Best 19 Music Colleges in New York in 2021

February 16, 2021 | Staff Writers

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1. CUNY — College of Staten Island

CUNY — College of Staten Island stands out as one of the best value music colleges in New York. Students can choose between a bachelor of arts and bachelor of science in music with majors in classical performance, literature, and theory, music technology, and jazz studies and performance. The music program offers comprehensive training in all areas of music and serves as a foundation for graduate study of any specialized aspect of the field. Music graduates from the College of Staten Island have been accepted to prestigious graduate programs and had their work featured in venues including the Look and Listen Festival, Richmond Choral Society, Staten Island Philharmonic, and the Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble.

  • Tuition: $6,930
  • Acceptance rate: 100%

2. CUNY — York College

CUNY — York College offers a bachelor of arts in music as well as minors in music performance and music production. The curriculum includes courses in music performance, theory, history, ethnomusicology, and music production. Students work with faculty members who are performers, composers, and producers working in a wide range of genres including classical, jazz, and gospel. The music department provides access to professional-grade recording facilities in the Digital Music Lab, soundproof music practice rooms, a comprehensive collection of books and scores at the York College Library and Music History Archive, performances at the York College Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center, and a vast library of videos on LinkedIn Learning.

  • Tuition: $6,930
  • Acceptance rate: 53%

3. CUNY — City College of New York

CUNY — City College of New York stands out among other music colleges in New York for its choice of degree programs, including a bachelor of arts in popular music studies, bachelor of music in sonic arts, and bachelor of music in jazz studies. Students have access to state-of-the-art facilities including a recital hall, music library, Sonic Arts Center, individual and group practice rooms, piano lab, and Davis Center for the Performing Arts. All prospective students must audition or submit an audio portfolio before being admitted to a music program.

  • Tuition: $6,930
  • Acceptance rate: 48%

4. CUNY — Brooklyn College

The City University of New York offers some of the best music colleges in New York, and CUNY — Brooklyn College is no exception. Students at Brooklyn College can pursue a bachelor of arts in music or a more specialized bachelor of music majoring in composition, music education, or performance. Graduates have gone on to perform in orchestras, opera houses, night clubs, and cutting-edge concert venues, run arts organizations and festivals, and teach in schools across the country and around the world.

  • Tuition: $6,930
  • Acceptance rate: 44%

5. CUNY — Lehman College

CUNY — Lehman College offers a bachelor of science in music alongside minors in music and digital music applications. The bachelor of science in music is designed to give students a solid musical foundation that suits a variety of careers in music and the arts generally. Graduates of the program have gone to enjoy careers in music education, arts journalism, performance, arts and non-profit management, and composition. Students may design their own concentrations by choosing from courses in film scoring, digital applications, musicology and ethnomusicology, and music education.

  • Tuition: $6,930
  • Acceptance rate: 40%

6. Nyack College

Nyack College offers a wide range of undergraduate music programs, including a bachelor of arts in music, bachelor of science in music in worship, and bachelor of music in composition, gospel music performance, keyboard instruments, music education, orchestral instruments, or voice. Located in downtown New York, Nyack College is known worldwide for its Christian commitment, its academic strength, and its ethnic diversity. Students in the School of Music will have opportunities to study and perform a variety of music genres, participate in off-Broadway productions, tour interstate and internationally, and perform in interborough concerts in New York City.

  • Tuition: $25,000
  • Acceptance rate: 98%

7. CUNY — Baruch College

The Weissman School of Arts and Sciences at CUNY — Baruch College offers a bachelor of arts with a major in music, minors in music and music theory, and a unique specialization in management of musical enterprises. Students following the prescribed curriculum with a major in music will learn about the broad historical and cultural context in which the art is developed as well as study music literature, history, theory, and musicianship. Music majors are expected to participate in a performing group sponsored by the Music Program each semester.

  • Tuition: $6,930
  • Acceptance rate: 39%

7. Purchase College

Purchase College earned its reputation as one of the top music colleges in New York with its comprehensive range of degree programs. Students at the Conservatory of Music can pursue a bachelor of music with majors available in classical composition, instrumental performance, voice and opera studies, jazz studies, studio composition, and studio production. Students will have opportunities to study with many of the most respected names in music today, including private lessons and small-group study.

  • Tuition: $7,070
  • Acceptance rate: 65%

9. Long Island University — Post

The Department of Music at Long Island University — Post offers a conservatory-style program that brings a diverse array of performance and academic opportunities. Undergraduate students can pursue a bachelor of music in music education, a bachelor of science in music, or a bachelor of fine arts in music technology, entrepreneurship, and production. The department provides a variety of public performance opportunities to showcase students’ skills and talents, including solo student recitals, workshops, masterclasses, and concerts both on campus and at major concert halls in New York City and abroad.

  • Tuition: $37,182
  • Acceptance rate: 84%

10. CUNY — Hunter College

CUNY — Hunter College offers a range of degree options for prospective music students, including a bachelor of music, a bachelor of arts with two music major options, a bachelor of arts in teacher education, and a music minor. All undergraduate music majors include training in performance, aural skills, music theory, and music history, in the context of a liberal arts degree program. Other subjects are available as electives, including composition, arranging, computer music, and ethnomusicology.

  • Tuition: $6,930
  • Acceptance rate: 36%

11. Wagner College

Wagner College offers a bachelor of arts with majors in music studies, vocal performance, music education, and arts administration. The music department’s flexible curriculum allows students to create a personalized program following your their interests. The department’s facilities include a multi-use performance center, a music lab and a music resource room, and numerous practice rooms. Extracurricular opportunities for music students include the college choir, treble choir, concert band, marching band, jazz ensemble, guitar and lute ensemble, percussion ensemble, and string ensemble.

  • Tuition: $48,010
  • Acceptance rate: 70%

11. Manhattan School of Music

The Manhattan School of Music is well-regarded as one of the best music colleges in New York. The bachelor of music program embraces traditional conservatory subjects such as music history and music theory alongside an intensive humanities core, with an emphasis on literature, history, and expository writing. The school offers a choice of 34 classical and jazz arts majors as well as a musical theater program and prestigious Pinchas Zukerman Performance Program.

  • Tuition: $48,280
  • Acceptance rate: 38%

13. Yeshiva University

The music department at Yeshiva University offers course work and performing opportunities in Western classical music and jazz at the undergraduate level. The Yeshiva College Music Department is housed on the second floor of the Schottenstein Center and offers a recital room, practice instruments, soundproof music practice booths, and a MIDI Electronic Music Studio. Students can also choose to join the chamber music and jazz ensembles.

  • Tuition: $43,575
  • Acceptance rate: 60%

14. The School of Jazz and Contemporary Music at The New School

Students at The School of Jazz and Contemporary Music at The New School develop their skills, confidence, and identities under the guidance of legendary musicians. Part of The New School’s College of Performing Arts, the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, founded in 1986, is one of the most influential institutions of its kind. The quality and uniqueness of the school lie in its artist-as-mentor approach to learning, its progressive curriculum, small ensemble-based performance, a stellar faculty composed of artist-practitioners, and access to unique musical opportunities throughout New York City. Notable faculty include Reggie Workman, bassist, bandleader, composer; Ben Allison, bassist, bandleader, composer; Cecil Bridgewater, trumpet; Robert Hurwitz, President, Nonesuch Records; Yosvany Terry, saxophonist, percussionist, bandleader, composer; and Jimmy Owens, trumpet. Among the many remarkable artists who have given master classes or lecture presentations are Cassandra Wilson, Randy Weston, Geri Allen, George Lewis, Marc Ribot, Fred Wesley, Pat Metheny, Joshua Redman, Pauline Oliveros, Don Byron, Ben Sidran, Tommy LiPuma and George Wein.

  • Tuition: $50,460
  • Acceptance rate: 57%

15. Mannes School of Music

The Mannes School of Music at The New School is a cutting-edge conservatory that takes full advantage of everything New York City has to offer. The school offers a Bachelor of Music, Master of Music and PDPL programs. Founded in 1916 by America’s first great violin recitalist and noted educator, David Mannes, Mannes School of Music is a standard-bearer for innovative artistry, dedicated to developing citizen artists who seek to make the world a better and more beautiful place. Through its undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies programs, Mannes offers a curriculum as imaginative as it is rigorous, taught by a world-class faculty and visiting artists. Distinguished Mannes alumni include the 20th-century songwriting legend Burt Bacharach, the great pianists Richard Goode, Murray Perahia, and Bill Evans, acclaimed conductors Semyon Bychkov, Myung-Whun Chung, Joann Falleta, and Julius Rudel, beloved mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, as well as the great opera stars of today, Yonghoon Lee, Danielle de Niese, and Nadine Sierra. Mannes is part of the College of Performing Arts at The New School.

  • Tuition: $50,460
  • Acceptance rate: 24%

16. The Juilliard School

The Juilliard School, world-renowned as one of the best music colleges in New York, offers programs of study in instruments, vocal arts, jazz studies, historical performance, composition, and orchestral conducting. Students will combine work with their primary teacher with collaborative experiences in chamber music and large ensembles, on campus and at other prestigious venues in New York City and around the world.

  • Tuition: $49,260
  • Acceptance rate: 8%

17. New York University

The Steinhardt School’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions at New York University offers the highest level of professional training in the performing arts, matched by the superb academic resources of a world-class university. Undergraduates receive intensive and systematic training in their specialization with acclaimed faculty along with a broad liberal arts education. Students can choose from a comprehensive selection of majors in instrumental performance, vocal performance, music composition, education, creative arts therapies, and business, technology, and administration.

  • Tuition: $54,880
  • Acceptance rate: 20%

18. Barnard College

Barnard College enables young musicians to actively pursue their training in all aspects of music including composition, computer music studies, music history, ethnomusicology, composition, or music theory. Barnard College aims to provide students with the experience of doing scholarly work within the field of music and is not solely designed as a professional music program. Students have access to internships and fellowships at companies including Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, Spotify, LOOVE Music, and Zoic Studio.

  • Tuition: $55,781
  • Acceptance rate: 14%

19. Columbia University

The Columbia University Department of Music offers undergraduate courses and programs of study through Columbia College, the College of General Studies, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Students can choose from a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science with a major or concentration in music, or a bachelor of arts with a special concentration in jazz. The university provides a broad liberal arts education alongside high-quality performance offerings, integrated with the academic curriculum, to a wide range of student musicians.

  • Tuition: $56,880
  • Acceptance rate: 6%

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Our Ranking Methodology

To determine how to rank each college, we researched and evaluated each school’s estimated annual cost of tuition and undergraduate acceptance rate. We used in-state tuition rates where available. We took annual tuition rates directly from each school’s website and acceptance data from Google. We sorted each school first by the cost of tuition (lower is better) and then by acceptance rate (higher is better), letting each value make up equal portions (50%) of the final rankings.

If you work for one of the schools we ranked and you notice an error in the information we used to rank you, please feel free to contact us and let us know so we can make a correction.

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