In this ranking, we examine the best value colleges for an online music degree.

There aren’t a ton of music degrees available online, and it’s not hard to understand why. Traditional music programs typically focus on musical performance and instrumentation, so it is much easier for students to learn when they can sing, play, and practice their lessons while they are sitting in the room with the instructor. That’s not to say that options aren’t available online, though! The list may be small, but it is also varied. Below you will find programs in everything from sound design and music production to music education and worship arts. Because the selection is limited,* we have also opted to include both undergraduate and graduate online music degrees.

Academy of Art University Best online music degree

The Academy of Art University offers a music education in sound and production rather than performance and composition, making it one of the best online music degrees for a nontraditional approach.

6. Academy of Art University

Online Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Degree in Music Production and Sound

Website
The Academy of Art University’s online music degree is definitely a departure from the norm. Instead of concentrating on performance or composition, this BFA curriculum emphasizes production and sound design. You’ll still learn about traditional musical elements like harmony and orchestration, but additional training in mixing techniques, editing, and sound track compilation will give you an edge in the industry. The academy also offers several other affordable music degrees online. BFA programs in Sound Design and Music Scoring & Composition provide slightly different – but still industry-relevant – skills for music professionals.
Tuition: $18,050/yr

Judson College Best online music degree

Judson College is a traditional Christian school offering an affordable online music degree program for women.

5. Judson College

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Music

Website
Judson College is dedicated exclusively to women’s education – and has been for almost 200 years! A private, Christian institution, Judson’s traditional values support an “academically engaging and emotionally supportive environment” for young women. The college’s music program is equally traditional, featuring world-class training for serious vocalists and instrumentalists. Students have the opportunity to join on-campus musical groups – including the Judson Singers or FAITH Ensemble – and even go on annual tours throughout the Southeast. This might not seem like the type of program that is easily adaptable to distance education, but Judson would beg to differ. The school’s affordable online music degree is one of several options available to students who can’t regularly travel to campus.
Tuition: $14,460/yr

Full Sail University Best online music degree

Full Sail University offers an online music degree that is perfect for those who want to work behind the scenes in the music industry.

4. Full Sail University

Online Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Production

Website
Not everyone is cut out for the main stage – and in fact, not everyone wants to be on it! If you have an interest in music and the entertainment industry but don’t see yourself grabbing a mic, all is not lost. There are plenty of other jobs available that will get you behind the scenes and close to the action, and all it takes is a bachelor’s degree from the right college. Full Sail University is one such college, and its B.S. in Music Production offers an important mix of business training, musical know-how, and technical expertise. And Full Sail goes a step beyond the basic online music degree by providing four specialization options. Music Theory, Marketing, Composition, and Engineering concentrations let you customize your curriculum in a way that is pertinent to your future goals.
Tuition: $20,907/yr

University of Dayton Best online music degree

Although the University of Dayton may not be low in cost, the focus on exceptional academic quality nonetheless makes it a a smart choice for students seeking a music degree online.

3. University of Dayton

Online Graduate Program in Music Education

Website
As one of just two graduate programs in this online music degree ranking, the University of Dayton’s Music Education major is distinct in several ways. Its tuition rate is much higher than the other schools we’ve listed, but the academic quality it offers more than balances the scales. The 30-hour program offers the bridge training that young educators need to earn their certification as a licensed music teacher. Most courses don’t focus primarily on musical composition and performance. Instead, they cover specific didactic principles that are useful in the classroom, such as conducting and rehearsal techniques, teaching world music, and current issues in education.
Tuition: $31,640/yr

University of South Dakota Best online music degree

The University of South Dakota’s cheap music degree online is rich in concentration options.

2. University of South Dakota

Online Master’s Degree in Music Education

Website
For a comprehensive music degree online that won’t break the bank, take a look at the University of South Dakota. Affordable Midwestern living helps keep costs down, while an extensive distance learning network ensures nationwide access to the in-demand musical training the program offers. In addition to degree completion options, students can choose from specializations in Music History, Music Education, the History of Musical Instruments, and of course, Music Performance. Students who enroll in this accredited music degree online can challenge themselves even further by pursuing a concentration in Collaborative Piano or Conducting, or by earning a supplementary certification in Piano.
Tuition: $9,408/yr

Laurel University Best online music degree

Laurel University is #1 on this music degree online ranking for its ability to keep costs low without compromising student success.

1. Laurel University

Online Bachelor of Arts in Ministry: Worship Arts

Website
It’s not surprising that a Christian college is home to the best online music degree in the country. Because of their emphasis on worship and praise, religious universities more often count programs in Worship Arts and Christian Music among the list of majors they offer. True to form, Laurel University’s B.A. in Ministry includes a concentration option in Worship Arts. Coursework within this concentration emphasizes “relevant music” that will equip graduates to apply their training to work in church services, youth groups, and other hands-on ministry opportunities. Interestingly, Laurel’s ministry program even allows students to choose specializations within their concentration. Beyond the worship arts, you can narrow your studies to focus specifically on Music Theory, Orchestration, Hymnology, or Music Tech.
Tuition: $8,890/yr

This concludes our ranking of the top 10 values in online music degree programs.

*Our ranking methodology assigns a score to each college relative to all other schools that offer a particular degree program — a method that works best when the original selection is of a decent size and we can stretch the scores from 0-100 across a wider range of schools. When the original selection is very small, the scoring system tries to adjust accordingly. This can sometimes cause perfectly decent schools to earn low point totals, misleading readers on the quality of the degree programs. In these circumstances we may omit total scores entirely, inviting you instead to focus on the colleges’ ranking position out of 10 (or 6, as the case may be) and to remember that these are ALL “best college values.”

See our methodology page for more information about how we calculated this ranking.

Sources:
College Navigator

Other Online Program Rankings:

By CVO Staff
February 2016