Would You Pay $16,500 a Year for an Online Music Degree?

A full-blown degree program at Berklee School of Music costs more than $62,000, a year.  But Berklee is now offering a far cheaper option for those that stay at home.


  • Save


The slide was presented by Berklee course author and instructor Mike King at SF Musictech Summit on Tuesday.  King told Digital Music News that the degree is certainly affordable, especially against the cost of a full-blown, in-person degree.

Berklee is now accepting applications for the fall, with the cost of a completed, online degree at roughly $58,000.


15 Responses

  1. MNLaker

    For the past 11 years I’ve always wanted to attend a music college for music production and engineering. We have 2 good colleges in our state and one of the main reasons that I have held back is because the amount of debt you accrue from the degree. That’s money that could be invested in equipment which is expensive enough. Plus there is no guarantee that your going to get a living wage job. (By that I mean a job were you can afford the basic needs of living and paying your college bills). I’ve seen jobs that require four year degrees offering wages of $12 to $15 an hour which is nothing considering the cost of everything. I live in Beautiful Northern Minnesota and you can literally buy a nice home here for $50,000-$80,000 and that’s the cost of most music degrees. This government wants everbody in debt so they can take over and control everything you do. There is a college debt crisis coming and I don’t want to be part of it in a dying Music industry. It’s sad enough, these colleges need to significantly reduce their fees and charges! They are losing a lot of smart and talented people. It seems like a lot of people who are attending these expensive music schools are the ones who are able to get mommy and daddy to pay for it! The rich ones, many of whom which are less talented. Unfortunately, for now I’m just going to have to teach myself because I cannot afford what they have to offer! So my answer right now is NO!

    • TK

      I graduated third in my class from one of those production and engineering schools in Minnesota. I couldn’t find a job related to my degree. It’s slim pickins, at least in this market. I’m currently working a customer service job on the phone, far further in debt than I thought I would be. I dug such a deep whole to learn a hobby. It wasn’t a good idea for me at this time.

  2. GGG

    Unfortunately, as someone with a music degree and plenty of friends with music degrees, I can tell from first hand experience it certainly doesn’t guarantee you shit or even give you that much of a leg up. I certainly learned a lot, but what has helped me infinitely more in my career is just the connections/friendships I have with people I went to school with, met while I was at school, and met while working. Now that we’re getting into our late 20s, many are holding actual important/influential positions too, as opposed to just being some lowly assistant or bottom rung bitch. Many have left he industry altogether, as well, so there’s that ha.
    Bottom line, in terms of what education I’ve retained and continue to use in my career, 15% came from the classroom, 85% came from interacting with people and doing shit. And even most of that 15% I probably would have eventually learned from just doing shit. Online learning will give you that 15% but nothing else.

  3. You Don't Need a Degree

    Try the UCLA Extension programs (and I’m sure there are others out there). Some great instructors giving real world lessons on the business and creative sides of the industry. Thake the classes that excite you and go from there.

  4. Jaded Industry Dude

    Step one: don’t go to college for music career
    Step two: get unpaid internships
    Step three: network and get job
    Step four: no profit

    Seems absurd paying any amount of money to GET INTO the music biz when the college education won’t even get you what you need, which is ‘ins’ and friends and a type of knowledge of the industry that schools don’t teach.

    I didn’t go to college and eventually, after raman noodles for almost a decade, was able to make some decent cash. However, if I went to college, I’d be about 4 years behind and not making any decent cash and have massive debt.

    HOWEVER, I will say this, I jumped into the biz in the Marketing field, and Marketing Degrees are actually worthwhile. Marketing firms and what not pay well, but that’s not ‘the music industry’ – It’s just a great degree that works in both the music industry and the normal marketing industry. Sorta wish I got one of those, though Marketing in general annoys me to no end at this point.

  5. TJ

    Berklee also offers a full set of online courses through their separate BerkleeMusic.com program. 12 week courses cost about $1400 with credit and feature the same instructors and materials as the regular program. It’s a good deal especially if you are more of a hobbyist.

  6. Label Owner

    I own a label and would never hire a person that went to school for a music degree. I would, however, hire a person willing to bust their ass learning the business from the ground up; from intern to job. Experience beats out degree’s any day of the week.

    • Retail Owner

      Do you encourage your artists to play for free for the “experience” also?

    • Doctor of Music

      That’s interesting, I run a music department and would never hire a record label owner.

      • Pop Producer and Faculty Member

        I make a pretty good living as a music producer (pop) and as a music professor at some of So. Cal’s finest Universitie, and thus work on both sides of the coin. If you want to teach music at a college or become a music historian or an opera singer, then a traditional music school is fine. Otherwise, I would take only the classes you need from various locations (i.e. UCLA extension, Berklee etc…), find a mentor to study with privately (be it voice, guitar, engineering etc…), and then make lots of contacts and work hard. It’s funny… I get hired to teach at Universities because of the “non-university” experience that I have.

  7. K Dawgz

    Yes, it’s all about how you sell yourself, the industry has nothing but learning experiences to offer, that being said as well as life. A degree from Berklee doesn’t give you a leg up, but it does prepare you for what the industry can throw at you. All said and done a degree will never hurt, it’s how you sell yourself with that degree that gets you to the top.

  8. Cameron

    I went to school to study music performance, and although I didn’t graduate, I played with a bunch of people and built a network of musicians that I continue to work with 10 years later. I have friends in every major music city in the US from school. You’d miss that very important networking advantage if you only took online classes.

  9. Central Scrutinizer

    Many commenters seem to think acquiring a musuc degree is about getting a good job through higher education. I must assume that they have know idea why musicians want to learn their craft.
    I have a degree in music and while there and since, I have never met a single musician that thought getting a music degree was a great way to get a job. Every one knew that if you want job prospects learn some IT and that was back in the 80’s and nothing has changed since then.
    Back on topic. Does the on-line degree from Berklee come with a little asterisk? and There are variety of music degrees, what type of music degree can you get on-line?

  10. Kmac

    People people people. Music is dead in America. The only people making money are the rich and people who sell dreams to kids. Berklee, musicians institute and manufactures are the only people benefitting. Studios are dead live venues dont want bands because of ascap and bmi fees. Its dead move on and find something else to do.

  11. Rags

    As most of the previous commenters said , the music business is over. Luckily, I participated in the last 60 years of music as a musician and recording engineer. I have incredible skills in both fields and made a ton of money, but nobody wants or needs those skills today or……will pay for them. The skilled musicians and engineers left are now teaching at schools, perpetuating the myth that there’s a future in music and sound engineering. Get a degree in computer science and treat music as a hobby. That’s what it is now.