Top Ten Music Colleges in the Nation

Jul 31, 2018

Read about the top ten music colleges in the United States, where aspiring instrumentalists, singers and songwriters can perfect their skills. Find out what types of degrees are available at four high-profile schools, and get a sneak peek at other schools in the country that offer programs in music.

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School Overviews

Students can pursue undergraduate and/or graduate degree programs from ten of the top music institutions in the country. Programs feature intensive performance components, combined with advanced study of theory and history. Let's profile four schools, two of which are located in in New York City. Undergraduates at these institutions may pursue specialized training in a variety of instruments and styles; graduate students can also earn degrees in music.

Top institutions for music are considered based on national reputation, specialized programs, alumni success, financial aid, and world-class facilities.

1. The Juilliard School in New York, NY

School Highlight: Since its opening in 1905, the Juilliard School has earned a national reputation for educational excellence in the performing arts, including music.

At Juilliard, undergraduates can pursue a Bachelor of Music. Graduate degrees include a Master of Music (M.M.), a graduate diploma or an artist diploma, and a Doctor of Musical Arts. Programs are offered in historical performance, jazz studies, music performance, and opera studies.

Focused programs in guitar and voice are also available. Through collaborative partnerships with Columbia University and Barnard College, the school also provides training to non-Juilliard students who successfully audition.

2. Manhattan School of Music in New York, NY

School Highlight: Founded in 1917, the Manhattan School of Music offers a range of music education programs for approximately 900 students each year.

Undergraduates can major in a variety of classical and jazz instruments, from the bassoon to the violin. They can also take courses in music theory and history while participating in performances and competitions.

Graduate programs include a Master of Music (M.M.) or Doctor of Musical Arts in several areas, such as classical studies, contemporary performance, jazz arts, and orchestral performance. In conjunction with Teachers College at Columbia University, the Manhattan School of Music offers a dual-degree program that culminates in a Master of Music and a Master of Education in Music Education (Ed.M.), as well as a K-12 teaching certification.

3. Yale University in New Haven, CT

School Highlight: In 2017, U.S. News and World Report ranked Yale University as tied as the third best college in the nation, as well as the third best value school.

The music program has a selective admissions process, which requires students to demonstrate musicianship skills through recorded samples, live auditions, and entry exams.

The Yale School of Music offers graduate degrees, including an Master of Music, a Master of Musical Arts, and a Doctor of Musical Arts. The school also offers a combined Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)/Master of Music (M.M.) for outstanding students who wish to complete an accelerated master's degree.

4. Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA

School Highlight: Berklee College of Music has been training students for more than half a century and boasts alumni who have won over 250 Grammys and Latin Grammys. The school is the first music school in the U.S. to teach jazz as part of its curriculum.

The school offers undergraduates a Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Fine Arts, or Bachelor of Professional Studies in over 27 majors. The graduate school offers 32 programs that culminate in a Master of Music, Master of Arts, Master in Business Administration, or Master of Fine Arts.

In addition to these degrees, the school offers various certificates, summer programs, international programs, and even a Harvard/Berklee dual-degree program.

Top Music Colleges in the U.S.

Let's look at six other schools that could be considered among the top ten music colleges in the U.S.:

Name of School Distinction Location
Bucknell University Scholarships specifically for music majors Lewisburg, PA
DePauw University Music on the Square gathers music lovers of all ages to learn about and create music Greencastle, IN
Furman University The Maxwell Music Library Greenville, SC
Oberlin College and Conservatory Oldest music conservatory in the United States Oberlin, OH
University of Texas at Austin Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music presents approximately 600 concerts, recitals, operas, and other special events annually Austin, TX
Easeman School of Music at the University of Rochester Houses performance intensive degree programs, including certificates in the art of improvisation or ethnomusicology Rochester, NY

To summarize, undergraduate or graduate degrees in music can be earned from highly competitive top schools across the nation. These exceptional programs are unique in the degrees, resources, and performance opportunities they offer their students.

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