The future of music

10 Best Music Schools in the World

December 29, 2023
Best Music Schools in the World

If you want to get a music degree, gain valuable skills, and improve your career prospects, enrolling in a music study program is the best thing you can do.

But there are so many outstanding music schools out there, so it’s normal if you feel confused or overwhelmed.

So for today’s article, we rounded up the best music schools in the world. 

These schools will give you a good idea of what to look for in a music school, or even better, one of them might be your future place of study.

1. The Juilliard School 

The Juilliard School, one of the best music schools in the world. 

The Juilliard School is arguably one of the most prestigious music schools in the world. 

Founded in 1905, Juilliard has produced many legendary artists and musicians over the years, including Miles Davis, John Williams, Nina Simone, and Yo-Yo Ma.

This iconic music school offers a Bachelor of Music, a Master’s of Music, a Doctorate of Music Arts, and various combinations of the three. 

And their main departments include Music Theory Analysis, Ear Training, Keyboard Studies, and Music History. 

Juilliard is more traditionally and classically oriented than some other music schools on this list, so it’s the best choice for students interested in composition and classical music.

And with an acceptance rate of around 7%, Juilliard is quite selective too, which makes the Juilliard degree an ultimate proof of their students’ talent. 

2. Berklee College of Music

Berklee College of Music, one of the best music schools in the world.

Located in Boston, Berklee College of Music is widely regarded as one of the best music schools in the world. 

And just like Juilliard, Berklee is known for yielding great results with their students – their alumni earned 310 Grammy Awards and other prestigious awards in the industry.

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

There’s a variety of music study programs to choose from, including music business, music production and engineering, film scoring, songwriting, and music therapy. 

And for those interested in distance learning, Berklee offers online music degree programs (Berklee Online) and online certificate programs at the professional or advanced professional level. 

Their acceptance rate is around 52%, which is rather high compared to some other schools.

3. Yale School of Music

Yale School of Music

Founded in 1894, Yale School of Music is one of the best places to study music.

Although it’s primarily known for other fields of study, Yale is indeed a top choice for aspiring musicians.

Besides having a superb reputation, Yale offers a well-crafted music curriculum, top facilities, and an impressive roster of teachers.

And Yale School of Music faculty is recognized around the world for their performances, compositions, and scholarship.

Yale music students are offered performance opportunities, along with a number of performance courses for credit. 

That said, Yale School of Music is the best choice for ambitious students who have a dream about joining an orchestra or symphony.

4. New England Conservatory of Music

New England Conservatory of Music

Located in Boston, New England Conservatory of Music is often ranked among the top US music schools.

It’s one of the largest conservatives in the country, and it attracts students from around the world.

It offers undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

Although it offers a variety of courses, the New England Conservatory of Music is best known for classical music, jazz, and contemporary improvisation. 

It also attracts students who want to focus on string, woodwind, and brass instruments.

And it’s recently been praised for its new program, Entrepreneurial Musicianship.

Admissions are rather competitive, but their acceptance rate is around 36%, which is still better than some other options.

5. Curtis Institute of Music

Curtis Institute of Music

On the other hand, the acceptance rate of the Curtis Institute of Music is less than 5%.

This reputable Philadelphia-based music school is quite selective, but they’re regarded as one of the best music schools in the US for a good reason.

The school mainly attracts students interested in composition.

But it also offers Bachelor in a wide range of instruments, including flute, clarinet, trumpet, oboe, bassoon, tuba, horn, and so on.

In addition, they offer a Professional Studies Certificate in Opera.

Many accomplished composers are their former students, including Leonard Bernstein, Gian Carlo Menotti, Ned Rorem, and Nino Rota. 

And they’re known for their vocal graduates too.

6. The Royal Academy of Music

The Royal Academy of Music

Royal Academy of Music is arguably one of the most prestigious music schools in the world.

Founded in 1822, the school has a long history of producing successful musicians.

Their former students include Annie Lennox, John Lennon, and Sir Simon Rattle, just to name a few. 

Located in London,  the academy offers music study programs in a variety of fields, including conducting, musical theater, vocal studies, and historical performance.

They also offer studies in a variety of instruments, such as strings, woodwind, guitar, brass, piano, and accordion.

But this top-rated music school is also known for its Bachelor Of Music (Honors) Jazz degree course. 

The Royal Academy of Music’s Jazz Department has been producing outstanding musicians since 1987 while supporting students to find their unique creative voices.

See also: Best Music Schools in the UK

7. Royal College of Music

Royal College of Music

Another London-based music college with a worldwide reputation is the Royal College of Music.

The Royal College of Music is one of the world’s greatest conservatoires for a good reason.

It welcomes students from all backgrounds and provides the best opportunities for learning performance, and career development.

Their courses are specialized as well as flexible, and they’re designed to develop students’ academic and practical skills.

And they offer state-of-the-art facilities, including concert halls, performance venues, theaters, recording spaces, and intimate spaces for solo and chamber performances.

All in all, this prestigious music college is an excellent choice for students interested in the art of performance in general.

8. 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 US 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 interested in entering the music industry. 

Their Music Technology programs are best for those interested in integrating digital music production with other industry disciplines such as composition, performing, and live recording of acoustic instruments.

The school offers many programs that blend art and technology.

But it also has courses focused on styles like jazz, classical, and earlier forms of music.

And since it’s located in the heart of Los Angeles, it provides close proximity to the world’s best entertainment centers, studios, and companies. 

9. The Jacobs School of Music – Indiana University

The Jacobs School of Music - Indiana University

Housed at Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music is another popular music school.

This is an ideal option for students interested in performance.

With more than three dozen ensembles you can perform with, the school has more than 1,100 performances each year.

But they also offer an excellent Audio Engineering and Sound Production program designed to prepare students for a variety of technical and creative careers in the entertainment industry.

With their multidisciplinary approach to courses and collaborations with other departments, they allow students to have a versatile studying experience. 

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.

That said, Jacobs School of Music is an excellent choice for anyone seriously interested in various positions in the music industry.

10. Mannes School of Music

Mannes School of Music

The New School for Music is another top-rated music school that deserves a spot on the list of the best music schools in the world. 

Located in New York’s Greenwich Village, the conservatory offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in departments such as classical music performance, voice, composition, and jazz.

They are known for their rigorous programs, and their courses are taught by respected professors and artists.

Mannes students are also offered unique opportunities for collaborative work. 

All in all, it’s no wonder this popular New York City-based music school keeps producing successful musicians.

Their alumni include pianists Richard Goode, Murray Perahia, and Bill Evans, as well as the 20th-century songwriting legend Burt Bacharach.

Should You Go to Music School? 

Let’s be honest – majoring in music is not easy.

Music study programs require a lot of time and effort, and when it comes to the best music schools in the world, you can expect a rigorous and demanding program.

These courses often entail regular practice, performances, and classes, and that’s why you can’t attend them without being fully dedicated.

That said, these music schools are not for everyone.

But then again, you don’t have to opt for a top-rated music school to gain valuable skills and knowledge.

There are many excellent universities and colleges that didn’t make it to this list. 

Therefore, if you’re interested in studying music, you should conduct thorough research and find a program that meets your needs.

person playing the grand piano

Students decide to major in music for a variety of reasons.

Now, not every successful musician has a music degree – when it comes to music, talent, and skills are, in most cases, more valuable.

However, some positions do require a music degree – some technical fields, for example, as well as some research fields like music therapy.

A music degree will give you credentials, but it will also serve as proof of your willingness to learn and work hard.

On the other hand, if you want to be a freelance producer or play in a rock band, acquiring the necessary skills and gaining hands-on experience is much more important.

So it all depends on your specific career goals.

In any case, getting a music degree will surely improve your career prospects. 

Even if your future job doesn’t require it, having a music degree would give you an edge over competitors.

Moreover, being a music student would allow you to make connections and gain unmatched learning (and life) experience. 

What to Look For in a Music School? 

Without a doubt, all the schools we mentioned today will ensure you an excellent learning experience. 

After all, they are widely known as the best music schools in the world – and that’s a lot of expectations to fulfill.

But what makes a good music department?

And what should you look for in a music school?

a man reading his notes in class

First and foremost, you need to opt for a music study program that aligns with your career goals, abilities, and values.

But no matter what your goals and dreams are, good music schools should include the following:

  • A well-crafted curriculum
  • Versatile subjects
  • Good facilities 
  • Many opportunities for partnerships and relationships
  • Expert teachers 
  • Rich student life

Now, what exactly you’re going to look for in school depends on the field of study you’re interested in.

For instance, if you want to study music production, the facilities should include recording studios and top production equipment.

And if you want to focus on a specific instrument, you should look for schools that offer access to performance venues, concert halls, and so on.

The most important thing is to make a list of your priorities.

If student life is something that’s important to you, you should look for student clubs, student organizations, and nice on-campus facilities.

And if you want to build creative connections, check if the school supports collaborations with other departments and hosts musical events and performances. 

How to Choose a Music School?

All of the universities and colleges on our list are respected music schools with well-crafted curriculums, expert teachers, and state-of-the-art facilities.

So how are you supposed to make a choice?

Well, first you need to determine what music schools are best for you.

And what school is right for you depends primarily on your career goals.

Some other factors that might affect your decision include:

  • Location
  • Cost 
  • Learning Format 
  • Courses 

So, one of the first things you should do is to make a shortlist of all the schools that offer what you’re looking for.

And then you can make that list even shorter by making sure you meet all of their requirements. 

person typing on a laptop

When making a list of potential universities, you can consider the following factors:

  • Tuition fees
  • Admission requirements
  • Location
  • Facilities
  • Courses 
  • Student experiences 

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

Checking the deadline for each aspect of the application is crucial.

Prepare everything you need in advance, and make sure you don’t send your application at the last minute.

Most music schools require an essay, letters of recommendation, and some kind of music portfolio, and some of them require you to complete an audition.

Visiting the university during its open days might also be a good idea since that’s the best way to get all the information you need. 

Applying for music college might be overwhelming and daunting, but if you’re well-organized and you approach the whole process one step at a time, you’ll realize it’s not as difficult as it seems.

Best Music Schools in the World – Final Thoughts 

The best music schools in the world are obviously hard to get into – they’re very selective, and they usually gather top talent. 

Nevertheless, it’s worth trying, especially if you’re confident in your skills and talent.

Either way, we hope this article provided you with some useful information.

The schools we mentioned today can at least give you a good idea of what to expect from the absolute best. 

You may also like: Best Online Music Schools

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