Degree possibilities for music students have evolved throughout the decades and nowadays there are tons of opportunities for students interested in music as a profession. However, since you can’t apply everywhere, you’ll need to concentrate your efforts on applying to the best college music schools that offer the best training for the particular field of study that you’re interested in, and ones that offers the best odds of success.
Naturally, costs and location will play a big role in which schools receive your application. However, it doesn’t hurt to apply for scholarships and grant options that can help you get into the best college music schools, regardless of the obstacles. The following top 10 institutions rank high for their level of excellence, so even if you don’t make the cut, at least you’ll have tried to attend these prestigious institutions.
Juilliard School, New York City
There’s a reason that the Juilliard ranks first among the best college music schools. Since 1905, it has graduated some of the most well-known musicians of our time. Acceptance is an accolade in itself, because only about 16 percent of instrumental musicians are accepted each year. A live audition is required in this highly competitive atmosphere.
Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia
Even more selective than Juilliard, this coveted school only accepts about 4-11 percent of applicants, but trying is absolutely worth it. The entire student body, around 150 students, receive full scholarship tuition, so you only have to cover your housing costs. Student receive a rigorous education, conducted by an elite staff of professional educators.
Manhattan School of Music, New York City
At this music school, you’ll be an alumnus with musicians like Harry Connick Jr. and Herbie Hancock. Celebrated for its high level of jazz instruction, this school offers a wide selection of performance arts degrees. The student body remains at around 400 individuals, so selection to this prestigious institution is very limited, but the staff boasts participants in the New York City Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.
Berklee College of Music, Boston
As one of the best college music schools in the country, this institution offers a high level of music training and a number of business programs designed to prepare students who want to explore that area of the industry. The newly-launched program, Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) addresses the challenges inherent in the new entertainment business and supports the creation of new products. Rather than seeking opportunities with a major label, it emphasizes the ability to break new ground and develop the knowledge to establish your own DIY business. Plus, the online learning options are great for students who are non-traditional learners.
Princeton University, New Jersey
As an Ivy League school, this one ranks first among national universities by U.S. News and World Report for 2015, offering music programs for both undergraduates and graduates. Princeton hosts the Edward T. Cone Performers-in-Residence program that provides regular masterclasses, and hands-on coaching and instruction.
Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland
The strings and woodwind departments of this highly competitive music school are led by an incredibly knowledgeable faculty (about half of which are members of the world-class Cleveland Orchestra). And although only about 30 percent of applicants are accepted, this school offers lower living expenses than those on the East Coast. The school focuses on undergraduates, offering tons of opportunities for students.
University of Rochester Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York
Consistently ranking among the best college music schools in the nation, Eastman has a student body of around 900, accepting less than 30 percent of applicants. Costs are very high, but almost every student accepted receives a scholarship. The rigorous program produces highly trained musicians, and boasts alumni in almost every major orchestra in the country.
Jacobs School of Music-Indiana University, Bloomington
Part of Indiana University, this school is one of the largest in the nation and accepts about 200 new students each year (about 25 percent of applicants). If you get a chance to study here, you’ll join the ranks of alumni that include Joshua Bell and Chris Botti.
Peabody Conservatory-Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
A division of the Peabody Institute and John Hopkins University, rather than promote competition among students, this four year music school places an emphasis on collaboration and societal improvement. It offers a number of music undergraduate degrees.
Boston Conservatory, Massachusetts
This school offers music instruction for all major instruments and accepts roughly 40 percent of applicants each year. Choose from among a number of bachelor’s degrees at this prestigious four-year conservatory.
Although these institutions represent the best college music schools in the country and are very selective, you should definitely apply. You’ll never know if you could’ve attended one unless you try.