Seattle Music Schools with Degree Program Overviews

The Seattle area has a number of schools within ten miles of its downtown that offer music programs. Learn about three of these degree programs, admission info and program requirements to make an informed education decision.

Music Schools in Seattle

There are three schools in the Seattle area offering in-depth instruction and performance opportunities for music students. Read about the three schools and their programs below, and use the supplementary table to compare key institutional statistics. And don't forget to check out the section about other school options, which directly follows the table.

  • Seattle Pacific University offers bachelor's degree programs in music, including those that focus on composition, performance and technology. The university is located approximately 2.5 miles from downtown Seattle.
  • Shoreline Community College, located about nine miles from downtown Seattle, offers several associate's degree programs in music. These include a direct transfer program and two that provide training in classical piano and voice.
  • The University of Washington - Seattle offers a wide variety of specialized undergraduate and graduate programs in music, such as conducting, early music, guitar and jazz. The campus is located just over three miles from downtown Seattle.

Comparison of Schools

Students who are interested in careers as professional composers, music educators and musicians can use this table to compare the costs of a formal education at the three featured schools. Note that Shoreline Community College has open admissions and that nearly 100% of first-time undergraduates at Seattle Pacific University receive financial aid.

Seattle Pacific University Shoreline Community College University of Washington - Seattle
School Type 4-year; private, not-for-profit 2-year; public 4-year; public
Total Enrollment (2017) 3,783* 6,128* 46,166*
Campus Setting Large city Large suburb Large city
Tuition and Fees (2017-2018) $40,893* $3,802 in-state; $6,538 out-of-state* $10,974 in-state; $35,538 out-of-state*
% of Full-Time, Beginning Undergraduate Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017) 98%* 58%* 57%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) 91%* N/A - Open admissions* 46%*
Retention Rate (2016-2017) 79% for full-time students* 67% for full-time students; 38% for part-time students* 94% for full-time students; 76% for part-time students*
Graduation Rate 69% (Students began in 2011)* 31% (20% transfer-out rate) (Students began in 2014)* 84% (Students began in 2011)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle Pacific University is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church. The music programs are accredited by the American Music Therapy Association, the National Association of Schools of Music and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Through auditions, music students have access to various music ensembles that also carry credit. Proficiency in piano is required of all music majors. Credit requirements at this school are expressed in quarter credits.

Bachelor of Arts in Music: Composition Emphasis

Aspiring composers complete many of the same courses found in the Bachelor of Arts in Music program, as well as classes in instrumentation and orchestration, music technology applications and composition. Students receive individualized instruction in both performance and composition. This program requires at least 72 credits of major coursework in addition to 11 credits in the emphasis area.

Bachelor of Arts in Music: Performance Emphasis

In addition to the general music requirements, students complete an emphasis in music performance, which includes topics in context studies, piano pedagogy, sacred vocal repertoire and vocal pedagogy techniques. To fulfill the 83 credits of major coursework, students also participate in ensembles and receive individualized instruction in their area of performance.

Bachelor of Arts in Music: Recording Emphasis

A minimum of 83 credits must be completed for this major. In addition to core and required coursework, students will attend classes addressing mixing, live sound, midi and advanced music notation. Studies culminate in a 2-part music recording practicum.

Bachelor of Arts: Research Emphasis

In this major, students take all of the core, large and small ensemble, and individual instruction courses they would take in other areas of emphasis, but must also complete a senior research project worth 11 credits.

Bachelor of Arts in Music in Music Education

Students who want to teach music complete the general music requirements, participate in ensemble work and receive individualized instruction in a primary performance area. They must also complete a music education core and fulfill the university's School of Education requirements. Music education courses include training in voice, various instruments, arranging and conducting. Both guitar and piano proficiency are required, along with a solo recital. At least 119 credits are required for this major.

Shoreline Community College

Located within nine miles of downtown Seattle, this school offers 2-year degree programs that fulfill many of the general requirements for transfer to 4-year programs, but in some cases are more appropriate for students seeking a terminal music degree or planning to enter a music conservatory. Students acquire a liberal arts background with an emphasis on various areas of music, while earning a minimum of 90 quarter credits (60 semester credits).

Associate in Arts in Music - Direct Transfer Agreement

Students complete 90 quarter credits in this transfer degree program that includes the study of music theory and keyboard instruction. Aspiring musicians also receive private voice and instrument lessons. Those successfully completing this program will be prepared to transfer to 4-year music programs in the state of Washington.

Associate in Music in Classical Piano

Students seeking a terminal degree or further study at a conservatory may be interested in this 93-quarter credit program. Piano faculty members are also active performers; many students take part in juried recitals each quarter. Some students also accompany their peers in voice classes. Scholarships may be available for private lessons with juried examinations.

Associate in Music in Classical Voice

While completing 93 quarter credits, students take part in choir, opera and musical theatre productions, in addition to popular and folk music ensembles. Also provided are private voice lessons, recitals, performance classes and master classes. At the end of each quarter, students participate in juried performances, which provide them with the opportunity to demonstrate their progress for peers and faculty. Most credits will transfer to 4-year schools.

Associate in Music in Instrumental Music

In addition to general education and distribution requirements, students looking for a terminal music degree or planning to enter a conservatory take part in small and large ensembles, studying jazz, classical and contemporary music. This 93-credit program offers limited scholarships.

University of Washington - Seattle

Music majors at this school must audition in their principal areas of performance. Students should also have at least four years of private study on an instrument. In addition, applicants take placement tests that evaluate their level of knowledge in music history and theory. Most programs require two years of basic piano instruction during the course of study. Credit requirements for this school are expressed as quarter credits.

Bachelor of Arts in Music

Students in the Bachelor of Arts program can major in instrumentals, voice, early music, music theory, American music studies or music history. In general, the programs require 180 credits to complete and include a music core and 69 credits of major coursework. The remaining 90 credits are taken outside of the major. Students also receive private instruction in vocals or instrumentals.

Bachelor of Music

The Bachelor of Music program includes majors in composition, guitar, jazz studies and music education. Majors in orchestral instruments, organ, piano, strings, voice or music history are also available. In addition to auditioning, applicants to the music education program take part in an interview; those applying to the composition program submit a portfolio of recent work. Prerequisites for the major in music history include core courses in music; prospective students submit a writing sample. Students in the Bachelor of Arts programs may jury into the Bachelor of Music programs as they complete their freshman or sophomore years. Piano proficiency is required.

Master of Music

Graduate students in the Master of Music program can pursue specialized studies in choral or instrumental conducting, jazz studies and improvised music, composition, or instrumental performance. The number of required credits varies depending on the specialized area of study chosen. Applicants should have bachelor's degrees in music and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Students applying to the composition program must provide their Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Admission to all graduate programs requires auditions in students' areas of performance. The programs must be completed in six years and culminate in a thesis and an oral defense.

Master of Arts

Students can earn a Master of Arts in Music Education, Music History, Music Theory or Ethnomusicology. Applicants must have bachelor's degrees in music and a minimum GPA of 3.0; they'll also need to submit their GRE scores. Students have to complete the 45-51 credits in six years and write a thesis. Proficiency in a foreign language is also required.

Doctor of Musical Arts

Areas of study and application requirements associated with the Doctor of Musical Arts program are identical to those found in the Master of Music program. Doctoral candidates complete 90 credits of coursework and meet the program's foreign language and performance requirements. They also write a dissertation and pass a final examination based on the dissertation. This program must be completed within ten years.

Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education, Music History or Music Theory

Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree in music, a minimum GPA of 3.0 and satisfactory GRE scores. This program also takes 90 credits to complete; additional requirements include proficiency in a foreign language, a dissertation and a passing score on a final examination. Students must also meet the program's performance requirements and finish the program within ten years.

Other School Options

Other area schools with music programs are private, not-for profit institutions located within 40 miles of downtown Seattle. The Cornish College of the Arts and Seattle University are both located right in Seattle. Northwest University is situated about eight miles from the city's downtown, while Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Puget Sound are 33 miles and 25 miles from Seattle, respectively.


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