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How do I get a Master's Degree in Music?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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To receive a master’s degree in music you will need to complete work to earn a bachelor’s degree in music or a related field, and then complete the necessary coursework for a master’s degree. You should consider where you will want to complete your master’s coursework while you finish your bachelor’s degree, as the process to be admitted into a graduate program can take some time. It can also be helpful to consider an area of specialization or a focus you would like to pursue. You will also likely have to complete some form of research or recital to earn your master’s degree in music.

A master’s degree in music typically takes one of two forms, and there can also be specific focuses and variations within these two types. You can receive a Master of Music (MM) which is a degree that focuses heavily on performance and understanding of musical theory and pedagogy, or a Master of Arts (MA) in music or a similar field. For either type of master’s degree in music you will likely have to complete a bachelor’s degree first, typically in music, performing arts, or a related field.

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While working on your bachelor’s degree you will need to apply to graduate schools to be admitted and pursue your master’s degree in music. You may need to take some tests such as the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), though this is not always mandatory. You should consider three or more professors and musicians who could provide you with letters of recommendation. It is often best to apply early to graduate programs to ensure you can be admitted in a timely manner to pursue your degree.

The MM degree is typically a two- or three-year program and focuses heavily on musical theory and performance. Many schools offer a number of focus areas for this type of master’s degree, such as conducting, piano performance and pedagogy, music history, and composition. To complete an MM program you will likely need to arrange either some type of research project, such as a master’s thesis, or a performance to demonstrate what you have learned.

An MA degree is a master’s degree in music that can also focus on musical performance and theory, but can also be earned toward getting a doctorate for music education. If you want to teach music, for example, then you might consider receiving an MA in music education. You will likely need to complete either an extensive research project or a performance to demonstrate your knowledge and mastery of music.

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