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2023 Music Degree Guide

Do you turn up the radio and sing every time you're in the car? Do you enjoy being on stage and performing for others? If you said yes, consider a major in Music.

A degree in music isn't only about performing. You will learn about music history, composition, theory, and how to teach. Classes introduce you to and array of classical, modern, and contemporary music, show you how it has evolved, and prepare you for a career working with this art form.

Students have the option of choosing a general music major or they may choose to concentrate in a certain area. Examples of concentrations are: Music History, Music Performance, Music Theory & Composition, Musicology and Ethnomusicology, Conducting, Keyboard Instruments, and Voice Performance.

Music Degrees Shrinking in Popularity

#43 Most Popular Major
25.9k Degrees Awarded
-4.4% Increase in Graduates

In 2020-2021, music was the 43rd most popular major nationwide with 25,910 degrees awarded. This represents a 4.4% reduction in music degrees awarded over the prior year's total of 27,047.

This year's Best Music Schools ranking compares 494 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of music programs later in this article.

2023 Best Colleges for Music
2023 Overall Best Music Colleges >

Best Music Schools by Degree

Associate Degrees in Music
Bachelor's Degrees in Music
Master's Degrees in Music
Doctorate Degrees in Music

What Are The Requirements For a Degree in Music

Students who pursue a degree in Music usually already have musical talent, whether it be singing, playing an instrument, conducting, or composing. The classes you take in college will foster these talents and provide you with the skills you need to become a professional. Since this is a very competitive field, perseverance and discipline are important. You should be prepared to put a lot of time and effort in to improve your technique and performance. Strong people skills are also necessary because you will be auditioning for parts or working closely with agents and musicians.

A career in Music can be part time or full time, and can often have demanding hours. Those who perform have practices during normal business hours, but are required to work at night and on weekends when performances are held. Performers may also have to travel to perform at certain venues. Teachers typically have more regular hours.

Students who are interested in pursuing a career in the music industry should spend time taking classes and improving skills. Voice and instrument classes with teach you different techniques and styles that will make you more flexible and interesting to employers.

Getting Accepted Into a Music Program

music degree applicants generally need have finished high school or their GED. Many schools may also have GPA and SAT/ACT score minimums that must be met. Once you obtain your degree, additional music certifications required to pursue a career in this field.

Music Degree Types

Music degree levels vary. You can get anything from a in music to the highest music degree, a . The time it takes to complete a music degree varies depending on the program.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to music, with approximately 27.1% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for music workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 27.1%
Master’s Degree 22.7%
Doctoral Degree 13.9%
High School Diploma 8.8%
Some College Courses 7.5%

64.8% of music workers have at least a bachelor's. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in music careers have.


This of course varies depending on which music career you choose.

Career Opportunities for A Degree In Music Graduate

Above Average Number of Jobs
$27.1k Average Starting Salary
8% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

Music graduates are employed as voice teachers, vocal performers, conductors, music historians, and composers among other professions rooted in music. This degree will give you the skills to write music for performances, teach other how to play instruments, perform in a variety of venues and productions, and share the history of this art form. No matter what type of work you would like to do, a degree in Music will prepare you for a job in the field you're passionate about.

All music occupations are growing at an average rate, meaning students should be able to find jobs after graduation. However, some careers, like music performance, are highly competitive and require great talent and experience.

Growth Projected for Music Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your music degree? Music careers are expected to grow 7.6% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to music.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
High School Teachers 1,095,500 7.5%
Musicians and Singers 182,800 6.0%
Art, Drama, and Music Professors 137,200 12.0%
Music Directors and Composers 79,100 5.7%
Sound Engineering Technicians 18,100 6.5%

How Much Money Do People With a Music Degree Make?

Recently graduated music students earned an average of $27,128 in 2019-2020. Earnings can range from as low as $10,847 to as high as $59,416. As you might expect, salaries for music graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid Music Careers

Salaries for music graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top highest paying careers music grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Art, Drama, and Music Professors $82,560
High School Teachers $64,340
Sound Engineering Technicians $63,500
Music Directors and Composers $59,790

Getting Your Music Degree

With over 4,400 different music degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased music school rankings to help you with this.

Study Areas in Music

One of 10 majors within the Visual & Performing Arts area of study, Music has other similar majors worth exploring.

Music Concentrations

Major Annual Graduates
General Music 11,232
Music Performance 7,335
Music Technology 1,788
Music Theory & Composition 1,175
Other Music 1,117

View All Music Concentrations >

Majors Similar to Music

Related Major Annual Graduates
Fine & Studio Arts 37,413
Design & Applied Arts 36,301
Drama & Theater Arts 17,341
Film, Video & Photographic Arts 16,778
General Visual & Performing Arts 6,355

View All Music Related Majors >


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