New York Music Schools with Degree Program Overviews

Research music degrees in New York, which currently has more than 10 colleges and universities offering programs. Read an overview of degree requirements, tuition info and program options for 11 of the largest schools and decide which one is right for you.

Essential Information

Music degree programs in New York are available at a variety of institutions, including private, non-profit schools, a performing arts university, public universities associated with the New York City or state university systems and 2-year colleges. Degree options include bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees along with certificate programs. Most programs offer different music specializations, such as composition, jazz, performance and music education. Students in many of these programs can participate in performance activities and have access to music libraries and collections. Summaries of the music programs at 11 of the largest schools in New York are profiled below.


Columbia University

At Columbia University in Manhattan, music students can attend class at one of the oldest music departments in the country. The department was established in 1896 and consists of about 25 faculty members.

The Bachelor of Arts in Music program requires 40 credits of major coursework, and students can specialize in areas like music history and theory, composition, computer music or ethnomusicology. The department also offers a 28-credit concentration in music and a specialized course of study in jazz.

Students can pursue Master of Arts (MA), Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy programs in musicology, which cover topics in ethnomusicology, historical musicology and music theory. The MA program requires students to complete six courses and a translation exam in addition to a seminar paper or thesis, and the Master of Philosophy program requires eight more courses and a second translation exam in addition to the MA program requirements.

The highly-selective composition program culminates in a MA or a Doctor of Musical Arts. In addition to instruction in current media and methods, the composition programs provide students with the opportunity to participate in public performances. Students in the MA program take 10 courses and a translation exam, while students in the Doctor of Musical Arts program must complete six additional courses beyond the master's program, a number of exams and a dissertation.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts in Music,
    Master of Arts in Musicology,
    Master of Arts in Composition,
    Master of Philosophy in Musicology,
    Doctor of Musical Arts,
    Doctor of Philosophy in Musicology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012): $47,246*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private, not-for-profit; large city

Cornell University

The Department of Music at this Ithaca university has served as a research music center since 1930, and current areas of interest include 18th-century instrumentals, Southeast Asian pop and Verdi operas. Program emphasis is on musical composition, performance and scholarship, and students have access to the Cornell Electroacoustic Music Center and a Music Library with more than 175,000 audio, print and video items.

In addition to four lower-level prerequisites, undergraduates in the Bachelor of Arts program complete eight core courses in music history and theory. The requirements also include a 4-semester membership in a departmental ensemble or organization, and electives provide opportunities for individualized instruction.

At the graduate level, the department offers three flexible doctoral programs in composition, musicology and performance practice that allow students to develop their own degree plan under advisement. Students also must complete a minor in a musical or non-musical course of study.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts in Music,
    Doctor of Musical Arts in Musicology,
    Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance Practice,
    Doctor of Philosophy in Musicology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012): $43,413*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private, not-for-profit; small city

CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College

One of 11 senior institutions in the City University of New York (CUNY) system, Baruch College in Manhattan is home to the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences. The school has 17 full-time faculty members, which includes seven music professors. The school also serves as host to the free Aaron Silberman Concert Series and the Alexander String Quartet.

The Bachelor of Arts in Music, offered by the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, requires 30 credits of major coursework. Required courses in harmony and the literature associated with Western concert music are complemented with elective options in like American musical theater, commercial music, jazz, music in films and world music.

Unique to the school is a specialization in musical enterprise management that requires 30 credits of major coursework and 12 business credits in economics, finance, marketing and other related areas. The specialization is also available to undergraduates in a business administration program.

  • Program Offered: Bachelor of Arts in Music
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012): $5,910 in-state; $12,120 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large city

CUNY Hunter College

Hunter College is also located in Manhattan and offers music students small classes and personalized attention. The Music Department also provides students with access to concerts, master classes and private lessons. The department is currently composed of 16 full-time faculty members plus a variety of part-time members. The school offers undergraduate and graduate music programs in addition to a minor program.

The Bachelor of Arts programs include both a 25-credit option for liberal arts students and a 42-credit professional course of study. Aspiring instrumentalists and vocalists may also want to investigate the Bachelor of Music. All three degree programs cover topics in musical theory, history and performance.

The department offers a couple of dual degree options that can be completed in only five years, including a music bachelor's degree and a master's degree in teaching. The Master of Arts in Music requires approximately two years of part-time study, and the program offers concentrations in composition, ethnomusicology, music history, music theory or performance.

  • Programs Offered: Minor in Music,
    Bachelor of Music,
    Bachelor of Arts in Music,
    Master of Arts in Music
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012): $5,829 in-state; $12,039 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large city

CUNY Queens College

The Aaron Copeland School of Music is part of Queens College in Flushing. Under the direction of faculty members who specialize in one of seven areas of study, students can choose from 16 certificate and/or degree programs in music, music education and performance. In addition to the academic programs, the school provides students with a number of ensemble and performance activities, including early and contemporary chamber groups, choirs, an opera workshop and a symphony orchestra.

The Bachelor of Arts in Music program is a classical course of study that provides training in conducting, composition, sight singing and keyboarding. Aspiring instrumentalists may be interested in the Bachelor of Music program, which includes specialized courses for piano and voice students.

At the graduate level, the Master of Arts program allows for concentrations in history and musicology, composition and theory. Students pursuing the Master of Music can specialize in classical performance, jazz composition or jazz performance. The school also offers postbaccalaureate certificates and diplomas in chamber music and performance.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts in Music,
    Bachelor of Music,
    Certificates and diplomas in classical performance,
    Master of Arts in Music,
    Master of Music
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012): $5,907 in-state; $12,117 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large city

New York University

The largest of the 11 schools on this list is located in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, and its Department of Music has been in existence since 1923. In addition to a research-based faculty, New York University also features the Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media, digital technology labs, a music society and collections of early and world instruments.

To earn the Bachelor of Arts in Music, undergraduates must complete 10 courses that include harmony and counterpoint, European music and ethnomusicology. The minor requires a total of four courses, and electives for both plans of study may include topics in 20th-century music, Celtic music, anthropology of music or musical analysis.

The graduate program admits from six to eight students per year, and students can specialize in one of the following three degree tracks: composition and theory, ethnomusicology or historical musicology. A total of 72 credits are required in the Doctor of Philosophy program, and upon completion of 36 credits, students can apply for the interim Master of Arts degree.

  • Programs Offered: Minor in Music,
    Bachelor of Arts in Music,
    Master of Arts/Doctor of Philosophy in Music
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012): $43,204*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private, not-for-profit; large city

Stony Brook University

This Stony Brook school is part of the State University of New York (SUNY). Unique to the Department of Music is the Emerson String Quartet, which is an ensemble-in-residence. The department is staffed by established academics, composers and performers, and students also have access to the Staller Center for the Arts and electronic music studios.

The Bachelor of Arts in Music program allows students to study topics in jazz, pop, technology and world music. The school does not offer tracks for bachelor's students, and students get to customize their plan of study through electives. Minor programs include 20-24 credits of coursework and allow students to select a general track or theory track.

The Master of Arts and Master of Music each require 30 credits of coursework, and depending on the program, include an exam, a research paper or a public recital. The school also has Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) programs that can be completed in two or three years of full-time residency. Doctoral students can expect to learn at least one foreign language. Those in the PhD program must complete a dissertation, while students in the DMA program must perform in a doctoral recital.

  • Programs Offered: Minor in Music,
    Bachelor of Arts in Music,
    Master of Arts in Composition,
    Master of Arts in Music History and Theory,
    Master of Music in Music Performance,
    Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Performance,
    Doctor of Philosophy in Ethnomusicology,
    Doctor of Philosophy in History and Theory
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012): $7,560 in-state; $18,180 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large suburb

SUNY at Albany

In the state capital of Albany, students can pursue an undergraduate program in music that offers individualized instruction. The school features a variety of ensembles and offers courses in jazz, music theory, conducting and songwriting. This program leads to a Bachelor of Arts and allows students to choose a concentration in one of the following areas: composition, conducting, musicology, performance, theory or voice. The program includes a 27-credit core, which is followed by 12-22 credits in the specialization area. In 2013, the Department of Music faculty included eight full-time members, as well as artists-in-residence, lecturers and a piano accompanist.

  • Program Offered: Bachelor of Arts in Music
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012): $7,525 in-state; $15,335 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; small city

Syracuse University

The first 4-year program in music was offered at Syracuse University in 1877. Today, the Setnor School of Music includes a career development center; a community music division; and separate departments devoted to the study of applied music, composition, entertainment and music education. Concert and instructional facilities are located in Crouse College, a landmark building with an acoustically refined concert hall, and students also have access to the largest private musical archive collection in North America.

In addition to a Bachelor of Arts program in music, the school offers a Bachelor of Music (BM) program in composition that includes music theory and orchestration training and a BM program in performance with courses in performing and music history. Undergraduates who are interested in artist or venue management, concert promotion or other business-related areas may also want to investigate the Bachelor of Science program in music and entertainment industries. Students from other departments can also choose from minors in music performance, jazz studies, private music study and music industry. Graduate students can choose from three Master of Music programs: conducting, composition and performance.

  • Programs Offered: Minor in Music,
    Bachelor of Arts in Music,
    Bachelor of Music in Composition,
    Bachelor of Music in Music Industry,
    Bachelor of Music in Performance,
    Bachelor of Science in Music and Entertainment,
    Master of Music in Composition,
    Master of Music in Conducting,
    Master of Music in Performance
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012): $39,004*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private, not-for-profit; midsize city

The Juilliard School

Located in Manhattan, the smallest school on this list was established in 1905 and currently serves the professional training needs of approximately 645 undergraduate and 324 graduate students. Alumni have won more than 100 total Grammy Awards, and the school features an archive of 75,000 scores and 25,000 audio recordings. The Juilliard School also has an internationally renowned collection of Steinway pianos and sponsors around 700 performance activities each year.

The Music Division is the largest one at The Julliard School, and it offers diploma and degree programs at a variety of levels in areas such as composition, orchestral conducting, voice and a variety of different instruments. For example, violin students in the String Department can earn a Bachelor of Music, a 72-credit undergraduate diploma, a Master of Music or a 26-credit graduate diploma. Students in the doctoral violin program complete 61 credits of coursework, a dissertation and performance work.

  • Programs Offered: Undergraduate diplomas in music,
    Bachelor of Music,
    Graduate diplomas in music,
    Artist Diplomas,
    Master of Music,
    Doctor of Musical Arts
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012): $35,140*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private, not-for-profit; large city

University at Buffalo

Through the Department of Music at the University at Buffalo, students can choose from among a dozen certificate, degree and minor programs. The present faculty consists of approximately 34 departmental leaders and professors. Unique to the university is the Center for 21st-Century Music along with one of the country's most advanced computer music studios.

The Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music programs cover core topics in harmony and counterpoint. Bachelor of Music students must complete 24 credits of voice or instrument instruction, while those in the BA program only select four courses from a set of elective options. The BA program also includes a thesis project. Students pursuing a minor in music academics or performance must complete 28 credits of music coursework.

In general, the Master of Arts and Master of Music programs require 32-36 credits to complete and can include a combination of coursework, an exam, proficiency in a foreign language and a thesis. Students in the Master of Music program may also be required to perform in concerts that pertain to their instrument of choice. Doctoral students typically complete 72 credits of coursework, which includes a dissertation. The PhD programs also require students to learn one of two foreign languages, depending on the program.

Performance students who have a bachelor's degree and are interested in a more abbreviated course of graduate study may want to consider the 24-credit advanced certificate program. This option requires students to complete studio lessons along with courses in contemporary ensemble work and rhythm training.

  • Programs Offered: Minor in Music,
    Bachelor of Arts in Music,
    Bachelor of Music in Performance,
    Advanced Certificate in Contemporary Performance,
    Master of Music in Performance,
    Master of Arts in Music Theory,
    Master of Arts in Composition,
    Master of Arts in Music History,
    Master of Arts/Doctor of Philosophy in Composition,
    Doctor of Philosophy in Composition,
    Doctor of Philosophy in Historical Musicology and Music Theory
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012): $7,989 in-state; $18,609 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large suburb

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Music Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013)
Columbia University 4-year, private, not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Arts in Music,
Master of Arts in Musicology,
Master of Arts in Composition,
Master of Philosophy in Musicology,
Doctor of Musical Arts,
Doctor of Philosophy in Musicology
$47,246*
Cornell University 4-year, private, not-for-profit; small city Bachelor of Arts in Music,
Doctor of Musical Arts in Musicology,
Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance Practice,
Doctor of Philosophy in Musicology
$43,413*
CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Arts in Music $5,910 in-state; $12,120 out-of-state*
CUNY Hunter College 4-year, public; large city Minor in Music,
Bachelor of Music,
Bachelor of Arts in Music,
Master of Arts in Music
$5,829 in-state; $12,039 out-of-state*
CUNY Queens College 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Arts in Music,
Bachelor of Music,
Certificates and diplomas in classical performance,
Master of Arts in Music,
Master of Music
$5,907 in-state; $12,117 out-of-state*
New York University 4-year, private, not-for-profit; large city Minor in Music,
Bachelor of Arts in Music,
Master of Arts/Doctor of Philosophy in Music
$43,204*
Stony Brook University (SUNY) 4-year, public; large suburb Minor in Music,
Bachelor of Arts in Music,
Master of Arts in Composition,
Master of Arts in Music History and Theory,
Master of Music in Music Performance,
Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Performance,
Doctor of Philosophy in Ethnomusicology,
Doctor of Philosophy in History and Theory
$7,560 in-state; $18,180 out-of-state*
SUNY at Albany 4-year, public; small city Bachelor of Arts in Music $7,525 in-state; $15,335 out-of-state*
Syracuse University 4-year, private, not-for-profit; midsize city Minor in Music,
Bachelor of Arts in Music,
Bachelor of Music in Composition,
Bachelor of Music in Music Industry,
Bachelor of Music in Performance,
Bachelor of Science in Music and Entertainment,
Master of Music in Composition,
Master of Music in Conducting,
Master of Music in Performance
$39,004*
The Juilliard School 4-year, private, not-for-profit; large city Undergraduate diplomas in music,
Bachelor of Music,
Graduate diplomas in music,
Artist Diplomas,
Master of Music,
Doctor of Musical Arts
$35,140*
University at Buffalo 4-year, public; large suburb Minor in Music,
Bachelor of Arts in Music,
Bachelor of Music in Performance,
Advanced Certificate in Contemporary Performance,
Master of Music in Performance,
Master of Arts in Music Theory,
Master of Arts in Composition,
Master of Arts in Music History,
Master of Arts/Doctor of Philosophy in Composition,
Doctor of Philosophy in Composition,
Doctor of Philosophy in Historical Musicology and Music Theory
$7,989 in-state; $18,609 out-of-state*

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics.


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