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Top Rated Music Colleges in the United States

Find information about some of the top-rated music colleges in the United States. Learn about the programs offered by a renowned conservatory and two noteworthy universities, and explore some of the unique features of other schools around the country that offer programs in music.

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School Overview

Students searching for top-rated music colleges can choose from a variety of options, including conservatories, colleges and universities. Degree programs are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in many areas, such as music education and performance, as well as a variety of styles including classical, folk, jazz and popular music. The three schools discussed below include the oldest self-governing music conservatory in the United States and a nationally ranked university. Unique areas of study found at individual schools include early and world music.

Top U.S. Schools with Music Programs

1. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD

U.S. News & World Report ranked Johns Hopkins University 13th among national universities in 2011. Through the university's Peabody Conservatory, classical and jazz students can earn a Bachelor of Music (B.M.), Master of Music (M.M.) and Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.). Areas of study include music education or performance, composition, computer music and early music. Students can also pursue a 5-year B.M./M.M program or Master of Arts (M.A.) in Audio Sciences, as well as an artist's diploma, a certificate or a graduate diploma in performance.

2. New England Conservatory in Boston, MA

Founded in 1867, the New England Conservatory is the oldest independent music conservatory in the nation. A founding member of the National Association of Schools of Music, it offers programs leading to B.M., M.M. and D.M.A. degrees in a wide variety of areas. These include music history and theory, composition, orchestral instruments and voice, as well as jazz and world music. Students can also take advantage of the chamber ensembles and the Abreu Fellows program for post-graduates. In addition to the degree programs, the New England Conservatory of Music offers continuing education and distance learning opportunities.

3. University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin is one of the largest public universities in the U.S, and includes 17 colleges and schools. At the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music, students can pursue programs in a variety of areas while earning B.M., M.M. or D.M.A. degrees. Major areas of study include piano and keyboard theory, chamber music, composition and conducting. Aspiring professionals can also earn a degree in ethnomusicology, jazz or vocal arts. They can also audition for 44 different ensembles specializing in various styles, including jazz, orchestra, marimba, Brazilian and Svaranjali.

List of Ten Good Music Colleges in the U.S.

School Name Distinction Location
Berklee College of Music Focused studies in Africana Studies, American Roots Music; access to the Berklee Global Jazz Institute Boston, MA
Johns Hopkins University Curricular format includes individual, group and program study Baltimore, MD
Michigan State University The Musique 21 ensemble for contemporary music East Lansing, MI
New England Conservatory Degree programs offered in conjunction with Harvard College and Tufts University Boston, MA
Oberlin College & Conservatory Offers a summer music training program in Arezzo, Italy Oberlin, OH
Ohio State University Music and Dance Library Columbus, OH
San Francisco Conservatory of Music BluePrint music project founded by local artist Nicole Paiement San Francisco, CA
University of Texas at Austin Butler Opera Center Austin, TX
University of Wisconsin - Madison Master's degree program in collaborative piano and piano pedagogy Madison, WI
Yale University 5-year Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)/M.M. combined degree program New Haven, CT
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Popular Schools

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    School locations:
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  • School locations:
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    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
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    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
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    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
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      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
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      • Design and Applied Arts
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    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
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    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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      • Design and Applied Arts
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    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
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    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
        • Music Composition and Theory
        • Music Performing
        • Piano and Organ
        • Stringed Instruments
        • Voice and Opera
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
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