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10 Best Music Education Schools in the US

December 29, 2023
Best Music Education Schools in the US

If you’re passionate about music and teaching, enrolling in a music education study program would help you hone your skills and find your career path. 

Many outstanding schools offer music education degree programs and courses – you just need to find the one that fits your goals and interests. 

So for today’s article, we’ve rounded up the best schools that can prepare you for the role of a music teacher. 

Without further ado, here are 10 of the best music education schools in the US. 

1. University of Florida

The University of Florida is one of the best music education schools in the US.

The University of Florida is arguably one of the best places to study music education in the US.

One of the best things about this top-ranked college is the possibility to tailor your music education degree program.

So, along with a BA in music, you can choose a concentration in entrepreneurship, event management, music, music history, and literature, music history and literature: ethnomusicology, or music theory and composition. 

Students can also minor in other subject areas such as English, psychology, or history.

And some of the student learning outcomes include:

  • Utilizing theoretical analysis of music.
  • Performing at a pre-professional level (on an instrument or voice).
  • Writing about music within different historical and cultural contexts.

That said, their BA curriculum is ideal for students who want a liberal arts education with an emphasis on music. 

2. Johns Hopkins University 

Johns Hopkins University is one of the best music education schools in the US.

Started by Daniel Coit Gilman in 1876, John Hopkins University is known as America’s first research university.

And as you might assume, the list of alumni of this reputable Baltimore-based school is quite impressive – besides CEOs, scientists, authors, and Grammy and Oscar award winners, it also includes a former US president, Woodrow Wilson. 

So it comes as no surprise that John Hopkins University remains one of the leading research universities and a rather popular name in education.

Music education degree programs are offered through the John Hopkins Peabody Institute, and they are focused on performance, composition, teaching, or other careers in the music industry.

Their bachelor’s of music is narrowed into seven concentrations, one of which is music education.

All tracks include the “Breakthrough Curriculum,” which includes music theory, ear training, keyboard studies, musicology, and ensembles.

3. SUNY Potsdam

SUNY Potsdam

Located in Northern New York, SUNY Potsdam offers well-designed courses and a beautiful learning environment.

SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music offers rigorous undergraduate and graduate programs, including a Bachelor of Arts in Music.

It’s a comprehensive program that you can tailor to your interests or combine with another field of study – for instance, you can choose to focus on music education.

The program has a strong emphasis on performance and practice, and it allows students to study in a tight-knit atmosphere.

Thanks to their 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio, students can work closely with their experienced and respected faculty artists, teachers, and scholars.

All in all, SUNY Potsdam is an excellent choice for anyone looking for quality music education degree programs.

4. NYU Steinhardt


NYU Steinhardt is one of the industry leaders in technology, teaching, and research.

It also has a reputation for being one of the top-performing schools for music production and audio engineering in the US.

As an NYU student, you would also have a chance to take core liberal arts classes and courses like Music Theory, Keyboard Harmony and Improvisation, and Electronic Technology.

Apart from music-related degree programs, NYU Steinhardt also provides great study-abroad opportunities. 

Either way, it’s a great choice for students interested in expanding their theoretical knowledge as well as developing their production skills.

5. Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University

Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University

Housed at Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music is another top-ranked US music school.

Their facilities include world-class studios and performance venues, consisting of two multitrack recording studios, two post-production studios, an electronics lab, and four audio control rooms.

So, Jacobs School of Music is an excellent choice for students interested in various positions in the music industry.

But the school also offers a highly ranked bachelor of music education ideal for students interested in teaching.

In this program, you can choose from several areas of emphasis, including: 

  • Choral
  • General
  • Band
  • Orchestra

Students are allowed to apply for the teacher education program during their sophomore year, after taking general education courses.

6. University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance – Ann Arbor

University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance

The University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance is located in Ann Arbor, a town known for its vibrant arts scene and culture.

This highly-ranked school offers more than 40 undergraduate programs and covers a wide range of instruments and many music-related areas of study. 

Their Music Education degree programs include:

  • Choral Music Education (Piano and Voice)
  • Instrumental Music Education 

All Music Education applicants must go through a performance audition (if selected), after showcasing the recordings for their primary instrument/voice.

An average of only 20 students are admitted each year, so they’re quite selective, but this also means that if accepted, you would be a part of a close-knit group of classmates and faculty.

Therefore, the UM-Ann Arbor school provides one-on-one guidance and personalized teaching, along with vast resources and performance opportunities. 

7. Berklee College of Music 

Berklee College of Music

Berklee College of Music is regarded as one of the top music schools in the US.

Located in Boston, Berklee is known for yielding great results with their students – their notable alumni earned 310 Grammy Awards and other prestigious awards in the industry.

Also, Berklee is focused on more contemporary music styles and it’s therefore ideal for students interested in entering the music industry.

But it also offers great opportunities for future K-12 music educators – their Bachelor of Music in music education will teach you all about contemporary and innovative teaching practices.

Their courses cover topics such as culturally sustaining music education, cutting-edge music technology, urban music education, and so on.

Berklee also offers a unique Master of Music in music education (autism concentration) designed to prepare students to teach music to students with autism and other disabilities.

8. Ithaca College School of Music

Ithaca College School of Music

Ithaca College started as a music conservatory, and it eventually evolved into one of the most popular music schools in the US.

It’s highly ranked in various categories, including #9 Best University in the North.

Ithaca offers a variety of music-related study programs, but if you want to become a music teacher, you should check out their Department of Music Education.

Their comprehensive music education program is focused on excellence in performance and pedagogy, and they generally offer one of the largest undergraduate string music education programs in the country

Apart from well-crafted courses, Ithaca is praised for its world-class faculty, state-of-the-art facilities, and numerous performance opportunities.

9. Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California

Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California

Located in Los Angeles, Thornton School of Music is a top-ranked music school offering a variety of music degree programs.

It’s a conservatory-style music school housed at the University of Southern California, and it’s ideal for students who want to pursue a career in performing.

But it’s also a great option for future music teachers and educators.

Thornton music education programs are designed to prepare elementary, middle, and high school teachers to lead marching bands, choirs, and orchestras. 

The USC Thornton Music Teaching & Learning program offers the following degrees: 

  • Master of Music
  • Doctorate of Musical Arts in Music Teaching & Learning 
  • Professional Master’s Degree in Community Music

Regardless of what you opt for, Thornton would provide you with an amazing learning experience and numerous opportunities. 

10. Frost School of Music, University of Miami 

Frost School of Music, University of Miami 

Housed at the University of Miami, Frost School of Music offers undergraduate programs, graduate degrees and certificates, online programs, and community and summer programs.

This popular music school is proud of its “Frost Method curriculum” which includes artistic, technological, and entrepreneurial skills needed to get around in the music industry.

And their Department of Music Education and Music Therapy offers two innovative study programs, including the Master of Arts in Teaching.

It’s an accelerated program designed for students who hold a prior music degree.

After they graduate, Frost MA students are ready to start seeking teaching positions in schools.

Should You Go to Music Education School?

Many top universities in the US offer music education degree programs.

After all, music education degrees are very important as they produce talented, professional music teachers who can pass on their knowledge to others.

Generally, music education encompasses a variety of music-related areas and topics, including music theory, research, music history, and music and vocal lessons. 

That said, there are many careers you can pursue with a bachelor’s degree in music education – you can become a vocal coach, K-12 music teacher, private instrument teacher, composer, production manager, and so on.

So, majoring in music education can bring you a variety of opportunities.

a lady wearing a graduation gown

If you’re still wondering whether going to music education school is something you should do, thinking about your career goals would certainly help.

Some employers seek people with talent and skills, but some positions in the music industry, schools, and various institutions require a music degree.

Therefore, if your dream is to work as a music school educator or college professor, getting a music education degree could be your first step.

It all depends on your goals and preferences.

After all, deciding to enroll in a music study program is a big decision, and majoring in music requires a lot of time and practice.

But if you find a program that meets your needs, you’ll realize it was all worth it in the end.

How to Choose a Music Education School?

Picking the right music education degree program is not easy.

But if you know what your goals are, it will be easier for you to create a shortlist.

Therefore, you should think about the type of job you’re interested in.

For instance, you can ask yourself the following questions: are you more interested in research or education? 

Do you want to work with children or become a college professor?

What are your abilities, special skills, and strengths, and how can you incorporate them into your studies?

an eyeglass and ballpen on top of a music sheet

All of the schools we mentioned today offer versatile programs that cover various topics, but their focus and specialized courses might help you determine whether they’re the right fit for you.

When making a list of the schools, you should also consider the following factors:

  • Location
  • Tuition fees
  • Courses offered
  • Facilities
  • The faculty
  • Networking opportunities 
  • Student experiences

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, you can start checking for application dates.

Meeting the deadline for each aspect of the application is crucial, so try to prepare everything in advance to avoid sending an application at the last minute.

Best Music Education Schools in the US – Final Thoughts 

We hope our overviews of the best music education schools in the US helped you narrow down your list. 

All of the schools we mentioned today are reputable and popular, and their degree programs will undoubtedly prepare you to build a successful career.

You need to choose a school that aligns with your goals and values, check their application dates, and start getting ready for an experience of a lifetime. 

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