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2021 Best Colleges for Music

Approximately 25,616 music degrees were awarded to students last year in the United States. With so many options it can be a daunting task finding the best fit for you. This year's Best Colleges for Music ranking analyzed 143 colleges and universities that offer a bachelor's degree in music. We look at over 20 factors to determine the top 15% of colleges for Music students.

Choosing a Great Music School

Best Colleges for Music The music program you select can have a big impact on your future. This section explores some of the factors we include in our ranking and how much they vary depending on the school you select. Below we explain some of the most important factors to consider before making your choice:

Quality Overall is Important

The overall quality of a school is important to ensure a quality education, not just how well they do in a particular major. To take this into account we consider a college's overall Best Colleges ranking which itself looks at a host of different factors like degree completion, educational resources, student body caliber and post-graduation earnings for the school as a whole.

The vast majority of the schools on this list are in at least the top 22% of our overall quality ranking.

Overall Best Colleges Rank  ( 350 to 15 )
Lowest Ranked Overall
Top Ranked Overall

Graduates Earn More After College

A music degree from schools on this list typically translates into above average income after graduation. While the average music bachelors degree from U.S. schools results in an average starting salary of $25,137, graduates of colleges on this list average $30,938.

Starting Salary  ( 23450 to 39149 )
$0
$49,200

Other Factors We Consider

In addition to the above, you should consider some of the following factors:

  • Major Focus - How much a school focuses on Music students vs. other majors.
  • Major Popularity - How many other music students choose this school.
  • Accreditation - Whether a school is regionally accredited and/or a recognized music related accrediting body.

Our full ranking methodology documents in more detail how we consider these factors to identify the best schools for Music students.

Best Schools to Study Music in the United States

Explore the top ranked colleges and universities for music majors. Only those schools that rank in the top 15% of all the schools we analyze get awarded with a place on this list.

Top 21 Best Music Colleges

#1

University of Houston

Houston, TX

Any student who is interested in music has to check out University of Houston. Located in the city Houston, U of H is a public school with a fairly large student population. This school ranks 360th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Texas.

With 105 undergrads, University of Houston is one of most popular schools to study music in United States. University of Houston music majors make $18,428 more than the typical music grad.

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#2

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI

Any student pursuing a degree in music needs to take a look at Michigan State University. Michigan State is a fairly large public school located in the city of East Lansing. A Best Colleges rank of 107 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means Michigan State is a great college overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, Michigan State also offers 2 different higher degree levels in music, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Graduates from the music program at Michigan State University earn $7,328 above the standard college grad with the same degree when they enter the workforce.

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#3

Boston University

Boston, MA

It is difficult to beat Boston University if you want to pursue music as a major. Located in the city Boston, Boston U is a private not-for-profit school with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 49 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Boston U is a great college overall.

Boston University is one of the most popular college to study music in United States with more than 111 graduates last year. Grads of the music program report average early career earnings of $29,600.

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#4

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT

Every student pursuing a degree in music has to look into University of Utah. U of U is a very large public school located in the medium-sized city of Salt Lake City. A Best Colleges rank of 180 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means U of U is a great college overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, U of U also offers 2 different higher degree levels in music, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Graduates from the music major at University of Utah earn $5,928 more than the standard college graduate with the same degree shortly after graduation.

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UT Austin is a very large public school located in the large city of Austin. A Best Colleges rank of 91 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means UT Austin is a great school overall.

There are roughly 152 music undergraduates studying this program at UT Austin. Graduates of the music program make around $29,800 in their early career salary.

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#6

Texas Tech University

Lubbock, TX

Texas Tech is a fairly large public school located in the large city of Lubbock. This school ranks 448th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Texas.

For those interested in something more advanced, Texas Tech also offers 2 different higher degree levels in music, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Music students from Texas Tech University get a earnings boost of about $10,628 over the average earnings of music graduates.

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Carolina is a very large public school located in the city of Columbia. This school ranks 224th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of South Carolina.

There are approximately 95 music undergraduates studying this degree at Carolina. University of South Carolina - Columbia music majors earn $2,828 more than the average music student.

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USC is a very large private not-for-profit school located in the city of Los Angeles. A Best Colleges rank of 40 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means USC is a great school overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, USC also offers 2 different higher degree levels in music, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. After getting their bachelor's degree, music students generally earn an average of $23,600 in their early careers.

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#9

George Mason University

Fairfax, VA

GMU is a fairly large public school located in the large suburb of Fairfax. This college ranks 271st out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Virginia.

For those interested in something more advanced, GMU also offers 2 different higher degree levels in music, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. George Mason University music majors make $4,328 more than the standard music graduate.

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Located in the city New Brunswick, Rutgers New Brunswick is a public college with a very large student population. This school ranks 183rd out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of New Jersey.

For those interested in something more advanced, Rutgers New Brunswick also offers 3 different higher degree levels in music, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Students who graduate from the music program make an average of $31,300 in their early career salary.

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#11

Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

Located in the small city Evanston, Northwestern U is a private not-for-profit college with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 12 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Northwestern U is a great college overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, Northwestern U also offers 2 different higher degree levels in music, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Grads of the music program state that they receive average early career income of $22,400.

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U of Michigan is a fairly large public school located in the city of Ann Arbor. A Best Colleges rank of 38 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means U of Michigan is a great school overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, U of Michigan also offers 2 different higher degree levels in music, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Soon after graduation, music students usually make around $21,700 in the first five years of their career.

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Located in the midsize city Denton, UNT is a public college with a fairly large student population. This college ranks 724th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Texas.

For those interested in something more advanced, UNT also offers 2 different higher degree levels in music, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Music majors from University of North Texas receive an earnings boost of about $7,328 over the typical earnings of music graduates.

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#14

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL

Located in the midsize city Tallahassee, Florida State is a public school with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 160 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Florida State is a great college overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, Florida State also offers 2 different higher degree levels in music, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Soon after graduating, music students generally earn about $24,900 in the first five years of their career.

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#15

James Madison University

Harrisonburg, VA

JMU is a fairly large public school located in the city of Harrisonburg. This college ranks 194th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Virginia.

With 68 undergraduates, James Madison University is one of most popular colleges to study music in United States. Grads of the music program report average early career income of $31,600.

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Located in the suburb West Chester, WCUPA is a public school with a large student population. This school ranks 371st out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Pennsylvania.

There are roughly 118 music undergraduates studying this degree at WCUPA. Music students from West Chester University of Pennsylvania receive an earnings boost of approximately $4,228 above the average income of music majors.

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Located in the midsize city Boulder, CU - Boulder is a public college with a fairly large student population. This school ranks 227th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Colorado.

For those interested in something more advanced, CU - Boulder also offers 2 different higher degree levels in music, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Students who graduate from this program report average early career earnings of $26,500.

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Located in the city Bloomington, IU Bloomington is a public college with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 141 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means IU Bloomington is a great school overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, IU Bloomington also offers 2 different higher degree levels in music, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Students who graduate from this degree report average early career earnings of $16,100.

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Louisiana State University is a very large public school located in the medium-sized city of Baton Rouge. This school ranks 294th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Louisiana.

For those interested in something more advanced, Louisiana State University also offers 2 different higher degree levels in music, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Students who complete this degree report average early career earnings of $29,100.

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#20

University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL

Located in the small city Coral Gables, U Miami is a private not-for-profit college with a large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 103 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means U Miami is a great school overall.

University of Miami is a fairly popular school to study music in United States with over 142 graduates last year. Students who graduate from this program report average early career income of $20,900.

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Illinois State is a fairly large public school located in the midsize suburb of Normal. This school ranks 331st out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Illinois.

Illinois State University is one of the most popular college to study music in United States with more than 69 graduates last year. Music graduates from Illinois State University earn a boost of about $4,228 over the typical earnings of music majors.

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Rest of the Top Best Colleges for Music

Honorable Mentions

These are some additional schools worth mentioning that are also great but just didn't quite make the cut to earn our top Best Colleges for Music award.

Rank College Location
26 Lawrence University Appleton, WI
27 University of Oregon Eugene, OR
28 Lebanon Valley College Annville, PA
22 Luther College Decorah, IA
23 University of New Hampshire - Main Campus Durham, NH
24 Ithaca College Ithaca, NY
25 Colorado State University - Fort Collins Fort Collins, CO

Music by Region

View the Best Colleges for Music for a specific region near you.

Region
Southeast
New England
Rocky Mountains
Plains States
Middle Atlantic
Far Western US
Southwest
Great Lakes

Music is one of 9 different types of Visual & Performing Arts programs to choose from.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Fine & Studio Arts 40,751
Design & Applied Arts 36,179
Drama & Theater Arts 17,726
Film, Video & Photographic Arts 16,756
General Visual & Performing Arts 5,720

View All Music Related Majors >

Notes and References

  • 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.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard). More about our data sources and methodologies.

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