When most people think about the best music schools in the United States, the East Coast, with its rich cultural history and elite performing arts institutions immediately springs to mind. However, our nation is filled with excellent music conservatories and facilities dedicated to the pursuit of music mastery; and students who are interested in earning their education in that field have a wide selection of the best music schools in the country to choose from.
The western region of the U.S. offers many such learning institutions. And while choosing a music school that meets your financial and educational requirements is essential, locality also plays an important role. In-state tuition is often less expensive than out-of-state costs, plus, attending a school with close proximity to part-time musical employment is often a key consideration. This list contains some of the highest ranked and best music schools in the West, some of which may be a surprise to many prospective students.
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. Ranked fourth in the best music schools in the U.S., this public institution offers 28 music programs for bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree studies. Along with performance, jazz, and music management, students can focus on stringed instrument degrees such as violin and guitar. Tuition is approximately $48,000 per year, but by combining liberal arts excellence with cutting-edge technology, USC offers an incredible educational atmosphere with outstanding resources for music majors.
California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA. This exclusive private school offers students bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree studies for $43,000 per year. Ranked the best music theory and composition school in the west, this school was the first degree granting facility to focus solely on visual and performing arts. CalArts offers music students a concentrated emphasis on applying their music aptitude in both classic and innovative ways.
San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco, CA. Depending on the music program chosen, this private school offers graduate and undergraduate degrees for approximately $41,000 per year. Rated the best music conducting school in the state of California, students can pursue music studies that concentrate on performance excellence in strings, piano, voice, and composition. Extremely limited enrollment (about 400 students) makes this music school a very exclusive choice for many students.
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Ranked as the top music school for therapy in the west, this public college offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in music theory and composition, therapy, performance, and education. Students who are interested in refining their abilities and expanding their knowledge of music can attend this school, rated number one by U.S. News and World Report among the most innovative schools in America, for around $25,000 per year.
Brigham Young University, Provo, UT. This Mormon, not-for-profit, private College earns its status as the third ranked best music schools in the West for the variety of programs offered and it’s extremely low cost. Tuition is approximately $6,000 per year for students who are interested in pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees in voice, strings, history, literature, and theory, as well as teacher education, jazz studies, and performance.
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR. Ranked the best music conducting, pedagogy, and general music school in Oregon, this state-funded school also holds the top spot for management and merchandising, performance, and jazz studies in the state. Annual tuition costs run around $30,000 to attend, but the almost 300-acre campus offers a learning environment that is rich in both research and cultural distinction. In addition to the standard studies, students can choose to major in Music Technology, an innovative program that recognizes the growing use of technical resources and how to further integrate their use with respect to music.
University of Nevada, Reno, NV. Offering general music, teacher education, and performance degrees, the University of Nevada at Reno is a mid-size school that holds the ranking of best music performance school in Nevada. Tuition is approximately $22,000 per year at this state-funded college, but the campus maintains a good safety rating and as a public school, students have access to federal financial aid assistance and other grants and scholarships that will help defer the costs.
Montana State University, Billings, MT. Students can earn their bachelor degree in general music, performance and education at this affordable, public school. With tuition costing roughly $13,000 per year, their arts and science department located in downtown Billings includes music programs that thoroughly prepare students for careers in music.
Choosing from among the best music schools in the country can be a challenge, but by narrowing your selection by region and cost, you can focus on applying to the schools that meet your personal requirements.