The average completion time is on par with a campus program at four years. VSCU notes that students in its music program have included:
- Military members serving overseas
- Non-traditional students
- Those working full-time
- Those with large family commitments
- Students at other institutions who need an online music course
VSCU’s tuition rate varies based on state/country of residence, books and materials needed.
You can find additional information on Valley City State University here.
5. Berklee College of Music
Though it doesn’t have as long of a history as Juilliard, Berklee College of Music has a similarly positive reputation but is geared toward a different crowd. Berklee is about half the age of Juilliard, but Berklee specializes in modern music that reaches a younger audience, while still teaching students who go on to be quite successful in the music field.
Graduates such as Quincy Jones or Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, have contributed to the accumulation of Grammys to date and are sure to be winners again every awards season. These awards are not all for the typical headline-grabbing award segments, and that is what makes Berklee one of the best online music colleges out there.
Berklee Online was established in 2002 and offers the same rigorous education as you would receive on campus. Through Berklee Online, you can work towards both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in areas such as:
- Music Production
- Guitar Performance
- Music Business
- Music Composition for Film, TV, and Games
Tuition at Berklee isn’t cheap, but that’s to be expected at one of the most prestigious music schools in the nation. Check out the tuition breakdown here.
You can find additional information on the Berklee College of Music here.
1. University of South Dakota
The University of South Dakota offers the only master of music degrees in South Dakota. Additionally, USD’s music programs are accredited by the NASM and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.
USD has options for customization, such as the option to focus on areas such as Instrumental Music Education and Vocal/Coral Music Education. The program is also entirely online. Online students choose between projects to complete the program with either a thesis or a graduate music education project. The graduate music education project allows you to apply your project to your given area of teaching and use it in the real world setting.
You can complete the online degree within two years if desired or take a slower pace. There are also specializations available such as:
- History of Music and Instruments
You can find additional information on the University of South Dakota here.
2. Liberty University
Liberty University is regularly featured as a Christian school with a strong online presence. For music programs at the graduate level, Liberty offers online Master of Art programs to meet many interests, such as:
- Music Education
- Music and Worship
- Worship Studies
Liberty’s music degrees are almost completely online, aside from up to four residencies that are known as intensives. Programs are 30-45 credits in length, with the potential to transfer up to 12 credits from previous education. In those sessions, you can take an abbreviated course that consists of workshops, collaboration with fellow students, and individual work with instructors.
At the end of the online program, graduates can expect to pursue careers in various fields, such as a minister of music, a worship pastor, or even a contemporary Christian artist.
You can find additional information on Liberty University here.
3. The University of Florida
The UF School of Music offers an online master’s of music education. This degree is designed for educators who are looking to further their knowledge and skill and relay that to the next generation of music students. Courses will teach you how to connect to your students, as well as lessons specific to music techniques and the culture of music worldwide.
A great advantage of this program is that it is entirely online. Most online programs have residency requirements, but the University of Florida avoids this by offering a flexible schedule that allows students to work at their own pace while also being able to share their learning right away in a practical and useful way. You will have 24/7 access to your courses and a supportive team of professors and fellow students to help you along the way.
You can find additional information on the University of Florida here.
4. East Carolina University
East Carolina University is located in Greenville, North Carolina, but its online music degrees stay online. This is another rarity that offers studies completely online with flexible study options.
ECU has various focuses that all fall under the Master of Music and prepare you for education licensure if pursuing a Music Education degree. Programs of study include:
- Jazz Performance
- Vocal Pedagogy
- Performance (Instrumental, Keyboard, Voice)
- Pedagogical Studies
ECU also offers a specialty program in Music Therapy, which prepares its graduate students for therapy licensing board exams. The typical course of study starts at 30 credits and goes up from there, consisting of core courses, courses specific to your chosen concentration, and electives.
You can find additional information on East Carolina University here.
5. Eastern Illinois University
Eastern Illinois University is known for its affordable online degrees without sacrificing quality. EIU offers the opportunity to complete their master’s programs almost entirely online, with a one- week residency requirement on their campus in Charleston, Illinois.
EIU’s Masters of Art in Music comes with several options for concentrations, including:
- Music Education
With just one week required on campus, the rest of the coursework is flexible in terms of the needs of the student who can take courses on a part-time or full-time basis.
EIU faculty and staff members are attentive to the individual needs of their students and help them complete the best work possible. The course rigor ensures an academic approach to music with the ability to transition that knowledge into daily working knowledge. The online music degree curriculum covers differing fields related to music in a way to give the students a fully fleshed-out perspective of music and the ability to carry out their degree in a meaningful way.
You can find additional information on Eastern Illinois University here.
6. Kent State University
Kent State University is ranked in the Top 100 of Best Graduate Education Schools, so it’s no surprise this school made our ranking. Kent State University encourages a flexible mentality which they establish from the day of application. You can study completely online, and you don’t need to provide GRE scores to audition to apply. There are even timelines in which you can graduate in less than two years.
Kent State broadens flexibility to the courses of study. While working through the online master of music in music education program, you will complete 31 credits, and this takes most students approximately two years. Each course is seven weeks long. Kent State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
You can find additional information on Kent State University here.
7. New Mexico State University
The New Mexico State University distance programs exist from bachelor degrees all the way through doctoral programs and even some certificate and licensure options. NM State’s College of Arts and Sciences features a master of music: music education. This program allows online students who have previously completed an undergraduate degree in music education to continue to teach and educate themselves at the same time.
NM State’s master of music is fully online and offers three areas of study in Conducting, Music Education, and Performance. Coursework includes courses in Research Methods and Music Theory, a capstone project, and electives relevant to the course of study. The rate per credit varies based on residency and number of credits.
You can find additional information on New Mexico State University here.
8. Rowan University
Rowan University, based in New Jersey, has an impressive selection of online programs, specifically related to the arts. Their online department includes a Performance Art school with four options for the Master of Music.
Aside from the general program, the other three options come with three focuses you can choose from:
- Jazz Studies
The coursework is designed to be completed mostly away from campus, but if residency is ever required, it can be completed on their campuses in Glassboro or Camden. Courses are mostly offered in traditional semesters in the spring and fall, but the online format also offers Modules, which means there are fall and spring sessions, but also a summer session. The Master in Music degrees start at 32 credits and can vary based on the area of concentration.
You can find additional information on Rowan University here.
9. Boston University
Boston University has a well-structured set of programs online that are flexible in their education offerings. This is because they have over a decade of online education experience and the history of their campus programming to support them. At the graduate level, Boston University offers a few options in the music field, such as the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Music Education and a Master of Music in Music Education. Boston University even offers a Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education.
At the master level, students learn about how music impacts people at every stage in life and in various cultures. It is a scientific approach, as students study the psychology and sociology of music. The minimum requirement to complete this online music program is eight courses, or 32 credit hours that include music education, music theory, and electives.
You can find additional information on Boston University here.
10. Rutgers University
With an online degree from a well-respected institution, Rutgers University has included a quality program into the mix. You can apply at any time during the year and can choose their start date when accepted. Options are available for seasonal starts in the fall, spring and summer. Once the You begin, courses can be attended all year, whether at a part-time pace or full-time pace.
Rutgers offers anything from degrees and certificates to Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs. Courses are specifically engineered to be small in size so that faculty members have the ability to work one-on-one with every student to get what they need out of their education. Online students can also take advantage of even tuition rates, regardless of whether they are located in New Jersey where the campus is or not, but the cost per credit does differ based on location and program of study.
In the Mason Gross School of the Arts Master of Music in Music Education program, students can expect to complete 30 credits of work that consists of 18 credits of study in music education and 12 credits in a variety of areas, such as music history, music theory, and ethnomusicology.
You can find additional information on Rutgers University here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I earn a music degree online?
Even before the Covid pandemic, schools and universities were offering degrees online. However, online education has been accelerated by the pandemic, and music degrees online are no exception.
There are advantages to earning a music degree online including flexibility and lower tuition rates. Online music schools in this ranking are a great way to start looking for an excellent bachelor’s or master’s online music degree.
Is an online music degree worth it?
Not all careers in the music industry require a music degree, but an online music degree can be worth your money and time investment. Statistics continuously show that those with a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree earn more money than those without one.
An online music degree requires dedication, especially for those who are currently working. However, higher education is always a solid choice. Whether you are interested in studying music performance, music business, an instrument, or music education, an online music degree is the first place to search.
Are online music bachelor’s and master’s degrees fully online?
Sometimes music schools offer online music degrees that are online, but you need to travel to campus a few times a year. However, others are featured as 100% online with no campus visits. When searching music schools online, make sure to note the specific requirements of the degree you are seeking so there are no surprises.
What should I look for in an online music school?
All of the rankings on our list are great options for online music schools. It’s important to research carefully any online music school you are interested in. For example, check to see if the school has:
- Notable accreditation
- Real-world internships (especially if you’re going for music education)
- Strong rankings (check U.S. News & World Report)
- Distance learning support centers
- Devoted faculty
- A strong track record in online learning
- Program completion and student satisfaction
- Student services and online support
What are the requirements for applying to a music school online?
Requirements for admission to a music school online vary depending on the university. The best music schools online require a specific GPA in past coursework. Some master’s programs require GRE scores while others don’t. Online music degrees that focus on performance typically require an interview and audition.
All applications will require, at a minimum:
- A strong GPA
- Recommendation letters
- A statement of purpose or essay
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out 25 Best Bachelor’s in Music and The 25 Best Colleges for Working Students!