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Top Rated Music Colleges in the United States

Find information about some of the top-rated music colleges in the United States. Learn about the programs offered by a renowned conservatory and two noteworthy universities, and explore some of the unique features of other schools around the country that offer programs in music.

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Students looking to pursue a career in music, no matter the type, will find excellent colleges available to them. The schools below are considered some of the best in the nation and award bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in various music specialties.

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 Overview

Students searching for top-rated music colleges can choose from a variety of options, including conservatories, colleges and universities. Degree programs are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in many areas, such as music education and performance, as well as a variety of styles including classical, folk, jazz and popular music. The four schools discussed below include the oldest self-governing music conservatory in the United States and a nationally ranked university as well as schools featuring a wide variety of program specializations and unique multidisciplinary music institutes.

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD

School Highlight: The Peabody Preparatory includes four separate campuses in Maryland.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Johns Hopkins University 10th among national universities in 2016. Through the university's Peabody Conservatory, classical and jazz students can earn a Bachelor of Music (B.M.), Master of Music (M.M.) and Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.). Areas of study include music education or performance, composition, computer music and early music. Students can also pursue a 5-year B.M./M.M program or Master of Arts (M.A.) in Audio Sciences, as well as an artist's diploma, a certificate or a graduate diploma in performance.

New England Conservatory in Boston, MA

School Highlight: Degree programs are offered in conjunction with Harvard University and Tufts University.

Founded in 1867, the New England Conservatory is the oldest independent music conservatory in the nation. It offers programs leading to B.M., M.M. and D.M.A. degrees in a wide variety of areas. These include music history and theory, composition, orchestral instruments and voice, as well as jazz and world music. Students can also take advantage of the chamber ensembles and the Sistema Fellows program for post-graduates. In addition to the degree programs, the New England Conservatory of Music offers distance learning opportunities.

University of Texas at Austin

School Highlight: Texas is home to the Butler Opera Center.

The University of Texas at Austin is one of the largest public universities in the U.S with over 51,000 students and 3,000 faculty. At the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music, students can pursue programs in a variety of areas while earning B.M., M.M. or D.M.A. degrees. Major areas of study include piano and keyboard theory, chamber music, composition and conducting. Aspiring professionals can also earn a degree in ethnomusicology, jazz or vocal arts or audition for over 30 different ensembles specializing in various styles, including jazz, orchestra, marimba, Brazilian and Svaranjali.

Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA

School Highlight: The Berklee College of Music has focused studies in Africana Studies and American Roots Music and is home to the Berklee Global Jazz Institute.

The Berklee College of Music in Boston boasts nine institutes, including but not limited to the Berklee Popular Music Institute, the Effortless Mastery Institute and the Mediterranean Music Institute. Students participating in these institutes' multidisciplinary programs can study such areas as history, improv, live performance and music's social roles to deepen their understanding of a variety of musical areas. Berklee offers several bachelor's and master's degrees as well as a graduate certificate. The school even offers study in Valencia, Spain.

Top Music Colleges

Along with the four schools above, the following programs are also considered excellent for the study of music:

  • Michigan State University in East Lansing is home to the Musique 21 ensemble for contemporary music.
  • Located in Oberlin, OH, the Oberlin College & Conservatory offers a summer music training program in Arezzo, Italy.
  • Ohio State University in Columbus houses a Music and Dance Library.
  • The San Francisco Conservatory of Music in CA hosts students from 31 different countries.
  • The University of Wisconsin in Madison offers a master's degree program in collaborative piano and piano pedagogy.
  • Yale University is located in New Haven, CT, and has a 5-year B.A./M.M. combined degree program.

John Hopkins University, the New England Conservatory, the University of Texas at Austin and the Berklee College of Music are considered to be some of the top music schools in the country. Other schools and institutes offer excellent music programs as well, several of which include opportunities to study around the world.

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