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The Top 25 Music Schools

I was talking with some football parents a while ago. Some of their sons were looking at NCAA Division I schools and I marveled at how much these parents knew about their sons’ potential schools:

  • the conferences (like SEC and ACC)
  • the rank of the program within the conference
  • the bowl bids
  • how many players go on to the NFL
  • what it takes to get their son noticed

That got me wondering how many music parents know the same kind of information about the nation’s music schools.

  • Do we know the top 10 Schools of Music?
  • The top 25 college music programs?
  • How many students get “drafted” to a professional career?

It’s time we up our game and get as knowledgeable as football parents!

When it comes to careers in the musical fine arts, the job market is fiercely competitive. In 2017, music composers, directors, professional performers, and music educators had a median income of $50,590, with an undergraduate degree in music and have an occupation growth rate of 6% between now and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It should also be noted that people with a Master’s degree in music had a median income of $72,090 and have an occupation growth rate of 11% between now and 2026.

As your student thinks about a career in music, it is especially important for them to carefully consider their options.

We have looked at the top music schools in the country and evaluated:

  • their overall reputation
  • acceptance rate
  • diversity of programs
  • success of their alumni

Based on our research, with our partners at, we have ranked what we believe to be the top 25 programs in the nation.

ALL these institutions are highly reputable. All offer diverse programs, and all have successful professors and alumni.

This ranking is only a guide to begin navigating a music education. It’s meant mostly to help you, the music parent, start to understand the landscape of available options.

Question? Comments? Let us know!

The Top 25 Music Schools

  1. Julliard (New York, NY)
  2. Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia, PA)
  3. Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester (Rochester, Nli)
  4. New England Conservatory of Music (Boston, MA)
  5. Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA)
  6. Manhattan School of Music (New York, NY)
  7. Oberlin Conservatory (Oberlin, OH)
  8. Colburn School Conservatory (Los Angeles, CA)
  9. Mannes College – The New School for Music (New York, NY)
  10. Cleveland Institute for Music (Cleveland, OH)
  11. Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute (Baltimore, MD)
  12. Rice University Shepherd School of Music (Houston, TX)
  13. University of California Thornton School of Music (Los Angeles, CA)
  14. Yale School of Music (New Haven, CT)
  15. Northwestern University Bienen School of Music (Evanston, IL)
  16. Carnegie Mellon School of Music (Pittsburg, PA)
  17. San Francisco Conservatory of Music (San Francisco, CA)
  18. Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (Bloomington, IN)
  19. Bard College Conservatory of Music (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
  20. University of Miami Frost School of Music (Miami, FL)
  21. University of Michigan School of Music (Ann Arbor, MI)
  22. Belmont University School of Music (Nashville, TN)
  23. University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (Cincinnati, OH)
  24. Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music (Nashville, TN)
  25. Lawrence University Conservatory of Music (Appleton, WI)

Dr. Randall Bayne, CEO


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