The fields of art and music are extremely diverse, even though there are plenty of people who aren’t clear on how these degrees can be applied professionally. Art encompasses graphic design, photography, game design, print, illustrations, creative writing, and so much more. Music, too, has a very broad scope. Music is the universal language, people flock to it every day, and there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes in the music industry than meets the eye. Music and art therapy degrees thrive on a strong foundation of relative courses, there are careers in education, sound engineering, photography, and so much more. As pop culture continues to grow and change, the career options that allow people to make their contributions will also continue to adapt. Because this is such a broad academic discipline, it can be overwhelming to just consider your degree options.
Art and music colleges offer programs are difficult to translate into online degrees because so many of them are hands-on or have supplementary activities on campus that students are required to participate in. However, there are several universities who have succeeded in creating degree tracks in art and music that students can complete online, in a variety of specific disciplines. The colleges and universities in this ranking have innovated the way that students can pursue their passions. The schools you’ll read about below have created rigorous programs that challenge students to succeed, and offer courses that add depth to their skills in a way that is relevant to their interests and applicable in a professional setting. It’s certain that these new options benefit those students who want to obtain their degree without disrupting their lives or putting their career and family on hold, but that’s just the first step in making these degrees more accessible. Generally speaking, art schools are among the most expensive institutions of higher learning across America. That is why we’ve created this ranking, which features high-quality art and music programs online that are also affordable.
The colleges and universities you’ll read in this ranking are the top 20 cheapest colleges for art and music degrees. If you’re interested in an online education that is high-quality and affordable but you aren’t interested in a degree in art or music, you can check out the Top 100 Best Online Colleges of 2018 instead.
For the creation of this ranking, we gathered a list of all of the schools offering online programs in art and music, whether that was through programs presented entirely online or in a blended format that required classes both online and on-campus. All of the art and music colleges on this list are based in the United States and fully accredited. None of the schools in this article are for-profit institutions, nor have we given any preferential treatment that affects a school’s standing.
The list presented to you below has been ranked according to the annual Net Price as presented by Niche.com, which accounts for 100% of the final placement of each school. The cost of attendance associated with each school in this ranking is representative of the average cost reported by each college after financial aid. Additional information presented about the schools was gathered from the school’s website whenever possible. The online databases of U.S. News & World Report and the National Center for Education Statistics were also consulted.
Top 20 Most Affordable Art Colleges and Music Colleges
20: Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
The Edinboro University of Pennsylvania is a public university located in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. It was founded as Edinboro Academy in 1857, making it the second oldest institution of higher education in the state. At that time, it functioned as a normal school and the first class was just 100 students. The focus of the school shifted in the mid-1900’s, which led to it finally becoming a four-year institution in 1960, and then earning its university status in 1983. It is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. There are just over 6,000 programs at Edinboro, which confers degrees at the associates, bachelors, masters, and doctorate levels through over 100 different programs. One of their most extensive departments is their art department, which offers a total of six degree programs and 14 different areas of specialization. Edinboro is also highly regarded for its comprehensive support programs for disabled students.
The two online programs that earned Edinboro’s place in this article are all graduate level degrees; students have the choice of a Master of Arts in Counseling in Art Therapy or a Master of Arts in Art Education. All of the coursework can be completed entirely online but the programs do have on-campus opportunities for those of you who live within a reasonable proximity to the campus. The art therapy program and the art education program are both designed to prepare graduates for certification or licensure. These are 60-credit programs that require you to complete a thesis and an internship in order to graduate. The art education program will cover courses in Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Curriculum Development, and several research courses, among others. The art therapy program is nationally ranked for its quality and value. Courses you would encounter as a student of this program explore the history, theory, trends, and ethics in art therapy as well as diagnosis and assessment, and human development. The counseling degree will require counseling practicum.
School Website: https://www.edinboro.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $14,323
19: University of West Georgia
The University of West Georgia is a public university in Carrollton, Georgia. In addition to the main campus, there are satellite locations in Newnan, Atlanta, and Douglasville. The university was founded in 1906 as an agricultural and mechanical school so that the people in that rural area would have access to an education that was obtainable and something that they could use. Adult education and career-oriented programs were added to the curriculum which caused the shift to a two-year college called West Georgia College in 1933; this shift led to its subsequent accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Now the university has grown to encompass the College of Science and Mathematics; the Richards College of Business; the Tanner Health System School of Nursing; the College of Social Sciences; the College of Education; the College of Arts and Humanities and; the Honors College. There are over 13,000 students enrolled and a large alumni network. Some big names that passed through the university include Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Grammy-winning musician Zac Brown.
UWG offers a fully-online Master of Music in Music Education that graduates can use to enter the professional realm of music or continue at the doctorate level. This is a 30-credit program that features asynchronous courses so that you can work in your classes when it works for you. The core curriculum covers Music History and Literature and Music Theory to add depth to your understanding of music as a whole; classes like Factors of Musical Learning will help you to gain an understanding in how to apply educational theories and principals to a music curriculum. A thesis is a required component of this program, which also allows for up to nine elective credits. The courses available as electives are incredibly diverse, which allows students of the program to truly zero in on what matters to them and what skills they would like to cultivate in preparation for their next step in the field. Music theory, music composition, music technology, and more are among the course offerings.
School Website: https://www.westga.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $14,285
18: Southern Utah University
Southern Utah University is a public university in Cedar City, Utah. It was first founded in 1897 as a normal school but changed its focus to agriculture in 1913, changing the name both times accordingly. It became the College of Southern Utah in 1953 to reflect the immense expansion in academic offering as well as the increase in quality and enrollment. From there, the process of it becoming Southern Utah University took less than two decades. The university is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. 9,299 students attend the university, which is divided into six different colleges and schools. In total, there are 85 different undergraduate programs and eight graduate programs. SUU performs well in several different rankings, but it is especially notable that The Princeton Review has ranked the university as a Best Value College for several consecutive years, and it has also been declared one of America’s Best College Buys two times by Consumer Digest.
Southern Utah University offers a Master of Music Education that features electives in independent study, graduate-level education, arts administration, and music technology to make it even more flexible for their students. Cohorts are admitted in the summer, beginning with a three-week on-campus session. This degree is open to applicants that are already working as music teachers, and the course schedule is designed accordingly so that it doesn’t interfere with work. Over a third of the program consists of elective that you can choose; this is done with the goal of helping you to not only grow as an educator but also as an artist. The Master in Music Technology program is 100% online so that you would never have to go to campus. You can opt to specialize in Performance Technology or Studio Technology and may be eligible to enroll regardless of what your undergraduate major was. Digital music notation, audio recording, and concert production are classes you may encounter, laying a very practical framework for you to build on with your selected emphasis and electives.
School Website: https://www.suu.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $14,024
17: The University of Montana
The University of Montana is a public research university in Missoula, Montana and is the flagship of the Montana University System. It traces its root back before Montana even received its statehood, with an act of Congress authorizing the university in 1881. It was officially founded in 1893 and then opened for enrollment in 1895. UM ranks nationally for its production of Rhodes Scholars, totaling 28. Also affiliated with the university are 11 Truman Scholars, 14 Goldwater Scholars, and 40 Udall Scholars. Alumni of the university have gone on to excel in sports, academia, writing, and the entertainment industry. Jeannette Rankin, the first woman to be elected to the US House of Representatives also attended the university. It is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and holds an additional eight programmatic accreditations in different fields. Degrees and certificates are available at all academic levels and are conferred through 11 colleges and schools.
The University of Montana is the first school on this list to offer undergraduate programs, which are a Bachelor of Arts in Media Arts and a Bachelor of Arts. Students of the Arts program will explore a range of topics in arts such as film, paint, web production, and more. The Media Arts program was the first fully-online undergraduate offering at the university, and it allows students to get a fundamental education in media. Courses that are part of this program introduce students to photoshop, web design, coding, film editing, and more. The Media Arts program could easily be used in your pursuit of a double major if you should need one. Both of these undergraduate programs are incredibly broad, which is ideal for any student wanting to take their first steps in a field as diverse as art. Students that have surpassed that first step may be interested in exploring the online Master of Music in Music Education. This degree combines theory, practice, and proficiency in an instrument into one comprehensive program.
School Website: http://www.umt.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $13,894
16: Arizona State University
Arizona State University is a public research university that is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. ASU is among the largest universities in the country, has been named the most innovative school in America for the past three consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report, and also has the highest designation awarded by the Carnegie Foundation as an R1 research institution. The university was founded in 1885 as a normal school and the primary programmatic offerings at the school centered on teacher training until 1945. By 1958, it was granted university status. The Higher Learning Commission accredits the university, including the 16 major academic divisions it houses. There are more than 350 programs of study to choose from at the undergraduate, graduate, and certificate levels. ASU also has extensive opportunities in online education. About three-quarters of the 51,869 are taking at least part of their courses online.
Arizona State University is extremely dedicated to providing students with a quality, relevant degree program that they can access in a way that is convenient for them. Courses are just 7.5 weeks in length, completely asynchronous, and among some of the most affordable across America. The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts is the largest comprehensive design and arts school in the country, nationally ranked among fine arts schools. If you’d like to take part in an exemplary degree program that was designed to fit your needs, ASU has a Bachelors in Art History, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art in Digital Photography, and a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media Studies. The Art History offering includes courses that will help you understand the evolution of art beginning in prehistoric times, and understand the way art has shaped several different cultures around the globe. Even the Photography program is something that can be individualized through optional courses in mass communication, social media, and photo editing.
School Website: https://www.asu.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $13,007
15: Florida International University
Florida International University is a public research university in Miami, Florida. It was founded in 1965, more than 20 years after a bill first proposed the establishment of a public institution of higher education to serve South Florida. When classes began in 1972, the initial enrollment was the highest out of any university at the time totaling 5,667 students. Now there are over 55,000 students that attend the university, which is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Florida International University is among the top five largest universities in the nation by enrollment. There are 23 colleges and schools in the university, which offers close to 200 different programs of study. Undergraduates have the choice of nearly 300 majors; at the graduate level, there are 81 masters degrees and 34 doctorate degrees. U.S. News & World Report has ranked a number of the programs at FIU and has previously recognized the university as a “best buy” in higher education.
Florida International University online offers a Master of Science in Music Education that includes both a personal focus and a capstone project, allowing students to maximize their time in graduate school by exposing themselves to new skills in the areas that are meaningful to them. This is a 30-credit program that accepts students twice a year, in the fall and spring. The coursework is entirely online and asynchronous, which allows students to work at their own pace. This is critical because many people who are pursuing this type of degree may have already started their teaching career. If you have more time to dedicate to the program, you can complete it in as little as 18 months. Throughout the program, you will learn about curricular theories and psychology while simultaneously strengthening your relationship with the theory of music, and understanding more of its history.
School Website: https://www.fiu.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $12,966
14: East Carolina University
East Carolina University is a sea-grant public research university in Greenville, North Carolina. ECU was founded in 1907 as a teacher training school but became a college in 1948, then a university in 1967. Previously, it operated under several other names which were East Carolina Teachers Training School, East Carolina Teachers College, and East Carolina College. There are 102 bachelors programs, 76 masters programs, 16 doctorate programs, and a small selection of certificate and professional degree programs as well. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges accredits the university, which has also received field-specific accreditation from 11 other organizations. ECU serves almost 30,000 students, and over a third of those students are earning their degrees entirely online. A number of websites and publications, including Forbes have nationally recognized the university for its value.
East Carolina University offers distance-learning students a Master of Music in Music Education. There are several different tracks of specialization that are part of the program but there is only one that is 100% online, which is the emphasis in Pedagogical Studies. The other cognates, which are Choral Conducting, Instrumental Conducting, Performance, Music Theory/Composition, Suzuki Pedagogy, and Music Therapy, all require a residency. Even with those programs, they are considered to be predominantly online and any face-to-face requirements are designed so that your life can continue as normally as possible. ECU’s School of Music is fully-accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music and the American Music Therapy Association.
School Website: https://www.ecu.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $12,817
13: Valley City State University
Valley City State University is a public institution of higher education that operates as part of the North Dakota University System. It’s located in Valley City, North Dakota but due to its extensive distance-education programs, 68% of the student body are online learners. 99% of the school’s graduate-level students are enrolled entirely in online courses. That rate of online students is impressive; however, there are less than 1,500 students enrolled at all. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. When it was founded in 1890, it was a two-year teachers’ college but now has grown to offer more than 80 different degree programs. The majority of the programs are at the undergraduate level. Despite its small size, VCSU prides itself on providing students with an extremely innovative education. Laptops are issued to full-time students, there is a wireless network that is campus-wide, also on the campus you’ll find several smart classrooms.
Valley City State University is a national leader in providing online music education to students from all backgrounds. You can choose to complete a degree that you started, enroll in a program that’s brand new, and study according to a schedule that you can manage. The online music degree that you can earn at VCSU is your choice of either a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts. Students are admitted to the program two times a year and have the advantage of 100% online coursework. Any ensembles can be taken in Valley City on campus or at an approved institution near you so that the credits can be transferred. The core of the program includes Music Theory, Aural Skills, Conducting, Scoring and Arranging, and of course, Music History. There are 12 elective credits required which you can use to start working on a specialization or in preparation for your capstone project.
School Website: https://www.vcsu.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $12,073
12: Stephen F. Austin State University
Stephen F. Austin State University is a public university located in Nacogdoches, Texas. It is one of just four independent public universities in the state, meaning that it has no affiliation with any of the university systems. SFA is made up of the Nelson Rusche College of Business; the James I. Perkins College of Education; the College of Fine Arts; the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture; the College Liberal and Applied Arts; the College of Sciences and Mathematics and; the Richard and Lucille Dewitt School of Nursing. There are more than 100 different programs of study for students to choose from; the 12,742 students come from 46 states across the US and almost 50 countries worldwide. 41% of the students are taking advantage of online courses offered at SFA, and 21% of students are earning their degree entirely at a distance. The university received its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges in 1927, just six years after it was established. Eleven graduates of the university went on to have incredibly prominent careers in the fields of art and music; Will Jennings is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has won four Grammy awards, three Golden Globes, and two Academy Awards. He has written 22 hit songs, including the iconic Celine Dion track “My Heart Will Go On.”
Stephen F. Austin State University provides their online classes through SFA Online, and there are a variety of degree programs available as well as individual courses for traditional students to supplement their degrees. The School of Music has partnered with SFA Online to offer a Master of Music in Music Education and a Master of Music in Theory and Composition. The university has worked to help make the degrees easily customizable as well. The Music Education degree offers the following concentrations: choral, elementary/general music, and instrumental. Additionally, you have the choice of whether you would like to complete a thesis or non-thesis track. The Master of Music in Theory and Composition can be completed with the dual focus, or you can select theory or composition but the program requires a thesis regardless of what your selection is. Both of the programs are 100% online and consist of 30 credits.
School Website: http://www.sfasu.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $11,987
11: University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi is a public research university in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The university, colloquially known as Southern Miss, was founded in 1910. In less than a century the small Mississippi Normal College grew into the University of Southern Mississippi. Southern Miss is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges and has a selection of close to 200 different programs of study. There were six main academic divisions of the university up until 2017; at that point, the university began the process to reorganize into just four divisions which are the College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Business and Economic Development; the College of Education and Human Services and; the College of Nursing and Health. The fine arts programs at Southern Miss encompass art, dance, music, and theater. They are regarded as some of the most comprehensive in the region.
Southern Miss has a Master of Music in Music Education or MME that is entirely online and incredibly affordable. The degree track has been designed for working professionals and is even military friendly. Southern Miss says that this program brings the classroom to you, simply adding college to the life you have instead of getting in the way. Some optional courses require a two-week intensive residency on campus but they are always scheduled at the end of June, which is perfect for any of you who are already working in education. The program can be completed in as little as 18 months and won’t require a thesis; any proctored exams can be taken at a proctoring site that is local to you. You must have a teaching license in your state to participate in the program and it is preferred that you have experience teaching. You will take classes in research and curriculum development, as well as 21 hours of music electives.
School Website: https://home.usm.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $11,916
10: Wayne State University
Wayne State University is a public research university in Detroit, Michigan. Its oldest precursor was founded in 1868. Wayne State University came together over several years as a result of different mergers. Wayne State University became the name of the institution as a whole in 1956, WSU has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1915. There are almost 30,000 students in attendance which places the school among the top three largest schools in Michigan. There are close to 350 different programs of study from which students can choose at the bachelors, masters, and doctorate levels. U.S. News & World Report has recognized the university in several of its national and global rankings; in law, nursing, social work, industrial engineering, chemistry, and medical research, WSU is among the top 100. One of the things that the university is most known for is its extensive opportunities to study abroad; there are more than 20 different programs, including studies in art and theater.
The Master of Arts in Theatre and Dance (Teaching Artistry) is what Wayne State University offers to distance-learning students. There are three start dates in the fall, winter, and spring semesters. The program is part-time and takes typically three years to complete. You can complete this degree track on a hybrid basis but it is offered entirely online as well. You also have the option to complete a thesis or just an essay at the culmination of the coursework. The courses in this degree program cover the pedagogical foundations of teaching artistry, as well as methods of research and professional practice so that graduate of the program can engage and educate others effectively. Specialization in theater, dance, or another related field accounts for 15 or more of the credits required. Other classes that are part of the core curriculum include Art and Human Development, and Artistic Praxis. The program is 32 credits and is generally a part-time program, but there may be full-time options for students who are motivated to complete it faster.
School Website: https://www.wayne.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $11,910
9: The Baptist College of Florida
The Baptist College of Florida in a private Christian college in Graceville, Florida. The college was formed in 1943 to serve the young people that needed seminary training but didn’t have college degrees. The first proper college degree programs were added to the curriculum in 1976, officially marking the institution as a college. It got accredited in 1981 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Throughout the 90’s, the programmatic offerings exploded. Subjects such as education, counseling, and leadership were added to soon be followed by degrees in business, history, and several others. Now there are options at the associates, bachelors, and masters level, all of which can be completed entirely online. The Baptist College has less than 500 students and roughly half of them study online.
The Baptist College of Florida may not be your first guess when you’re considering great schools for art and music, but it actually offers more options than many other schools, because the majority are undergraduate programs. It doesn’t matter if you have no basis in music yet, you can enroll into any of their online undergrad programs in music, which include an associates and bachelors degree in music, as well as Bachelors of Music in Worship Leadership. If you’re someone looking for the next step in your career and you want to keep your faith a central part of that, you could also check out the Master of Arts in Music and Worship Leadership. Every course that BCF offers can be completed entirely online, so you will have no problems finding electives that matter to you that you can take at a distance. Most of the courses are provided asynchronously, with very few synchronous requirements in select courses.
School Website: http://www.baptistcollege.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $11,831
8: Northwestern State University of Louisiana
The Northwestern State University of Louisiana is the proper name of the public university that is typically referred to as NSU. It is located in Natchitoches, Louisiana but has additional locations in Fort Polk, Shreveport, and Alexandria. The university was founded in 1884 as a normal school called the Louisiana State Normal School. Its one-track purpose didn’t hinder it later on, though. As it expanded, NSU became the first university in Louisiana to offer degrees in nursing and business, it also offered the state’s first masters degree. Just less than 10,000 students are enrolled at the university, which offers more than 50 programs of study; degrees are conferred at every level of academic achievement. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges accredits the institution and so does the National Association of Schools of Music, Commission on Accreditation.
eNSU Global Campus at the Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers a straightforward Master of Arts in Art, the Study of Fine & Graphic Arts. This degree program is one that allows anyone aspiring to have a fulfilling and successful career in the arts to cover all of their bases. It combines rigorous academic study with hands-on art production and curating your portfolio. The Mrs. H. D. Dear, Sr. and Alice Estelle Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts has been recognized as an Area of Excellence by the Louisiana State Board of Regents and is fully-accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. There is a residency requirement with this degree program; however, students can choose to complete that by spending the first semester of the program on campus or through the participation in two three-week-long summer sessions throughout the course of their study. Concentrations available online are design, photography, and new media, which allow students to complete 27 out of the 33 required credits at a distance.
School Website: https://www.nsula.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $11,567
7: University of South Florida
The University of South Florida is a space-grant public research university located in Tampa, Florida. The university, often abbreviated to USF, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. It’s one of the largest schools in the country based on its enrollment, which exceeds 40,000. Its size is just one notable thing about the university; it ranks worldwide for its number of patents, and research spending, and is one of the top 100 public schools as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. It was founded in 1956, which also sets it apart as the first independent public university conceived, planned, and established in the 20th century. There are 14 colleges and schools that comprise the university, through which there are more than 200 programs of study to choose from. Alumni of the university have made great contributions in literature, music, and entertainment. Some of the most notable individuals are Philip DeFranco, the beloved comedian Gallagher, Kissy Simmons from the Broadway production of The Lion King, and mystery novelist Ann Turner Cook. You may be more familiar with Ms. Cook’s modeling work because she is the Gerber Baby.
USF offers just one online program in this field and it is a Master of Arts in Music Education. There is one on-campus requirement for the program and it is part of the Learner-Centered Approaches in Music Education. This is a unique offering that sets the stage for the rest of the curriculum, and it consists of several weeks of work online and then a week-long face-to-face intensive where you can apply everything you learned in practice. The purpose is to allow students to work in small groups solving music problems and creating music together. The practical element of this class teaches students techniques in recording, mixing, and producing music. Distance courses will cover research, literature, and history. Nine elective credits are dedicated to your area of interest, and one course option even includes a summer internship in London, England. This program is one that is incredibly comprehensive and provides students with incredible opportunities as they prepare to pass on everything that they have learned to the next generation of aspiring musicians.
School Website: http://www.usf.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $11,398
6: West Virginia University
West Virginia University is a public land- and space-grant research university located in Morgantown, West Virginia. It is the flagship institution of the West Virginia University System and operates additional locations in Beckley, Keyser, and Charleston as well as extension centers in each county. WVU is an incredibly large university that serves almost 30,000 students. There are 15 colleges and schools that comprise the university and provide a combined 191 degree programs at the bachelors, masters, and doctorate level. The university was founded in 1867 thanks to the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862; when it opened, it was the Agricultural College of West Virginia but the name changed to West Virginia University just a year later. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and 11 other field-specific accrediting bodies. This R1 university is home to cutting-edge research institutes in biometry, neuroscience, and more. The university has produced some incredible alumni, some big names include Katherine Johnson, Billy Mays, Don Knotts, and more.
West Virginia University has an online Master of Arts in Music Industry, which respects music as both an art and an industry. This is the perfect option for anyone that wants to approach music from a business standpoint and pursue a career in one of the more behind the scenes roles that keep things moving forward. You will learn about the history of music, and you will learn how to tackle legal issues, develop strong management skills, and explore emerging technology in music production. This 33-credit program takes two years to complete. The capstone of the program is what WVU has called an Industry Project, in which you will put everything you learned throughout the program into practice to demonstrate that you’re ready to enter the professional world. The program starts each fall and students will pay the same tuition rate regardless of where they live.
School Website: https://www.wvu.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $10,814
5: Tarleton State University
Tarleton University is a public university in Stephenville, Texas. It was founded independently as the John Tarleton Agricultural College in 1899 but then became part of the Texas A&M University System in 1917. It expanded slowly after that, to eventually become a university in 1973 and implement the first doctorate programs in 2003. Tarleton is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. While there are about 80 degree programs spanning a range of fields, Tarleton is considered the largest agriculture university in the country that didn’t receive a land grant. There are more than 13,000 students that attend the university, which has been ranked for its quality, affordability, and research in a variety of concentrations from publications big and small. Music is a huge program at the university. It operates out of one of the top performance venues among colleges and universities in America, offers four different degree programs, and puts on music festivals and clinics every year.
Tarleton State University has a highly reputable music department, through which it offers a Master of Music in Music Education. There are three tracks which include a non-thesis option, a thesis option, and a curriculum project option. There are six start dates throughout the year so students can enter the program whenever it is convenient to them. Courses are only eight weeks in length which allows students to complete the program in just two years even though they would only be taking one class at a time. This one at a time approach is also something that has been emerging in the world of distance education lately and it allows students to truly focus on one subject at a time and make the most of it even though they will not have to dedicate a lot of time away from the rest of their lives. No matter which option a student selects, even the thesis track, is entirely online so you would never have to commute to campus.
School Website: https://www.tarleton.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $10,615
4: Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis is best known as just IUPUI and was founded in 1969 as a result of merging several different extensions of both Indiana University and Purdue University. It is a public research university that provides its roughly 30,000 students with over 200 different programs of study from the associates to doctorate level, with several certificate levels in between. It is comprised of 18 different colleges and schools which all fall under its institutional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. It is the largest university by enrollment in Indiana and is the home of the largest nursing school and second-largest medical school in America. The Herron School of Art and Design was established as a division of the university in 1902. There are 14 distinct degree programs for students to choose from at the undergraduate and graduate levels; U.S. News & World Report recently ranked it among the top 100 graduate schools of fine arts nationwide. Alumni of the program include prolific painters, sculptors, art curators, and academics, as well as several Disney animators.
IUPUI offers two degrees in music that take a more scientific approach. You have the option of a Master of Science in Music Technology or a Master of Science in Music Therapy. The music technology degree can be professionally applied in several different ways, in the entertainment industry is just one. You can also use the degree to explore career opportunities in education, or therapy. Skills that graduates master throughout the program include software design, applying multimedia concepts, and managing technology projects. If you wanted to pursue a more direct career in therapy, you could just select the Music Therapy degree. Licensure requirements are going to differ by state but you can start with a strong foundation in music therapy through courses that teach you how to research, use music technology in conjunction with clinical practice, and more. Both of these degree options can be completed 100% online.
School Website: https://www.iupui.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $10,538
3: University of North Carolina at Greensboro
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is a public liberal arts and research university located in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was opened as a women’s college in 1891. There were several names that the institution operated under before settling on UNCG and becoming coeducational in 1963. There are close to 200 different programs available at the university, which is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The 20,000 students in attendance are enrolled across the colleges and schools that the university operates. These are the College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Visual and Performing Arts; the International Honors College; the Joseph M. Bryan School of Business and Economics; the School of Education; the School of Health and Human Sciences; the School of Nursing; the School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering and; the Graduate School. Kiplinger and The Princeton Review have both ranked UNCG among the best values in public universities.
UNCG was the first university in its system to start offering the Master of Music Education degree that is now part of their online degree offerings. The program consists of 34 credits and can be completed in as little as 18 months of full-time study. You have the option to complete a thesis or to complete a capstone project instead. This degree is fully-online, but it does allow you take classes on campus if you live close enough to the school and that is something that you would like to do. The cost-per-credit at the university is almost half of the average price in the nation and you will be able to maintain full-time employment while you study. Courses are asynchronous. A unique feature of this program is that it doesn’t matter what state you live, you can enroll. There are many schools that can’t offer degrees online in a handful states but that isn’t a worry at UNCG. The program fulfills licensure requirements in North Carolina but you will need to check in your state.
School Website: https://www.uncg.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $10,403
2: New Mexico State University
New Mexico State University is the oldest institution of higher learning in New Mexico, and it is located in the city of Las Cruces. It is a land- and space-grant public research university. When it first opened in 1888, it was the Las Cruces College for just one year before becoming the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts under the Morrill Act. The inaugural class consisted of just 35 students. The name didn’t change again until 1960 when it was formally declared a university and took on the moniker it uses today. It is the flagship institution of the New Mexico University System and serves a student body of 14,852. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and holds programmatic accreditation in eight different fields. Students can choose from the selection of 96 undergraduate degree programs, 28 doctoral programs, and 58 masters programs. New Mexico State University also features academic, vocational, and continuing education programs at its five branch community colleges and online.
NMSU is incredibly committed to meeting the needs of students that can’t enroll in a traditional degree program, and they offer extensive opportunities for those people to study at a distance. The NMSU College of Arts and Sciences has a Master of Music in Music Education that is available completely online. It is open to anyone who has an undergraduate background in music and is currently teaching. NMSU ensures that there is no reason that you would need to stop working to earn this degree, which prepares you to take on more advanced roles with courses in classroom management, teaching strategies, music theory, and more. There is a non-thesis option as well as a thesis option. The thesis option is required for anyone who wants to pursue a doctorate degree. Areas of study that you can concentrate in include education, performance, and conducting but your degree will not reflect those concentrations. This program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.
School Website: https://www.nmsu.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $10,213
1: Bellevue University
Bellevue University is a private university in Bellevue, Nebraska. The university was established in 1966 as Bellevue College, which was intended to provide education for working adults through convenient program options and educational outreach. Within less than a decade, it had become one of the largest private colleges in the state. Bellevue was an early pioneer of a distance-education staple, the accelerated bachelor’s degree program, which it first began to offer in 1987. Shortly after implementing graduate programs, the college stepped up into its university status and took on its new name. In the 80’s, other colleges in the community were such strong competition that Bellevue almost had to close due to the financial hardship. Now, the university has almost 9,000 students and its online degree programs have been ranked among the top ten in America according to U.S. News & World Report. The Higher Learning Commission accredits the university. Degrees are offered face to face or at a distance in accelerated or cohort-based formats. The majority of the degrees are bachelors and masters programs, but there is one PhD currently available.
Bellevue University came out on top in this ranking thanks to their incredibly low tuition rate, which is almost a third of the national average. The degree you can pursue at Bellevue is a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design, which is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to get into the field of art but appreciates it from a more technical perspective. Graphic arts covers things like print design, web design, interactivity, publications, and branding. So, if you want to pursue art in a way that makes you attractive to a variety of different industries, this degree program is going to give you the basis to do so. Throughout the program, you will create a portfolio, explore a lot of problem-solving and idea generation techniques. Close to 50 of the required credits are electives, so you can work with an academic advisor to create a truly individualized program that will fit your schedule and budget
School Website: http://www.bellevue.edu/
Cost of Attendance: $6,349
Most Affordable Art Colleges and Music Colleges Recap:
- 1. Bellevue University
- 2. New Mexico State University
- 3. University of North Carolina at Greensboro
- 4. Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
- 5. Tarleton State University
- 6. West Virginia University
- 7. University of South Florida
- 8. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
- 9. The Baptist College of Florida
- 10. Wayne State University
- 11. University of Southern Mississippi
- 12. Stephen F. Austin State University
- 13. Valley City State University
- 14. East Carolina University
- 15. Florida International University
- 16. Arizona State University
- 17. The University of Montana
- 18. Southern Utah University
- 19. University of West Georgia
- 20. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania