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Top Ten Music Colleges in the Nation

Read about the top ten music colleges in the United States, where aspiring instrumentalists, singers and songwriters can perfect their skills. Find out what types of degrees are available at three high-profile schools, and get a sneak peek at other schools in the country that offer programs in music.

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School Overview

Two of the three schools profiled below are located in New York City and offer collaborative education programs with Columbia University. Undergraduates at the top two schools may pursue specialized training in a variety of instruments and voice; all three schools have graduate programs in music.

Top Ten Music Colleges in the Nation

1. The Juilliard School in New York, New York

Since its opening in 1905, the Juilliard School has earned a national reputation for educational excellence in the performing arts, including music. At Juilliard, individuals can pursue a Bachelor of Music (B.M.), a Master of Music (M.M.), a special combined B.M./M.M. or a Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.). Undergraduate and graduate diploma programs are also available for exceptional music students.

Some of the specializations offered at this top music college include orchestral instruments, harpsichord, piano and organ. Focused programs in guitar, jazz studies and voice are also available. Through collaborative partnerships with Columbia University and Barnard College, the school also provides training to non-Juilliard students who successfully audition.

2. Manhattan School of Music in New York, NY

Founded in 1917, the Manhattan School of Music offers a range of music education programs for approximately 800 students each year, including weekend courses for pre-college students and graduate studies for serious performers and scholars. Undergraduates can major in a variety of classical and jazz instruments, from the bassoon to the violin. They can also take courses in music theory and history while participating in performances and competitions.

Graduate programs include a Master of Music (M.M.) in several areas, such as classical studies, contemporary performance, jazz arts and orchestral performance. A Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) is also available. In conjunction with Teachers College at Columbia University, the Manhattan School of Music offers a dual-degree program that culminates in a Master of Music and a Master of Education in Music Education (Ed.M.), as well as a K-12 teaching certification.

3. Yale University in New Haven, CT

In 2011, U.S. News and World Report ranked this school the third-best college in the nation, and the Princeton Review named it a 'Top Ten Best Value Private College.' This top music school has a selective admissions process, which requires students to demonstrate musicianship skills through recorded samples, live auditions and entry exams.

The Yale School of Music offers graduate degrees, including an M.M., a Master of Musical Arts (M.M.A.) and a D.M.A. The school also offers a combined Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)/Master of Music (M.M.) program. Musical arts students concentrate on composition or performance. Those who major in performance can specialize in voice, piano, harp, guitar, flute, violin, percussion or trumpet, to name a few.

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

Name of School Distinction Location
Berklee College of Music First music school in the U.S. to teach jazz as part of its curriculum Boston, MA
Bucknell University Scholarships for music majors Lewisburg, PA
DePauw University The DePauw opera program Greencastle, IN
Furman University The Maxwell Music Library Greenville, SC
The Juilliard School The Julliard Manuscript Collection New York, NY
Manhattan School of Music The Center for Music Entrepreneurship's programs, projects and internships New York, NY
Oberlin College and Conservatory Oldest music conservatory in the United States Oberlin, OH
University of Texas at Austin The Center for American Music's relationship with the city of Austin, considered to be the 'live music capital of the world' Austin, TX
Vanderbilt University Eight concert series available every year Nashville, TN
Yale University International programs in music, including the Musicathlon New Haven, CT
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