Guest post by Kate Samano, Content Editor from University of Florida School of Music
For students interested in pursuing a career in music, there can be some confusion about which degree is right for them. Many degrees sound the same but can be very different from each other. It’s important to understand these differences – arts or fine arts, music or music education – before making the decision to pursue a particular path.
Associate of Arts in Music
The Associate of Arts in Music degree can be a great introduction into the world of music. This degree program provides the foundation for students to continue music education. In combination with general education courses, students can expect coursework in:
- Creating electronic sound
- Ensemble performances
Bachelor of Music/Bachelor of Fine Arts
Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Fine Arts degree programs are practical and career-focused degrees designed to prepare students to become professional musicians. This is considered a professional degree, so students are not required to complete general education requirements. Students typically have a focus on a specific instrument or voice.
These programs usually have a rigorous music curriculum comprised of topics that range from:
- Advanced music theory
- Music literature
- Music study
Students that complete these degrees have the opportunity to pursue a Master of Music degree. A master’s program will be focused on performance, as it is designed for aspiring professional musicians.
Bachelor of Music Education
The Bachelor of Music Education degree is unique in that it combines general education, music and education requirements. This degree prepares students to teach music at the K-12 level as well as privately. As with most education degrees, there is usually a student teaching requirement which will prepare students for teaching licensing. A Bachelor of Music Education program typically cover these topics:
- Music history
- Music theory
- Child psychology
- Aural skills
Music teachers may also consider pursuing a Master of Music Education degree. This degree can often lead to a higher salary and increased career options in education. For working professionals, an online master’s degree in music education can offer the benefits of career advancement without putting one’s career on hold.
Bachelor of Arts in Music
Bachelor of Arts in Music programs touch on various aspects of music. This degree is considered a liberal arts degree and not a professional music degree. As a result, these degrees often lack a performance aspect.
Part of the coursework will also include liberal arts degree requirements such as typical general education classes and electives. This degree is geared toward students that would like to work in music but do not have education or performance aspirations. Some of the most common topics covered in these programs are:
- Baroque music history
- Modern music
Students can continue on this path with a Master of Arts in Music, which will touch on the same topics as their Bachelor of Arts counterparts but are usually more research focused and typically require a written thesis.
Bachelor of Science in Music
A Bachelor of Science in Music can expose students to a more technical aspect of music. The curriculum of this program is similar to that of the Bachelor of Arts. In addition to courses in music theory and history, students in B.S. programs will take courses in subjects like:
- Computer science
- Electrical engineering
There are multiple degree options for students interested in pursuing a career in music. The most important thing to consider when choosing a degree is to determine what type of music career is right for you. Once you’ve defined one, next is to understand what type of career your degree will lead you.