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Top Music Colleges, Schools and Universities

Higher Education Articles February 18, 2013

Music schools offer graduate and undergraduate degree programs in music composition, instruction, direction and performance that can be pursued by students aspiring to a career in music. Among such schools are specialized music and fine arts schools as well as many national universities that offer music programs that are highly rated.

Berklee College of Music – Boston, Massachusetts

This college began in 1945, and it is a highly rated music specialty institution that attracts more than 4,100 enrollments from students who are passionate about music. Songwriting, professional music, performance, music therapy, music production and engineering, music education, music business and management, jazz composition, film scoring, electronic production and design, contemporary writing and production and composition are among the twelve different majors offered at Berklee College of Music. The college offers these majors as four-year professional diplomas or four-year bachelor degrees. Students enrolled in the music business and management program can also enroll in an accelerated Master of Business Administration (MBA) program offered by Berklee College in association with the Suffolk University.

Harvard University – Cambridge, Massachusetts

In 2011, Harvard University was rated the best national university by U.S. News and World Report, thereby ensuring that this four-year private school is the highest ranking college that offers a music program. Both graduate and undergraduate programs are offered through the Department of Music at Harvard University; these include a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Performance Practice and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Music. The programs are offered in several focus areas such as historical musicology, ethnomusicology, composition, and music theory. The Harvard University Studio for Electroacoustic Composition (HUSEAC) and the John Knowles Paine Concert Hall are housed in the Department of Music; this is in addition to a music library and practice rooms.

Princeton University – Princeton, New Jersey

This is another Ivy League institution that the U.S. News and World Report ranked the second best national university in 2011. A Department of Music is hosted at this four-year private institution that offers graduate as well as undergraduate programs. A bachelor degree in music with a focus area on writing music is offered to students enrolled at the undergraduate level. Princeton University also offers a Certificate in Jazz Studies and a Certificate in Musical Performance. Graduate level students can also seek to complete a Ph.D. program in Composition or Musicology. A performers-in-residence program that carries the name of the composer Edward T. Cone is also offered; the Brentano String Quartet is currently hosted by the program.

List of Ten Leading Music Colleges and Universities

College/University School Distinction School Location
Berklee College of Music Unique international college that offers twelve music majors Boston, Massachusetts
Cornell University Cornell Gamelan Ensemble Ithaca, New York
Duke University Nine distinctive student performing ensembles Durham, North Carolina
Harvard University Students have access to these music facilities – the HUSEAC or the Ethnomusicology Lab Cambridge, Massachusetts
Juilliard School In 2009, New historical performance program was established New York, New York
Princeton University The Edward T. Cone Performers-in-Residence program Princeton, New Jersey
University of California – Berkeley Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) Berkeley, California
University of Chicago The Department of Music offers The EthNoise! and Perception and Understanding of Music workshops Chicago, Illinois
University of Notre Dame Interdisciplinary Master of Sacred Music program Notre Dame, Indiana
Vanderbilt University The Pre-College and Adult Program in music Nashville, Tennessee

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  • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
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  • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
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  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
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  • Transferable Credits

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