Worship and Music M.A [Online]

The online Master of Arts in Worship and Music degree prepares you to thoughtfully lead a worship ministry through a robust study of worship theology and history paired with an industry-leading, practical study of music technology.

Jazz Ensemble

Credit Hours


Years (Avg.)

Next Start Date

March 13, 2023

Class Type
100% Online,  7-Week Terms, Asynchronous




M.A. in Worship and Music Program Highlights

  • Take courses fully online in 7-week sessions.
  • Lay a theologically responsible foundation for church worship and liturgy suitable for a variety of church denominations.
  • Learn advanced worship technology and arranging on a digital audio workstation.
  • Gain a global perspective of worship through studies in African American worship and ethnomusicology.
  • Study at a University that has taught Bible and theology for over 100 years and has been NASM-accredited since 1972.
  • Join a community of like-minded worship leaders from around the world.
  • Study under faculty who are both highly credentialed musicians and experienced worship leaders.
  • Create a self-produced six-track recording of three original songs and three arranged songs for congregational singing in a culminating final project.

Why a Master’s in Worship & Music Degree from Cairn?

Faith and Truth Do Matter

Cairn University is committed to the centrality of Christ and the Word of God and is reflected in the curriculum and instruction. At Cairn, faith and truth do matter. We teach our students accordingly, challenge you to think deeply on these things, and strive to make you ready to serve Christ in the church, society, and the world as biblically minded men and women who not only give assent to truth but think and live in light of it.

Community Happens Here

Community is about more than simply taking classes together. It’s more than having a similar experience. Community is powerful, instructive, encouraging, and biblical. And at Cairn, community is intentional. It’s attended to closely as an outworking of the University’s biblical commitment and understanding that in Christ, we are one.

An Education That Has Value

There’s quite a bit of talk these days about the cost of higher education and the question of value. Many assume that you can’t have both value and affordability, so they settle for lesser options or assume that the costliest options must have the most value. But when Cairn talks about walking a different path, value is no exception. It’s possible to get a college education that is both affordable and valuable.

Committed Faculty Mentors

Our online courses are taught by faculty who are committed to your professional and spiritual growth. In addition to the carefully crafted learning activities, our faculty are substantively engaged throughout the course delivery. Students don’t just have professors, they have mentors who invest in them throughout the program and often remain connected long after graduation.

Start Your Studies Right Away

Cairn Online enrolls new students in early September, October, January, early March, May, and early July. You are eligible to enroll up to two weeks prior to the upcoming term.

Career Paths

  • Worship Leader
  • Artist
  • Program Director


Simple, flat $300* per credit rate.
     *Applies to 2022–2024 academic years. Limited time offer. 

Financial Aid

Scholarships, veterans benefits, federal grants and loans, and discounts are available to Cairn Online students. Please refer to this page for details.

Program Curriculum

The Cairn M.A. in Worship & Music program has been designed and taught by our highly credentialed musicians and experienced worship leaders and faculty in the School of Music, ensuring you graduate with the in-demand skills and knowledge that employers are looking for. The program requires 15 credits from the core of general studies in music, 18 credits from other studies in music, and 6 credits from other fields and electives. View this sample curriculum for a snapshot of the courses you will complete.

MUS 651 Biblical Foundations of Worship (3 credits)
An overview of the major doctrines of worship found in the Bible through the lens of biblical theology.

MUS 603 Research in Worship and Music (3 credits)
A course designed to examine how to do serious academic research in the area of worship, theology, and music. The course culminates in an original research paper.

MUS 604 Applied Ethnomusicology in Worship (3 credits)
An examination and application of ethnomusicology in the expression of music in worship around the world. Music, worship practices, orders of worship, and worship architecture will be surveyed.

MUS 602 Leading Ensembles in the Local Church (3 credits)
An advanced leadership course bringing practical applications to local church ministry for a variety of sizes and kinds of ensembles. A survey of current literature is conducted, and personal arranging is explored.

MUS 605 Advanced Contemporary Arranging for Worship (3 credits)
Using DAW’s and notation software, students learn how to arrange for different ensembles of different types. Focus is given to arranging with a rhythm section, live use of DAWs, and backing tracks.

MUS 606 African American Worship (3 credits)
A survey of the history of the worship traditions within the black church in America. Specific attention is given to the influence that these traditions have had around the world in the evangelical context.

MUS 601 Advanced Worship Technology (3 credits)
A detailed study and application of current technologies used in evangelical worship services, including lighting, presentation software and hardware, recording, live mixing, and acoustics.

MUS 607 Planning Worship Theologically (3 credits)
A course that surveys the origins of evangelical worship in its current context. An understanding of Protestant services of worship is explored in detail as well as a surveyed understanding of the Orthodox and Catholic services. Practical, theological, and musical applications are explored in the context of planning worship.

MUS 691 Worship and Ministry Project (3 credits)
A summative project of the graduate course of study which includes a six-track recording of three original songs and three arranged songs for congregational singing. This final project demonstrates the competency of production, theological understanding, and practical implications for leading worship in a congregation.

THE 601 Overview of Christian Theology (3 credits)
An introduction to the major doctrines of the Bible.

THE 701 Church History (3 credits)
A study of the church from A.D. 100 to the present. Attention is given to important historical events, the development of church doctrine, and the relationship of the church to society.

The courses below enable you to customize your degree to accommodate your specific career goals. You can select 2 courses from the list below.

MUS 654 Aesthetics (3 credits)
A study of the nature and importance of beauty from a philosophical, theological, and cultural perspective. Special attention is given to making applications in worship practices throughout history.

MUS 653 Principles of Leadership (3 credits)
A course designed to survey current theories, principles, and practical applications of management (planning, organizing, staffing, and leading). The course focuses on principles of leadership, team building, and organizational design in a multicultural and multigenerational church.

MUS 652 Community in Worship Ministry (3 credits)
A course which explores techniques, tools, and strategies related to creating community within a worship ministry in the local church.

MUS 655 Counseling in Music Ministry (3 credits)
A course designed to survey areas of counseling applicable to a music ministry context within a local church.

Receive credit for previous experience and coursework: At the discretion of the program advisor, three to six credits for prior learning (CPL) can be awarded for students with extensive background in areas addressed by specific courses.

Cairn Online Frequently Asked Questions

The tuition for post-secondary education has become expensive in general. However, Cairn Online programs rank amongst the most affordable online bachelor’s and master’s programs. While the tuition costs vary by program level, the rate is typically $425 per credit or 12K per year for A.A. and B.S. programs and $300-$725 per credit for graduate programs. 

The current tuition rates are available from this page. Scholarships and financial aid are also available. 

Currently there are over 6 million online learners in the United States, and those numbers are growing every day. Online degrees that have regional accreditation are held to the same standards as traditional universities, ensuring that students earn a valuable degree that will prepare them with the skills and credentials for their career. Do research to find an online degree that is accredited and reputable, such as those offered at Cairn University.

Cairn Online courses based on Cairn’s 100+ years tradition of excellence in biblical education. Our on faculty has carefully designed them taking into consideration what works best for the online learner. The modular design and asynchronous delivery enable you to complete your studies while you pursue your career, ministry and spend time with your family.

Courses typically contain seven units and are delivered in 7-week terms*. Each unit contains 5-7 modular activities. Each learning activity includes instructional videos accompanied by reflections, quizzes, discussion forums and other assessments. Courses also utilize adaptive learning technologies such as Cerego for long-term retention of concepts and VoiceThread for enhanced collaboration.

The asynchronous delivery provides flexibility around your daily busy schedule. In most courses, interactive activities are typically due by Wednesday while the rest of the unit’s work is due by Sunday night. The MBA, M.A. in Music and Criminal Justice programs use the 7RD2 process and require the completion of certain activities daily to optimize learning.

Our own Cairn faculty intentionally participate in the course throughout the week to provide you with an incarnational experience.

*Few capstone courses are intentionally offered in 14 weeks to optimize student learning.

A.A. programs usually take 2 years and B.S. and B.A. programs typically take 3-4 years to complete.

Graduate programs vary in length by program. As an example, Cairn’s traditional MBA typically takes 20 months to complete but then there is also the accelerated One-Year MBA that you can complete in 12 months.

If you are looking to complete your program sooner, you can consider taking more 7-week courses at a time. 

All courses are developed by one or more course developers and taught by our own faculty. The instructors are also intentionally involved in the course throughout the week by providing direction in the course activities, participating in the forum discussions, grading the student work and providing substantive feedback. Most courses also offer optional office hours weekly via Zoom or similar video conferencing tools.

Our instructional design team works very closely with the course developers and carefully plans the courses to balance the technology requirements. Most courses use the eLearning platform for hosting the course materials, Panopto for video capture and storage, VoiceThread for enhanced discussion forums, and Cerego for adaptive learning. Zoom is used at times for virtual office hours. These sessions are optional.

Except for the Hebrew and Greek language courses for the B.S. in Biblical Studies program, typically there are no required meeting times for the completing the course activities.  

The course transfer depends on where you are transferring from, and what program you are transferring to. If you are coming to Cairn Online from another institution, it is very likely you will have some credits that will transfer. Because there are so many options, we encourage you to talk to an enrollment counselor. If you are transferring out, Cairn is a regionally accredited school and some credits should transfer with relative ease. Each college sets their own transfer criteria, so be sure to check their policies for specifics.

Cairn Online offers a variety of options for prior learning and experience. You can receive up to 6 credits for prior learning for graduate programs. At the discretion of the program advisor, three to six credits for prior learning (CPL) can be awarded for students with extensive background in areas addressed by specific courses. Additionally, advance standing may be granted for Bible or theology credits earned at an accredited Bible college, Christian liberal arts college or university, or seminary. Credits will be granted on a course by course basis.

Cairn is approved to offer financial aid because of its regional accreditation. There are many options available and typically students qualify for at least one type of federal aid. Many students receive scholarships and grants that make earning their degree even more affordable. Cairn offers a variety of scholarships and discounts in addition to options for loans and grants. Please refer to this page for details. 

The requirements depend on the program you are considering. Please refer to this page for details. 

Program Details

Additional Information

NASM logoThe School of Music has also received programmatic accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music.


NC-SARA Approved InstitutionCairn Online has been approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), which regionally oversees postsecondary online education.


Additional Accreditation Information