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2021 Best Colleges for Music

Approximately 25,616 music degrees were granted to students last year in the United States. With so many options it can be a challenge finding the best choice. 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 21 schools 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 good education, not just how well they do in a particular major. To account for this we include a college's overall Best Colleges ranking which itself looks at a collection of various factors like degree completion, educational resources, student body caliber and post-graduation earnings for the school as a whole.

The vast majority of the colleges 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 colleges on this list usually results in higher than average salaries after graduation. 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 complete ranking methodology documents in more detail how we consider these factors to identify the best colleges for Music students.

Best Schools to Study Music in 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. Of the 143 schools analyzed, only 21 earned the distinction of being on this list.

Top 21 Best Music Colleges

#1

University of Houston

Houston, TX

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

With 105 students enrolled, University of Houston is one of most popular schools to study music in United States. University of Houston music majors earn $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 has to check out 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. Students from the music major at Michigan State University earn $7,328 above the standard graduate with the same degree when they enter the workforce.

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#3

Boston University

Boston, MA

It's difficult to beat Boston University if you wish 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 colleges nationwide means Boston U is a great college overall.

Boston University is a fairly popular college to study music in United States exceeding 111 graduations last year. Students who graduate from this program report average early career wages of $29,600.

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#4

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT

Any student pursuing a degree in music has to look into University of Utah. U of U is a fairly large public school located in the medium-sized city of Salt Lake City. A Best Colleges rank of 180 out of 1,715 schools 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. Students from the music degree program at University of Utah earn $5,928 more than the standard college graduate with the same degree when they enter the workforce.

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UT Austin is a fairly 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 approximately 152 music undergrads enrolled in this program at UT Austin. Students who graduate from the music program earn about $29,800 for their early career.

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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 college 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 graduates from Texas Tech University earn a boost of about $10,628 above the average income of music graduates.

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

There are about 95 music undergraduates studying this program at Carolina. University of South Carolina - Columbia music graduates make $2,828 more than the standard music graduate.

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USC is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in the large city of Los Angeles. A Best Colleges rank of 40 out of 1,715 colleges 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. Soon after getting their bachelor's degree, music students typically make about $23,600 in the first five years of their career.

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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 colleges 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 graduates make $4,328 more than the average music grad.

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Located in the city New Brunswick, Rutgers New Brunswick is a public school with a fairly 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 earn an average of $31,300 in their early career salary.

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#11

Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

Located in the 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 colleges nationwide means Northwestern U is a great school 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 report average early career earnings of $22,400.

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U of Michigan is a fairly large public school located in the midsize city of Ann Arbor. A Best Colleges rank of 38 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means U of Michigan is a great college 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 typically make about $21,700 in their early careers.

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Located in the medium-sized city Denton, UNT is a public college with a fairly large student population. This school ranks 724th out of 1,715 colleges 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 approximately $7,328 above the typical earnings of music graduates.

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#14

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL

Located in the medium-sized city Tallahassee, Florida State is a public college with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 160 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Florida State is a great school 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 graduation, music students typically make an average of $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 schools for overall quality in the state of Virginia.

With 68 undergrads, James Madison University is one of most popular schools to study music in United States. Students who graduate from this degree report average early career wages of $31,600.

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

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

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Located in the midsize city Boulder, CU - Boulder is a public school 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. Graduates of the music program report average early career income of $26,500.

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Located in the small city Bloomington, IU Bloomington is a public school with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 141 out of 1,715 colleges 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. Graduates of the music program report average early career income of $16,100.

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Louisiana State University is a fairly large public school located in the midsize city of Baton Rouge. This college 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. Grads of the music program report average early career income of $29,100.

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#20

University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL

Located in the city Coral Gables, U Miami is a private not-for-profit school with a fairly 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 degree state that they receive average early career earnings of $20,900.

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

Illinois State University is a fairly popular college to study music in United States with more than 69 graduates last year. Music majors from Illinois State University receive an earnings boost of around $4,228 above 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
The 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).
  • Credit for the banner image above goes to {}. More about our data sources and methodologies.

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