Top Music Colleges, Schools and Universities

Learn about top music schools in the United States, including degree programs, courses and special facilities. Find out what you can study at three of these high-profile institutions, and find a list of other schools and universities around the country that offer programs in music.

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School Information

Students interested in a career in music can pursue undergraduate and graduate degree programs in music performance, direction, instruction and composition. Several of the top-ranked national universities offer well-respected music programs, as well as specialized fine arts and music schools. Two of the universities profiled below enjoy Ivy league status.

Top U.S. Schools with Music Programs

1. Harvard University in Cambridge, MA

In 2011, U.S. News and World Report ranked Harvard University number one among the best national universities, making this Ivy League institution the highest-ranked school to offer a music program. Harvard University's Department of Music offers both undergraduate and graduate programs, including a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Music, a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Performance Practice and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Areas of emphasis include music theory, composition, ethnomusicology or historical musicology. In addition to practice rooms and a music library, the Department of Music houses the John Knowles Paine Concert Hall and the Harvard University Studio for Electroacoustic Composition (HUSEAC).

2. Princeton University in Princeton, NJ

Princeton University, another Ivy League school, ranked second among national universities by U.S. News and World Report for 2011. This 4-year private university hosts a Department of Music, which offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. At the undergraduate level, students can pursue a bachelor's degree in music with an emphasis on writing music. A Certificate in Musical Performance and a Certificate in Jazz Studies are also offered.

At the graduate level, students can pursue a Ph.D. in Musicology or Composition. There is also a performers-in-residence program named after the composer Edward T. Cone, which currently hosts the Brentano String Quartet.

3. Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA

The Berklee College of Music is a specialty school that offers 12 different majors that can lead to a 4-year professional diploma or a bachelor's degree. Areas of study include professional music and songwriting, music education or therapy, film scoring and jazz composition. Students can also major in contemporary writing and production, electronic production and design or performance. Industry-specific training in music production and engineering is also available. Graduate students in the music business and management program can pursue an accelerated Master of Business Administration (MBA), offered in conjunction with the Suffolk University.

List of Ten Good Music Colleges, Schools and Universities

School Name Distinction Location
Berklee College of Music Unique international college that offers 12 music majors Boston, MA
Cornell University Cornell Gamelan Ensemble Ithaca, NY
Duke University Nine distinctive student performing ensembles Durham, NC
Harvard University Facilities available to music students include the Ethnomusicology Lab or the HUSEAC Cambridge, MA
Juilliard School New historical performance program established in 2009 New York, NY
University of Notre Dame Interdisciplinary Master of Sacred Music program Notre Dame, IN
Princeton University The Edward T. Cone Performers-in-Residence program Princeton, NJ
University of California - Berkeley Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) Berkeley, CA
University of Chicago The EthNoise! and Perception and Understanding of Music workshops offered through the Department of Music Chicago, IL
Vanderbilt University The Pre-College and Adult Program in music Nashville, TN
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    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
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    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
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    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
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      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
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    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
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    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
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        • Music Composition and Theory
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    Areas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
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