Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) in Music Education

Professional Development on Your Terms

Your experience in the classroom and advanced education has served you and your students well over the years. But keeping up with new technologies, policies, methods, and theories is tough, especially when it means commuting or even moving to a college campus far away from home. Since you already have a master’s degree, advancing your career and compensation with a doctoral degree would be great, but that kind of commitment is just not possible for everyone.

Now, there is a new alternative—the online Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Music Education, a 32-credit program that will enhance your technological skills and revitalize your practice with new methods based on the latest theory—all without leaving your community or the job you love.

To enter the CAGS program, students must hold a master’s degree in music education or the equivalent (our manager of online admissions can help you figure this out). Most students should be able to complete the CAGS in 18 to 24 months.

The CAGS is not a pathway to the Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education at Boston University; it is a terminal certificate from our institution.

A Firm Foundation With a Sharp Focus

Students will complete several foundational courses in music education, which will cover historical, philosophical, psychological, and sociological aspects of the field. Students will then select the remaining courses depending on which area(s) they wish to strengthen in their practice, including music technology, policy, or research. Students may select courses that fall within a combination of areas.

Join us. Let’s get started.

“We believe that having a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Music Education will be an outstanding credential for teachers seeking promotion and leadership opportunities in the field of music education.”

–Professor Emeritus William G. McManus, EdD

Awards & Accreditations

NASM Accredited: Boston University holds accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), an organization of schools, conservatories, colleges, and universities with 615 accredited institutional members.

Why Choose BU’s CAGS in Music Education?

  • Enhance your technological skills.
  • Prepare for increased leadership roles.
  • Revitalize your practice.
  • Earn increased compensation.
  • Learn research skills for publication.



Boston University  offers competitive tuition rates that meet the needs of part-time students seeking an affordable education. These rates are substantially lower than those of the traditional, full-time residential programs yet provide access to the same high-quality BU education. To learn more about current tuition rates, visit the Tuition & Fees page.


Students complete at least eight courses (32 credits): 8 credits of music education and 24 credits of approved electives. Courses run in seven-week intensives where students take one course at a time. Students typically complete two courses per semester and can complete the program in 18–24 months.

Required Courses

(Two courses/8 credits)

CFAME741 History and Philosophy in Music Education: Perspectives and Practice

The purpose of this course is to examine and discuss historical and contemporary philosophical ideas and problems in music and music education. A goal is for students to develop a sharpened sensitivity to past and present thought (primarily, but not limited to historical and philosophical thought) in the field of music education in order to better inform their own curricular and instructional choices. [4 credits]

CFAME742 History and Philosophy in Music Education: Perspectives and Practice

The purpose of this course is to critically examine psychological and sociological concepts as they relate to music and education. Topics include key issues and concepts in psychology and sociology; psychology as related to music education processes; problems encountered in the sociology of music education; and cultural influences that affect both the psychology of the individual and the sociological aspects of group dynamics. [4 credits]

Approved Electives

(Six courses/24 credits)

CFAAR670 Advocacy and Policy in Arts Education (Online only)

This course is intended to address policy issues and advocacy strategies for leaders in the arts. Local, State and National Arts Education policies and advocacy programs will be addressed. Students will research agencies, partners and other organizations beyond the schools that serve as sources for advocacy and often influence policy. Students in this course should develop the knowledge and expertise in understanding needs for change and developing plans for advocacy. [4 credits]

CFAME541 Introduction to Music Technology

The course will include activities designed to introduce students to significant technologies that can support music teaching and learning. These technologies will include music sequencing/production, recording, audio and MIDI editing, computer-based notation, graphic-based web authoring, social media for music distribution, and computer-assisted instruction software. The majority of learning activities will begin with a teacher demonstration of a set of skills in music software. Each demonstration will be followed by an assignment designed for students to practice those skills and demonstrate mastery of techniques. Information on applying for Level I TI:ME (Technology Institute for Music Educators) certification will be provided at the end of the course. [4 credits] [4 credits]

CFAME542 Music Technology Pedagogy

This course serves to expand the knowledge that many teachers have about uses of technology for teaching music. Students explore music technology pedagogy; that is, the practice of teaching music in a technologically enhanced environment and the special kinds of teaching skills required to do so effectively. Students examine theoretical foundations of the uses of technology for music teaching, including theories of student interaction with technology, multimedia principles, and technology-infused music curricula. Students will design a technology based curricular unit of music study and implement that unit in a real-world scenario such as their own classroom or studio. [4 credits]

CFAME543 Special Topics in Music Education Technology: Notation with Sibelius

ME543: Special Topics in Music Education Technology: Notation with Sibelius will focus on skill development with notation software. Students will develop advanced skills with techniques in notation software including multi-voice staves, part creation, custom styles, and page formatting. No prior experience with Sibelius or other notation software is expected. Students will be required to have access to their own installation of the latest version of Sibelius. [4 credits]

CFAME545 Power, Marginalization, and Privilege in Music Education

This course is designed to expand awareness of the intersections between music, education, and society as they relate to issues of power, privilege, and marginalization within US, educational, and global contexts. Students will participate in group discussions, individual reflection, and student-designed projects to increase awareness of their own biases and assumptions and deepen reflective practice in music making and teaching. Upon completion of the course, students should be better prepared to engage in acts of social justice, transform structural biases, build coalitions to effect change, and advocate for marginalized students in their own care. [4 credits]

CFAME751 Community Music Perspectives

Drawing upon the social, cultural, political, and economic milieu including movements in music education, music therapy and ethnomusicology, this course first examines reasons for the growth and development of community music. Students will be asked to trace an aspect of community music that may be considered as part of its heritage and also to evaluate and critique a contemporary community music project through fieldwork. Students will then be in a position to articulate their own vision for community music both as a practicum and as a scholarly pursuit. [4 credits]

CFAME753 Introduction to Early Childhood Music Education

ME 753 will provide an overview of early childhood development and education. Students will then investigate the musical development of very young children, and explore the components of research-based, developmentally appropriate early childhood music education. Special attention will be paid to the role of play in childhood and designing and implementing play-based musical experiences. [4 credits]

CFAME840 Contemporary Issues in Music Education

Study of current issues influencing the state of music education in schools. Focus on the interpretation, implementation, and development of policy. Topics include public policy, politics, advocacy, diversity, evaluation, and curriculum. [4 credits]

CFAMH750 Toward a 21st-Century Aesthetic of Musicking

This course will work toward a 21st-century aesthetic of musicking. Expanding on Christopher Small's reevaluation of performing and listening, students will investigate what it means for individuals and collectives "to musick" in the 21st century through notions of sound, (dis)place(ment), disability, ecology, media, ethnocentrism, morality, empathy, and provocation. After conceptualizing these frameworks, students will apply them to their communities to ground this understanding in the diverse worlds in which they live, teach, and work. [4 credits]

CFAMH835 American Music

Early music in the colonies. Various attempts to create an individual American musical style. Diversity of influences: European, African American, Indian, Spanish-Mexican, religious, jazz, folk song, minstrel, etc. Music of Billings, Lowell, Mason, Gottschalk, MacDowell, Ives, Gershwin, Copland, and others. [4 credits]

CFAMH837 Crossroads: Cultural and Musical Perspectives on the Blues

Examination of the blues in its musical and cultural dimensions. Focuses on defining the blues as a place where cultures and styles meet. Chord structure, cultural background, characteristics, major themes, different regional styles and dialects, and its place in history will be examined along with the cultural idea of "crossroads." [4 credits]

CFAMH862 An Ethnographic Exploration of African Musical Cultures

This course explores a selection of musics from sub-Saharan Africa in ethnographic context, with a particular focus on their practical application in the Western classroom or ensemble. This course is an intensive introduction to vastly diverse and contradictory music from a variety of African cultures. Rather than attempting a cursory regional overview, we will be exploring specific musics thematically. The course aims to provide you with a sense of the intensity of African musical creativity, its global ubiquitous influence, and an appreciation of how important music is to individual lived experiences. Students will find a variety of source material throughout this course. It includes scholarly writing, online sources, videos, sound recordings, musical exercises, journalistic material, as well as material drawn from the personal experiences of the instructor. Additional resources on African music and culture are included in the bibliography. Students are always encouraged to research additional material in this vast subject area. Upon successful completion of this course, students will have gained the knowledge and skill required to bring African music into their own classroom or ensemble. [4 credits]

CFAMT630 Orchestration

Orchestration I Contemporary orchestral techniques, focusing on scoring for modern winds, brass, strings and mixed ensembles, including full orchestra. Concepts include chord spacing, melodic projection, layering and delineation of material, and extended instrumental techniques. Materials are approached through readings, listening, writing and analytical work. [4 credits]

CFAMT781 Jazz and Popular Arranging

Standard notational methods; chord vocabulary; arrangements of popular melodies in a variety of styles; development of materials from lead sheets; class performance of arrangements. [4 credits]

STHTA801 Methods and Materials in Sacred Music (online)

Students will critically engage with materials and approaches in the principal areas of present-day church musicians including: choral and vocal techniques, conducting, the organ and other instruments, alternative and contemporary worship, and professional concerns. This course will enable students to gain greater competencies needed to function at optimal levels as a music minister or director in worship, religious, pastoral and educational settings. This will be accomplished through engagement with the methods and materials of church/synagogue (sacred) music and worship. [4 credits]

Attention Arkansas Residents, please note: Enrollment in the MM in Music Education program offered by Boston University does not lead to public school (P–12) teacher licensure or a subject field endorsement (for public P–12 schools) in Arkansas.

Summer Session

Some online CAGS in Music Education students take advantage of our summer session, completing coursework on campus while enjoying Boston’s cultural offerings and summer sea breezes. Residence hall accommodations are usually available. More information including session dates, optional on-campus residence hall availability, financial aid, and tuition rates is communicated to students during the academic year.

Getting Started

Students should hold a master’s degree in music education or the equivalent from an accredited institution. Please complete our inquiry form to receive more information. For assistance with your application or to ask questions, please contact our Manager of Online Admissions at 1-855-884-5636, email cfaapply@bu.edu, or visit the CFA program website.