College Degrees in Music

Associate Degree in Music

This is a two year degree in music. You will take two full years of applied lessons (your major instrument and one other lesson), four semesters of music theory, some music literature or music history, and some of your general education requirements. You must perform in an ensemble (choir, orchestra or band) every semester.

This degree prepares you to transfer to a four-year college. It will not qualify you to teach in the public schools. It does give you a  start on your professional performance skills.

The advantages of this degree:  Working on an associate’s degree can help you save money for your first two years of college. This can be very helpful.

Disadvantage of this degree:  You do not have the stimulation of upper level musicians working around you in your ensembles and in other coursework. There are many people who take many years to earn their associate degree, due to working while in school and other reasons. This attitude can be contagious.

Bachelor’s Degree in Music

This is a four year degree in general music. You are expected to be practicing two to three hours each day when in college. If preparing for a concert career, you will practice more. This degree prepares you to teach privately, but not in the public schools. It can be the basis for further education, preparing you to teach at the college level. You will study music theory, history, performance (usually two instruments), and perform throughout college in either band, choir, or orchestra. You will take a number of general education requirements.

This degree prepares you to continue your education in a graduate program or to begin a graduate performance degree. It does not prepare you to teach in the public schools.

Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education – Elementary

This is a four year degree in music.  You are expected to be practicing two to three hours each day when in college. This degree prepares you to teach in the public schools, grades K through 8.  It can be the basis for further education, preparing you to teach at the college level.  You will study music theory, history, performance (usually two instruments), and perform throughout college in either band, choir, or orchestra. You will also probably have courses that teach you how to play all band instrumentals at a beginning level. This is because many elementary vocal music teachers also have to teach beginning band. You will take a number of general education requirements.

This degree prepares you to teach K-8 music in public or private schools.

Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education – Secondary

This is a four year degree in general music. You are expected to be practicing two to three hours each day when in college. This degree prepares you to teach in the public schools at the high school level. It can be the basis for further education, preparing you to teach at the college level.  You will study music theory, history, performance (usually two instruments), and perform throughout college in either band, choir, or orchestra. You will take a number of general education requirements.

This degree prepares you to teach high school music in the public or private schools.

Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Recording Arts

This is a four-year degree in recording music. It may be done in conjunction with either a music major or a business major. If done in conjunction with a music major, you will get extensive musical training plus training in using digital equipment to record. If done in conjunction with a business major, you will learn business skills and digital recording skills with minimal musical coursework.

Master’s Degree in Music

A master’s degree generally takes two years to complete after your bachelor’s degree. It consists entirely of music courses and you get to select an area of specialization. No matter what your specialty, you will study advanced music theory, music history, and music literature. Areas of specialization can include:

  • Theory
  • Performance
  • Musicology
  • Composition

DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts)

This is a performance degree. Students who complete this degree often are required to present six complete solo recitals, often from memory.  You will be required to display a degree of superior performance in at least one area of specialization (such as German Romantic music). By the time you work on this degree you need to be practicing up to 8 hours a day and have excellent memory skills.

This degree prepares you for a career as a college professor at a major institution or an international performer. You need to love to perform and memorize with ease.