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Best Music Composition Colleges: List of Top Schools

Learn about where to find the best music composition degree programs in the US. Discover information about school locations and rankings, degree concentrations, and program requirements. View article »

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  • 0:03 Schools Overview
  • 0:40 The Juilliard School -…
  • 1:08 New England…
  • 1:40 Berklee College of…
  • 2:14 Top Music Composition Schools

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Video Transcript

Schools Overview

Students interested in music composition can study at the undergraduate or graduate level at top institutions. Music programs lead to diplomas, bachelor's, master's, and even doctoral degrees, all of which include the development of complete musical composition as part of the curriculum. Three of the best schools to offer music composition degree programs are located on the East Coast. They are fine arts schools dedicated to performance studies, including music composition. Top schools are considered for their prestigious faculty and intensive programs that prepare students for performances of their original compositions.

The Juilliard School - New York

The Juilliard School is a private, performing arts college that offers bachelor's, master's, and diploma programs in drama, dance, and music. The Music Division of the Juilliard School offers a number of majors, including composition. Music composition majors can pursue a Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, or a Doctor of Musical Arts. The faculty at Julliard includes winners of a Grammy, a Pulitzer Prize and an Academy Award.

The New England Conservatory of Music

Located one block from the hall of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New England Conservatory of Music is devoted entirely to music and offers diplomas, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. Composition majors receive weekly one-on-one instruction. As with all majors, composition students have opportunities to perform completed musical compositions. Five different performance halls include Jordan Hall_, a national historic landmark noted as one of the most acoustically perfect venues.

Berklee College of Music - Boston

Berklee College of Music is home to 40 faculty members who are active composers and conductors. The composition major covers topics including tonal harmony, orchestration, and instrumentation. Students have the opportunity to lead performances, conduct, produce, or work with performers to gain valuable experience in the field. Composition majors graduate with a completed portfolio that includes a minimum of a fugue, a solo or full choral work, an orchestra score, and a sonata, as well as smaller pieces.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Jazz
  • Music Composition and Theory
  • Music History and Literature
  • Music Merchandising and Management
  • Music Pedagogy
  • Music Performing
  • Musical Conducting
  • Musicology and Ethnomusicology
  • Piano and Organ
  • Stringed Instruments
  • Voice and Opera

Top Music Composition Schools

Let's review other top music composition schools with unique programs.

College/University Distinction Location
Boston University Has professors at the School of Music that include 30 members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Boston, MA
Cleveland Institute of Music Pairs student composers with student performers to gain real-world experience working through the composition process; students are also paired with filmmakers to collaborate on projects later shown at the city's Museum of Natural History Cleveland, OH
Michigan State University Offers a student organization, the Alliance of Michigan State University Composers, which facilitates the release of student's works on CDs East Lansing, MI
New York University Has composition degrees available at undergraduate and all graduate levels, and graduate students can choose between a concert or a film music concentration New York, NY
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Hosts an annual composition competition that results in the winner's work being performed at the Krannert Center Champaign, IL
University of Washington Has composition students in the School of Music who are taught by composers and have access to facilities such as the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Medium Seattle, WA

Degree programs in music competition are available from top institutions at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students can distinguish these top programs by the unique learning experiences, facilities, and performance opportunities they offer.

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