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50 Best College Conservatories and Performance Spaces

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By GVC Staff
December 2018

If you’re musically inclined, you need to find the best environment to hone your craft. There are colleges with music programs across the United States, but some are much better than others. And when you’re creating something as emotional and personal as music, you need to know that you’re in the right space. So much hinges on you finding an outlet for your creativity. This article will help you find the best college conservatory for your work!

Succeeding in the music industry is and always has been challenging. So many people want to be a musician, but there are limited jobs. The best thing that you can do to ensure that you claim your spot among this exciting, unique world is to study in a fantastic music conservatory. Luckily, a range of colleges have built spaces that look great, inspire people and deliver amazing musical education.

However, if you want to find the best conservatory to suit your needs, then until now there has been a challenge. The lists of the best music programs/conservatories all contradict one another. Each list uses a reliable criterion, but each results in different rankings. That’s why we’ve created this article. This ranking combines the consistently recommended colleges on those other lists. Our results will show you which conservatories offer the greatest range of quality music education experiences.

Any one of the colleges listed below is a fine choice for an aspiring musician. But there’s also a chance that none of the entries is right for you. If that’s the case, then this list is still useful. That’s because it will provide for you a checklist of what you need to look for in your own music education choices. You’ll be able to see which colleges have amazing spaces, faculty, and results. We’ve also provided summaries of how the colleges are doing this, along with other positive features that the college provides.

All in all, this is the most comprehensive guide to music conservatories online.

Methodology

We’ve consulted a range of respected publications and combined that with our own extensive research. Some of our sources specialize in the music world, whereas others are known for giving extensive knowledge of colleges in general.

Our exact sources are as follows:

Careers in Music, 10 of the Best Music Schools in the World: https://www.careersinmusic.com/best-music-schools-in-the-world/

College Factual, 2019 Best Music Colleges in the U.S.: https://www.collegefactual.com/majors/visual-and-performing-arts/music/rankings/top-ranked/

The Hollywood Reporter, The Top 25 Music Schools 2016: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/top-25-music-schools-2016-949274

Music School Central, 10 of the Best Music Schools in the US (2018 Edition): http://musicschoolcentral.com/10-best-music-schools-us-2018-edition/

Music School Central, Check Out the Top 10 Liberal Arts Colleges for Music in the US: http://musicschoolcentral.com/the-top-10-liberal-arts-colleges-for-music-in-the-us/

Seattle Pi, The Best Music Schools in the U.S.: https://education.seattlepi.com/music-schools-us-1565.html

ThoughtCo, The Top 10 Music Conservatories in the U.S.: https://www.thoughtco.com/music-conservatories-in-the-us-3569988

Niche, 2019 Best Colleges for Music: https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/best-colleges-for-music/

Overall, our ranking for each college has been decided by combined score on the methodology lists, evidence of providing an amazing space, low student to faculty ratio, successful alumni and evidence of innovation. To place on our list, a college either needs to be featured on a minimum of two methodology lists or top a list.

Our results, from 50 to one, are below:

50. Columbia College Chicago

Music Technology Programs

Website

The two methodology lists that rank Columbia College have very different opinions of the conservatory. The Hollywood Reporter considers it to be the sixth best music school in America, noting that it is making its degrees much more commercially focused. College Factual, on the other hand, places it at 355th. There is plenty of evidence that Columbia College Chicago is indeed creating a vibrant, innovative conservatory. Some of its current initiatives include artists in residence, composers in residence, music festivals and much more.

 

49. The University of the Arts

Music – Vocal Performance Program

Website

College Factual’s ranking of The University of the Arts at 267th is misleading, as the source was unable to find any graduate earnings data. In fact, the source states that the college’s majors are some of the best in the country. Niche’s student focused ranking gives it a much higher placing at 26th. The University of the Arts doesn’t separate its different courses into individual departments. Instead, every student has the option to work with other creative people. And every student can choose any minor, even if it has little relation to their major. That means that all of its creative courses enjoy input from voices that may not be traditionally associated with its field.

 

48. Middle Tennessee State University

Music Industry Program

Website

This college conservatory offers music education for students with a very specific career path in mind. The Hollywood Reporter notes that Middle Tennessee State University teaches music for, “journalism, television production and production for media.” The source ranks it as the 18th best music school overall. College Factual is less impressed, placing it at 266th. However, the college has an incredibly impressive alumni list, which includes Mark Blakeman, president of the Tucson Symphony; Scott Gerow, film and TV composer; Matt Palmer, award-winning guitarist and writer; and many more.

 

47. Loyola University, New Orleans

Guitar Program

Website

The student experience at Loyola University, New Orleans is one of the best in the country. The student reviews on Niche have led to it being ranked at 23rd for music colleges. College Factual is less generous, ranking it at 239th. However, the conservatory at Loyola University, New Orleans certainly makes some compelling arguments as to why it is a great place to study. For instance, it notes that students have the opportunity to talk with Grammy-winning musicians, attend music festivals and gain an in-depth knowledge of how the music industry works.

 

46. California State University, Northridge

Music Therapy Program

Website

While College Factual isn’t amazed by California State University, Northridge’s conservatory, ranking it at 210th, it does admit that graduates attain strong salaries. The Hollywood Reporter, on the other hand, names the college as 17th best for music, noting that its in-state tuition is just $8,208 and that it has an acceptance rate of 61%. If these facts weren’t impressive enough, then the college’s faculty is also going from strength to strength. For instance, Dr. Lawrence Stoffel was recently given a Hall of Fame Award by California Music Educators Association.

 

45. University of Missouri, Kansas City

Keyboard Studies Program

Website

University of Missouri, Kansas City polarizes the two methodology lists that it features on. College Factual places it at 217th for music colleges, but it does consider its major focuses to be of the highest quality. But Music School Central places the college in its top 10. The source notes that the college boasts many successful alumni, including Grammy winners, leading jazz trumpeters and Broadway musicians. And both faculty and current students regularly win prizes for their musical accomplishments. While this conservatory may not have the acclaim that some do, its achievements are starting to get it recognized!

 

44. Wesleyan University

Music Program

Website

Of the two methodology lists that Wesleyan University features on, Music School Central is the most generous. That source places it at 10th for best liberal art college conservatories and notes that it has one of the largest instrument collections in the world. College Factual places it at 109th. Wesleyan’s music conservatory is closely integrated with the other creative departments in the college. It’s housed in the Center for the Arts, which is, “a complex of studios, classrooms, galleries, performance spaces, departments, and programs that provide a rich and creative interdisciplinary environment for study and performance.”

 

43. Rice University

String Programs

The students who attend Rice University’s music conservatory have some of the best college experiences in the country. In fact, almost 1,000 glowing student reviews have led Niche to name it the ninth best music college in America. College Factual’s more scientific ranking criteria place it lower at 95th. However, the source does note that graduate incomes are higher than many other colleges. But Rice University is currently working on something that will make its conservatory even more enjoyable for aspiring musicians. Under construction is the Rice University Music and Performing Arts Center, which will bring the college into, “the top echelon of music schools in the nation.” The building is due to open in 2020.

 

42. Columbia University

Jazz Program

Website

Among the most successful alumni of Columbia University are the musicians Leonard Cohen and Alicia Keys. That’s just one of the reasons why The Hollywood Reporter has named the college the seventh best music conservatory in America. College Factual places it at 92nd but does note that graduates enjoy higher than average earnings. And the college’s musical endeavors are doing great things for the NYC community. For instance, it runs For the Daughters of Harlem: Working in Sound, which is a workshop that allows women of color from disadvantaged backgrounds to engage with the college’s musical facilities.

 

41. University of California, Los Angeles

Music Education Program

Website

The Hollywood Reporter notes that University of California, Los Angeles has some incredible composers among its faculty. However, it also notes that there are other conservatories in the city that are better aligned with Hollywood itself. The source considers it to be the 23rd best music school. College Factual places it at 61st. However, one real advantage of the University of California, Los Angeles’s music department is that its music education degree offers students the opportunity to become music teachers in as little as four years.

 

40. Saint Olaf College

Church Music Program

Website

This Minnesota based college has an incredibly long history of shaping innovative musical educational practices. This has secured its ninth-place ranking on Music School Central’s liberal arts college specific list. It also places at 65th on College Factual. Saint Olaf College also offers a range of generous music scholarships, which give out between $2,000 to $15,000 per student. Additionally, the environment of Saint Olaf College is perfect for people who are inspired by nature. Its campus sprawls over 300 acres, with 350 acres of wetlands, woodlands, and prairie surrounding it.

 

39. Luther College

Music Program

Website

The conservatory at Luther College manages to rank as the 73rd best on College Factual. However, Music School Central is much more generous, placing it at fifth among liberal arts college. It managed this high placement on the latter list in part due to many of the alumni finding careers in music education. And the college has many testimonials from happy former and current students. For instance, 2014 graduate Willy Leabald said, “Luther not only taught me how to teach music, but how to inspire through music. And that changes lives.”

 

38. Brigham Young University

String Performance

Website

College Factual was unable to gain any information regarding the income of music graduates at Brigham Young University. If it had, it’s highly likely that the source would have ranked the college much higher than the 43rd placement it currently has. An incredibly large pool of over 7,000 reviews on Niche have led the college to be ranked at 24th on the source. The students who study at this college are often able to gain acclaim as musicians before they even graduate. For instance, current student Catherine Boyack recently won a national award for being one of the top flutists under 30 years of age.

 

37. Michigan State University

Musicology/Ethnomusicology Program

Website

Michigan State University manages to rank just outside of the top 50 on Niche at 52nd. College Factual has a much better opinion of it, placing the college at 12th. However, the college is certain to feature on many more lists in future years. That’s because it’s expanding its facilities and building incredible new centers of musical learning. For instance, in October 2018, the college began construction of a major new addition to its primary music building. The money for this addition came from $51 million in donations raised for Michigan State University’s conservatory since 2014.

 

36. James Madison University

Percussion Program

Website

Niche ranks James Madison University at 50th for America’s best music colleges. However, it also notes that the college has a very high acceptance rate of 72%. College Factual places it at 15th for US music colleges. James Madison University’s facilities contribute hugely to the success of its conservatory. For example, the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts has five performance venues, classrooms, rehearsal spaces and much more. And even the music students’ primary residence, Wayland Hall, has studios, practice rooms, and other facilities.

 

35. Johns Hopkins University

Recording Arts & Sciences Major

Website

The only thing stopping Johns Hopkins from attaining a top 50 placement on College Factual’s top music school list is that its alumni income is average rather than exceptional. It currently ranks at 52nd on that list. Niche, however, places it at 10th, indicating that students love their time there. Some of the best things about Johns Hopkins’s conservatory are that it has a 50 to 50 male to female student ratio, has a tiny four to one student to faculty ratio and that its alumni are performing in over 30 professional orchestras.

 

34. Full Sail University

Music Business Program

Website

The more than 2,600 students that have ranked Full Sail University’s conservatory on Niche say things like, “Full Sail University is a wonderful four-year college.” These reviews have led it to be named the 31st best music school on the site. The Hollywood Reporter ranks it as the 25th best music school and notes that it has a strong business emphasis. And Full Sail also has a strong practical experience focus. For instance, throughout their college careers, it provides aspiring sound engineers with the best quality recording equipment and places live event producers in real venues with professional performers.

 

33. Southern Methodist University

Music Program

Website

The graduates from Southern Methodist University’s conservatory enjoy the highest incomes of any former music students in America, according to College Factual. The source places the college at 23rd for music colleges overall. Niche ranks it at 25th for best colleges for music. It’s hard to point out exactly what it is that turns Southern Methodist University’s students into such high earners, but it surely has a lot to do with the college’s outstanding facilities. For instance, it has an arts center located in Dallas which is filled with state of the art equipment and which is designed for students to form relationships and collaborations across different creative specialisms.

 

32. California Institute of the Arts

Performer-Composer Program

Website

Both Niche and The Hollywood Reporter are consistent with their ranking of California Institute of the Arts. The first source places it at 19th and the second places it at 20th. Both sources use very different ranking criteria, showing that the college performs well on numerous levels. The college’s music department considers itself to be “Qualitatively different from conventional music conservatories, technical excellence is only one part of the story.” By this, it means that it has an incredibly open approach to musical expression and allows students to create their own courses of study.

 

31. Carnegie Mellon University

Instrumental Performance Program

Website

College Factual considers Carnegie Mellon’s music majors to be of average quality. However, its alumni go on to gain higher than average earnings. This means the source ranks it at 16th place overall. Niche’s student review led rankings come to almost the exact same opinion and rank it at 15th. Students at Carnegie Mellon University are required to spend vast amounts of their study collaborating with each other. They do this through being, “part of an orchestra, chorus or wind ensemble and chamber group.”

 

30. DePauw University

Music Education Program

Website

College Factual considers DePauw University to be America’s 33rd best music college. Music School Central’s liberal arts college focused list places it significantly higher, at eighth. In recent years, DePauw University has been achieving some incredible things. For instance, a $15 million gift in 2013, allowed the college to form the 21st Century Musician Initiative, a program that would train aspiring musicians vital entrepreneurial skills. The college also inspires young artists to achieve their potential through a range of programs. For instance, the DePauw Jazz Festival brings high school students in, “for a full day of music, master classes, workshops, and performances.”

 

29. University of North Carolina School for the Arts

Harp Program

Website

This conservatory is the ideal place for someone interested in entering the film composing world. The Hollywood Reporter places the college at fifth in its top music school list, with the emphasis on movie music being one of the key reasons it ranks so highly. Niche places the college at 30th, with reviews stating that the college is hard work but completely worth it. University of North Carolina School for the Arts also emphasizes collaboration with other departments as a key part of its education. This allows creatives to explore areas of work beyond music alone!

 

28. University of Texas, Austin

Chamber Music Program

Website

As the University of Texas, Austin has over 5,700 reviews on Niche, you can be sure that its 29th place ranking on the site is accurate. The college also ranks at seventh on College Factual. As well as being located in one of the best cities for music in the USA, the University of Texas, Austin’s conservatory has a lot more going for it. For instance, thanks to a 2008 donation of $55 million, the largest amount ever given to a music department, the college has been able to create many scholarships, research programs, and other facilities that benefit all music students.

 

27. Lawrence University

Composition Program

Website

Though it only makes two methodology lists, Lawrence University’s conservatory stands out. This Appleton, Wisconsin based college teaches music students much more than how to just play an instrument and sing in key. Music School Central notes that students are given lessons on entrepreneurship and career-related activities. This approach is working for students who are keen on making their music into a money-making business. Niche’s student-led ranking places Lawrence University at 18th for best music colleges in America. The college also collaborates with the New York ensemble Decoda to provide free concerts for anyone in their town.

 

26. Baldwin Wallace University

Music Theatre Program

Website

Three different methodology lists give Baldwin Wallace University wildly different rankings. College Factual is the least impressed, naming it the 149th best music college in America. Niche, however, places it exactly 100 ranks higher at 49th. Lastly and most impressively, Music School Central names it the fourth-best liberal arts college conservatory of music. However, some non-methodology sources have similarly raved about Baldwin Wallace’s music education. For instance, Onstage named the college’s musical theater program the best of its kind in the country.

 

25. New York University

Piano Studies Program

Website

Niche and The Hollywood Reporter give New York University a very similar ranking. Niche considers it to be the 20th best conservatory in America. The Hollywood Reporter places it at 22nd. College Factual is less generous, placing it at 72nd. However, it does note that graduate earnings are high and that its music majors are of the best quality. However, one thing that sets this music conservatory apart from its other NYC conservatories is that it gives students the opportunity to travel and study at the New York University campus in Prague, Czech Republic.

 

24. Belmont University

Church Music Major

Website

Belmont is the first of two Nashville based conservatories on this list. The home of country music is certainly big enough for two incredible music schools. College Factual places the college at 53rd on its list of the best music schools. However, it performs significantly better on Niche and The Hollywood Reporter. The first source’s student-led rankings place the college at 21st. It also notes that the acceptance rate is a very generous 81%. The second source mentioned above names it the 24th best college, noting that many alumni have secured careers in Nashville, New York, and Hollywood. Belmont University is a Christian college, and its music education is taught from its religious perspective.

 

23. Syracuse University

Music Industry Program

Website

Syracuse University makes the top 50 of three different methodology lists. Its worst ranking is on Niche at 42nd place. College Factual has a similar opinion, naming it the 36th best music conservatory in America. The Hollywood Reporter is significantly more generous, noting that its environs are amazing and placing it at 21st. The college’s specific music specialties are in, “instrumental and vocal performance, conducting, music education, music industry, audio arts sound recording technology, voice pedagogy, and composition.” However, the college considers these courses to be vital to one another, meaning that there is much crossover in its degree offerings. If that weren’t impressive enough, music students learn in the incredibly beautiful Crouse College building, which is one of the college’s oldest structures.

 

22. Florida State University

Music Therapy Program

Website

Ranking on three different methodology lists is Florida State University. Its lowest ranking comes on Niche, where it places at 44th. However, College Factual’s criteria have placed it at 32nd best music conservatory. The source notes that its music majors are of the highest quality. Music School Central places the college among the top 10 in the country. Part of the reason for this high ranking is because two Grammy winners are among the faculty. Its environment is also top quality. Five whole buildings are dedicated to its conservatory. It also has five spectacular concert halls and an outdoor amphitheater.

 

21. University of North Texas

Jazz Studies Program

Website

Placing at 16th on The Hollywood Reporter’s list of the top 25 music schools is the University of North Texas. It made the list due to the college’s, “vast music library […] eight performance halls and 26 ensembles.” College Factual places it at 40th. Lastly, Music School Central places it in its top 10 and notes that it conducts more than 1,000 performances each year. If that weren’t good enough, the University of North Texas is also located in one of America’s best college towns, Denton, which is also a rapidly growing metropolitan area.

 

20. Boston University

Performance Program

Website

There is a 20 place difference between the two methodology sources that rank Boston University’s conservatory. Niche ranks it at 22nd, with over 3,000 student reviews backing that ranking up. College Factual, on the other hand, places the college at second, giving it a perfect 10 in its total score. Though Boston is filled with music conservatories, Boston University’s stands out. That’s because it combines, “a focused, conservatory-style program and the opportunities of a major research university.” It also has 119 state of the art practice rooms, 160 pianos and a student to faculty ratio of three to one.

 

19. Mannes College, The New School for Music

Woodwinds Program

Website

Two different methodology lists place this college in its top 10. ThoughtCo includes it due to its strong faculty body, which includes, “some of the preeminent composers of the day.” Careers in Music places it at 10th, noting that its students have countless internship opportunities. Mannes College, The New School for Music names itself, “A different kind of conservatory.” Its education allows students to not only become classical musicians but also business people, educators and anything they want to be.

 

18. Northwestern University

Conducting & Ensembles Program

Website

Two methodology sources place Northwestern University in their top 10s, but no others feature it. Niche names it the eighth best music conservatory. College Factual rates it much higher at third place, with an overall score of 9.9 out of 10. Northwestern University claims to have some of the most impressive music facilities in America. It has three whole buildings dedicated to music. The most impressive of these is the Ryan Center for the Musical Arts. This center is right next to Lake Michigan and has views of the Chicago skyline. Inside, it has three performance venues and dozens of state of the art practice spaces.

 

17. Bard College

Music Program

Website

Amazingly, Bard College manages to top Music School Central’s list of the top liberal arts colleges but not appear on any other list. The source makes an incredibly strong case for its win, noting that it gives out scholarships that come with mentorships with members of the American Symphony Orchestra. And the college’s conservatory buildings are second to none. Its flagship building is the state of the art Laszlo Z Bito ’60 Conservatory building, which cost $9.2 million. This building houses performance spaces, classrooms, studios, lounges and much more.

 

16. Ithaca College

Sound Recording Technology Program

Website

Niche’s student reviews place Ithaca College’s conservatory at 35th best in America, with students noting the faculty’s engagement with the students as one of its best qualities. College Factual places the college at 25th for best music colleges. Music School Central names it the third-best liberal arts college for music. This college ensures that its musical education is current by constantly re-imagining its curriculum to reflect trends and changes in the music industry. This constantly fresh curriculum means that its graduates always thrive.

 

15. Vanderbilt University

Music Composition Program

Website

Nashville, the birthplace of country music and the hub of all kinds of musical companies, is an obvious location to study music. And the conservatory at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University is one of America’s finest. It makes three methodology lists, with its best entry being at sixth place on Niche. College Factual is slightly less generous and places it at 41st. Lastly, Music School Central’s unnumbered list features the college and notes that no student leaves Vanderbilt with any student debt. It also notes that many of the faculty live on campus, making the environment incredibly close-knit and friendly. And the college’s students achieve success before they even graduate. For instance, several won a recent symphony concerto competition in Nashville.

 

14. Manhattan School of Music

Jazz Arts Program

Website

With three top 20 rankings to its name, Manhattan School of Music is a fine place for anyone who wants to become a musician in New York City. The Hollywood Reporter places it at 19th and notes that despite being in Manhattan, one of the most cramped places in America, it has 132 practice rooms and eight performance spaces. Niche places it at 16th. Finally, ThoughtCo features it in its unnumbered top 10 list. The source states that its faculty members include performers in the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Some of Manhattan School of Music’s most successful alumni include Pulitzer Prize-winning composers John Corigliano and Aaron Jay Kernis, Academy Award-winning film scorer Elliot Goldenthal and the director of The Peabody Institute of Music Fred Bronstein.

 

13. University of Miami

Vocal Performance Program

Website

One of the reasons why The Hollywood Reporter names University of Miami the 15th best music conservatory is its broad teaching approach. The source notes that the college teaches classical and jazz students world music and contemporary musical lessons alongside the more traditional classes. Niche considers the college to be the 17th best music school. Most impressively, College Factual ranks it at eighth. But the University of Miami is most proud of its music employment statistics. For instance, 88% of its conservatory graduates get a job or continue education shortly after completing college.

 

12. Cleveland Institute of Music

Trombone Program

Website

This college secures two top 10 rankings and one top 15 ranking. ThoughtCo’s unnumbered list praises the conservatory’s strong ties to the Cleveland Orchestra, noting that many alumni go on to work as a part of it. Music School Central also features it in the top 10, stating that not only is it a phenomenal music school, but it’s also aiming to become tuition-free. Lastly, Niche names the college the 11th best music conservatory. And if you’re keen on learning classical compositions, then Cleveland Institute of Music could be your best option. It’s one of only three independent conservatories in America that focuses solely on classical music.

 

11. Oberlin College

Double Bass Program

Website

College Factual places Oberlin College’s conservatory of music at 46th place in America. It would have ranked higher, but its graduate earnings are listed as medium. However, if you’re happy with a moderate income, then Oberlin College has a lot to offer. Niche’s student-led ranking places it at 14th, indicating that students love learning there. The Hollywood Reporter places it at ninth, noting that the conservatory can combine classical training with more contemporary composition techniques. And Music School Central’s liberal arts college focused list names it the second best music conservatory in America, noting that its faculty are all world-class musicians. The conservatory is equipped with nine concert halls, 150 practice rooms, six music labs and much more.

 

10. University of Rochester

Music Theory Programs

Website

The University of Rochester’s music majors are of the highest quality, according to College Factual. Overall, the source names it the 37th best music college. However, Niche’s student-led rankings are even more favorable, with the college placing at 12th. The Hollywood Reporter places it at 12th. Lastly, Seattle Pi features the college in the top 5 of its unnumbered list. The source notes that students are given the opportunity to be exposed to music from across the world. The University of Rochester also runs the Gateways Music Festival, which presents some of the world’s greatest classical musicians of African descent to the college’s hometown.

 

9. Yale University

Music Program

Website

College Factual gives Yale an overall score of 9.9 out of 10 when it comes to the quality of its music school. That places the college at fourth on the source’s list, with strong graduate earnings and the high quality of majors playing a major role in that ranking. Careers in Music has a similar opinion and names it the fifth best music conservatory. The Hollywood Reporter, however, ranks the college slightly lower at 14th. The source quotes alumni and Ant Man composer Christophe Beck in saying that the college offers music education that can be taken to many diverse areas of musicianship.

 

8. San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Conducting Program

Website

One-third of San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s faculty members are or have been part of the San Francisco Symphony. That’s just one reason why ThoughtCo has named the college one of the 10 best music conservatories in America. Niche’s student reviews are similarly amazed by the school and place it at seventh place for the best music school in America. Lastly, The Hollywood Reporter names the college the third best American music conservatory. The source praises the diversity of the student body. San Francisco Conservatory of Music claims that “More than any other world-class conservatory, we focus on educating the whole person.”

 

7. University of Southern California

Screen Scoring Program

Website

This college manages to rank in the top 10 of four methodology lists. University of Southern California’s strongest placement is on Careers in Music, which names it the third best music conservatory and notes that it is, “one of the oldest musical institutions in America.” It also notes that appropriately for an LA-based college, it has strong connections to the film industry. USC hosts many creative and inspiring events, with perhaps the most exciting being the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival.

 

6. Indiana University, Bloomington

Music Program

Website

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Five different methodology lists rate Indiana University, Bloomington’s music conservatory highly. Its lowest ranking comes on Niche, where it places at 37th. Its second lowest ranking is on College Factual, where it ranks at 11th and also gets a total score of 9.7 out of 10. Careers in Music places it at ninth and notes that it accepts an incredibly large number of its applicants. Seattle Pi’s unnumbered top 5 ranking notes that the college has an impressive 200 practice rooms and seven recording studios. Lastly, The Hollywood Reporter names the college the fourth best music conservatory, with the source commending it for its versatility. Indiana University, Bloomington also has strong aims for increasing its conservatory’s diversity, both in faculty members and students.

 

5. Berklee College of Music

Jazz Composition Program

Website

Boston is known for having many incredible colleges. And when it comes to institutions that focus on music, there is no exception. Berklee College of Music features on six out of seven methodology sources. While it doesn’t top any one list, it does rank highly on many. Its highest ranking comes on Niche, where it places at second based on student-generated reviews. It also makes second on Careers in Music with the source noting that Quincy Jones himself studied there. Additionally, Music School Central is amazed that it manages to house 27 separate recording studios. The college also helps the disadvantaged. For instance, it has a youth program that teaches underprivileged children across the world.

 

4. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Musicology Program

Website

College Factual considers the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor to be America’s top music school. The college also makes the Seattle Pi and Music School Central’s unnumbered lists. The latter source notes that graduates regularly secure positions in the symphony orchestras of Los Angeles, San Diego, Berlin, Boston and many more. Lastly, Niche‘s student reviews name the college the 13th best music conservatory in America. Some of the most impressive things that the conservatory offers are a seven to one student to faculty ratio and a 94% student retention rate.

 

3. New England Conservatory of Music

Contemporary Improvisation Program

Website

With four different top 10 rankings, New England Conservatory of Music deserves its acclaim. The Hollywood Reporter places it at 10th, noting that its class sizes of five students to one teacher put it ahead. Both Niche and Careers in Music place it at fourth, with the latter source noting that the conservatory is great at allowing stringed, woodwind and brass instrument players into the music industry. Lastly, ThoughtCo includes it in its unnumbered list, stating that the college’s Jordan Hall is, “one of the world’s most acoustically perfect performance spaces.” Students regularly win prizes and awards for their craft. For example, current student Brannon Cho recently claimed first prize at the 2018 Paulo International Cello Competition.

 

2. Curtis Institute of Music

Music Program

Website

Curtis Institute of Music almost manages to rank in the top 10 of five different methodology lists. The Hollywood Reporter places it at 11th, however. It notes that all students are given a full scholarship. ThoughtCo and Seattle Pi place the college in their unnumbered lists. Careers in Music places it at sixth, noting that its alumni have made a significant impact in the opera world. Lastly, it tops Niche’s student review led list. However, perhaps the most amazing thing about the college is its almost equal student to faculty ratio. The college takes on 175 students a year and has 113 faculty members.

 

1. The Juilliard School

Orchestral Conducting Program

Website

All but one source recommends the Juilliard School. This New York City-based conservatory enjoys one of the strongest reputations as a creative arts institution in the world. It manages to top two methodology sources and manages to rank in the top 10 of all except College Factual (which is the only source to omit it.) The Hollywood Reporter names it the top music school in the USA due, in part, to its highly successful alumni, which includes Henry Mancini and John Williams. Careers in Music notes that it’s the best college in the world for musicians looking to play orchestral music. This college has a mission to, “provide the highest caliber of artistic education for gifted musicians, dancers and actors from around the world.” Located in NYC’s famed Lincoln Center, there is really no place on earth as incredible for musicians as Juilliard.