Music Schools in New York City with Program Descriptions

The New York City area has several schools within nine miles of the downtown that offer music programs. Learn about the degree programs, admission info and program requirements for three of these schools to make an informed education decision.

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New York City Music Schools

Aspiring composers and musicians in New York City can find degree and/or diploma programs at a renowned music school, private university and city college. In addition to a summary of the individual programs, this resource includes a comparison table with important school information and an overview of other postsecondary institutions that provide training in music.

  • The Juilliard School is a school of the arts with a highly selective music conservatory that offers diplomas, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and doctorates. The school is located a little over five miles from downtown New York City.
  • The New School in downtown Manhattan offers classical music programs through the Mannes College and jazz conservatory programs through its Jazz and Contemporary Music Division. Students at The New School can learn from notable faculty in small classes while earning an undergraduate, graduate or professional credential.
  • CUNY Brooklyn College is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) and offers undergraduate and graduate programs in music. The college is located about nine miles from downtown Manhattan.

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

Comparison of Schools

The following table includes essential information about undergraduate tuition, acceptance and retention rates. Note the low student enrollment at The Juilliard School, which may increase your opportunity for more personalized attention.

The Juilliard School The New School CUNY Brooklyn College
School Type 4-year; private, not-for-profit 4-year; private, not-for-profit 4-year; public
Total Enrollment (2014) 926* 10,477* 17,390*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016) $39,720* $43,813* $6,838 for in-state; $13,948 for out-of-state*
% of First-Year Undergraduate Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2013-2014) 83%* 96%* 73%*
Acceptance Rate (fall 2014) 8%* 66%* 35%*
Retention Rate (fall 2014 for full-time students) 98%* 83%* 82%*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (students who started in 2008) 80% in 4 years; 84% in 6 years* 48% in 4 years; 62% in 6 years* 24% in 4 years; 50% in 6 years*

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics - College Navigator

The Juilliard School

Founded as the Institute of Musical Art in 1905, the college was renamed the Juilliard School of Music in 1926 and then the Juilliard School, following the addition of its dance and drama divisions. The Music Division contains around 600 students; in 2012, the college had 317 faculty members.

Undergraduate Diploma in Music

With recommendations from the school's dean and the Admissions Committee, students may enroll in a 3-year, non-degree program that focuses mainly on performance and shares many requirements with the Bachelor of Music program. All entering students take the first-year colloquium, an interdisciplinary course designed to introduce them to the Juilliard community, as well as courses in their particular area of study, such as instrumentals, composition or jazz studies. Other required coursework focuses on performance and musicianship for a total of 72 credits.

Bachelor of Music

Bachelor of Music (BM) programs are available in composition, jazz studies and a number of musical instruments. In addition to the first-year colloquium and required courses in their chosen major, instrumental students participate in for-credit music ensembles. Composition students pursue specialized courses in their last two years, including conducting and orchestration. Jazz studies majors take classes in performance, history and improvisation. Candidates for the Bachelor of Music also learn about ear training, piano, music theory and music history.

Graduate Diploma

This program is designed for students with an undergraduate degree or a diploma who would like a graduate-level education but are not seeking a master's degree. It is typically a 1-year program; however, certain areas of concentration require two years of study, such as historical performance, voice and collaborative piano. All students must fulfill performance requirements and take graduate-level courses within their concentration.

Master of Music

Students pursuing a Master of Music (MM) can find concentrations in collaborative piano, composition, conducting, historical performance, jazz studies and a variety of orchestral instruments. Students must take at least 54 credit hours of coursework. Instrumental students participate in for-credit performance ensembles and participate in a graduate recital.

The jazz program requires participation in jazz ensembles, along with courses in jazz theory and history, while the historical performance program requires music history courses. In the collaborative piano program, students learn how to play piano as accompanists to vocalists and instrumentalists.

Artist Diploma

Juilliard offers Artist Diploma programs for pre-professional students seeking advanced study. Students can choose from among concentrations in performance, opera studies, jazz and string quartet. All of these programs are for non-degree seekers and take two years to complete. Admission is granted based on achievement and performance abilities, and continuation into the second year of the program is upon invitation.

Doctor of Musical Arts

Juilliard offers doctoral degrees in music through the C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellows Program. Areas of concentration include collaborative piano, composition and instruments. Doctoral students complete 12 credits of coursework within their field of study and take courses in music research, history, analysis and criticism. Students also fulfill performance and lecture requirements and complete a dissertation and an oral defense.

The New School

The New School offers undergraduate and graduate music programs through the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and Mannes College the New School for Music. The jazz division was founded in 1986, while the Mannes College of Music, a previously independent institution, became part of the New School in 1989. The Mannes College currently has around 300 students.

Undergraduate Diploma in Music

The Undergraduate Diploma in Music program is a 4-year, non-degree alternative to the Bachelor of Music. Students may concentrate in an instrument, or in conducting, theory or composition. Required coursework includes private lessons, performance classes and musical technique courses. The diploma program, unlike the bachelor's degree program, has no liberal arts requirements.

Bachelor of Music

Offered through the Mannes College, the Bachelor of Music program is available in a number of concentrations, including several musical instruments, voice, theory, composition and conducting. Students are required to take private lessons, participate in performances and take coursework in musical techniques and the liberal arts. All students concentrating in an instrument or voice must pass an annual performance jury.

Bachelor of Science in Music

The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Music program has the same requirements as the BM program, with additional courses in the humanities and sciences. The BS program typically takes five years to complete.

Combined Bachelor of Arts /Bachelor of Fine Arts

Through the jazz division and the liberal arts college, students may pursue a 5-year combined Bachelor of Arts (BA)/Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Jazz Studies. The program requires 90 credits in the liberal arts and 90 credits in jazz studio courses. Jazz course requirements include ear training, sight-reading, theory, performance, arrangement and lessons in the student's instrument of choice. Students must pass a sophomore jury, perform a senior recital and complete a final project.

Master of Music

The Master of Music program has concentrations in conducting, composition, theory and a variety of instrumental areas, including vocal accompaniment for piano. Requirements include both performance and technique courses, as well as advanced private lessons and specialized electives. Students are required to take at least one non-performance class per semester and pass a performance jury each year.

Professional Studies Diploma

The Professional Studies Diploma is an individualized, 2-year program that may be taken at the post-master's or post-baccalaureate level. Designed to improve a professional musician's performance skills, the program involves graduate-level coursework and advanced private lessons geared towards the student's concentration. Areas of concentration include composition, voice, theory, conducting and a variety of instruments. Performance students must participate in performance ensembles every semester and pass a performance jury every year.

CUNY Brooklyn College

CUNY Brooklyn College grants undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees and advanced certificates through its Conservatory of Music. Students can participate in several ensembles at the school, including the Brass Ensemble and Jazz Big Band Ensemble.

Bachelor of Arts in Music

The Bachelor of Arts program is designed for students seeking a dual major or who want to gain exposure to other disciplines alongside their music studies. Once enrolled, students must take two semesters of private instruction in their instrument and participate in performance ensembles for two semesters. Other required coursework is in ear training, piano, music theory and music history. Students also take one upper-level seminar and one advanced course in music and fulfill general education requirements.

Bachelor of Music

In this program, students prepare for professional music careers and choose from concentrations in performance, composition and music education. Core coursework includes topics in ear training, piano, music theory and music history, as well as an advanced course or seminar in music. All performance and composition students take private lessons for 6-8 semesters and play in performance ensembles. Performance students also participate in a senior recital for the public.

Twice each semester, composition majors have the opportunity to showcase their work in student concerts. The BM in Music Education program prepares students to teach grades K-12 and qualifies them for initial teacher certification in the state of New York.

Advanced Certificate in Music Education

Students holding a bachelor's degree may pursue an advanced certificate in order to qualify for initial certification as a music educator in the state of New York. Required coursework includes music teaching method, performance method and conducting. Students must also complete one semester of student teaching. The diploma program requires 21 credits for completion.

Master of Arts

The Master of Arts (MA) program allows for concentrations in music teaching and musicology. The music teacher program is designed for current teachers seeking permanent New York State teaching certification. Coursework includes research methods, advanced conducting, music theory, performance ensembles and music history. The musicology program covers topics in music history, theory and scholarship; students also play in at least one performance ensemble. Students in either concentration may choose to write a thesis.

Master of Music

This program has concentrations in composition and performance. Composition students take part in at least one performance ensemble and pursue private lessons. Students in the performance program complete four semesters of private lessons and participate in four performance ensembles. All MM candidates must take at least one course each in music history and music theory.

Other School Options

Students searching for music schools in New York City may choose from another private conservatory, The Manhattan School of Music, or other CUNY music schools, such as those at CUNY Queens College and CUNY City College. Students may also wish to attend a private university with a music school or division, such as New York University or Columbia University, an Ivy League institution.

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