If you are looking for the best affordable online Bachelor’s of Music degree programs, you have come to the right place. Earning an online music degree can help students transform their passion for music into a financially viable career. Thanks to the surge of on-demand music and streaming apps as well as advances in recording and sound technology, there is a growing demand for professionals who can perform, produce, and/or teach music. Also, as the digital marketing industry grows, marketing agencies need composers who can write music for advertising videos and commercials. Below, we have identified the top 10 best affordable online Bachelor’s in Music degrees that can help you get started in this exciting and unique field.
To provide our readers with the most comprehensive list of the best affordable online Bachelor’s in Music degrees, we based this methodology on three key factors that most prospective students look for in a program: tuition rates, student-to-faculty ratios, and graduation rates. Before we could award points, however, we first needed to compile a list of the top colleges and universities that offer an online bachelor’s degree in music. To start, we searched for the term “online music bachelor’s degree” using the College Navigator tool at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Since our search produced 10 matching results, we did not need to narrow down the list any further. However, we did double-check the information provided by the NCES using each school’s website to ensure our data was as accurate and up-to-date as possible. We then awarded points based on the ranking methodology below.
Average Cost of Attendance
Since the goal of this ranking is to compile a list of the most economical online Bachelor’s in Music degrees, the first metric by which we awarded points was the average cost of attendance. When thinking about tuition, however, try to consider the program as a whole and avoid selecting the cheapest program on the list just to save money. Although frugality is generally at the forefront of every student’s mind, it is just as important to make sure that the program meets your academic and professional needs as well. For the following article, we ranked tuition based on the cost of one academic year of study for an online student. We used tuition information provided by each school’s website.
Under $7,500: 5 points
$7,500 to $15,000: 3 points
$15,001 and above: 1 point
Next, we looked at each school’s student-to-faculty ratio to get a better idea of the learning environment at the following institutions. Although there are pros and cons to both large universities and small colleges and it ultimately comes down to personal preference, we awarded the most points to schools with the lowest ratios. These institutions are more likely to enroll fewer students and, therefore, offer smaller class sizes. This may mean an increased chance of opportunities for one-on-one mentoring, individualized studies, and the development of close relationships between students and faculty. We awarded points based on the ranges below, giving the highest number to schools with the lowest ratios of 10 or fewer students per faculty member, according to NCES.
10:1 or less: 3 points
11:1 to 15:1: 2 points
Greater than 15:1: 1 point
Finally, we awarded points based on graduation rates. While many students look at acceptance rates to determine the likelihood of being admitted into a certain program, some may not realize that graduation rates are just as important. After all, these figures tell us how many students completed the program requirements and earned their degrees. After all, isn’t that the goal? Therefore, we can conclude that colleges and universities are doing something right to keep their students happy and enrolled in the program right through graduation. On the other hand, schools with low graduation rates may be falling short, causing students to leave prematurely and finish their degrees at another institution. This could be due to any number of reasons such as unaffordable tuition rates, poor or nonexistent academic support, or unhelpful faculty members. Therefore, we awarded the most points to schools with the highest graduation rates based on the ranges below, as provided by NCES.
More than 50 percent: 3 points
Between 30 percent and 50 percent: 2 points
Less than 30 percent: 1 point
Ranking Top 10 Best Affordable Online Bachelor’s of Music Degrees
10. Full Sail University
Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail University is a private institution of higher education and one of the top-value universities for an online music degree. FSU was established in 1979 as a recording studio in Ohio known as Full Sail Productions and Full Sail Center for the Recording Arts. In 1980, the school moved to Florida and, in 2007, began to offer online degrees. FSU’s online Bachelor of Science in Music production degree provides a comprehensive and thorough understanding of music production and creation. After learning foundational concepts such as music composition and theory, undergraduates explore various complex applications and procedures used in the music production industry. The curriculum covers topics such as engineering techniques and advanced audio production to digital workstation technology and digital audio principles. The program is available entirely online and can be completed within 29 months.
Bachelor of Science in Music Production
Online Tuition: $20,250
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 26:1
Graduation Rate: 31 percent
9. Valley City State University
Valley City, North Dakota
Founded in 1890 as Valley City State Normal School, Valley City State University is a public university and a member of the North Dakota University System. VCSU offers two low-cost online music degrees: a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science. The curriculum is divided into four components, including core courses, performance-related courses, electives, and a capstone project. Both programs include instruction in ensembles, applied lessons, piano, music history, scoring and arranging, basic conducting, aural skills, and music theory. The capstone project can be completed in the form of a thesis, recital, or composition/arrangement. Full-time students can expect to complete the program within four years. VCSU’s Department of Music and the online curriculum are both accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).
Online Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science Degree in Music
Online Tuition: $16,931
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Graduation Rate: 41 percent
8. University of Maine-Augusta
The University of Maine at Augusta is a public institution of higher learning and one of the best high-value universities for an online music degree. Founded in 1965, UMA is a member of the University of Maine System that operates campuses in Augusta and Bangor as well as online. UMA’s cheap online Bachelor of Music in Contemporary and Popular Music degree covers topics such as transcription, improvisation, advanced composition, electronic music production techniques, and audio recording. Students also develop a strong foundation in ensemble-playing, instrument and voice, music history, and theory. The program allows students to find their own balance of songwriting activities, production/audio recording, composition, arranging, and music performance. Students enjoy UMA’s state-of-the-art facilities, optimum student-to-faculty ratio, and highly personalized instruction.
Bachelor of Music in Contemporary & Popular Music
Online Tuition: $7,170
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Graduation Rate: 18 percent
7. Judson College
Judson College is a private women’s college affiliated with the Alabama Baptist Convention. Founded in 1838 by members of Siloam Baptist Church, Judson is also recognized as one of the most economical colleges for an online music degree. Undergraduates can pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Music that is comprised of music theory, sight-singing and ear training, music history, form and analysis, and music electives. The curriculum also includes applied lessons and ensembles that are not taught online; students complete the lessons and participate in ensembles locally and transfer the credits to Judson. Students are required to give two recitals as part of the top B.A. in Music program: a 25-minute junior recital and a 50-minute senior recital. It is preferred that students come to campus for these recitals, but students may complete a significant research paper in place of the recital.
Bachelor of Arts in Music
Online Tuition: $17,240
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 5:1
Graduation Rate: 35 percent
6. Liberty University
Founded in 1971, Liberty University is a private Christian university and a top choice for undergraduates seeking a low-cost online music degree. One of the largest music schools in the nation, Liberty’s School of Music confers two top-value online music degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Commercial Music and a Bachelor of Science in Worship Studies. The B.S. in Commercial Music is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and provides a combination of liberal arts training and specialized coursework in music technology and recording engineering. The low-cost B.S. in Worship Studies is comprised of worship courses that further students’ foundational music knowledge, help students develop basic conducting skills, and allow them to learn strategies for worship-leading. Students in both programs gain real-world insights from professional musicians, music ministry professionals, and music industry experts.
Commercial Music (B.S.)
Worship Studies (B.S.)
Online Tuition: $11,700
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Graduation Rate: 50 percent
5. University of Michigan-Flint
The University of Michigan-Flint is a public institution of higher learning and one of two regional campuses that make up the University of Michigan System. Founded in 1954 as Flint Senior College of the University of Michigan, UM-Flint offers affordable and accessible online bachelor’s degrees, including a Bachelor of Applied Science in Music. Students learn essential aspects of music, including music as performance art, music theory, jazz, contemporary music, and music of the world. Through the online curriculum, students prepare for pedagogy, conducting, and live performances. Graduates looking for a rewarding teaching career may be eligible to earn state certification in K-12 music. This best-value program is available entirely online and consists of 124 credit hours of study.
Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Music
Online Tuition: $14,168
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Graduation Rate: 46 percent
4. Washington State University
Established in 1890 as Washington’s original land-grant university, Washington State University is a public research university and one of the oldest land-grant institutions of higher learning in the American West. Students seeking a best-value online music degree can pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with a concentration in music. Students pursuing the online humanities degree select courses and learn about cultural concepts through linguistics, languages, history, philosophy, theater, music, art, and literature. They develop an integrative, customized, and unique degree plan that focuses on their aspirations, interests, and values. This inexpensive program is structured into Plan A, which requires two concentrations, or Plan B, which requires three concentrations; music is included as a possible concentration in Plan B. All courses are available entirely online, and students develop skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, writing, and communication.
Bachelor of Arts in Humanities
Online Tuition: $10,368
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Graduation Rate: 59 percent
3. University of West Georgia
The University of West Georgia is a public institution of higher education and one best high-value universities for an online music degree. Established in 1906 as Fourth District A&M School, UWG offers an online Bachelor of Music in Composition degree designed to prepare students for careers in music composition, performance, or education. The 120-semester-hour curriculum focuses on the use of basic procedures, techniques, tools, and concepts to develop compositions from concepts to fully realized performances that involve a variety of forms, styles, and media. Students also develop their knowledge of and ability to work with music of diverse historical periods, cultural sources, and media. In addition to the specific degree program, undergraduates find enrichment through masterclasses, workshops, recitals, and concerts by visiting scholars, performers, and the department’s part- and full-time faculty. UWG is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).
Bachelor of Music With a Major in Composition
Online Tuition: $7,055
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Graduation Rate: 42 percent
2. Berklee College of Music
Established in 1945, Berklee College of Music is a private music college and the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. Known for the study of modern American music and jazz, Berklee offers postsecondary education in a wide range of historic and contemporary styles, including bluegrass, heavy metal, salsa, reggae, hip hop, and rock. Berklee alumni have won nearly 300 Grammy Awards, more than any other college in the U.S. As one of the top-value colleges for an online music degree, Berklee offers many options for distance education bachelor’s programs, including degrees in music production, electronic sound design, music composition, songwriting, and music business. Students may also create their own majors via an interdisciplinary music studies degree. The online flexible learning format includes full-time and part-time study options, and students have access to the same world-renowned faculty who teach Berklee’s on-campus programs. Students may also choose to study abroad for a semester at Berklee’s international campus in Valencia, Spain.
Interdisciplinary Music Studies (Create Your Own Major)
Songwriting and Producing Music
Electronic Music Production and Sound Design
Music Composition for Film, TV, and Games
Online Tuition: $14,970
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 10:1
Graduation Rate: 64 percent
1. Baptist College of Florida
Founded in 1943, the Baptist College of Florida is a private Baptist college that initially focused on training Baptist ministers. Today, BCF offers degrees in music, theology, business, education, and counseling and tops our list of the most affordable colleges for an online music degree. The school is nationally accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and offers three online music degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in Music, a Bachelor of Music in Worship Leadership, and a Bachelor of Music Education. This best B.A. in Music provides undergraduates with a strong foundation in music knowledge and focuses on music theory, conducting, music history, applied music, and ensembles. The worship leadership online degree trains students for careers as music media and technology ministers, worship pastors, ministers of music, or Christian performers and artists. Those preparing to teach music at the K-12 levels may consider the online choral music education concentration and apply for a temporary teaching certificate in music after graduating from the program.
B.A. in Music
Bachelor of Music in Worship Leadership
Bachelor of Music Education
Online Tuition: $11,400
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 8:1
Graduation Rate: 62 percent
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Bachelor’s of Music Degree?
Undergraduates who have earned an online Bachelor’s in Music degree are prepared to work in many musical contexts. While some pursue careers as self-employed musicians, others choose to work in choreography, music business, music therapy, music production, music education, or directing and composing. Although a formal degree is not necessarily required to become a performing singer or musician, pursuing an online music bachelor’s degree can help naturally creative individuals learn how to teach their craft to others and/or refine their skills to command higher positions and salaries. Depending on the online bachelor’s in music chosen, graduates are prepared to become:
- Music Teachers
- Sound Engineers
- Music/Recreational Therapists
- Producers and Directors
- Worship/Creative Arts Pastors
- Tour Managers
- Music Librarians
Other possible careers include music blogging, broadcast engineering, music journalism, orchestra management, artist representation, and arts administration, including the planning of local music concerts and festivals. Graduates may also decide to enter the field of event and wedding planning and management or find a career in college and conservatory administration. As you can see, there are far more options for what a graduate can do with a music degree than most would realize. Teaching and performing are two of the most common careers in music, but these two alone do not begin to cover what a student can do once he or she has earned an online Bachelor’s in Music. Keep in mind that some careers that one can attain with a Bachelor’s in Music degree may require additional hands-on, in-person training.
In fact, many employers value the skills that music school graduates develop and find it easy to transfer them to non-musical careers. For example, five valuable skills that music majors can utilize in careers immediately after graduating as well as in graduate programs include collaboration and working effectively with others, responsibility and dependability, problem-solving, critical thinking, and time management. Students also develop their leadership skills, self-confidence, and the ability to think and understand in patterns as well as to move outside of the box as challenges require.
What is the Salary Potential for an Online Bachelor’s of Music Degree?
Many people who have earned an online music degree pursue this field as a secondary career option. In other words, salary earnings may not be lucrative, so professionals rely on another form of employment as their main source of income. While many performers, singers, and musicians are self-employed and earn money on a per-project or per-hour basis, those who work as directors, composers, choreographers, music therapists, and music educators can earn lucrative careers. Keep in mind that salary potential depends on many factors, including the level of education, level of experience, the area in which one wishes to work, and the occupation itself. To learn more about earnings for different occupations, we turned to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for data.
According to the BLS, producers and directors earned $71,680 per year as of May 2018. The highest 10 percent earned more than $163,540, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,450. The median annual wages for producers and directors in the top industries in which they worked were:
- Public relations, advertising, and related services: $89,330
- Video and motion picture industries: $84,770
- Television and radio broadcasting: $63,620
- Spectator sports, performing arts, and related industries: $59,080
The BLS also reported that music directors and composers earned $49,630 per year as of May 2018. According to the data, the top 10 percent of professionals in this occupation earned more than $112,820, while the bottom 10 percent brought home less than $21,640. The three highest-paying industries for music directors and composers and their respective salaries as of May 2018 were:
- Private, local, and state elementary and secondary schools: $53,970
- Performing arts companies: $53,830
- Professional, civic, grantmaking, religious, and similar organizations: $39,920
Three other occupations that one can pursue with an online Bachelor’s in Music include recreational therapists, broadcast and sound engineering technicians, and dancers and choreographers. While recreational therapists and broadcast and sound engineering technicians reported similar annual earnings of $47,860 and $43,660 per year, respectively, dancers and choreographers earned a median hourly wage of $22.98 as of May 2018.
What Will You Learn About in an Online Bachelor’s of Music Degree Program?
Course offerings vary depending on the school and the focus of the program, whether that be the business of music, music education, music theory, or music production. Students looking to earn an online music degree will learn about all aspects of music, from music theory to music composition for video games and commercial jingles. While some online Bachelor’s in Music degrees focus on industry-related areas like the business of music and sound engineering, others involve mastering a family of instruments or a particular instrument. Regardless, undergraduates learn about orchestral music, hip-hop, world music, jazz, and other musical genres. Some programs may also offer courses in reading music, the history of music, and songwriting.
Since the music industry spans so many genres and occupations, many academic programs in this field allow students to specialize in a specific area. Common concentrations include songwriting, music education, music business, music production, and composition. Some common courses that one can expect in an online Bachelor’s in Music degree include:
- Basic Harmony
- Basic Ear Training
- History of Music
- Piano Techniques
- Music Theory
- Music Business
- Music Composition
Full-time students can generally earn their online music bachelor’s degree in four years, although some colleges may offer fast-track or accelerated options that allow students to graduate sooner. Most programs consist of 120 credits of coursework. Depending on the school and curriculum requirements, students may have to perform or audition as part of the application process, particularly for institutions or programs that focus on performance. Academic assessments may include requiring students to participate in a choir or ensemble or even perform solo. Other programs culminate in a musical capstone project involving a composition, recital, or thesis.
Are There Any Professional Organizations for Graduates With an Online Bachelor’s of Music Degree?
Whether one is a current college student or a recent graduate, it is important to consider joining a professional organization. Specifically, professional organizations in the music industry advocate for sound workers, music educators, musicians, and performers, ensuring that they are treated fairly by the industry. Some organizations perform outreach initiatives, offer scholastic or financial assistance to researchers, hold annual conferences, host job fairs and provide networking opportunities, or organize award ceremonies to honor those who have demonstrated excellence in the field. In general, professional music organizations serve as networking hubs and community-builders for experience music professionals and recent college graduates alike. Three of the most well-known professional organizations for musicians include the Society for American Music (SAM), the Recording Academy, and the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), the world’s largest union of musicians.
Although some may view an online bachelor’s degree in music as unpromising or useless, the truth is that this degree is vital to our society. In this rapidly evolving and competitive economy, music skills and knowledge should not be disregarded. After all, music plays a significant role in the creation of video games, advertisements, movies, and even psychological treatments. Regardless of the specific occupation you wish to pursue, whether that be a formal role as a producer or a nontraditional role as a self-employed freelancer, we hope that our list of the top 10 best affordable online bachelor’s in music degrees helps you to get started.
This concludes our ranking of the top 10 best affordable online bachelor’s of music degrees.
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