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The 9 Best Music Colleges in the US: A Comprehensive Guide for Aspiring Musicians

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Do you dream of becoming a musician? If so, consequently, you might have considered studying music in the US. The US is a popular destination for many aspiring musicians and for good reasons. It has a rich musical heritage, a diverse musical culture, and many opportunities for learning and performing. According to Global Scholarships, the USA ranks 2nd in the list of the top countries to pursue a degree in music abroad.

However, choosing the best music college for you can be challenging. Firstly, there are so many colleges in the US, and each one has its advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, you need to consider many factors, such as location, tuition fees, ranking, acceptance rate, courses, and the required credentials. Consequently, that is why we have prepared this complete guide for you. In this guide, we will introduce you to the 9 best music colleges in the US, based on these criteria.

Whether you want to study classical, jazz, contemporary, or any other genre of music, you will find a school that suits your needs and goals. Now, let’s get started and explore the best music colleges in the US.

1. The Juilliard School

  • Institute: The Juilliard School of Music
  • Location: New York
  • Application Fees: $110
  • Global Ranking: 3
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%

The Juilliard School ranks 1st in the best music colleges in the US. It has various music degrees for different levels and interests. To know more you can visit their website. You can pursue:

  • Bachelor of Music
  • Master of Music
  • UG Diploma
  • GraduateDiploma
  • Artist Diploma
  • Doctor of Musical Arts

If you want to study at the Juilliard School of Music, you need to follow some steps. First of all, you need to complete the online application and pay the fee. Next, submit your transcript, recommendations, essays, and resume. Following this, upload your prescreening materials (if needed). Subsequently, perform a live audition on your primary instrument. Lastly, you can submit your SAT scores and English proficiency exam results (optional).

2. Johns Hopkins University

Johns-Hopkins
  1. Institute: The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University
  2. Location: Baltimore
  3. Application Fees: $120
  4. Global Ranking: 28
  5. Acceptance Rate: 8%

The Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University offers various courses for a degree in music. According to the web search results, some of the courses are:

  • Bachelor of Music Degree
  • Double Degree Program
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts
  • BM Music Education Majors
  • BM Recording Arts & Sciences Majors
  • Master of Music Degree
  • Low-Residency Master of Music Degree
  • Master of Arts in Audio Sciences
  • Doctor of Musical Arts Degree
  • The Performer’s Certificate
  • Graduate Performance Diploma
  • Artist Diploma

If you want to study music at The Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, you need to meet the following admission requirements. Firstly, you need to apply by December 1 and submit your Peabody application and SlideRoom portfolio. Secondly, after that, you need to audition and/or interview for your chosen program. Thirdly, following the audition or interview, you need to send your transcript, test scores, and letters of recommendation. Finally, for international students, if you are, you need to complete the International Certification of Finances form.

3. New York University

  • Institute: The Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions (MPAP)- Part of NYU Steinhardt
  • Location: New York
  • Application Fees: $80
  • Global Ranking: 38
  • Acceptance Rate: 13%

The Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions (MPAP) is part of NYU Steinhardt. The university ranks 3rd in the list of the best music colleges in the US. It offers a variety of programs in music and related fields. Some of the majors include:

  • Performance and Composition
  • Music Business and Arts Administration
  • Music Technology
  • Creative Arts Therapies
  • Arts in Education

To be admitted to the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions at NYU Steinhardt, there are several requirements. Firstly, apply online and pay the application fees for the course you have selected. Secondly, submit your portfolio following the university’s guidelines. Thirdly, schedule your interview, choosing between Early Decision 1, Early Decision 2, Regular Decision, or Transfer. Lastly, schedule your interview date. In conclusion, ensure you complete each step promptly for a smooth application process.

4. Northwestern University

Northwestern-University
  • Institute: Northwestern Bienen School of Music
  • Location: Illinois
  • Application Fees: $100
  • Global Ranking: 47
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%

If you are looking for the best music colleges in the US, you might want to consider Northwestern University as well. This university has various music degrees to suit your interests and goals. To know more you can visit their website. You can pursue:

  • Bachelor of Music
  • Bachelor of Arts in Music
  • Bachelor of Science in Music
  • Master of Music
  • Doctor of Musical Arts
  • Doctor of Philosophy

The admission requirements for this institute are as follows. First of all, you need to fill out your online application and pay the fees. Following that, you should provide a high school transcript. Additionally, a counselor recommendation, academic teacher recommendation, and music teacher recommendation are needed. Moreover, you are required to upload your music resume and prescreening materials via the Bienen School Supplement. Subsequently, you must perform an audition on your main instrument. Lastly, for those applying for the Fall term, it is necessary to send your standardized test scores. If you happen to be an international student, make sure to include your English Test exam results as well.

5. University of Southern California

  • Institute: USC Thorton School of Music
  • Location: California
  • Application Fees: $85
  • Global Ranking: 116
  • Acceptance Rate: 13%


When contemplating the best music colleges in the US, it’s crucial to also explore the USC Thornton School of Music. Furthermore, not only does it offer various music courses for different levels and interests, but it provides options such as:

  • Classic Performance & Composition
  • Contemporary Music
  • Research and Scholarly Studies

According to the USC Thornton School of Music website, the admission requirements for undergraduate students are as follows: First, apply by December 1 (USC application & SlideRoom portfolio). Secondly, audition and/or interview (as required). Thirdly, look for a final admission decision by April 1. Importantly, the requirements may vary depending on your program of interest. Moreover, you can use the filters on the website to find the specific information for your major.

6. Rice University

best-music-colleges-in-the-us-Rice-University
  • Institute: The Shepherd School of Music – Rice University
  • Location: Texas
  • Application Fees: $75
  • Global Ranking: 145
  • Acceptance Rate: 9%

The Shepherd School of Music – Rice University ranks 6th in the list of the best music colleges in the US. It offers various courses for a degree in music. You can choose from:

  • Bachelor of Music
  • Master of Music
  • Artist Diploma
  • Doctoral of Musical Arts
  • Non-Major Offerings

If you want to study music at The Shepherd School of Music – Rice University, you need to meet the following admission requirements. Firstly, you need to apply by December 1 and submit your Peabody application and SlideRoom portfolio. Secondly, after submitting your application, you need to audition and/or interview for your chosen program. Thirdly, once the audition or interview is completed, you need to send your transcript, test scores, and letters of recommendation. Lastly, for international students, if you are one, you need to complete the International Certification of Finances form.

7. Curtis University

  • Institute: Curtis Institute of Music
  • Location: Philadelphia
  • Application Fees: $150
  • Global Ranking: 183
  • Acceptance Rate: 5%

Curtis University is ranked 7th in the best music colleges in the US. It has different music courses for various levels and interests. To know more you can visit their website. You can pursue:

  • Bachelor of Music
  • Master of Music
  • Post-Baccalaureate Diploma
  • Professional Studies Certificate

If you dream of studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, you need to follow some admission requirements. First of all, you need to complete the online application and pay the fee. Next, it’s important to submit your transcript, recommendations, essays, and resume. Following that, you need to upload your prescreening materials (if needed). Subsequently, you must perform a live audition on your primary instrument. Finally, if you prefer, you can also submit your SAT scores and English proficiency exam results.

8. Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt-University
  • Institute: Blair School of Music
  • Location: Nashville, Tennesse
  • Application Fees: $50
  • Global Ranking: 261
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%

The Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University offers various courses in music. You can explore these programs better on the university website. They are as follows:

  • Bachelor of Music
  • Bachelor of Musical Arts
  • Blair-to-Owen ( Music and Business)
  • Second Majors and Concentrations for Blair Majors
  • Music Minors
  • Programs for Non-Blair Undergraduates

The admission requirements for entering the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University for a degree in music include several steps. First, complete the Common Application, Coalition Application, or QuestBridge Application. Second, provide one artistic recommendation and a music resume. Additionally, please submit a comprehensive repertoire list of all works studied on your instrument. Finally, ensure you pass the prescreening and audition process.

9. Cleveland Institute of Music

  • Institute: Cleveland Institute of Music
  • Location: Cleveland
  • Application Fees: $125
  • Global Ranking: 1094
  • Acceptance Rate: 33%

The Cleveland Institute of Music is also one of the best music colleges in the US for aspiring musicians. Furthermore, it offers a variety of courses to study in music. To learn more about these courses, you can explore the university website. Additionally, some of them are:

  • Audio Recording
  • Bassoon
  • Cello
  • Clarinet
  • Collaborative Piano
  • Composition
  • Double Bass
  • Eurhythmics
  • Flute
  • Guitar (Classical), etc

The Cleveland Institute of Music has a rigorous admission process. First, applicants need to complete an online application, submit a pre-screening video, provide a performance resume, include a video introduction, share an academic transcript, and obtain Letters of Recommendation (LORs) from qualified professionals. It’s essential to note that the university will personally verify these LORs from the responsible person. Furthermore, in addition to the application process, there is an interview round that applicants must pass to secure acceptance. Importantly, make sure to carefully read the detailed procedure outlined on the university’s website.

We hope you enjoyed this comprehensive guide on the 9 best music colleges in the US. In this guide, we introduced you to the top-ranked schools for music, based on various criteria. Studying music at one of these schools can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. If you are passionate about music and want to pursue it as a career, you should consider applying to one of these schools. Thank you for reading this blog post. We hope it was helpful and informative. Good luck!

Sushmita Nibandhe

ALSO READ: Top 10 Best Universities in the USA for the Upcoming Academic Year

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