Top Ten Music Schools In The World

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Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Aug 10, 2022 23:55 IST
Top ten music schools in the world

A career in music is something that attracts people who are passionate about their skills and talent. It can be an extremely rewarding career and chosen by those who strictly follow their passion. As such attending a reputed music school can open doors to different roles and positions in the music industry. It is a career which has no fixed route and highly depends on one’s strengths, skills and a very strong connection with the industry itself. Therefore, it becomes crucial to get into a school with a well-earned reputation to be the right fit in the sea of opportunities in this field. While there are many schools with music programs there are only a few with a very good reputation as music education leaders, most of these leading music schools and conservatories are based in the United States and Europe. Let us take a look at the top ten:

1. The Julliard School, New York

Established in 1905, the Julliard School in New York City is ranked above any other school for Performing Arts education. One of the most highly selective schools, admissions are tough as the school is known to have around a 7% acceptance rate. Juilliard offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in music, dance, and drama. The music school offers exceptional programs in Vocal Arts, Jazz Studies, Composition, Historical Performance and Conducting. In addition, performance opportunities to perform live are also provided to the students.  Every year there are over 700 Julliard-sponsored live performance opportunities in music (opera, jazz, contemporary, chamber, etc) which is regarded as one of the most valuable aspects of the school. Admissions are competitive, however, they require no specific course, GPAs or standardized test scores. What is taken into consideration is exceptional performance and musicianship, talent, training, and skills. So, if you’re a budding musician, composer, dancer, choreographer or even an actor, you may target this world-renowned college. At present, over 800 students from 43 states and 44 nations are pursuing various courses there. Julliard has been producing world-famous graduates in the field of performing arts. Notable alumni include David Bryan, keyboardist of Bon Jovi, Jon Batiste (musician), Luke Macfarlane (actor & singer), Audra McDonald (actor & singer), Renee Fleming (Opera singer), and Kyle Gass (singer-songwriter).

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2. Berklee College of Music, Boston

Berklee College of Music is a private and the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. Berklee’s music programs aren’t focused on orchestras or composing classical music but promote one’s talent in pop, rock, and other modern music genres. Students can choose to specialize in areas such as Music Business, Electronic Production, and Design, Music Production, etc. Graduates of Berklee have won in-numerous Grammy awards, Latin Grammy Awards, Emmy Awards and many more. Berklee offers undergraduate degrees and diplomas, graduate degrees, online degrees and certificates, summer programs and more. Typical admissions into an undergraduate program include an audition and interview, while it may not be necessary for a graduate program. New Berklee campuses have been set up in Ney York and Valencia, and Spain in the past few years. Students from over 100 nations have been a part of the Berklee family. The school has also been adjudged 3rd among all U.S colleges offering ‘an artistic exceptional environment’. Berklee Online has also been recognized as the world’s largest online music education system. Musicians John Mayer and Quincy Jones are among the famous Berklee products.

3. Royal Academy of Music, London

The Royal Academy of Music in London is the United Kingdom’s oldest music school and a member institution of the University of London. The school offers undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programs in Musical Theatre, Performance or Composition, Creative Music Leadership, Jazz and more. The school also offers various diploma programs at the postgraduate level to suit individual interests. In addition, it also offers Junior programs to train musicians up to the age of 18, and Open Music Academy projects and programs for all ages. Those pursuing BMus, MA, MPhil, MMus, and PhD courses will obtain degrees from the University of London on passing out. The academy promotes strong research activities, its research culture is practice-based and enhances all areas of teaching. The academy is also home to one of the world’s outstanding collections of musical instruments and artefacts. Admissions to most programs are competitive and include an audition. One of its most famous alumni includes the world’s beloved musician Sir Elton John. Other renowned artists who are a product of the Royal Academy of Music are Simon Rattle (British conductor), Annie Lennox (singer-songwriter), Katherine Jenkins (Welsh singer), etc.

4. Moscow Imperial Conservatory, Moscow

Located in Moscow, Russia, The Moscow Conservatory is among the highly regarded music academies in the world and one of the oldest conservatories in Russia. The school offers undergraduate and graduate diplomas in musical performance, music journalism, composition, music research and more. Admissions are selective and include an entrance test for creativity, professionalism, literature, etc. You must be fluent in Russian as well since the tests are conducted in Russian typically. For foreign students, however entrance exam in Russian literature may be waived off. It is therefore advisable that interested candidates contact the admissions committee directly to begin the application process. The conservatory has till date produced many world-renowned pianists, composers, violinists and more.

5. Royal College of Music, London

The Royal College of Music in London is another famous music conservatory offering world-class fine arts programs from undergraduate to research levels. The college was established by the then Prince of Whales (later Edward VII) in 1883. Programs include Bachelor of Science in Physics and Music Performance, Master of Education, Master of Science in Performance Science, Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, Master of Performance and more. The college also offers study abroad exchange programs with leading American, European, Australian and Japanese universities giving students the opportunity to learn about new cultures and develop work in new environments. Over 900 students from more than 50 nations are studying there. The faculty at RCM has a global reputation and have worked with the talented lot of each generation. The school has partnered with various international institutions and motivates students to work on foreign projects. It has also been recognized as the top global institution for performing arts in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022.

A host of Grammy award-winning composers and musicians forms the alumni network of the Royal College of Music, London. A few notable alumni include Grammy award-winning composer Andrew Lloyd Webber who is also one of only fifteen people in the world to have won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.

6. The University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna

The University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna is the largest institution of music, theatre, and film in Austria and one of the largest in the world. Established in 1817, the university trains over 3000 students in Music and Performing Arts from 70 nations, and offers over 115 study programs. The university is also Austria’s largest cultural event organizer with more than 1300 artistic and cultural events being organized every year. Students can choose from a large number of courses and specializations in areas of Music and Instrumental Studies, Music Therapy, Movies and TV, Computer Music and Electronic Media, Breathing, Vocal and Physical Education among many others. The university also offers doctoral programs for those interested in scientific research of culture and arts. Graduates from the university are successful and well-known singers, composers, string players, pianists, actors and more.

7. Conservatoire de Paris (Paris Conservatory), Paris

Conservatoire de Paris is one of the world-renowned colleges for music and dance. The primary areas of study at the Conservatoire are Dance, Music, Sound Engineering and Pedagogy. Popular programs include Musicology and Analysis, Vocal Disciplines, Jazz and Improvised Music, Early Music and more. For those interested in Sound Engineering, the school offers two study areas – sound engineering and musical acoustics which is unique in France. The application process for both undergraduate and graduate courses includes an entrance examination open to students of all nationalities. Applicants must check the admission and entrance test requirements as there are age limits specified for each examination.

8. Yale School of Music, Connecticut

Yale University needs no introduction, the Yale School of Music is one of the 12 professional schools of Yale producing many accomplished musicians and film composers till date. The schools offer a joint Bachelor of Arts—Master of Music program in conjunction with Yale College, a certificate program in Performance, Artist Diploma and two masters studies – Master of Music, Master of Musical Arts and Doctor of Musical Arts. The school regularly conducts live concerts performed by its students. Admissions are quite selective; the student profile includes exceptional talents with degrees from well-known international and American music academies. The admission process is through the Yale University Admission portal. For the application checklist, you must check the program-specific requirements.

9. New England Conservatory of Music (NEC), Boston

This is the oldest independent music school in the United States and the only one in the country to be designated as a National Historic Landmark.  NEC is well known for its piano, strings, brass and woodwinds departments. The conservatory offers undergraduate diplomas and degrees, Masters programs, Graduate Diploma, and Artist Diploma. Joint double degrees with Harvard University and Tufts University are also offered. Many summer programs for all ages are also offered by NEC. Students can perform in NEC’s Music Referral Service and Community Performances & Partnerships Programs as soloist, large and small groups and even paid gigs. The school is known to give students the freedom to develop their skills and follow their intended career path. The application process is online and may include an audition and submission of a prescreening recording.  Details must be carefully checked on the school’s website prior to the application process.

10. Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia

USA’s Curtis Institute of Music is every aspiring Opera musician’s dream school. It is among the most highly selective music school in the world with an acceptance rate of just around 4.8%.  The school offers undergraduate and postgraduate performance programs in Music, Music in Opera, Post-Baccalaureate Diploma and Professional Studies Certificate. Specializations are offered in many areas to suit specific needs such as Strings, Brass, Organ, Vocal Studies and more. A unique ‘career studies’ are also offered to students to equip with them industry skills, trends, hands-on technology, pedagogy, entrepreneurship, and community-based projects. Many Curtis graduates have gone to successful careers in the music industry. Each program and specialization have its specific application and audition requirements. Interested students must visit the school website prior to applying.

In addition to the world-reputed schools listed above, here are a few more prestigious music schools around the globe:

Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow, Scotland

Manhattan School of Music (MSM), New York

California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California

Hanns Eisler College or Academy of Music ( Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler), Berlin

National University of Singapore

The University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The University of Melbourne, Australia

Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London

USC Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California

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About the Author
Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert

With over 8 years of experience in overseas education, Rahul Singha has been previously associated with prominent education houses. He is also responsible for keeping a sharp eye on education policies of major study... Read Full Bio


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