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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 choices it can be difficult 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 schools for Music students.

Choosing a Great Music School

Best Colleges for Music Your choice of music school matters. 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:

A Great Overall School

A school that excels in educating for a particular major must be a great school overall as well. To make it into this list a school must rank well in our overall Best Colleges ranking. This ranking considered factors such as graduation rates, overall graduate earnings and other educational resources to identify great colleges and universities.

Over 80% of the schools in this list are in the top 22% of our overall quality ranking.

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

Above Average Earnings After Graduation

Music graduates from schools on this list tend to earn more after college than those from other schools. While the average music bachelors degree from U.S. colleges 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.

One Size Does Not Fit All

The music school you choose to invest your time and money in matters. To help you make the decision that is right for you, we've developed a number of major-specific rankings, including this list of the Best Music Schools.

In addition to College Factual's rankings, you may want to take a look at College Combat, our unique tool that lets you pit your favorite schools head-to-head and compare how they rate on factors that most interest you. Test it out when you get a chance! You may also want to bookmark the link and share it with others who are trying to make the college decision.

Best Schools to Study Music in the United States

Below you'll see a list of the best colleges and universities to study music. 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

It's hard to beat University of Houston if you wish to pursue music as a major. Located in the large city of Houston, UH is a public university with a fairly large student population. This university ranks 360th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Texas.

University of Houston is a fairly popular university to study music in the United States with about 105 graduates in the most recent year we have data available. Music majors from University of Houston receive an earnings boost of around $18,428 over the typical income of music graduates.

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#2

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI

It's difficult to beat Michigan State University if you want to study music. Located in the small city of East Lansing, Michigan State is a public university with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 107 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Michigan State is a great university 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. Students from the music major at Michigan State University get $7,328 more than the average college grad with the same degree when they enter the workforce.

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#3

Boston University

Boston, MA

Boston University is among your best bets if you're planning on studying music. Located in the city of Boston, Boston U is a private not-for-profit university with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 49 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means Boston U is a great university overall.

Boston University is one of the most popular universities to study music in the United States with approximately 111 graduates in the most recent year we have data available. Graduates of the music program earn around $29,600 in the first couple years of working.

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#4

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT

It is difficult to beat University of Utah if you wish to pursue music as a major. Located in the midsize city of Salt Lake City, U of U is a public university with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 180 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means U of U is a great university 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. Music students from University of Utah receive an earnings boost of approximately $5,928 above the average income of music graduates.

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Located in the city of Austin, UT Austin is a public university with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 91 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means UT Austin is a great university overall.

There were roughly 152 music students who graduated from this program at UT Austin in the most recent year we have data available. Soon after getting their bachelor's degree, music students typically earn about $29,800 in the first five years of their career.

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#6

Texas Tech University

Lubbock, TX

Located in the large city of Lubbock, Texas Tech is a public university with a very large student population. This university ranks 448th out of 1,715 colleges 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 graduates from Texas Tech University receive an earnings boost of about $10,628 above the typical earnings of music majors.

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

For those interested in something more advanced, UofSC also offers 2 different higher degree levels in music, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. University of South Carolina - Columbia music graduates earn $2,828 more than the typical music grad.

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Located in the large city of Los Angeles, USC is a private not-for-profit university with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 40 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means USC is a great university 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. Graduates of the music program report average early career wages of $23,600.

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#9

George Mason University

Fairfax, VA

GMU is a very large public university located in the large suburb of Fairfax. This university 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. Music majors from George Mason University receive an earnings boost of approximately $4,328 above the typical earnings of music majors.

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

For those interested in something more advanced, Rutgers New Brunswick 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 usually earn an average of $31,300 in their early careers.

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#11

Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

Northwestern is a very large private not-for-profit university located in the city of Evanston. A Best Colleges rank of 12 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Northwestern is a great university overall.

There were approximately 173 music individuals who graduated from this degree at Northwestern in the most recent data year. Graduates of the music program earn about $22,400 in their early career salary.

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U-M is a fairly large public university located in the medium-sized city of Ann Arbor. A Best Colleges rank of 38 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means U-M is a great university overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, U-M 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 state that they receive average early career income of $21,700.

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UNT is a fairly large public university located in the midsize city of Denton. This university ranks 724th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Texas.

There were roughly 325 music individuals who graduated from this program at UNT in the most recent data year. Students from the music program at University of North Texas get $7,328 more than the standard college graduate with the same degree shortly after graduation.

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#14

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL

Florida State is a fairly large public university located in the city of Tallahassee. A Best Colleges rank of 160 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means Florida State is a great university overall.

There were about 171 music students who graduated from this program at Florida State in the most recent year we have data available. Students who graduate from this program state that they receive average early career income of $24,900.

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#15

James Madison University

Harrisonburg, VA

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

James Madison University is a fairly popular university to study music in the United States with roughly 68 graduates in the most recent data year. Students who graduate from the music program make an average of $31,600 in their early career salary.

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WCUPA is a fairly large public university located in the large suburb of West Chester. This university ranks 371st out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Pennsylvania.

For those interested in pursuing a higher degree, WCUPA also offers a Master's Degrees in music. West Chester University of Pennsylvania music majors receive $4,228 more than the typical music grad.

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CU - Boulder is a fairly large public university located in the midsize city of Boulder. This university ranks 227th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Colorado.

There were about 113 music individuals who graduated from this program at CU - Boulder in the most recent year we have data available. Students who graduate from the music program make an average of $26,500 in their early career salary.

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IU Bloomington is a fairly large public university located in the small city of Bloomington. A Best Colleges rank of 141 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means IU Bloomington is a great university 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 the music program make an average of $16,100 for their early career.

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Located in the midsize city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University is a public university with a very large student population. This university ranks 294th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Louisiana.

There were about 92 music students who graduated from this degree at Louisiana State University in the most recent data year. Graduates of the music program make around $29,100 in their early career salary.

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#20

University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL

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

University of Miami is one of the most popular universities to study music in the United States with about 142 graduations in the most recent data year. Graduates of the music program earn around $20,900 in the first couple years of their career.

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

For those interested in pursuing a higher degree, Illinois State also offers a Master's Degrees in music. Illinois State University music graduates receive $4,228 more than the average music student.

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Rest of the Top Best Colleges for Music

Additional Noteworthy Schools

Here are some additional great schools for Music students that almost earned our 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

One of 9 majors within the Visual & Performing Arts area of study, Music has other similar majors worth exploring.

Majors Similar to Music

Related Major Annual Graduates
Fine & Studio Arts 33,643
Design & Applied Arts 29,541
Drama & Theater Arts 16,329
Film, Video & Photographic Arts 14,870
General Visual & Performing Arts 5,265

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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