Those who pursue a degree in music are often in a much different place than others who are considering a degree in other disciplines. Likely you have spent countless hours practicing, going to rehearsals, recitals, and performing. You've already displayed a dedication to your craft through your time and hard work and have now decided to make doing what you love to do a career by pursuing an online degree. Many choose an online degree for its flexibility – for the ability to get an education but to schedule that education around other obligations, such as a job or a family. You are ready to make the leap, so now what?
The first, and one of the most important steps, is to pick a school. Surprisingly, choosing an online school is very similar to choosing a brick-and-mortar school. The most important thing is to ensure that the school you are researching is accredited. Accrediting assures that the credits you earn are transferable and that the program itself meets the standards set by the US Department of Education. Next, talk to a representative of the school to get an idea of the culture and the programs. Then, "tour" the school by going to the website and getting an idea of the structure of the online classroom environment.
Even though you are choosing an online program, it will be beneficial to you to choose a school that is physically located near you. Although the classes are online, most programs require that you attend on-campus recitals, auditions, or performances. Many also require you to perform with local ensembles. There are some online schools that allow you to work with local musicians or submit recordings or videos of your performances; this may turn out to be more difficult than simply choosing to take online courses at a school close to you.
Finally, you'll need to determine the level of education you'd like to receive. Online programs offer everything from certifications to master's degrees. If you are planning to use your degree toward a full-time career in the music field as a classical musician, likely you will need at least a bachelor's degree. If teaching music is your goal, you will also need at least a bachelor's degree, although a master's is preferable. If you wish to teach music at a college or university, you will likely need a master's degree or a doctorate.
An online degree in music studies is a great alternative for those whose schedule or situation would otherwise make a degree program very difficult or impossible. Even if you do have to attend some auditions and performances at the school's physical location, the schedule is still much more flexible than traditional classes. You can participate in an online program and end up with a quality degree that will help you accomplish your career goals.