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The basics
Study abroad : Subject Guides

Best universities for music in the world

Is a career in music calling out to you? If so, you might want to consider studying the subject at university. Here you'll find some of the top music schools in the world...

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While a degree isn’t necessarily required for a successful music career, it is a great way to meet like-minded people, mix with industry professionals and gain experience in writing and performing music. There are some particularly prestigious music schools around the world and so to receive the best possible experience, you may want to consider studying music abroad.


We’ve put together a round-up of some of the best universities in the world for this subject to help you find your way. To compile this list, we used the QS World University Rankings 2021 and The Complete University Guide Rankings 2021.


1.The Juilliard School - New York City, USA


New York City is an inspiring backdrop for music students at the Juilliard School which comes out on top for performing arts. It is a private conservatoire, offering both bachelor’s and masters’ degrees in music in addition to its dance and drama undergraduate degrees. 


The Juilliard School is internationally known for training exceptionally talented musicians and performers, making it one of the best schools for music in the world. Famous Juilliard alumni include Robin Williams, John Williams, and Nina Simone. 


Find out more about why studying music is worthwhile.


2.University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Italy


One of the largest and most prestigious institutions for music and performing arts in the world, the University of Music and Performing Arts has a student cohort of over 3,000 students from more than 70 countries worldwide. 


There are currently 105 degree programmes on offer within 24 departments. Courses include music therapy, conducting, chamber music, music education and more. The university is also located in the beautiful city of Vienna which often ranks as one of the world’s most liveable cities, offering a highly desirable student lifestyle.


Discover the top 10 reasons to study abroad in Europe.


3. Royal College of Music (RCM) – London, UK


Home to 840 students from over 55 countries around the world, RCM attracts talented individuals who can study up to the doctoral level. Whether you want to be a performer, conductor or composer, RCM is highly specialised, with lecturers who have had successful musical careers themselves.


Famous alumni include Vaughan Williams, Britten, and Leopold Stokowski. Students can take advantage of RCM’s five orchestras, two jazz bands and an opera school, plus opportunities to perform at prestigious venues.


Want to know what it’s like to study in London?


4. Royal Academy of Music (RAM) – London, UK


Another London-based music school ranking within the top five, RAM is the oldest degree-awarding music school in Britain. Its alumni include Elton John, Simon Rattle and Felicity Lott, to name a few.


RMS is also a member of the University of London, one of the largest universities in the UK, with more than 120,000 students. Students can choose from the many departments including brass, guitar, jazz, opera, organ, vocal studies, piano and so on. 



5. Curtis Institute of Music, USA


The Curtis Institute of Music is a particularly selective conservatoire, only enrolling about 165 students. This allows for a more personalised education experience from highly esteemed faculty. Students are encouraged to perform as often as possible in line with the institute’s approach to practical learning.


Programmes include brass, composition, conducting, guitar, harp, organ, piano, strings, vocal studies and so on. As with many music programmes, students must apply and audition to gain admission.


6. Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) – Glasgow, Scotland


In third place is the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which offers degrees in music, drama, dance, production, and screen. The conservatoire works in partnership with the University of Glasgow, University of St Andrews, and the University of Edinburgh in addition to the National Theatre of Scotland and BBC Scotland. This provides students with opportunities to perform and network with industry professionals. 


The RCS has also been awarded the title of the number one higher education institution for graduate employment (HESA). This survey revealed that 99.2 per cent of RCS graduates are either employed or within further education within six months of graduating. 


Find out more about studying in Scotland.


7) New York University (NYU) – New York City, USA


The New York University music department offers undergraduate, postgraduate and honour’s degrees. Students can also choose to major or minor in music at NYU. Being located in New York City, students are surrounded by prestigious venues, record labels, music magazines and more.  


This provides NYU students plenty of opportunities to take advantage of these when looking to gain work experience. During a music degree at NYU, you can expect to learn about music theory, the history of European music, African music, contemporary opera and so on.


For further inspiration check out the following universities which also offer music degrees around the world. You can find specific information on each institution including tuition fees, scholarships, accommodation, and facilities.






Still can’t decide? Use our course matcher tool to find a course tailored to your qualifications and preferences. 


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