Nyu music school acceptance rate

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Music at New York University

Music is one of the majors in the visual & performing artsprogram at New York University.

We've gathered data and other essential information about the program, such as the average salary of graduates, ethnicity of students, how many students graduated in recent times, and more. In addition, we cover how NYU ranks in comparison to other schools with music programs.

Go directly to any of the following sections:

Music Degrees Available at NYU

NYU Music Rankings

NYU is in the top 10% of the country for music. More specifically it was ranked #59 out of 697 schools by College Factual. It is also ranked #8 in New York.

Popularity of Music at NYU

During the 2019-2020 academic year, New York University handed out 76 bachelor's degrees in music. Due to this, the school was ranked #7 in popularity out of all colleges and universities that offer this degree. This is a decrease of 15% over the previous year when 89 degrees were handed out.

In 2020, 163 students received their master’s degree in music from NYU. This makes it the #2 most popular school for music master’s degree candidates in the country.

In addition, 11 students received their doctoral degrees in music in 2020, making the school the #43 most popular school in the United States for this category of students.

How Much Do Music Graduates from NYU Make?

Salary of Music Graduates with a Bachelor's Degree

The median salary of music students who receive their bachelor's degree at NYU is $16,900. Unfortunately, this is lower than the national average of $22,900 for all music students.


Salary of Music Graduates with a Master's Degree

Music majors graduating with a master's degree from NYU make a median salary of $28,800 a year. This is a better than average outcome since the median salary for all music graduates with a master's is $24,400.


How Much Student Debt Do Music Graduates from NYU Have?

Student Debt of Music Graduates with a Bachelor's Degree

While getting their bachelor's degree at NYU, music students borrow a median amount of $20,500 in student loans. This is not too bad considering that the median debt load of all music bachelor's degree recipients across the country is $25,500.


The typical student loan payment of a bachelor's degree student from the music program at NYU is $213 per month.

Student Debt of Music Graduates with a Master's Degree

At NYU, a typical music student working on their master's degree borrrows about $100,957 in student loans. This is not favorable since the median amount of student debt for all music master's graduates is $38,250.


Those master's students from NYU on a 10-year student debt repayment plan end up paying a median amount of $1,176 per month.

NYU Music Students

Take a look at the following statistics related to the make-up of the music majors at New York University.

NYU Music Bachelor’s Program

Of the 76 music students who graduated with a bachelor's degree in 2019-2020 from NYU, about 41% were men and 59% were women.


The majority of bachelor's degree recipients in this major at NYU are white. In the most recent graduating class for which data is available, 61% of students fell into this category.

The following table and chart show the ethnic background for students who recently graduated from New York University with a bachelor's in music.

Ethnic BackgroundNumber of Students
Black or African American2
Hispanic or Latino6
Non-Resident Aliens2
Other Races10

NYU Music Master’s Program

Of the 192 students who graduated with a Master’s in music from NYU in 2020, 49% were men and 51% were women.


The following table and chart show the ethnic background for students who recently graduated from New York University with a master's in music.

Ethnic BackgroundNumber of Students
Black or African American16
Hispanic or Latino22
Non-Resident Aliens54
Other Races9

Most Popular Related Majors

View All Music Related Majors >


More about our data sources and methodologies.

Sours: https://www.collegefactual.com/colleges/new-york-university/academic-life/academic-majors/visual-and-performing-arts/music/

Steinhardt offers a wide range of baccalaureate, masters, arts, and professional graduate degree programs. Our vibrant student community can be found in our five schools: School of Culture Critical Studies, the Music Conservatory, the Performing Arts, the Henry W. Bloch School of Management & Business Administration, and the School for Continuing & Professional Studies.  

NYU Steinhardt Music is a leading conservatory that prepares students to lead rewarding careers as performers, educators, scholars, and arts leaders. Each year, NYU Steinhardt Music receives over 17,000 applications from qualified candidates for our 1,400 available first-year spots. NYU Steinhardt has one of the most successful liberal arts music schools in the country. The acceptance rates for our undergraduate and graduate programs are among the lowest in the nation. So what does this mean? Rodgers & Hammerstein, Joan Baez, Lena Horne, Regina Carter, Diana Krall – just to name a few – all got their start right here.

Right here on Collegelearners, you can rest assured to obtain all the relevant information you need on NYU music technology, NYU music department, NYU Steinhardt tuition, NYU music graduate programs, is it hard to get into NYU Steinhardt, NYU Steinhardt music business acceptance rate, and so much more. Be sure to surf through our catalog for more information on related topics.

Read: >>> Top Ranking Universities in USA

How to Audition | BM, Music Theory and Composition | NYU Steinhardt

NYU music courses

Music and Performing Arts Professions

Welcome to the Steinhardt School’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions at New York University.

NYU Steinhardt is the premier music conservatory for both traditional and contemporary music. It is home to four of the most dynamic music performance programs in the United States, including the Jazz Studies Program, the Music Production and Design Program, Classical Guitar Program, and Opera Studies Program. Several competitive music grants are also available to aid in funding your studies. The acceptance rate for students during admission is very competitive compared to other higher education institutions.

NYU Steinhardt offers the highest level of professional training in the performing arts within the world’s cultural center, New York City. This is matched by the superb academic resources of a world-class university. Undergraduates receive intensive and systematic training in their specialization with acclaimed faculty along with a broad liberal arts education. Graduate students receive specialized academic training; lessons, performances, and master classes aimed at advancing their artistic goals; and advanced research opportunities in new and sophisticated facilities.

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NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Music is one of the most selective graduate programs in the country. With our recent expansion, we are able to accept more students than ever through our competitive program of applications, auditions, and musical analysis.

Read: >>> Easiest Universities to Get Into in USA

NYU Steinhardt is committed to building individualized paths towards success in music. Through challenging academics, hands-on experience with the most current technologies, studio time with our world-renowned faculty, and opportunities to network with alumni worldwide, you will gain the tools to become an innovator in your discipline. The NYU Steinhardt Music Department community strives to cultivate composers, performers, technologists, theorists, and musicians of all kinds. Offering degrees in composition, production, performance, music technology, theory/composition for film and media, music business and management.

NYU Screen Scoring Recording Sessions | NYU Steinhardt

nYU steinhardt music theatre acceptance rate

Acceptance Rate

534 Applied 269 Accepted 141 Enrolled 50%

nYU music graduate programs

Degrees Offered

(Advanced Certificate)Vocal pedagogy
Master of Music (MM)Instrumental performanceInstrumental performance
Master of Music (MM)Instrumental performanceJazz instrumental performance
Master of Music (MM)Piano performanceCollaborative piano
Master of Music (MM)Piano performanceSolo piano
Master of Music (MM)Music theory and compositionMusic theory and composition
Master of Music (MM)Music theory and compositionComposition for film and multimedia
Master of Music (MM)Music theory and compositionComposition for music theater
Master of Music (MM)Music theory and compositionComputer music composition
Master of Music (MM)Music theory and compositionSongwriting
Master of Music (MM)Vocal performanceMusical theatre performance
Master of Music (MM)Vocal performanceClassical voice
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)Music performance and compositionMusic performance and composition

nYU steinhardt acceptance rate

NYU has been getting more and more competitive over recent years. In 2021, NYU’s acceptance rate fell to a record low: 12%. That means that NYU admits 12 out of every 100 applicants. An acceptance rate of just 12% means that NYU is highly selective—and getting even more so.

is nYU steinhardt a good school

NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development has snagged the #6 ranking on the U.S. News & World Report’s list of top graduate schools of education. The U.S. News & World Report rankings are based on data gathered from the 2019-2020 academic year.

Every day, NYU Steinhardt attracts top-quality students worldwide to its renowned programs in arts and design education. We are consistently ranked among the top institutions in the nation while offering special programs for adults, non-traditional students, the business community, the military and educators. If you’re like most students, you probably spent your high school years dreaming of the moment you’d leave for college. Not only does NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development offer a vibrant first year program to prepare you, but a comprehensive study abroad program as well. Steinhardt is a top-ranked university for education and human development with a renowned faculty. With a student to teacher ratio of 10:1, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from the best!

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How to Apply | BM in Music Education | NYU Steinhardt
Sours: https://collegelearners.com/nyu-steinhardt-music-acceptance-rate/
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Program in Music Performance and Composition


New York University / Program in Music Performance and Composition is located in New York, NY, in an urban setting.

Degrees & Awards

Degrees Offered

(Advanced Certificate) Vocal pedagogy
Master of Music (MM) Instrumental performance Instrumental performance
Master of Music (MM) Instrumental performance Jazz instrumental performance
Master of Music (MM) Piano performance Collaborative piano
Master of Music (MM) Piano performance Solo piano
Master of Music (MM) Music theory and composition Music theory and composition
Master of Music (MM) Music theory and composition Composition for film and multimedia
Master of Music (MM) Music theory and composition Composition for music theater
Master of Music (MM) Music theory and composition Computer music composition
Master of Music (MM) Music theory and composition Songwriting
Master of Music (MM) Vocal performance Musical theatre performance
Master of Music (MM) Vocal performance Classical voice
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Music performance and composition Music performance and composition

Degrees Awarded

DegreeNumber Awarded
Master's Degrees 130
Doctoral Degrees2
Other Advanced Degrees12

Earning Your Degree

Part-time study available?Yes
Evening/weekend programs available?No
Distance learning programs available?No
Terminal master's degree available?No


Acceptance Rate


Application Fee - Domestic


applications accepted?


Applications processed
on a rolling basis?

Application Deadlines

TypeDomesticInternationalPriority date
Fall deadline December 1st December 1st Yes
Spring deadline October 1st October 1st No

Entrance Requirements

Master's Degree RequirementsAudition
Doctoral Degree ExamGRE General Test
Doctoral Degree RequirementsAudition, interview

International Students

TOEFL: Required TOEFL IBT score: 100

Tuition & Fees

Calculator icon

Financial Support

Financial award applicants must submit:FAFSA
Application deadlines for financial awardsFebruary 1
Types of financial support available Fellowships
Scholarship and/or loans
Tuition waivers for student who do not receive fellowships or assistantships
Federal Work-Study
Financial support for part-time students


Focus of faculty research:Aesthetics, performance analysis, twentieth century music, music methodologies for arts criticism and analysis
Externally sponsored research expenditures last year: 0

Location & Contact

Address 35 West 4th Street
Suite 1077
New York, NY  10012
United States

Contact Dr. Tae Hong Park
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 212-998-5424
Fax: 212-995-4043

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The Graduate School Application Process - NYU School of Professional Studies

The Hollywood Reporter Unveils the Top 25 Music Schools 2014

This story first appeared in the Nov. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

1. The Juilliard SchoolNEW YORK

Some students call it “Jailyard,” but only 6.7 percent of applicants are admitted (with 90 percent receiving scholarships covering two-thirds of tuition). “It’s fantastic, with every program imaginable,” says alum Mark Snow, who scored The X-Files. In 1967, he started the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble with fellow oboe student Michael Kamen, played a Juilliard Halloween party, wowed Leonard Bernstein, got signed to Atlantic Records by Ahmet Ertegun and wound up, like Oscar nominee Kamen (Die Hard, X-Men), a top composer. Says Snow, “I was a fan of atonal music and put some of that into my score for X-Files.”

Notable alumniYo-Yo Ma, Bernard Herrmann

See moreHighly Paid Film Stars

2. Berklee College of MusicBOSTON

Other schools often worship eminent dead composers, but Berklee always has championed the populist idea of studying contemporary music, which explains why alums have won more than 300 Grammys. This year, the school opened a $100 million 16-story tower with a 10-studio production complex. “Berklee gave me the tools I needed to do what I do now,” says alum Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings), who has won three Oscars, four Grammys and the 2014 Billboard/THR Maestro Award. Recently launched: Berklee Online, offering bachelor’s degrees in music production and music business at 60 percent of the cost of a traditional degree.

Notable alumniKiesza, three members of Imagine Dragons, Jeff Bhasker, Psy


The university’s Thornton School of Music is 130 years old — making it L.A.’s oldest continuously operating cultural institution. Thornton is where one studies with DJ-producer Young Guru or aims to emulate alumni Bear McCreary, who scores The Walking Dead. When Chaka Khan recently led a master class, says publicist Evan Calbi, “students began playing her hit ‘Tell Me Something Good,’ and she jumped up and sang with them.” USC’s Iovine and Young Academy, opened this fall, was launched with $70 million from Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. It’s a collaborative program for arts, technology, and business.

Notable alumniDavid Newman, Marilyn Horne

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Prolific musician, mogul, philanthropist and nine-time Grammy winner Alpert was photographed with students in May at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, ranked No. 4 on THR’s Top 25 Music Schools list.

4. UCLA Herb Alpert School of MusicLOS ANGELES

Thanks to Alpert’s $30 million gift, UCLA is strongly interdisciplinary, with music, musicology and ethnomusicology departments. Students can study jazz at the school’s Thelonious Monk Institute or ad-jingle culture with Timothy D. Taylor, author of The Sounds of Capitalism.

Notable alumniRandy Newman, John Williams

5. Oberlin ConservatoryOBERLIN, OHIO

Mixing a liberal arts college (Lena Dunham‘s alma mater) with the nation’s oldest conservatory, Oberlin recently launched an artists-in-residence program funded by alum Ed Helms. Its first visitors, grad Chris Eldridge‘s Punch Brothers, mix classical and bluegrass “like chocolate and peanut butter, two things wonderful on their own,” says Helms. “Together, it’s, ‘Wow, that’s really, really delicious also.’ “

Notable alumni Jonathan Sacks, Liz Phair

See moreTHR’s Top 25 Film Schools List Revealed

6. New England Conservatory BOSTON

Homeland composer Sean Callery credits his three Emmy wins for 24 to the NEC teachers who made him practice six to eight hours a day: “All my teachers were at the top of their game.” Seven alums won 2014 Grammys playing with Beyonce and Yo-Yo Ma.

Notable alumniBernie Worrell, Sarah Caldwell

7. Curtis Institute of MusicPHILADELPHIA

An acceptance rate of 4.8 percent, one point lower than the undergraduate rates for Harvard and Stanford, comes as a result of the school’s free-tuition policy. Its 177 students follow in the footsteps of such alums as Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber.

Notable alumni Jennifer Higdon, Lang Lang

Read more‘Lord of the Rings’ Composer Howard Shore on Scoring 80 Movies: “I Often Felt Like Frodo”

8. Eastman School of MusicROCHESTER, N.Y.

Students and the job market don’t always make beautiful music together, but a third of Eastman upperclassmen prepare for a paying career through the entrepreneurial Institute for Music Leadership. “As soon as I arrived, I went to work,” says Kathryn Lewek, ’08, who in 2013 debuted as the Queen of the Night in the Met’s The Magic Flute.

Notable alumniRon Carter, Jeff Beal, Renee Fleming

9. New York University NEW YORK

NYU’s Steinhardt Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions emphasizes “collaborative competition” and launches people like The Book of Mormon lead Nic Rouleau. The separate Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music in NYU’s renowned Tisch School of the Arts has launched creative moguls and such rising stars as ABC’s Nashville songwriter Grace Kelly and Bjork‘s new producer Arca.

Notable alumniElmer Bernstein, Alan Menken

See more ‘Pulp Fiction,’ ‘Thelma & Louise’ Stars Reunite

10. Royal College of Music LONDON

Students get weekly one-on-one lessons from players in London’s symphony orchestras — who swiftly are poaching Hollywood soundtrack work. Hans Zimmer and soprano Kiri Te Kanawa give master classes.

Notable alumniJames Galway, L.A. Phil president and CEO Deborah Borda

11. Manhattan School of MusicNEW YORK

MSM has a slightly less formidable reputation than Juilliard, whose former campus it occupies. On the other hand, flute student Elena Pinderhughes, 19, appeared on HBO at 11 and played Carnegie Hall, the White House, the Kennedy Center and the Monterey and Montreux jazz festivals.

Notable alumniMax Roach, Harry Connick Jr.

Read moreComposer Hans Zimmer Talks ‘Interstellar’ Origin, Punk Influence on ‘Dark Knight’

12. Yale School of Music NEW HAVEN, CONN.

“Yale is probably unique,” says alum and UCLA ethnomusicology professor Timothy D. Taylor, because its music school and music department are separate, “so there’s no competition over resources between the academics and performers/composers.” Another plus: the Binger Center for New Theatre, which teams musicians with the Yale School of Drama (No. 1 in THR‘s Top Drama Schools poll).

Notable alumniCharles Ives, Cole Porter, Carter Brey

13. Indiana University Jacobs School of MusicBLOOMINGTON

Jacobs’ voice students are feared at Metropolitan Opera auditions the way Indiana wrestlers intimidate at the Olympics. To make sure students master entrepreneurship as well as art, there’s a new collaboration between Jacobs and IU’s Kelley School of Business called Project Jumpstart. Jacobs students will make the school’s first movie musical with actor and IU professor Robby Benson in 2015.

Notable alumniBooker T. Jones, Leonard Slatkin

Read moreTop Drama Schools of 2014

14. California Institute of the ArtsVALENCIA

CalArts’ Herb Alpert School of Music recently added a performer/composer program and in April released CalArts Capitol Sessions, a 25th anniversary album of student jazz recorded annually at Capitol Studios. Students also stage showcase performances at the Troubadour.

Notable alumniJulia Holter, Michael Fitzpatrick

15. University of Miami Frost School of Music MIAMI

The Frost School, founded in 1926, houses a traditional school, the freely interdisciplinary Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music Program and the genre-busting Henry Mancini Institute, with new artistic director Terence Blanchard. In the music business program, says student Kristopher Gibbons, “Ninety percent of students find jobs as soon as they graduate.”

Notable alumniBen Folds, Patti Scialfa

See more Broadway Portraits With Glenn Close, Ewan McGregor and Matthew Broderick

16. Conservatoire de Paris PARIS

Granted, the famous school founded in 1795 could be straitlaced, as when student Claude Debussy annoyed teachers by trying dissonance. But it has produced Edgard Varese, idol of Frank Zappa, and Andre Previn.

Notable alumni Pierre Boulez, Maurice Ravel

17. University of North Texas DENTON

Austin is a famous music capital, but plenty of hipsters prefer Denton, which has its own music festival with 200,000 fans. The school boasts an incredible procession of alums including Roy Orbison, Pat Boone,Norah Jones,Meat Loaf and Deep Blue Something (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”).

Notable alumniDon Henley, Lyle Mays

See more Titans of Comic-Con: Stars Re-Create Classic Characters

18. Guildhall School of Music & Drama LONDON

Besides training actors (Claire Bloom,Orlando Bloom), Guildhall is a premier school for musicians and music makers like Beatles producer George Martin.

Notable alumniHarry Gregson-Williams, Marian McPartland

19. Cleveland Institute of MusicCLEVELAND

Founded in 1920, CIM is one of the few schools to require Eurythmics — not the band, the technique of using movement to learn rhythm. It’s on par with global schools like the U.K.’s Royal College of Music, which offers joint classes at CIM online.

Notable alumniAnthony Holland, Dennis Eberhard

See moreThe Beatles: Ringo Starr’s Never-Before-Seen Photos of the Fab Four

20. Syracuse UniversitySYRACUSE, N.Y.

The Setnor School of Music’s business-focused Bandier Program, launched in 2011 by Sony/ATV Music Publishing chairman and CEO Martin Bandier, sends dozens of students to network at CMJ and SXSW. Says program director David Rezak, “Our placement rate for the first three classes is 90 percent.”

Notable alumni Drew Taggart, Michael George

21. Seoul Institute of the ArtsSEOUL

About 2,400 students study at SIA on two campuses that president Yoo Duk-hyung has compared to a medical school: “Education meets actual professional production.”

Notable alumni Lee Bo Ram, Bae Suzy

22. California State University NorthridgeNORTHRIDGE

CSUN sends grads to the Monterey Jazz Festival, major orchestras and L.A.’s nearby entertainment industry for a fraction of a private conservatory’s cost.

Notable alumniAndy Summers, Gordon Goodwin

See moreElvis Presley: See Never-Before-Published Photos of the King

23. Middle Tennessee State UniversityMURFREESBORO

MTSU music business school grads run the Nashville outposts of Sony Music and Universal Music as well as New York’s Electric Lady Studios. Chris Young and Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott went there, too. “They have an incredible music business school,” says Elvis Presley expert Alanna Nash.

Notable alumniGary Overton, Blake Chancey

24. Belmont University NASHVILLE

Belmont’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business is wired deeply into the Nashville music scene but also L.A. and New York. And it owns studios used by everyone from Elvis to Sheryl Crow.

Notable alumniTrisha Yearwood

25. Full Sail University WINTER PARK, FLA.

The for-profit school focuses not on traditional performance art but engineering — and getting great jobs. Alums have mixed, recorded or assisted on 18 of the past 24 Grammy album of the year winners.

Notable alumniGary Rizzo, Sebastian Krys

(For The Hollywood Reporter’s annual ranking of the world’s top music schools, THR editors and dozens of industry and academic insiders assessed each school’s reputation, and the honored schools then ranked one another’s programs anonymously.)

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Sours: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/music-news/hollywood-reporter-unveils-top-25-745732/

Music rate acceptance nyu school


Illustrative image of nyu music business acceptance rate

Overall, NYU Steinhardt Music Business is considered to be one of the most respected music programs offered in schools nowadays.  Featuring second-to-none artistic resources as well as top-of-the-line course work, NYU Steinhardt offers students opportunities to learn the necessary skills to thrive in the music industry. Considering the popularity of NYU Steinhardt Music Business, it’s only natural that many people want to apply to it. Would-be applicants tend to have lots of questions but one thing always attracts attention: NYU Music Business acceptance rate.

You like to know how competitive NYU Steinhardt Music Business is but unable to find information about its acceptance rate? If that is so, this article is exactly what you need. Down below, you would be introduced to virtually everything that you must remember regarding NYU Music Business acceptance rate from admission processes to statistics. 

How Steinhardt Take/Process Applications

Illustrative image of nyu music business acceptance rate

At Steinhardt, the applications would be processed on a rolling basis which means your application is going to be considered as soon as it arrives. That is in contrast with the traditional method of beginning the selection process after the deadline passes for some time. 

You can watch this step by step video to solve this issue:

NYU Steinhardt Music Business provides two options: Bachelor Of Music (BM) and Master Of Art (MA)

BM, Music Business

For Freshmen 

To join NYU Steinhardt Music Business as a freshman, it’s mandatory that you upload your application package to GetAcceptd. The application package for freshman includes four components:  

  • A Cover Sheet (Available on the website of NYU Steinhardt)
  • A One-Page Résumé: Introduce schools that you attend, work, internship, position, extracurricular activities,…
  • A Short Video: You need to sing certain components of particular songs so the faculty could assess your ability to stay on a pitch and carry a tune. You should be able to find additional details on the school website.   
  • Two Short Essay: You have to write two short essays about specific subjects that NYU Steinhardt Music Business lists. Feel free to drop by the website of the school to get more information. 

Optional: If you want to show your talents in other areas of music, NYU Steinhardt Music Business allows you to send them an optional video that highlights such abilities by uploading it to GetAcceptd. 

For Transfer Students  

Like freshmen, you have to upload your application package to GetAcceptd if you want to join NYU Steinhardt Music Business as a transfer student. However, the application package for transfer students only consists of three components:

  • A One-Page Cover Letter: Write about your school, your major, the number of semesters you have completed why you want to enroll in NYU Steinhardt. 
  • A One-Page Résumé: Introduce schools that you attend, work, internship, position, extracurricular activities, …
  • A Short Video: You need to sing certain components of particular songs so the faculty could assess your ability to stay on a pitch and carry a tune. You should be able to find additional details on the school website.   

Optional: If you want to show your talents in other areas of music, NYU Steinhardt Music Business allows you to send them an optional video that highlights such abilities by uploading it to GetAcceptd. 

Additional Steps: Students that transfer to NYU Steinhardt Music Business have to complete a couple of things such as MPAMB-UE 100 Business Structure, supplemental application package and so on. Visit the website if NYU Steinhardt and follow the instructions there. 

MA, Music Business

To join MA, Music Business, you have to upload”

  • A Résumé: Upload your most recent curriculum vitae
  • A Long Essay: Wrote about a topic with requirements set out by NYU Steinhardt
  • An Outline Of Personal Data: Talk about your goals, abilities, experiences and so on using guiding questions of NYU Steinhardt
  • Two Letters Of Recommendations: These letters should talk about your strengths, weaknesses, potentials and similar issues. Needless to say, it’s wise to request your letters well in advance of the deadline.  
  • A Copy Of Transcripts: Upload a copy of transcripts from every postsecondary school you attend including the present one.

*If your native language isn’t English:  NYU Steinhardt require that international student send them official scores from one of the following English language exams: TOEFL, IELTS and PTE Academic. In the case your score happens to be expired, you must retake the exam.  

Successful Enrollment At NYU Music Business: Numbers

Illustrative image of nyu music business acceptance rate

Out of 99 people that applied to NYU Music Business, the school accepted 63 applicants which means the NYU Music Business acceptance rate should be around 63% nowadays. Still, it’s worth noting that the acceptance rate possesses negligible influences on the chance of enrollment of individual people. 

Frequently Asked Question And Answers About NYU Steinhardt Music Business

  • What should I do if I want to visit a Music Business class?

Despite the fact that Steinhardt Music Business does offer campus tours, you should be able to take a sitting in a class by sending the school an email. Keep in mind that Steinhardt only arranges class visits during Fall semesters. 

  • Are there any financial aids available? 

NYU Steinhardt offers need-based (determined by FAFSA) as well as merit-based (determined by achievements) financial aids to students.  

  • What about the opportunities to study abroad for credit? 

The school offer students course on Global Music Management (London) and Emerging Models and Markets For Music (Rio de Janeiro) during January intermission.  

  • Is it necessary to get a music/business undergraduate degree before joining the master’s program? 

Well, students of NYU Steinhardt have a variety of backgrounds with various undergraduate degrees. Therefore, you could join without having to earn degrees that relate to music and business.

  • Do I have to take standardized tests (MAT, GRE,…) to join NYU Music Business?

Technically, NYU Steinhardt dose does not require applicants to take part in standardized tests to join Music Business. Still, the school encourages people to take the tests and send them copies of the score sheet.


Jeff DeLia

Hi music fan! I am Jeff. Hope that you enjoy some stuff I shared here in my personal blog.

About myself, Currently I am  in charging as Artist Manager/Music Supervisor at 72 Music Management. I did managed album to Grammy Award in 2017 with 7 Nominations from 2014-2020 and had the opportunities to work with : A.J. Croce, Blind Boys of Alabama, Bobby Rush, Dom Flemons, Dustbowl Revival, Sarah Grace

Governor of the Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy is one of a award that I am lucky to achieved.

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NYU Steinhardt Music Education - A Day in the Life


Many students learn some kind of musical instrument in elementary school. Some continue through high school, and some even plan on continuing to do some kind of musical activity in college.

For a small fraction of students, though, music is not only something they want to continue studying, but it is the only thing they want to focus on studying in college.

If you're one of these students who wants to go to music school, then this article is for you. We'll go over what kind of experience you can expect to have at the best music schools and what you should look for in a top music school. We'll also introduce to you to our ranking of the best music schools in the US (for undergraduates).


What Is a Music School?

At the college or university level, music schools come in a couple of different forms. The most specialized of these is the music conservatory. Our list of best music schools is mostly comprised of a) conservatories that are part of larger institutions and b) standalone conservatories.

As a conservatory student, you will almost exclusively take music classes. You may have some required liberal arts core classes as well, but the expectation at a conservatory is that the vast majority (at least 95%) of your time will be devoted to music classes, studio lessons, performing, practicing, and composing (depending on your major).

Undergraduates at music conservatories generally graduate with a Bachelor of Music (BM) degree, although some conservatories may offer Bachelor of Musical Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music degrees. Additionally, if the conservatory is affiliated with a larger university or college, you may be able to get a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Music instead.

At conservatories that are part of a larger university, it's also possible to get dual degrees in music and a non-music field. For some of these schools, you must apply to both the conservatory and the non-music undergraduate program of your choice and be accepted to both to take classes at both; at other schools, you can apply to the regular college to begin with and then take courses in the conservatory, or vice versa.

Dual degree programs usually graduate students with a Bachelor of Music degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree (either in music or some other unrelated field), although other pairings do exist (e.g. BM/Bachelor of Science, or BA/Master of Music). Occasionally you can get this dual degree in the same four years you would take for a single degree, but more often dual degree programs take five or more years.

At many conservatories, it's also possible to get an undergraduate certificate or artist's diploma instead of a bachelor's degree. Undergraduate diploma programs are usually only offered to performance majors (although occasionally you may run into a composition undergraduate diploma) and are often restricted to students who already have a bachelor's degree in another subject but have decided to return to school to study music. These programs do not have the same liberal arts requirements or academic focus as other types of undergraduate music degrees.

Attending a conservatory of music is a good choice for students who are seriously considering pursuing a career in music and want their university experience to primarily center around music.

A second type of music school is a college or university that has a good music program but does not offer a specialized undergraduate music degree (BM). Students at these types of music schools graduate with a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Music, rather than a Bachelor of Music. Rather than spending 95%+ of your time on music, you'll generally end up spending at most 50% of your time on music and 50% on other academic subjects.

Most top-ranked liberal arts colleges (and even some top-ranked universities) fall into this second category of music school. If you're a student who loves music but also wants to get a good non-music education, schools with good music programs (rather than conservatories) are the way to go.

This description fit me to a tee when I was in high school. I wanted to attend a school that had outstanding academics, including a good music program, rather than a school that had an outstanding music program and some good non-music courses. Because of this, I went to a liberal arts college for undergrad and only went to a conservatory for my Master's degree.

The trade-off when it comes to music schools is that most non-conservatories with good music programs won't have the same quality music programs as do the best conservatories in the country. That's why, out of all the schools on this list, the only school listed that does not have a conservatory program for undergraduate students is Yale.


Our Methodology for Choosing the Top Music Schools in the US

Because there are so many different kinds of programs within each music school, it's difficult to give a definitive ranking for how they compare to one another.

Take a look at this list of the different kinds of programs you might expect to find at a music school:

  • general music (theory, musicology, ear training, etc)
  • performance (instruments, conducting, early music, jazz/contemporary music)
  • composition (including film music)
  • music technology/audio engineering
  • music education
  • music industry
  • musical theatre (usually in partnership with a theatre studies/drama program)

Many of these courses of study can be further divided up into different subprograms. For instance, under the "performance" umbrella, schools will have different programs for different families of instruments (brass, woodwinds, strings), which will each have different tracks for different instruments.

While it's great that music schools have such a wide breadth of programs, it also means that the quality of different programs can vary widely within the same school. Even if you assume a school is equally proficient at every performance major, for example, it's unlikely that it will be equally as strong in its performance majors as it is in its music industry program.

There's no guarantee that a music school's are even in the same tier of quality—for example, it's very likely a school could have a top-level music industry program but a below-average music education program.

Taking all this into consideration, for our list of the best music schools in the US we've chosen schools that provide students with the best overall music education for undergraduates. This assessment is based partially on rankings of student satisfaction and earnings and partially on the reputation of the school as a music school.

For our music school rankings, we've grouped schools into three different categories. Attending any one of the schools on this list will prepare you for future studies in music and give you a foundation on which to build a future music career.

First, we'll look at the best music programs within larger schools. Most of these are conservatories within a larger university or college setting.

Next, we'll consider the best music-only schools. These schools are all conservatories unattached to larger institutions, although cross-registration may be possible with other non-conservatories in the area.

Finally, we'll go through some honorable mention music schools. These are music schools that aren't quite at the level of the 15 schools in the other two categories but are still notable for various reasons, including affordability, overall reputation of the institution the music school is affiliated with, or promotion of interdisciplinary study.


body_musictheoryPictured above: the interdisciplinary study of music theory and why won't earbuds stay in my ears.


The Best University Music Programs in the US

The schools in this category are for the most part conservatories within larger universities. Many schools on this list offer dual degrees, or at the very least cross-registration between the music school and other undergraduate programs that are part of the same overarching university.

We've come up with a rough overall ranking order for these schools based on reputation, student satisfaction, affordability, breadth of offerings, and selectivity.

However, it's important to keep in mind that the difference in actual teaching quality among all the schools is pretty negligible and is more major-dependent than school-dependent, so judging Jacobs as better than, say, Eastman is more a matter of what you study and what kind of environment you want to be in than anything else.

1Jacobs School of MusicIndiana University—BloomingtonBM, BME, BS, Assoc. Sci.
2Peabody InstituteJohns Hopkins UniversityBM, UD
3School of Music, Theatre, and DanceUniversity of Michigan—Ann ArborBFA, BM, BMA, BS
4Yale UniversityBA
5Eastman School of MusicUniversity of RochesterBM
6Thornton School of MusicUniversity of Southern CaliforniaBA, BM, BS
7Oberlin Conservatory of MusicOberlin CollegeBM
8Frost School of MusicUniversity of MiamiBA, BM, UD, BS

BM=Bachelor of Music; BME=Bachelor of Music Education; BS=Bachelor of Science; Assoc. Sci=Associate of Science; UD=some kind of non-degree diploma program open to undergraduates (specific terminology differs school to school); BMA=Bachelor of Musical Arts; BFA=Bachelor of Fine Arts; BA=Bachelor of Arts.

Below, we have a brief overview of each school on the above list. We also have more detailed information about acceptance rate and student body size (if available) and what you can get a degree in.


#1: Jacobs School of Music (Indiana University—Bloomington)

  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Acceptance rate: 25%
  • Student body size: about 500 undergraduates
  • Tuition and fees
    • Indiana resident: $29,464/year
    • Indiana non-resident: $56,483/year

The Jacobs School of Music is part of Indiana University—Bloomington, a public university in the Indiana University system. Although IU Bloomington is a relatively large school, with around 33,000 undergraduates overall, Jacobs School of Music only has about 500 undergrads; it's still on the larger side for a conservatory (it has roughly the same number of grad students as well), but it has a significantly more intimate feel than you'd expect to get from your average state university flagship school.

As an undergraduate applicant, you'll need to both apply to Indiana University and fill out an additional Jacobs School of Music supplemental application.

Because Jacobs is part of a larger university, you do have the benefit of being able to cross-register with different schools at IU and even get a dual degree in music and a non-music field (BM/BA or BM/BS).

Additionally, Jacobs itself offers a much wider variety of fields of study for undergraduates than most other music schools, including everything from standard instrument and composition majors to an Associate degree in string instrument technology. And for certain programs, Jacobs allows students to pursue dual music degrees so that you might, for instance, end up with a BM in composition and an Associate of Science degree in Audio Engineering and Sound Production.

Here is a complete list of all the different undergraduate degree programs offered at Jacobs School of Music:

Major DepartmentConcentrationDegree
Historical Music PerformanceInstrumental EmphasisBM
Historical Music PerformanceVocal EmphasisBM
Jazz StudiesBass, guitar, percussion, piano, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, or voiceBM
PerformanceOrchestral Instrument (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, horn, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba, percussion, violin, viola, violoncello, double bass)BM
PerformanceWoodwind Instruments (multiple)BM
Music EducationChoral TeachingBachelor of Music Education
Music EducationGeneral Music TeachingBachelor of Music Education
Music EducationInstrumental—BandBachelor of Music Education
Music EducationInstrumental—StringsBachelor of Music Education
Audio Engineering and Sound ProductionCinema and Media ProductionBS
Audio Engineering and Sound ProductionGame DesignBS
Audio Engineering and Sound ProductionBusiness Informatics and ComputingBS
Audio Engineering and Sound ProductionArts AdministrationBS
Audio Engineering and Sound ProductionMusic (General)BS
Music and an Outside FieldBS
Music and an Outside FieldComposition EmphasisBS
Music and an Outside FieldJazz Studies EmphasisBS
Audio EngineeringAssociate of Science
String Instrument TechnologyAssociate of Science

BM=Bachelor of Music; BS=Bachelor of Science.


#2: Peabody Institute (Johns Hopkins University)

  • Location: Baltimore, MD
  • Acceptance rate: varies by program; low
  • Student body size: About 270 undergraduates
  • Tuition: $56,313

The Peabody Institute falls under the academic umbrella of Johns Hopkins University, an extremely selective private university in Baltimore that has about 6,000 undergraduate students over all its programs.

Around 270 undergrad and 310 grad students attend the Peabody Conservatory, which means you'll have the chance not only to collaborate with your undergraduate peers but with other students more advanced in their studies (and get a glimpse into what life might be like if you go to grad school for music). Peabody offers both Bachelor of Music degrees and performance certificates (a non-academic undergraduate diploma) for undergraduate students.

To attend Peabody as an undergraduate, you only need to apply to the Peabody Institute (rather than to Johns Hopkins as well) unless you're planning on getting a dual degree, in which case you'll have to apply and be accepted to both Peabody and Johns Hopkins. Typically a minimum of five years, dual degree programs with the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences or the Whiting School of Engineering are even more intensive than a regular conservatory degree.

Fortunately, if all you want to do is take some non-Peabody classes while getting a conservatory education, you can cross-register with other undergraduate programs at Hopkins without having to go full-on dual degree. In fact, taking classes not offered at Peabody is mandatory for certain majors, like recording arts and sciences.

As an undergraduate student at Peabody, you can choose to major in any of the following areas:

Major DepartmentConcentrationDegree
Brass InstrumentsTrumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, euphoniumBM, PC
Computer MusicBM
GuitarBM, PC
HarpBM, PC
Historical PerformanceBaroque flute, Baroque lute and theorbo, Baroque oboe, Baroque violin and viola, lute, recorder, viola da gamba and Baroque cello, harpsichordBM, PC
JazzBass, clarinet, flute, guitar, percussion, piano, saxophone, trombone, trumpet, violin, voiceBM, PC
Music EdCompositionBM
Music EdGuitarBM
Music EdInstrumental CertificationBM
Music EdJazzBM
Music EdOrchestral InstrumentsBM
Music EdPianoBM
Music EdVoiceBM
Music for New MediaBM
OrganBM, PC
PercussionBM, PC
PianoBM, PC
Recording Arts and SciencesBM
Recording Arts and SciencesComputer MusicBM
Recording Arts and SciencesMusic for New MediaBM
StringsViolin, viola, cello, double bassBM, PC
Voice & OperaBM, PC
WoodwindsFlute, piccolo, clarinet, saxophone, oboe, bassoonBM, PC

BM=Bachelor of Music; PC=Performance Certificate (an undergraduate diploma program).


#3: School of Music, Theatre, and Dance (University of Michigan—Ann Arbor)

  • Location: Ann Arbor, MI
  • Acceptance rate: around 7-16% (varies depending on major)
  • Student body size: about 825 undergraduates (74% with music focus)
  • Tuition
    • Tuition (Michigan resident): $16,488 for freshmen/sophomores; $18,512 for juniors/seniors
    • Tuition (Michigan non-resident): $53,610 for freshmen/sophomores; $57,336 for juniors/seniors

The School of Music, Theatre, and Dance is one of several different schools at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor, a highly selective public university in the University of Michigan system. While UMich's Ann Arbor has around 32,000 undergraduates as a whole, SMTD has much more of a conservatory feel, with under 200 music students in each year.

You can apply to SMTD through the Common App or Coalition App, and you'll also need to submit an artistic profile as part of your application as well.

As an alternative to doing a full-on dual degree, students at SMTD can also choose to get a Bachelor of Musical Arts, which combines a music performance (jazz or classical) concentration with non-music coursework. (At other schools like Frost, an equivalent degree might be a Bachelor of Arts in Music, rather than a Bachelor of Music degree).

SMTD has undergraduate programs in the following areas:

Major DepartmentConcentrationDegree
Music EducationChoral Music EducationBM
Music EducationInstrumental Music EducationBM
Music TheoryNote: you can only apply to this program once you've already been accepted to SMTDBM
Performing Arts TechnologyMusic & TechnologyBM
PerformanceMultiple Wind Instruments, Organ and Sacred Music, Piano, Strings, Voice, Winds and PercussionBM
PerformanceClassical performance and non-musical courseworkBachelor of Musical Arts
PerformanceJazz performance and non-musical courseworkBachelor of Musical Arts
Multidisciplinary StudiesWinds and Percussion, self-designedBachelor of Musical Arts
Interarts Performance BFA
Jazz & Contemporary ImprovisationJazz StudiesBFA, BM
Jazz & Contemporary ImprovisationJazz and Contemplative StudiesBFA
Jazz & Contemporary ImprovisationJazz and Contemporary ImprovisationBFA
Musical TheatreBFA
Performing Arts TechnologyBFA
Performing Arts TechnologyMusic and TechnologyBM
Performing Arts TechnologySound EngineeringBS

BM=Bachelor of Music; BFA=Bachelor of Fine Arts; BS=Bachelor of Science.


#4: Yale University

  • Location: New Haven, CT
  • Acceptance rate: 6% overall
  • Student body size: around 6,000 undergrads
  • Tuition and fees: About $59,950/year

Part of the Ivy League, Yale University is an extremely selective private school in New Haven.

Yale is unique on this list of music schools because while it does have a separate music school (the Yale School of Music), this music school only grants degrees to graduate students. Thus, if you want to study music at Yale, you'll just major in music (through the Department of Music) and get a BA in music, just as you would for an academic subject like sociology or economics.

Despite not having a separate degree program for undergraduates, however, Yale is still one of the top music schools in the US (partly because it does have a separate school of music). Once you get into Yale, you can opt to get a performance certificate or an artist diploma on top of your BA; it's not quite the same as getting a BM, but it will show grad schools that you were dedicated enough to music to spend the time to get an additional diploma on top of your BA.

Yale also has a new 5-year BA/MM (or BS/MM) program through the Yale School of Music for instrumental musicians only; not much info is out yet about it, so we'll update as we get more information.




#5: Eastman School of Music (University of Rochester)

  • Location: Rochester, NY
  • Acceptance rate: around 13%
  • Student body size: 500 undergraduates (400 grad students)
  • Tuition: $58,520/year (with that caveat from Eastman that nearly 100% of students get some sort of merit scholarship)

The Eastman School of Music is part of the University of Rochester, a selective private university in Rochester, NY. The University of Rochester overall is medium-sized, with about 6,500 undergrads total, but with around 500 undergrads total, Eastman feels much smaller.

If you're just planning on getting a Bachelor of Music degree, you only need apply to Eastman; if you want to get a dual degree (BA/BM or BS/BM), though, you have to apply to both Eastman and the University of Rochester (30% acceptance rate).

In addition to allowing students to do a double major with a non-music subject or cross-register in non-music classes, Eastman also allows students to double-major within Eastman. This allows students who are interested in pursuing multiple musical areas (say, piano and composition) to pursue both interests equally.

Below is a chart with the different music degrees offered at Eastman:

Major DepartmentConcentrationDegree
Applied Music (Performance)Double BassBM
Applied Music (Performance)GuitarBM
Applied Music (Performance)HarpBM
Applied Music (Performance)PianoBM
Applied Music (Performance)OrganBM
Applied Music (Performance)Strings (violin, viola, cello)BM
Applied Music (Performance)VoiceBM
Applied Music (Performance)Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion (bassoon, clarinet, flute, oboe, saxophone, euphonium, horn, trombone, trumpet, tuba, percussion)BM
Jazz Studies & Contemporary MediaPerformance Skills (trumpet, saxophone, trombone, piano, guitar, double bass, drumset)BM
Jazz Studies & Contemporary MediaWriting SkillsBM
Musical ArtsBM
Music Ed—GeneralPiano Primary ConcentrationBM
Music Ed—GeneralInstrumental/Voice Primary ConcentrationBM
Music Ed—VocalVoice PrimaryBM
Music Ed—VocalPiano PrimaryBM
Music Ed—InstrumentalBM
Music TheoryBM

BM=Bachelor of Music.


#6: Thornton School of Music (USC)

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Acceptance rate: 20% (varies depending on program and year)
  • Student body size: 450-500 undergrads
  • Tuition: $60,446

The Thornton School of Music is part of the University of Southern California (USC), a highly selective private university in Los Angeles. The process of applying to Thornton is a little different than for other music schools that are part of larger universities—rather than applying to Thornton separately, you must apply to USC and select "music major" in the application (as well as including all required portfolio materials).

Even though you have to apply to USC (around 19,000 undergrads total), Thornton with its <1000 students (grad and undergrad) still has that conservatory vibe.

Like SMTD at UMich, Thornton allows undergrads to follow two different tracks: the BM track, which is essentially a conservatory degree, or the BA in Music track, which allows students to have a more liberal-arts focused degree (that still includes a good amount of music coursework).

Thornton's majors in Music Industry and Music Production are relatively unique among conservatories (which are usually more performance and theory-oriented), and the fact that Thornton is located in LA means that students in those majors can get some hands-on experience outside of the classroom.

Students can major in the following areas at Thornton:

Major DepartmentConcentrationDegree
Choral MusicBA
MusicClassical GuitarBA
PerformanceClassical GuitarBM
MusicOrgan StudiesBA
PerformanceOrgan StudiesBM
MusicJazz Studies (Instrument or Voice)BA
PerformanceJazz Studies (Instrument only)BM
MusicVocal ArtsBA
PerformanceVocal ArtsBM
PerformanceDouble BassBM
PerformanceViolin, Viola, and CelloBM
MusicWinds & Percussion (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, percussion)BA
PerformanceWinds & Percussion (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, percussion)BM
PerformancePopular MusicBM
Music TechnologyMusic ProductionBM
Music IndustryBS

BA=Bachelor of Arts; BM=Bachelor of Music; BS=Bachelor of Science.


#7: Oberlin Conservatory of Music (Oberlin College)

  • Location: Oberlin, OH
  • Acceptance rate: 25%
  • Student body size: 580 conservatory students (mostly undergrads) and 180 dual degree students
  • Tuition: $59,384

The Oberlin Conservatory of Music is part of Oberlin College, a private liberal arts college and the only non-university in this category of music schools. Because of Oberlin's commitment to providing all of its students with a solid liberal arts foundation, BM students must take 6-8 non-conservatory courses as part of their degree.

Oberlin's dual degree program allows students to graduate with a BA/BM in five years or fewer. Unlike some dual degree programs, Oberlin does not have any requirement that the two degrees be in any way connected. You could choose to pair majors as related as Early Music Performance and History or as disparate as Musicology and Biochemistry. Students must apply to both the College of Arts and the Conservatory to be accepted to the double degree program.

Oberlin Conservatory of Music offers the following undergraduate majors:

Major DepartmentConcentrationDegree
PerformanceStrings (violin, viola, cello, double bass, guitar, harp)BM
PerformanceWoodwinds (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon)BM
PerformanceBrass (trumpet, horn, trombone, tuba)BM
PerformanceEarly Instruments (harpsichord, recorder, Baroque flute, Baroque oboe, Baroque violin, Baroque cello and viola da gamba)BM
Jazz StudiesCompositionBM
Jazz StudiesPerformanceBM
Piano Performance and Vocal AccompanyingDouble major in piano performance and vocal accompanyingBM
Technology in Music and Related ArtsBM

BM=Bachelor of Music.


#8: Frost School of Music (University of Miami)

  • Location: Miami, FL
  • Acceptance rate
    • Frost: 40%
    • University of Miami: 32%
  • Student body size: 450 undergrads (300 grad students)
  • Tuition: $53,112

The Frost School of Music is part of the University of Miami, a private university located in Miami, FL. While the University of Miami as a whole has around 10,800 undergrads, Frost only has about 450 undergrads total (or around 112 students in each year), so it feels much smaller. There are also around 300 grad students at Frost.

Unlike most of the schools in this category, you do in fact have to apply and get into both the Frost School of Music and the University of Miami in order to attend Frost. Because you will have already gotten into the University of Miami when you start Frost, however, this means that it's pretty easy to cross-register for classes outside of Frost.

When I spoke with the Frost admissions office about double-majoring/dual degrees, I was told that while it is possible to double-major in music and a non-music subject, it is not recommended, due to the intensity of requirements for the music degree. Instead, it's much more common for students to get a BA in Music and minor in a non-music subject.

Here's a table of the different areas you can choose to major in as a student at Frost:

Major DepartmentConcentrationDegree
CompositionTheory and CompositionBM
Instrumental Performanceflute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba, percussion, violin, viola, violoncello, double bass, guitar, harpBM, PC
Keyboard PerformanceBM, PC
Vocal PerformanceBM, PC
Studio Music and JazzInstrumentalBM, PC
Studio Music and JazzVocalBM, PC
Media Writing and ProductionBM
Music Business and Entertainment IndustriesBM
Music EducationBM
Music TherapyBM
Musicianship, Artistry Development, and EntrepreneurshipBM
Professional StudiesBM
Music EngineeringBS
MusicMust also select a non-music minorBA

BM=Bachelor of Music; PC=Performance Certificate (an undergraduate diploma program); BS=Bachelor of Science; BA=Bachelor of Arts.


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The Best Standalone Music Schools in the US

All the schools on this list are conservatories. Some of the schools have non-music programs as well (dance, theatre, etc), but for our music school ranking purposes, we've only considered the quality of each school's music programs.

1The Juilliard SchoolNew York, NYBM, UD
2Curtis Institute of MusicPhiladelphia, PABM, UD
3Berklee School of Music/Boston Conservatory at BerkleeBoston, MABM, UD/BM
4New England ConservatoryBoston, MABM
5San Francisco Conservatory of MusicSan Francisco, CABM
6Manhattan School of MusicNew York, NYBM, UD
7Cleveland Institute of MusicCleveland, OHBM, UD

BM=Bachelor of Music; UD=some kind of non-degree diploma program open to undergraduates (specific terminology differs from school to school).


Next, we'll go into a little more detail about each of the conservatories on this list.


#1: The Juilliard School

When one thinks of what the best music schools in the world (let alone the US) are, one of the names that is sure to come to everyone's mind is Juilliard. Located in Manhattan's Upper West Side, the Juilliard School is a world-renowned conservatory with undergraduate programs in dance, theatre, and music.

One of the premier schools in the world for instrumentalists and vocalists, Juilliard alums have gone on to launch careers as solo and chamber musicians and become members of top national and international orchestras (including the New York Philharmonic). One of the most difficult music schools to get into in the US, Juilliard is the conservatory equivalent of Harvard or Stanford—highly selective, famous faculty, name brand recognition, and with alums who go on to become leaders in their field.

As an undergraduate student at Juilliard, you can choose to get either an undergraduate diploma (almost entirely performance-focused) or a Bachelor of Music (includes more classwork and marginally less focus on your primary instrument). You can also apply to be one of the 10-12 students in each year who is able to cross-register for classes at Barnard College or Columbia University.

Juilliard does also offer a joint five-year bachelor's/MM degree in conjunction with Barnard and Columbia; however, in order to participate in this program, you need to be a student at Barnard or Columbia who's cross-registered at Juilliard for at least two years before applying. This program works best for students who are as strong academically as they are musically and have the dedication and time management skills to manage essentially an undergraduate and master's degree at the same time.

Juilliard offers the following majors to its undergraduates:

Major DepartmentConcentrationDegree
BrassHorn, trumpet, tenor trombone, bass trombone, tubaBM, UD
Classical GuitarBM, UD
HarpBM, UD
OrganBM, UD
PercussionBM, UD
PianoBM, UD
StringsViolin, viola, cello, double bassBM, UD
WoodwindsFlute, oboe, clarinet, bassoonBM, UD
Vocal ArtsBM, UD
Jazz StudiesBM, UD
CompositionBM, UD

BM=Bachelor of Music; UD=Undergraduate Diploma.


#2: Curtis Institute of Music

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Acceptance rate: around 5%, depending on program
  • Student body size: around 170 undergrads
  • Tuition: $0

The Curtis Institute of Music is a private conservatory that is focused around performance (although it does have a composition program as well). Curtis is extremely difficult to get into, but when I spoke with Admissions I was told that you can always reapply if you're rejected and that, indeed, there are many students at Curtis who didn't get in the first time around.

The main reason for Curtis's exclusivity is its free tuition policy. All students accepted to Curtis are given a scholarship to cover the cost of tuition, with the aim of making sure that talented students are not held back from attending Curtis due to the price of admission. This policy has made Curtis as or more difficult to get into than Juilliard and the quality of students admitted is extremely high.

Curtis is almost exclusively an undergraduate school; the exception is the graduate vocal studies program, which usually has 12-15 students per year. That Curtis is so undergrad-focused means that all of your classes will be taught by professors (rather than having some taught by TAs), which gives it a very different feel from a school that is more equally divided among undergrads and grad students (or has a larger grad program than undergrad).

Students accepted to Curtis are automatically placed into the undergraduate diploma program; to get accepted to the BM program, you need to then provide additional information like your high school transcript. While at Curtis as a BM student, you also have the option to cross-register at the University of Pennsylvania, a top-tier national university also located in Philadelphia.

Here's a quick rundown of the different major programs at Curtis:

Major DepartmentConcentrationDegree
BrassHorn, trumpet, trombone/bass trombone, tubaBM, D
CompositionBM, D
Classical guitarBM, D
HarpBM, D
OrganBM, D
PianoBM, D
StringsViolin, viola, cello, double bassBM, D
Timpani and PercussionBM, D
Vocal StudiesBM, D
WoodwindsFlute, oboe, clarinet, bassoonBM, D

BM=Bachelor of Music; D=Diploma (an undergraduate diploma program).


#3: Berklee College of Music/Boston Conservatory

  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Acceptance rate: 48% overall
  • Student body size
    • Berklee: 6,004 undergrads
    • Boston Conservatory at Berklee: 653 music undergrads
  • Tuition: $45,468 for BM; $39,176 for professional diploma

Berklee College of Music is a private conservatory located in Boston, MA. Berklee has long been known as one of the best contemporary music schools in the world, particularly when it comes to jazz, but it also has thriving classical and non-performance programs. It's also the largest undergraduate conservatory program on our list, with over 1500 students in each year.

In 2016, Berklee joined forces with the Boston Conservatory and become a single behemoth of a music school...sort of. Actually, you can still apply separately to the Boston Conservatory at Berklee if you're more interested in the BoCo curriculum than Berklee's. And you can always cross-register through the Pro Arts consortium for classes at Boston Architectural College, Emerson College, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, New England Conservatory, or the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts.

Berklee also offers a uniquely challenging dual degree program with Harvard that allows you to get an Arts Bachelor degree from Harvard and a Master of Music degree from Berklee in just five years. To be accepted to this program, you need to apply and get into both Harvard and Berklee; if you are one of those who can handle both the academics of Harvard and the intense music focus of Berklee, then I salute you.

Here's a list of the undergraduate majors you can study at the Berklee College of Music:

Major DepartmentConcentrationDegree
CompositionBM, PD
Contemporary Writing and ProductionBM, PD
Electronic Production and DesignBM, PD
Film ScoringBM, PD
Jazz CompositionBM, PD
Music Business/ManagementBM, PD
Music EducationBM
Music Production and EngineeringBM, PD
Music TherapyBM
PerformanceBass (acoustic bass, electric bass)BM, PD
PerformanceBrass (baritone horn, French horn, trombone, trombone(bass), trumpet, tuba)BM, PD
PerformanceGuitar (acoustic guitar, electric guitar)BM, PD
PerformancePercussion (drum set, marimba, percussion, percussion (hand), steelpan, vibraphone)BM, PD
PerformancePiano (acoustic)BM, PD
PerformanceString (banjo, cello, harp, mandolin, viola, violin)BM, PD
PerformanceVoiceBM, PD
PerformanceWoodwinds (bass clarinet, bassoon, clarinet, flute, oboe, saxophone (alto), saxophone (baritone), saxophone (soprano), saxophone (tenor))BM, PD
Professional MusicBM

BM=Bachelor of Music; PD=Professional Diploma (an undergraduate diploma program).

The smaller Boston Conservatory at Berklee undergraduate programs have slightly different curricula and structure and have more of an explicit classical conservatory focus. Here's a look at the undergraduate majors at BoCo at Berklee:

Major DepartmentConcentrationDegree
PerformanceBrass (trumpet, horn, trombone, bass trombone, euphonium, tuba)BM
PerformanceString (violin, viola, cello, double bass)BM
PerformanceWoodwind (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone)BM

BM=Bachelor of Music.




#4: The New England Conservatory of Music

The New England Conservatory of Music, or NEC, is located in Boston, MA. The convenient positioning of NEC just around the corner from Symphony Hall (home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra) makes it easy both for NEC students to get reduced price tickets to the orchestra and for the faculty of NEC to commute back and forth between teaching at NEC and playing in the BSO (as many of them do).

While NEC has both jazz and classical undergraduate majors, as a whole it falls decidedly more on the classical side of the spectrum (as opposed to nearby Berklee, which tends more towards the jazz/contemporary music persuasion).

In addition to having a top-notch conservatory program, NEC also boasts an impressive array of cross-registration options for undergraduates who want to challenge themselves with non-music academics as well.

Like Berklee/BoCo, NEC is part of the Pro-Arts consortium, and so NEC students can take classes at Boston Architectural College, Emerson College, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, or the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts. Additionally, NEC students can cross-register for classes at nearby Northeastern University or Tufts University.

NEC also offers a couple of dual degree programs with nearby schools. Undergraduates who are not satisfied with merely taking classes at Tufts can opt to do a joint Tufts BA (in a non-music field) or BS and NEC BM degree. For students who are even more advanced in their musical study, NEC offers a joint AB/MM degree with Harvard. Like the Berklee/Harvard AB/MM, the NEC/Harvard dual degree is even more selective than the rest of NEC, with perhaps one to two students per year okayed to go ahead.

As an NEC undergraduate, you can get a Bachelor of Music degree in the following areas:

Major DepartmentConcentrationDegree
BrassHorn, trumpet, trombone, tubaBM
Contemporary ImprovisationBM
Jazz CompositionBM
Jazz PerformanceBM
StringsViolin, viola, cello, double bass, harp, guitarBM
WoodwindsFlute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophoneBM
Vocal PerformanceBM

BM=Bachelor of Music.


#5: San Francisco Conservatory of Music

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music is, as the name indicates, a private conservatory located in San Francisco. About equally divided between grad and undergrad students, SFCM is less selective than some of the schools on this list for undergraduates, although it varies depending on the degree.

Unlike most of the other conservatories mentioned in this article, SFCM does not have any kind of cross-registration (or if it does, that information is well-hidden), so as an SFCM undergrad you will only be able to take classes at SFCM. While SFCM does have general ed classes that you have to take as part of your core curriculum, the fact that there is no dual degree or partnership with a nearby university of any kind is a definite drawback if you're interested in taking non-conservatory classes while in college.

A couple of standout programs at SFCM are the Roots, Jazz, and American Music major and the Technology and Applied Composition major. Roots, Jazz, and American Music requires students to take classes in the Technology and Applied Composition and Composition departments, providing a jazz education that goes beyond performance and jazz theory. The Technology and Applied Composition major stands out as a composition program that is specifically geared towards composing for video games, film, and other media.

At SFCM, you can get a Bachelor of Music in any of the following areas:

Major DepartmentConcentrationDegree
BrassHorn, trombone, trumpet, tubaBM
KeyboardHarpsichord, organ, pianoBM
Roots, Jazz, and American MusicBM
StringsViolin, viola, cello, double bass, harpBM
Technology and Applied CompositionBM
WoodwindsBassoon, clarinet, flute, oboeBM

BM=Bachelor of Music.


#6: Manhattan School of Music

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Acceptance rate: around 45% (varies depending on major and year)
  • Student body size: 453 undergrads
  • Tuition: $49,850

The Manhattan School of Music is a private music conservatory located in Manhattan's Morningside Heights. Like Curtis, MSM has many more undergrad students than grad students, so the atmosphere is similar to what you'd find at a liberal arts college (albeit compressed down into less than 100 students per year).

Like many conservatories unattached to larger institutions, MSM is primarily performance-focused; however, within this performance focus there are a couple of programs that stand out. The first (which I discovered as I was researching schools) is that you can major in jazz harmonica at MSM. This is the only degree of its kind that I have seen at undergraduate schools anywhere, so if you are a harmonica virtuoso, MSM should be at the top of your list of schools to apply to.

The second unusual course of study at MSM is its Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre. Most conservatories, if they do have theatre programs, only have general theatre degrees for undergraduates (usually BFAs), rather than musical-theatre-focused programs. The only other school in this article that has a separate degree in musical theatre is UMich's SMTD, which allows undergraduate students to get a BFA in musical theatre.

Aside from the humanities core classes offered as part of the MSM curriculum, MSM students have the option to cross-register for classes at Barnard (although they cannot get a dual degree). Oddly, while MSM students can cross-register at Barnard, they do not have the same privileges at Columbia (in contrast to Juilliard, which has cross-registration programs with both schools).

MSM allows students to major in the subjects in the chart below. (Note: Each instrument is listed separately because students at MSM major in specific instruments, rather than in Performance with a concentration in a particular instrument).

Major DepartmentConcentrationDegree
ClassicalBass TromboneBM
ClassicalDouble BassBM
ClassicalTenor TromboneBM
ClassicalVoice (Classical)BM
ClassicalVoice (Opera Theatre)BM
Jazz ArtsBass (Double Bass/Acoustic)BM
Jazz ArtsBass (Electric)BM
Jazz ArtsCelloBM
Jazz ArtsClarinetBM
Jazz ArtsDrum SetBM
Jazz ArtsFluteBM
Jazz ArtsGuitarBM
Jazz ArtsHarmonicaBM
Jazz ArtsPianoBM
Jazz ArtsSaxophone (alto, baritone, tenor)BM
Jazz ArtsTromboneBM
Jazz ArtsTrumpetBM
Jazz ArtsVibraphoneBM
Jazz ArtsViolinBM
Jazz ArtsViolaBM
Musical TheatreBM

BM=Bachelor of Music.


#7: Cleveland Institute of Music

The Cleveland Institute of Music is a private conservatory located in Cleveland, OH. Undergraduate students at CIM can either opt for an Artist Certificate (if they want to only focus on performance) or a Bachelor of Music.

The only undergraduate majors you can directly apply for at CIM are composition or performance (on a particular instrument). However, once you're attending CIM, you can also add on a double major in music theory or Eurythmics (a method of teaching rhythm and music through physical movement). The latter program is the only such program offered to undergraduates at any of the schools listed in this article, which makes CIM a top choice for any students interested in learning more about Eurythmics.

CIM students have cross-registration privileges at nearby Case Western Reserve University, where they must take their mandatory non-music electives and music history classes.

As a CIM student, you can also take part in the Case Western/CIM dual degree program, which allows you to graduate with a BM and a bachelor's degree from Case Western in a non-music subject. This five-year dual degree program is unique among others discussed in this article because you do not need to apply to both Case Western and CIM to qualify; instead, you need only apply to CIM.

Undergraduates at CIM can major in any of the areas listed below:

Major DepartmentConcentrationDegree
PerformanceBassoonBM, AC
PerformanceCelloBM, AC
PerformanceClarinetBM, AC
PerformanceDouble BassBM, AC
PerformanceFluteBM, AC
PerformanceClassical GuitarBM, AC
PerformanceHarpBM, AC
PerformanceHarpsichordBM, AC
PerformanceHornBM, AC
PerformanceOboeBM, AC
PerformanceOrganBM, AC
PerformancePianoBM, AC
PerformanceTimpani and PercussionBM, AC
PerformanceTrombone/Bass TromboneBM, AC
PerformanceTrumpetBM, AC
PerformanceTubaBM, AC
PerformanceViolaBM, AC
PerformanceViolinBM, AC
PerformanceVoiceBM, AC

BM=Bachelor of Music; AC=Artist Certificate (an undergraduate diploma program).



12 Honorable Mention US Music Schools

The schools we listed in the previous two sections are what we consider to be the top 15 music schools for undergraduates in the US, but there are some other great music schools that, while they didn't make that list, still deserve briefly mentioning.

Some of these schools are notable for their interdisciplinary opportunities or for having majors you'd normally only have access to as a grad student, while others are notable for being attached to highly selective national universities or lower-cost state schools.

The first honorable mention school we'll look at is a school that has multiple music programs across different undergraduate colleges: New York University.


NYU—Steinhardt and Tisch

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Acceptance rates: unknown for Steinhardt and Tisch individually but likely low; 30% for NYU as a whole
  • Student body size
    • Steinhardt: 2600 undergrads total
    • Tisch (music programs): 60 undergrads in the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music program, 50 in the Performance Studies program
  • Tuition
    • Steinhardt: $53,770 (assuming average courseload)
    • Tisch: $59,332 (assuming average courseload)

One of the top private universities in the US, New York University (NYU) has two undergraduate colleges that allow students to study music.

The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development might seem like an unlikely place to find a music degree, but that's where NYU's main music department is located within. At Steinhardt, you'll be able to get a Bachelor of Music degree, just like you would at a conservatory, but you'll also get a strong liberal arts education as part of your major.

In addition to being cross-register at other NYU undergrad programs, students at Steinhardt have the option of doing a combined BM/Master of Arts in Music Education or a BM/Master of Music in Music Technology.

Here's a list of the different majors offered at NYU through Steinhardt:

Instrumental PerformanceString StudiesBM
Instrumental PerformanceWoodwind StudiesBM
Music PerformanceBrass StudiesBM
Music PerformanceJazz StudiesBM
Music PerformancePercussion StudiesBM
Piano PerformanceBM
Vocal PerformanceClassical VoiceBM
Vocal PerformanceMusic TheatreBM
Jazz StudiesBM
Music BusinessBM
Music Theory and CompositionBM
Music Theory and CompositionContemporary Production and Song WritingBM
Music EducationBM
Music TechnologyBM
Scoring for Film and MultimediaBM

BM=Bachelor of Music.

Besides Steinhardt, the other school at NYU that offers undergraduates a degree in music is the Tisch School of the Arts.

While Tisch is world-renowned as a conservatory for theatre, it does have a couple of undergraduate programs that are either music-focused or can include music.

Through the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, Tisch students can get a BFA in Recorded Music, focusing their studies on various aspects of the recorded music industry. Alternatively, students who want to study the intersection of music and other fields would do well to consider Tisch's BA in Performance Studies, a degree unique among those offered to undergraduates for its diversity of approach and quality.

A note of caution: NYU as a whole is a highly selective school (with a 21% acceptance rate overall) but Tisch in particular is extremely difficult to get into (closer to Juilliard and SMTD in selectivity than to the rest of NYU).


Mannes School of Music (The New School)

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Acceptance rate: 35-60% (varies from program to program)
  • Student body size: unknown; around 4,000 New School undergrads overall.
  • Tuition: $49,980

The Mannes School of Music is part of The New School, located near Union Square in Manhattan. Smaller and less competitive than the Manhattan School of Music, Mannes is nonetheless a great option if you want to study music in a New York conservatory setting.

Because Mannes is part of The New School, students can also cross-register at other colleges at The New School. (Based upon my conversation with Admissions, this usually ends up meaning the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts or the Parsons School of Design.)

Most of the undergraduate programs at Mannes are performance-focused, but there is one major that stands out as unusual at the undergraduate level: conducting and theory. Most music schools do not allow undergraduates to major in conducting, so if that is your primary area of musical interest, Mannes is a good choice.

Here's a brief rundown of the undergraduate music majors available at Mannes:

Orchestral ConductingBM
Classical GuitarBM
Orchestra Instruments (brass, woodwinds, percussion, strings)BM

BM=Bachelor of Music.


California Institute of the Arts

  • Location: Santa Clarita, CA
  • Acceptance rate: unknown; around 30% for CalArts undergrad overall
  • Student body size: 220 undergrads
  • Tuition: $52,850

The Herb Alpert School of Music is one of several programs at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). This is distinct from the nearby Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA, so make sure you don't confuse the two schools.

CalArts' music program is notable because rather than getting a Bachelor of Music degree or Bachelor of Arts of Science in Music, you'll graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music. This distinction reflects the fact that the music education you get at CalArts will be less what you'd get at a traditional music conservatory and more of an interdisciplinary experience.

CalArts and NYU's interdisciplinary programs are comparable, but the schools have very different academic environments and cultures. NYU is located in the northeast in the heart of the most populous city in the US, while CalArts is in a suburban city in southern California. These cultural and geographic differences also mean that even nominally similar programs at the two schools (e.g. film scoring) are structured differently, with different extracurricular opportunities.

Here's a list of the undergraduate concentrations at CalArts' Herb Alpert School of Music:

Composition and Experimental Sound PracticesBFA
InstrumentalArts (winds, brass, percussion, guitar, harp, piano, strings)BFA
Music TechnologyBFA
World Music PerformanceBFA
Musical Arts/Experimental PopBFA

BFA=Bachelor of Fine Arts.


Colburn Conservatory of Music

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Acceptance rate: low, varies by program; available upon request from admissions
  • Student body size: 110 undergrads
  • Tuition and fees: $13,000

Located in downtown LA, the Colburn School is a music school that offers everything from pre-college music lessons to graduate study.

All degree programs at Colburn are offered through the relatively new Colburn Conservatory of Music. While the undergraduate curriculum includes some required humanities courses, the bulk of your time will be spent on performance study.

Unlike most of the other conservatories in this article, Colburn only offers performance majors. In addition, because Colburn is so small, whether or not you can apply at all in a given year depends on whether or not the teachers of your instrument have room in their studios for new students.

Even though the conservatory program at Colburn is less than 20 years old and only has performance majors, we've included it on this list because it has one extremely notable (and laudable feature): free tuition for all admitted students and grants that cover on-campus housing and meal plan costs. This puts Colburn up there with Curtis as one of the most affordable music schools in the US.

Below is a table with the most recent list of degrees with openings at Colburn:

BassoonBM, PD
ClarinetBM, PD
Double BassBM, PD
FluteBM, PD
HarpBM, PD
HornBM, PD
OboeBM, PD
PercussionBM, PD
PianoBM, PD
TromboneBM, PD
TrumpetBM, PD
ViolaBM, PD
ViolinBM, PD
VioloncelloBM, PD

BM=Bachelor of Music; PD=Performance Diploma (an undergraduate diploma program).


body_celloconcordallstarPictured in the photo above: conductor, principal cellist, third chair cellist, third chair cellist's surreptitious Concord All Star-clad foot.


4 Good Music Schools at Public Universities

While there are a couple of public schools in our best music schools rankings (IU and UMich), most of the top music schools in the country are either standalone conservatories or attached to private universities. There are, however, a few music schools at public universities that are deserving of an honorable mention.

The four schools below are notable music programs at public universities that provide undergraduates with a solid grounding for future graduate study in music. They are particularly good choices for students who live in-state because of the lowered price tag (especially in comparison to some of the lower-ranked conservatories, which still cost students a pretty penny).


College of Music (University of North Texas)

  • Location: Denton, TX
  • Acceptance rate: unknown
  • Student body size: 4,000 undergrads
  • Tuition
    • Texas residents: $10,978
    • Texas non-residents: $20,690
  • Degree: BM or BA in Music; a double major with a non-music major is possible but very difficult due to the rigors of the music degree.


College-Conservatory of Music (University of Cincinnati)

  • Location: Cincinnati, OH
  • Acceptance rate: 12-15%
  • Student body size: 2,271 undergraduates
  • Tuition
    • Ohio resident: $13,160
    • Ohio non-resident: $28,480
  • Degree: BM or BFA in Music


School of Music (University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign)

  • Location: Urbana, IL
  • Acceptance rate: unknown
  • Student body size: unknown
  • Tuition
  • Degree: BM, Bachelor of Musical Arts, Bachelor of Music Education, BA in Music, or BS in Music.


Conservatory of Music and Dance (University of Missouri Kansas City)

  • Location: Kansas City, MO
  • Acceptance rate: around 60%, but varies depending on the year and program.
  • Student body size: 330 undergraduates
  • Tuition (assuming 15 credit hours)
    • Missouri resident: $9,884.86
    • Kansas resident: $9,975.46
    • Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, or Wisconsin residents: $14,232.46
    • All other students: $25,011.46
  • Degree: BM, BA in Music, BA in Music Therapy, Bachelor of Music Education, general ed degree with a performance focus; dual degrees are possible but usually take more than four years.




4 Top Universities with Good Music Programs

Aside from Yale, Peabody (at Johns Hopkins), USC, and NYU, most of the schools in this article are great for music but not necessarily top-ranked for academics overall.

In this section, however, we wanted to briefly mention four schools that are renowned for their academics with strong undergraduate music programs. These music schools aren't at the same level as the 15 ranked schools, but they're great options for students who want to pursue non-music and music majors at a high level.


Northwestern—Bienen School of Music

  • Location: Evanston, IL
  • Acceptance rate: around 10% (but there is a prescreening process, so that's 10% of students who pass through the prescreening process)
  • Student body size: around 400 undergraduate students
  • Tuition: $60,276
  • Degree: BM, BA in Music, or BS in Music; can do a dual degree with another undergraduate program at Northwestern.


Vanderbilt—Blair School of Music

  • Location: Nashville, TN
  • Acceptance rate: around 20% (depending on major)
  • Student body size: 200 undergraduates
  • Tuition: $54,840
  • Degree: BM, Bachelor of Musical Arts, 5-year BM/Master of Education dual degree, or 3+2 Bachelor of Musical Arts + MBA dual degree; can cross-register for non-Music Vanderbilt classes.


Rice—Shepherd School of Music

  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Acceptance rate: around 10%
  • Student body size: 100-120 undergraduates
  • Tuition and fees: $52,895
  • Degree: BM; can cross-register for non-music Rice classes.


Carnegie Mellon—School of Music

  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Acceptance rate: unknown; 22% for all Carnegie Mellon undergrads
  • Student body size: unknown; 16,700 Carnegie Mellon undergrads overall
  • Tuition: $57,560
  • Degree: BFA, BS, Music Ed certificate; can cross-register for non-music Carnegie Mellon classes.


body_johannstraussviennaStatue of Johann Strauss, Vienna.


4 Tips for Applying To the Top Music Schools in the US

As a finishing touch to this collection of music school rankings, we have assembled the four most important things to think about when it comes to choosing what music schools you want to apply to and attend.


Tip 1: Research the Programs At the School

Whether you want to study a particular instrument or learn how to do audio engineering and recording, you'll need to make sure the school you're applying to actually offers classes and teachers who specialize in your areas of interest.

If you'll be taking studio lessons as part of your music degree, you should also look up the teachers and see what you can find out about their teaching styles and philosophies. This can be anything from searching for their performances online to actually reaching out to them and asking if you can chat.

Getting to know what the teachers are like is helpful for any school, but it's especially important at a conservatory where the only thing you'll be doing is music. If you don't like your teacher or the school's teaching philosophy and environment, you'll be both miserable and wasting your money and time.

This research also applies to knowing what the deadlines and pre-screening audition processes are for the schools you're interested in. Most music schools have early December regular-decision deadlines, with some schools requiring pre-screening materials as early as September or October. If you're considering applying to a music school, make sure you've looked up what the audition/prescreening requirements are by the beginning of the summer before your senior year so that you're not caught off guard in September.


Tip 2: Only Apply to Conservatories If You Only Want to Study Music

Our second tip is to not apply to conservatories unless you're sure that the only thing you want to study is music (or, if you do have other subjects you want to take classes in, that they're not something you'd want to spend more than 5-10% of your time on).

For most high school students, music is an elective. The bulk of your school schedule is centered around academic subjects like math, history, science, and literature/language arts.

Being thrown into an environment where suddenly all you do in class is music and the bulk of your learning comes from self-study can be disorienting, even if you love music and know it's all you want to do. And for students with academic interests outside of music, attending a conservatory may feel so limiting that it ultimately ends up causing them to transfer or even driving them away from music for a time.

As an anecdotal example of the perils of going to a conservatory as an undergraduate, I always think about a high school friend of mine who sang, played the guitar and piano, and was extremely passionate about songwriting and performing. She got a guitar scholarship to Berklee College of Music and decided to go there...only to discover during her first year there that she wanted to be doing things besides music. After her freshman year, she transferred to a small liberal arts college where she could pursue both music and environmental studies. Currently, she is a singer/songwriter who regularly performs her own music at live shows.

All of this is to say that just because you don't go to a conservatory (or stay at one) doesn't mean that you can't later pursue a career as a musician.


body_celliststatueAlternatively, there's always the option of becoming an artist's model for a statue of a musician.


Tip 3: Consider Location When Applying

The third tip we have for aspiring music school applicants is to think about where you want to go to school geography-wise.

Obviously, location is something you'll want to take into account for any college you apply to. For music schools, though, taking location into consideration is especially important because it can affect what kind of musical experiences you get while in college.

If you go to Oberlin, you're going to be in a rural setting where there's not as much opportunity to get performance gigs or go experience non-Oberlin music performances as there would be at a city (or even a suburban) school. However, if what you're looking for is an isolated school where you won't be distracted from practicing or writing music, then maybe this would be ideal for you.

If you go to school somewhere in New York, San Francisco, or Boston, on the other hand, you'll have plenty of access to musical culture outside of your school and many more gig opportunities (without needing a car to get there!).

While the cost of living in these cities (particularly in Manhattan, where all the NYC music schools in this article are located) is much higher than it is in most other places in the country, there are usually discount programs available for students to experience culture.

Of course, you may also run into more competition for gigs in cities, and finding somewhere to practice that's available when you are can be nightmarishly difficult, so urban areas aren't unequivocally the better choice for music school locations. Our best advice: think carefully about what you want to get from your music education, then consider school locations through that lens.


Tip 4: Compare Music School Costs

Our final tip when applying to music schools is to take costs into consideration when deciding where to apply.

A running cultural joke is that there are tons of students out there with expensive liberal arts educations who use their degrees as placemats or work jobs where a college degree isn't required. Epitomized in the Avenue Q song, "What Do I Do with a BA in English?" the general idea is that you don't learn any practical skills in college that will actually help you get a job after graduation and you'll be left with a whole of debt you have no way of paying off as a result.

Going to music school is a little different, because you are theoretically learning things that will be applicable to your post-school life, whether that's how to teach general music as a music educator or how to be a better performer and network so that you get gigs and auditions.

Still, the fact remains that the likely starting salary of a student who graduates from a music school for undergrad is in most cases lower than the cost of tuition for one year, let alone for the whole four-plus years of school.

When you're looking at music schools, be very clear to yourself about what the cost of tuition is vs. what the benefit you expect to get from attending the school.

For many of the schools on the list, there is some brand recognition of the school's name, which can boost your chances of getting a job at all. However, it won't necessarily boost your paycheck.

The cost of education/likely future salary ratio is why schools like Curtis are so incredibly competitive to get into—not only is the reputation and caliber of teaching high there, but the no-cost tuition means that students who are talented but otherwise might not be able to afford attending music school will apply and be able to start their post-undergraduate careers with low or no debt.


body_realitiesofpracticinginacityWhat's that I hear? Is it the sound of a music student not starting their post-college life with crushing debt?


Key Takeaways for the Best Music Schools in the USA

Becoming a professional musician requires dedication, training, and hard work. If you're sure that the only thing you want to do with the rest of your life is be a musician, then you should apply to music school.

The type of music you want to study, what aspect of music you want to study, and how intensely you want to study it all affect what schools you should apply to.

The schools in this article are a good start if you're looking for schools that are nationally (and in some cases internationally) renowned, but you may find that there are other less well-known music schools that better suit your future plans or have teachers you really want to study with.

Going to one of the best music schools in the country does give you a little bit of a name-recognition edge and a networking edge, but in the end your hard work and talent (in that order) are what will make you a successful musician, no matter where you end up going to school.


body_iheartmusicMusic! It's pretty great. (Unofficial slogan for every music school)


What's Next?

Not sure how to figure out how to narrow down where to apply for school?Check out our guide to narrowing down a list of colleges to apply to.

Interested in schools that allow you to focus more on the theatre part of musical theatre?We've compiled a list of the best performing arts schools in the country here.

How much extra work is it to double major and why should you do it?Find out more about what goes into double majoring in this article.


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Sours: https://blog.prepscholar.com/best-music-schools-in-the-us

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