Music Degrees: The Different Levels of Education Post High School

So, you know that you want a career that is music related. In fact, you have even enrolled in a high school with a performing arts program so you can ensure your acceptance into one of the best colleges for music.

That said, you probably haven’t really given much thought to the actual degree you will be getting once enrolled in a music college. In fact, you may not even know what your options are.

Sure, you know that you can get a bachelor’s degree after attending university for four years. But what you may not know is that there are additional options available that may be better suited for your career aspirations.

Take a look at some of the most common music degrees you can get once you graduate high school so you can be best prepared when signing up for your college level performing arts courses.

1. Bachelor’s of Arts (BA)

This degree is perhaps the most well-known and common at the university level. It combines a well-rounded liberal arts education with a focus on music appreciation and other music related courses.

It does not bode well for those that want to work strictly in music, as most credits earned are related to liberal arts courses such as the humanities and social sciences, as well as creative arts, which include music.

2. Master’s of Arts (MA)

This is the next step up after receiving a Bachelor’s of Arts degree. Courses are more intensive and require more academic research and knowledge, though graduating with an MA with a focus on music is still relatively easy to do.

Again, for those who want careers that are in the music industry, this may not be the best option.

3. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The PhD is a degree that is typically reserved for those wanting to further their music career in a non-performing aspect. For example, you may receive your PhD in Composition, Theory, or Musicology.

This degree requires a written thesis and helps those looking to teach at the university level. It is also great for those wanting to attain one of the highest levels of education possible related to music.

4. Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

This degree is very similar to the Doctor of Philosophy, yet it has one major difference. Rather than submit a written thesis that is thoroughly researched and presented before a board for approval, the DMA requires musicians to submit a creative portfolio demonstrating their expertise.

For example, you may compose a large-scale original work, conduct a full recital, or create an album of original work that is set for public release.

5. Master of Music (MM or MMus)

Not to be confused with a Master’s of Arts degree, the Master of Music degree is like a scaled down Bachelor’s degree (in terms of course load) yet it still gives you the authority to practice music beyond that of what a traditional Bachelor’s degree will.

A Master of Music is great for those who want to take music intensive courses and forgo many of the liberal arts classes required to attain a Bachelor’s or Masters of Art degree.

6. Bachelor’s of Music (BM or BMus)

Again, not to be confused with a traditional Bachelor’s of Arts degree, the Bachelor’s of Music degree is designed to give students a music intensive degree without excessive liberal arts courses such as English and social studies.

This degree is perfect for those seeking careers as classical performers, composers, jazz performers, and singer-songwriters.

Altogether, if you are serious about getting your education in music after graduating high school, it is important you decide what your short and long-term goals are so you enroll in the right degree program.

After all, there are many to choose from and getting the wrong degree will not help you achieve your music dreams.

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