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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. Read on for information about school locations and rankings, degree concentrations, and program requirements.

Schools Overview

Two of the best schools to offer music composition degree programs are located on the East Coast. Both are fine arts schools, dedicated to performance studies, including music composition. Music programs lead to diplomas, bachelor's, master's, and even doctoral programs, all of which include the development of complete musical compositions as part of the curriculum.

1. The Juilliard School in New York, New York

School Highlight: The faculty at Julliard includes winners of a Grammy, a Pulitzer Prize and an Academy Award.

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.

2. The New England Conservatory (NEC) of Music in Boston, Massachusetts

School Highlight: Five different performance halls include Jordan Hall, a national historic landmark noted as one of the most acoustically perfect venues.

Located one block from the hall of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the NEC 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.

Top Music Composition Schools

College/University Distinction Location
Berklee College of Music 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 Boston, MA
Boston University The list of professors at BU's School of Music includes 30 members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Boston, MA
Cleveland Institute of Music CIM 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 A student organization, the Alliance of Michigan State University Composers, facilitates the release of student's works on CDs East Lansing, MI
New York University Composition degrees are 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 In addition to bachelor's and master's degrees in composition, the U of I music school hosts an annual composition competition that results in the winner's work being performed at the Krannert Center Champaign, IL
University of Washington-Seattle Campus Composition students in the School of Music are taught by composers and have access to facilities such as the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Medium (DXARTS) Seattle, WA

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