In the United States and much of the industrialized world, graduate school is the first real opportunity you have to specialize in a topic in a thorough way. Unfortunately, not all of us have the luxury of living near a world-class music program and having both the time and money to pursue it. That’s where distance learning comes in. Whatever your interest, and whatever your income level, there’s probably a graduate program in music that more-or-less fits your interests.
All of the programs on the list below are regionally accredited (if located in the United States) or meet comparable non-U.S. standards. The vast majority require no physical residency at all, and none require the student to live near the campus.
1. University of South Africa, Master of Musicology
The University of South Africa (UNISA) is the world’s largest distance learning provider, and among the least expensive. The research-based Master of Musicology must be completed in three years or less, and consists of either an academic dissertation or a shorter research paper plus a portfolio of original compositions.
2. Open University, M.A. in Music
OU is the largest distance learning provider in the United Kingdom, and its online M.A. in music is now available to students throughout the world. Students can take up to 10 years to complete the qualification.
3. CSUDH, M.A. in Humanities (emphasis Music)
California State University, Dominguez Hills’ Humanities External Degree (HUX) Program is one of the oldest regionally accredited distance learning programs in the United States (full disclosure: I completed it myself 15 years ago). The curriculum involves coursework in five core humanities disciplines (history, literature, music, art, and philosophy), as well as substantial interdisciplinary coursework whose topics overlap multiple humanities disciplines. While students can elect to complete a general track (like I did), they can also choose to specialize in music. Students must complete at least nine courses and a capstone project, which may be a traditional thesis or (with faculty approval) a suitably ambitious creative project.
Founded by the controversial Rev. Jerry Falwell, Liberty University has emerged as an unlikely leader in global distance education. Its academically rigorous graduate programs in music are no exception.
Music Education Programs
6. Boston University, M.M. in Music Education (link)
7. Adams State University, M.A. in Music Education (link)
8. University of Florida, M.M. in Music Education (link)
9. Kent State University, M.M. in Music Education (link)
10. University of Nebraska, M.A. in Music Education (link)
11. University of West Georgia, M.M. in Music Education (link)
12. Liberty University, M.A. in Music Education (link)
13. SUNY-Buffalo, Ed.M. in Music Education (link)
14. Eastern Kentucky University, M.M. in Music Education (link)
Nearly half the master’s programs on this list are designed for music educators, including (but not limited to) school music teachers, and most can be completed online.
Music Industry Programs
15. Southern New Hampshire University, MBA in Music Business (link)
16. University of Miami, M.M. in Music Business and Entertainment Industries (link)
17. University of Miami, M.A. in Arts Presenting and Live Entertainment Management (link)
Musicians and other industry professionals who would like to focus on the business end of their careers don’t have to settle for traditional management programs—not when there are industry-specific curricula to choose from.
Music and the Mind
Whether you’re using music as a tool in a clinical setting or using psychology as a tool in a performance or composition setting, there are distance learning programs that merge the two fields.
Anything We’ve Missed?
If you know of any other distance learning master’s programs in music offered by accredited, nonprofit universities, please let me know below the fold; I might feature them in a followup piece.