a master's degree in music is more popular than many other degrees. In fact, it ranks #36 out of 343 on popularity of all such degrees in the nation. This means you won't have too much trouble finding schools that offer the degree.
In 2024, College Factual analyzed 233 schools in order to identify the top ones for its Best Music Master's Degree Schools ranking. When you put them all together, these colleges and universities awarded 5,778 master's degrees in music during the 2020-2021 academic year.
Choosing a Great Music School for Your Master's Degree
The music master's degree program you select can have a big impact on your future. Important measures of a quality music program can vary widely even among the top schools. When choosing a school we recommend considering some of the following factors:
Quality Overall Is Important
A school that excels in educating for a particular major and degree level must be a great school overall as well. To make it into this list a school must rank well in our overall Best Colleges for a Master's Degree ranking. This ranking considered factors such as graduation rates, overall graduate earnings and other educational resources to identify great colleges and universities.
To determine the overall quality of a graduate school, one factor we look at is the average early-career salary of those receiving their master's degree from the school. This is because one of the main reasons people pursue their master's degree is to enable themselves to find better-paying positions.
Other Factors We Consider
In addition to the above, you should consider some of the following factors:
Major Focus - How many resources a school devotes to music students as compared to other majors.
Major Demand - The number of music students who choose to seek a master's degree at the school.
Educational Resources - The amount of money and other resources allocated to students while they are pursuing their degree. These resources include such things as number of students per instructor and education expenditures per student.
Student Debt - How much debt music students go into to obtain their master's degree and how well they are able to pay back that debt.
Accreditation - Whether a school is regionally accredited and/or accredited by a recognized music related body.
Our full ranking methodology documents in more detail how we consider these factors to identify the best colleges for music students working on their master's degree.
When choosing the right school for you, it's important to arm yourself with all the facts you can. To that end, we've created a number of major-specific rankings, including this Best Music Master's Degree Schools list to help you make the college decision.
Featured Music Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Best Schools for Master’s Students to Study Music in the United States
Below you'll see a list of the best colleges and universities for pursuing a master's degree in music. Only those schools that rank in the top 15% of all the schools we analyze get awarded with a place on this list.
Every student pursuing a degree in a master's degree in music needs to take a look at Northwestern University. Northwestern is a fairly large private not-for-profit university located in the small city of Evanston.
Master's graduates who receive their degree from the music program make around $21,311 in the first couple years of their career.
It's difficult to beat Yale University if you want to pursue a master's degree in music. Located in the medium-sized city of New Haven, Yale is a private not-for-profit university with a large student population.
After graduation, music master's recipients usually earn about $20,839 in their early careers.
It is difficult to beat University of Southern California if you want to pursue a master's degree in music. USC is a very large private not-for-profit university located in the large city of Los Angeles.
Master's students who receive their degree from the music program earn an average of $22,177 in the first couple years of working.
The bars on the spread charts above show the distribution of the schools on this list +/- one standard deviation from the mean.
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of the rest of our data about colleges.