What Happens to Music Majors After They Graduate College? New Study Reveals Amazing Data

Who says you can’t make it with a music degree.

From 2012-2015, an accomplished and published Music Education professor at Indiana University, Peter Miksza, in conjunction with educator Lauren Hime, embarked on a study that few have tried to take on.

The study’s purpose was to address one fundamental question…

How many students with music degrees are now actively working in their profession?

They analyzed two specific groups for the study – students with a degree in Music Education, and those with a degree in Music Performance.

If you aren’t sure what the difference is, Music Education students are primarily trained to teach in the public school system, although many end up going into careers that include private school teaching and conducting regional youth ensembles.

Music Performance majors, on the other hand, are those that majored in a specific instrument, usually in classical or jazz disciplines, although popular music and even hip-hop have now become majors at some colleges.

Details of the Study

For the study, Peter & Lauren surveyed musicians from over 150 different institutions to ensure that not all of the results came from just a few schools.

They surveyed high school, undergraduate, and graduate alumni for this piece. Overall, there were 1,434 respondents from liberal arts arts colleges, public and private universities, and institutions dedicated solely to the performing arts.

One thing to note is that the study only used respondents from US music schools. There are fantastic schools in Europe and throughout the world, but their data was strictly concerned with US music students.

Their study did consider many variables as part of the outcome of this study. Some of the most important variables include the length of time after graduation that a musician found work, whether that musician worked multiple jobs (say teaching and performance, for example), and how fitting the job was in comparison to what the student was looking for.

Why Should Such a Study Exist?

The question about whether music students can make a substantial living performing or teaching music is one that concerns many prospective music college applicants, undergraduates, and parents.

I can’t tell you how many parents come to me looking to discover how their son or daughter can make a living with their music degree.

I have previously published some articles on the subject, including one article detailing 70+ careers music majors can attain with a music degree and another one highlighting 26 revenue streams for composing and performing musicians.

But still, articles like these don’t detail exact numbers of real-world musicians that have found work in their field.

And that’s why this study was made.

On the next page, we take a look at the results of this monumental study.


  1. Eric Hung March 1, 2016
  2. Kevan Webb March 1, 2016
  3. Jessica King March 2, 2016
  4. Robin Dinsmore March 2, 2016
    • Rachel March 3, 2016
    • Steve Michaels March 8, 2016
      • AJ May 1, 2016
  5. Amy Engelhardt March 2, 2016
  6. Rob G March 3, 2016
    • Rachel March 3, 2016
  7. john kline March 3, 2016
  8. David Kahl March 4, 2016
  9. Dr. Abel Nevins March 5, 2016
  10. Dr. Angie Miller March 8, 2016
  11. James March 13, 2016
  12. Cindy J. Coffey March 20, 2016
  13. efe February 5, 2018
  14. edwardsmith November 24, 2019

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