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Top Schools for Musical Art

Read about schools that offer programs in musical arts, including a renowned music institution and high-ranking universities. Find out what types of programs are available at these four top schools, and discover what other colleges and universities in the U.S. offer degree programs in musical arts.

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Bachelor's degree programs in musical arts frequently encompass a flexible curriculum design, sometimes allowing students to create an individualized course of study beyond the core music curriculum. Doctor of Musical Arts degrees usually involve substantial performance or composition work in the student's area of specialty.

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

School Overviews

The four schools highlighted below offer exceptional undergraduate and/or graduate programs in the musical arts. Two of them have been ranked highly for 2017, and the other two are dedicated music institutes that provide wide-ranging musical training.

University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

School Highlight: The University of Michigan's School of Music offers frequent master classes taught by guest instructors renowned in their fields.

The University of Michigan was tied at 27th on U.S. News and World Report's 2017 list of best universities, and it was listed among the Best 381 Colleges by The Princeton Review for 2017. The university's School of Music offers a Bachelor of Musical Arts in a number of focuses, such as organ, piano and voice. The bachelor's program affords students substantial flexibility in constructing their degree curricula and incorporating complementary specialty areas. The school also awards Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degrees in composition, conducting and performance in numerous specialty concentrations, such as wind orchestras, choral orchestras, and voice.

University of Rochester in New York

School Highlight: The Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester features the Institute for Music Leadership, devoted to nurturing the leadership capacities and professional development of students and alumni.

The University of Rochester, rated one of the best colleges in the Northeast in 2017 by The Princeton Review, awards musical arts degrees at the bachelor's and doctoral levels. The Bachelor of Music in Musical Arts program culminates with an individualized senior project and allows students to design, under supervision of a faculty committee, the last two years of their course of study. The Doctor of Musical Arts is available in several concentrations, and, in some cases, a student may pursue the degree jointly with the music school's Doctor of Philosophy degree.

The Juilliard School in New York, NY

School Highlight: The School's New York City location affords abundant and varied performance opportunities for music students.

The Juilliard School is devoted entirely to the study of music and other performance arts. Juilliard offers a Doctor of Musical Arts in almost 15 areas of study, such as strings, woodwind, piano and voice. The school places an emphasis on live performance and houses its own venues for such purposes. Further performance opportunities exist outside the campus, including several New York City locales that host regular productions presented by Juilliard students.

Cleveland Institute of Music in Ohio

School Highlight: There is an institutional focus on use and integration of cutting-edge technologies to supplement and support music education.

At the Cleveland Institute of Music, students can choose programs in a particular musical instrument, or they can enroll in more general programs like music theory and audio recording. Depending on their goals and previous experience, students can choose between Bachelor of Music, Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts programs. There are also Artist Certificate, Artist Diploma and Professional Studies Diploma options. The school provides excellent musical career preparation, with over 80% of recently graduated alumni working in the music industry.

Top Musical Arts Programs

  • Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, is home to the extensive Friedheim Music Library.
  • The New England Conservatory in Boston, MA, operates a referral service connecting music students and recent graduates to members of the public seeking to hire musicians.
  • Rice University in Houston, TX, offers the Just for U Music Program (JUMP!), a community performance opportunity facilitated every year by two graduate students of the music school.
  • The University of California - Los Angeles is ranked tied at 24th in the national universities category by U.S. News & World Report in 2017.
  • At Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, the Bachelor of Music in Musical Arts encapsulates a three-pronged educational approach, educating equally in music literature, performance and music theory.
  • Yale University in New Haven, CT, offers summer school at Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.

Regardless of which area of music a student is interested in, there are great educational options at music schools and top national universities.

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