Top 25 Best Music Schools in America

If you’re interested in either musical performance or music theory, chances are you’ve thought about applying to a music school or becoming a music major/minor. Here’s the list of Best Colleges for Music in America according to niche.com!

RankSchoolLocationAcceptance Rate
1*The Curtis Institute of MusicPhiladelphia, PA4%
2*Berklee College of MusicBoston, MA34%
3*The Juilliard SchoolNew York, NY6%
4*The New England Conservatory of MusicBoston, MA35%
5University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA17%
6Vanderbilt UniversityNashville, TN 11%
7*San Francisco Conservatory of MusicSan Francisco, CA 42%
8Northwestern UniversityEvanston, IL 11%
9Rice UniversityHouston, TX15%
10Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimore, MD13%
11*Cleveland Institute of MusicCleveland, OH48%
12University of RochesterRochester, NY36%
13University of Michigan—Ann ArborAnn Arbor, MI29%
14Oberlin CollegeOberlin, OH28%
15Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh, PA22%
16*Manhattan School of MusicNew York, NY46%
17University of MiamiCoral Gables, FL38%
18Lawrence UniversityAppleton, WI63%
19*California Institute of the ArtsValencia, CA24%
20New York UniversityNew York, NY32%
21Belmont UniversityNashville, TN 81%
22Boston UniversityBoston, MA29%
23Loyola University New OrleansNew Orleans, LA68%
24Brigham Young UniversityProvo, UT51%
25Southern Methodist UniversityDallas, TX49%
 * Art/Music schools

Is the Acceptance Rate Accurate?

Keep in mind that for music schools, some tend to accept more students (e.g. Berklee) while some like Curtis and Juilliard are extremely competitive with an acceptance rate of around 5%. Also, some schools in the list are not “music schools” by definition but rather have a decent music program. Northwestern, for instance, has an acceptance rate of 11% not only because its music program is great, but because its a school with many great programs. That being said, acceptance rate alone doesn’t tell the whole story.

How Are Schools Ranked?

Visit https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/best-colleges-for-music/ if you want to know how these schools are ranked. Notice there’s a big difference between schools that are good at, say, performing, versus those that are more theoretical. So if you are interested in a particular area, look into the school websites too!

Also, even though schools like Northwestern and Rice are ranked below Berklee, you should NOT consider them safety schools. As mentioned previously, these schools are not music schools but rather colleges with hundreds of undergraduate programs. They attract tens of thousands of applicants around the world every year, unlike Berklee where only those who are set on studying music apply.

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