Music Degree

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Music Degree Overview

A music degree can be earned from a wide variety of small and large colleges from around the country.  Music is an area of study and art form that deals with the combination of sounds in order to produce a response, be it emotional, professional or otherwise. Musicians work alone or in groups in order to construct harmonies and melodies that achieve a desired result, with many different types of music and instrument available for study and exploration.

Top Music Degrees

Students considering a certificate in music or music degree will need guidance through the maze of programs.  From certificate programs through PhD degrees in the field of music, the options are plentiful.  Possible majors in music include:

  • Composition
  • Film Scoring
  • Writing and Production
  • Electronic Production & Design
  • Music Management
  • Jazz Composition
  • Music Education
  • Vocal Performance
  • Musical Theatre
  • Music Production & Engineering
  • Songwriting
  • Piano
  • Instrumental Performance
  • Music Therapy

To add to your options, many accredited colleges and universities off degrees online and in classroom.   Make the most of your time by taking the energy to study the summaries below and simply reach out to schools of interest.  Finding the best college for you requires your unique insights and priorities not some random ranking system intended for the masses.   An overview of degrees in music include the following:

Music Associate's Degree

Associate degrees in music are 2-year programs that are conferred as an Associate of Arts (AA) at most colleges and universities.  AA degrees blend liberal arts classes such as history, philosophy, chemistry, sociology, communications, and math with core classes to provide students with a well-rounded education.

Holistic thinking skills learned via liberal arts programs have been proven to be highly effective in the workplace by technology companies and public corporations alike.  Core classes are intended to provide students with foundational knowledge in music to prepare for entry-level jobs in the field or an advanced degree.

Music Bachelor's Degree

Bachelor degrees in music are conferred as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Music (BM).  The BA and BM degrees are 4-years of full-time matriculation and taking longer for part-time students to complete as a function of pace and course load.

Students will have the opportunity to take substantive general education courses such as American history, creative writing, speech and rhetoric, philosophy, and economics.  Developing a holistic set of thinking skills and blending left-brain thinking with right-brain thinking is a vital tool in the workplace.

Students will take an array of music classes that correlate to an area of emphasis.  For example, students studying music composition will take classes such as: music application and theory, ensemble, artistry & creativity, music technology, harmony, ear training, conducting, tonal writing, classical music, keyboard ensemble, romantic music, scoring for full orchestras, and music analysis.

Music Master's Degree

Earning a master’s degree in music will take 2-3 year for full-time students to complete.  Master’s degree can be conferred as a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Music (MM), or Master of Business Administration (MBA).

An array of degree specialties exists for graduate students.  Examples include areas of concentration such as: global entertainment, music therapy, music production, contemporary performance, music technology, innovation, brass conducting, business management, scoring for film and television, choral conducting, collaborative piano, composition, classical music, vocal pedagogy, harp performance, marimba performance, orchestral conducting, music education, piano performance, special education & autism, opera performance, string performance, woodwind performance, and voice performance.

Doctorate Degree in Music

A doctoral degree in music can be conferred as a Doctor of Arts (DA) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) depending on the curricular design of the program.  PhD and DA programs are 3-5 year programs based on full time matriculation including time spent completing the board approved dissertation project.

Graduate students in a PhD or DA program can elect to specialize in a number of musical disciplines.  Popular degree programs for doctoral students include composition, collaborative piano, conducting, education, jazz studies, history and literature, music performance, music & human learning, and music theory.  Doctorate graduates will go on to teach music, perform, manage, compose, and/or extend the field of study through research.

Music Degree Requirements

Individuals who wish to study music will learn explore a variety of subjects related to it. Such education includes theory, notation, simple and complex construction, experimentation, as well as how to harmonize various sounds, and depending on one’s specialization, further insight into a given instrument or group of instruments, or how to arrange and compose music, which is often the case for conductors.

Musicians trained in this fashion may earn varying levels of degrees, though the most common are bachelor or master degrees.  A curriculum may include:

  • Music Theory
  • Notation
  • Orchestration
  • Harmony
  • Music History

Students who wish to study music should choose schools that have specialized programs, particularly if they plan to study a specific instrument, rather than broad theory. Schools that have modern music departments, or conservatories that specialize in music education are typically the most ideal for student. Additionally, renowned schools that have graduates of note, or connections to various music outlets and groups may also be preferable.

Employment Opportunities in Music

Music has seen an increase in employment due to changing technology and distribution. As a result more music of all types is able to make its way into the homes and ears of individuals. Educated and trained musicians will be able to seek employment in a variety of venues, including symphonies, studio sessions, pick up for bands, and other similar areas.

Resources for Musicians

Additionally, composers of quality and experience can find opportunities working for film, games, television and more. Employment in this industry is expected to increase over the next decade according to the BLS.  Further research can pursued outside academia by visiting the PMA and AMA websites.  Both organizations provide unique member benefits to producers and musicians from across the nation.

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Career Summary: Music Major




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