What Are the Best Colleges for Music Composition?

Get info on choosing a school with a good music composition program. Read about three top-ranked schools with music composition programs, and find out what degrees they offer in this field. Schools offering Ethnomusicology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Characteristics of the Best Music Composition Colleges?

In addition to looking for nationally-ranked schools with highly regarded music programs, you may want to choose a school that offers broad or specialized music performance programs in your area of interest. Some schools offer student or professional performance ensembles that might perform your work. Award-winning faculty or graduates could also indicate quality programs. Study abroad options could enhance your education. Here are three possible choices.

What Are Three of the Best Colleges for Music Composition?

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD

JHU was ranked #10 among U.S. News & World Report's 2015 national universities (www.usnews.com). The Peabody Institute, a music conservatory founded in 1857, is now affiliated with JHU. JHU-trained composers and faculty members have won Carnegie Hall Commissions, ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer awards, the Pulitzer Prize and Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships. Peabody offers composition masterclasses through its annual Distinguished Composer-in-Residence program. As a composition major, you might create work to be performed by the Peabody Symphony Orchestra, or through the 24-hour Concert, New Chamber Music, Opera Etudes or Opera Workshop programs. The major requires a senior recital of your work. These music degrees are offered:

  • Bachelor of Music (B.M.) in Music Education/Composition
  • B.M. in Recording Arts/Composition

New York University in New York, NY

NYU tied for 32nd among U.S. News & World Report's listing of national universities in 2015 (www.usnews.com). The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development's Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs in music composition. You have access to film scoring workshops sponsored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), and you can use the Music and Audio Research Lab. They also offer study abroad opportunities in Prague or Florence. Your work might evan be featured in concerts at The Walter Reade Theatre or another public venue. These degrees are available:

  • B.M. in Music Composition
  • Master of Music (M.M.) in Music Composition
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Music Composition

Northwestern University in Evanston, IL

Northwestern was U.S. News & World Report's tied for the 12th-ranked national university in 2015. Composition faculty of the Bienen School of Music have won Grammy Awards and commissions from the New York Philharmonic. The School sponsors three student composer concerts annually. These might involve collaborations with music technology students or any of 16 contemporary, vocal, chamber or symphony orchestra groups. There are opportunies to study composition abroad in Ireland, France, the Netherlands or Italy. There are over 300 concerts and special events per year from which to learn. Bienen's Davee Online Media Library provides video and audio access to archived performances. These degrees are offered:

  • B.M. in Music Composition
  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Music Composition
  • Doctor of Musical Arts

Ten Additional Schools with Great Music Composition Programs

College/University Institution Type Location
The Juilliard School Private, 4-year New York, NY
Yale University Private, 4-year New Haven, CT
New England Conservatory of Music Private, 4-year Boston, MA
Berklee College of Music Private, 4-year Boston, MA
Boston University Private, 4-year Boston, MA
Michigan State University Public, 4-year East Lansing, MI
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign Public, 4-year Champaign, IL
University of Washington-Seattle Public, 4-year Seattle, WA
Cleveland Institute of Music Private, 4-year Cleveland, OH
Vanderbilt University Private, 4-year Nashville, TN

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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