Music Technology Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Course Info

About this article
What will you learn in a music technology degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and a bachelor's degree and potential careers.
View available schools

Studying Music Technology: Degrees at a Glance

Music technology degree programs are designed to prepare you for music production and audio recording careers in areas such as television, theater, movies, multimedia and popular or classical music. If you complete a bachelor's degree program and earn a teaching certificate, you can also teach music at the grade school or high school level.

If your goal is to pursue a job as an audio or equipment technician, you'll probably find that an associate's degree is sufficient to qualify for the job. However, if your goal is more inline with producing or performing music, you'll likely find that an associate's degree is not enough. Some of these careers involve stiff competition as the glamor and excitement involved in the industry invites many. According to the BLS, careers for sound technicians and musicians are projected to grow 10% from 2010-2020, which is about average.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Those interested in entry-level jobs in the music or recording fields Individuals interested in leadership roles in the music or recording industry
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Sound engineering technician ($66,000)*
- Audio and video equipment technician ($50,000)*
- Music director ($64,000)*
- Multimedia producer ($115,000 - may not reflect entry-level salary)*
Time to Completion Two years full-time Four years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements None Some programs require an internship
Prerequisites - High school diploma or GED - High school diploma or GED
- Some programs require a musicianship entrance exam
Online Availability Yes Not at this time

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures)

Associate's Degree in Music Technology

In this style of program, you'll receive in-depth instruction in all of the latest cutting-edge software platforms for sound and audio manipulation. In addition to lab courses, most programs also feature some instruction in both musical history and music theory. The programs are offered in a variety of formats, including Associate of Applied Science and Associate of Art in Music Technology. Some programs feature a curriculum that makes it easier to transfer to a bachelor's degree program upon completing your associate's degree. Graduates with an associate's degree may compete with bachelor's degree holders for entry-level jobs.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Many programs are flexible, featuring online, evening and weekend course offerings
  • If you're attending school full-time, you can finish your studies in two years or less
  • These programs are offered at community colleges, which feature more affordable tuition than many other schools

Cons

  • May prepare you for a limited number of careers
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that many sound engineering technicians work evening and weekend hours due to deadlines and television station hours
  • The BLS also states that competition for jobs in these fields will be strong because the industry attracts many applicants

Courses and Requirements

The curriculum of this type of program is generally divided between didactic classroom instruction and practical lab-based courses. Your lab courses will allow you to practice with the latest digital recording tools and equipment. In addition to your core music courses, you'll most likely have to complete math and English courses. Below are some sample courses you'll take.

  • Pro Tools
  • Musical notation
  • Digital recording
  • Entertainment law
  • Film sound design

Online Availability

Music technology associate's degree programs are available completely online and in hybrid formats, which utilize classroom lectures in conjunction with distance-learning courses. When reviewing potential online programs, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. If you plan to transfer your associate's degree credits to a 4-year school, you'll want to make sure that the online program is accredited and the credits will transfer.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Due to the technological focus of these programs, it may be difficult to find a technological edge to separate yourself from the pack. After all, you'll already be mastering a lot of new technology as part of your degree program. One course of action you might want to pursue is an internship. Because internships are not commonly offered in 2-year programs, you might explore the internship possibilities of your local radio and television stations or even a local theater or playhouse. It might provide the difference that allows you to stand out.

Bachelor's Degree in Music Technology

While the bachelor's degree program in music technology is similar to the associate's degree in several ways, one key difference is that these programs provide an education in making music as well as using technology to record, alter, amplify or modify music. Students receive a thorough training in composing and performing music in a variety of formats.

Many programs feature a course of study in which the first two years are spent learning to read music, in addition to receiving aural training. The study of musical composition and history helps to flesh out this study. The second two years are spent mastering the technology behind audio production. Even with a bachelor's degree, professionals in the field will still need to stay up-to-date in the latest technological developments in the field.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Some programs feature an internship requirement, providing you with valuable professional experience
  • Your studies will be dual-focused, concentrating on technical production aspects along with learning how to make music
  • Upon graduating, you'll be poised to pursue graduate studies in music or audio production

Cons

  • Depending on your vocational objectives, you may not need a bachelor's degree to secure a job
  • The ever-changing face of technology means that you'll most likely have to keep abreast of new developments in your field or risk falling behind
  • In some cases, you may be competing for jobs with individuals who have less education but more experience

Courses and Requirements

In addition to your technology coursework, you'll also participate in musical ensembles and receive individual musical instruction in an instrument or voice. Some general education electives will also be required. Other degree requirements may include an internship and/or practicum. Below are some musical concepts and topics that you may encounter.

  • Music theory
  • Sound reinforcement
  • Electronics and electricity
  • Commercial arranging
  • Piano training
  • Live music recording

Online Courses and Programs

Because of the performance element of a bachelor's degree program in music technology, online programs do not exist. You can find online programs in related fields, such as music education, production or business. Also, there are master's degree programs in music technology available online. These online master's degree programs require that you already have a bachelor's degree in music technology or a related field.

Stand Out with This Degree

Some of your coursework will be spent learning how to develop your own programs and software for audio recording and manipulation. With this in mind, it may be beneficial to learn as much about programming languages as you can, and not just music programs, but any and all kinds of computer programs. The further ahead you are in this area, the more likely that your achievements will be noticed.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. General Studies - Fine Arts
      • A.S. General Studies - Fine Arts
  • Marysville, CA

    Yuba College

  • York, PA

    York College of Pennsylvania

  • Rock Springs, WY

    Western Wyoming Community College

  • Altus, OK

    Western Oklahoma State College

  • Milwaukee, WI

    Milwaukee Area Technical College

  • Carson City, NV

    Western Nevada College

  • Scottsbluff, NE

    Western Nebraska Community College

  • Saratoga, CA

    West Valley College

  • Culver City, CA

    West Los Angeles College

Featured Schools

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. General Studies - Fine Arts

What is your highest level of education?

Yuba College

York College of Pennsylvania

Western Wyoming Community College

Western Oklahoma State College

Western Nevada College

Western Nebraska Community College