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25 Best Music Schools 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated 4/1/2020

The 25 schools on this list offer the top bachelor's degrees in music, based on median salary one year out of college. University of Houston tops the list with a starting salary of $49,200 for Bachelor of Music program graduates. Sam Houston State University students with music majors graduated with a median student debt of $21,213, the lowest median debt on the list. Students who graduated with a music bachelor's degree from these schools had median starting salaries between $33,400 and $49,200.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Houston (TX) Houston (TX) $21,891 $27,000 $49,200
#2 #2 San Antonio (TX) San Antonio (TX) $21,253 $31,000 $42,300
#3 #3 Lubbock (TX) Lubbock (TX) $24,122 $27,000 $41,400
#4 #4 San Marcos (TX) San Marcos (TX) $22,559 $28,379 $41,300
#5 #5 Nacogdoches (TX) Nacogdoches (TX) $21,616 $24,325 $40,600
#6 #6 Commerce (TX) Commerce (TX) $22,266 $23,310 $40,200
#7 #7 Canyon (TX) Canyon (TX) $10,996 $25,374 $39,600
#8 #8 Huntsville (TX) Huntsville (TX) $18,752 $21,213 $38,800
#9 #9 Las Vegas (NV) Las Vegas (NV) $25,489 $28,418 $38,700
#10 #10 Denton (TX) Denton (TX) $20,932 $25,982 $38,100
#11 #11 East Lansing (MI) East Lansing (MI) $41,958 $27,375 $38,100
#12 #12 Arlington (TX) Arlington (TX) $29,299 $22,470 $37,700
#13 #13 Atlanta (GA) Atlanta (GA) $23,709 $28,000 $36,900
#14 #14 Salt Lake City (UT) Salt Lake City (UT) $29,837 $21,500 $36,700
#15 #15 Whitewater (WI) Whitewater (WI) $17,039 $31,000 $36,700
#16 #16 Eau Claire (WI) Eau Claire (WI) $17,627 $23,687 $36,400
#17 #17 Fairfax (VA) Fairfax (VA) $38,983 $27,000 $35,100
#18 #18 Normal (IL) Normal (IL) $27,011 $23,000 $35,000
#19 #19 West Chester (PA) West Chester (PA) $22,399 $27,000 $35,000
#20 #20 Terre Haute (IN) Terre Haute (IN) $21,160 $27,924 $34,100
#21 #21 Kingston (RI) Kingston (RI) $34,362 $23,984 $33,800
#22 #22 Durham (NH) Durham (NH) $37,934 $27,000 $33,700
#23 #23 Columbia (SC) Columbia (SC) $33,928 $26,604 $33,600
#24 #24 Decorah (IA) Decorah (IA) $48,160 $27,000 $33,400
#25 #25 Allendale (MI) (and 1 other) Allendale (MI) (and 1 other) $19,856 $27,500 $33,400

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top colleges for a Bachelor's in Music degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.

Houston (TX)
Median Salary $49,200
Median Debt $27,000
Annual Tuition $21,891
Graduation Rate 63%

University of Houston's Moores School of Music offers two bachelor's degree tracks to choose from - the Bachelor of Music and the Bachelor of Music in Applied Music. The Bachelor of Music provides majors in Composition, Music Theory, or Elective Studies in Teacher Certification (instrumental or choral), Non-Profit Music Leadership, Sacred Music, Marketing or Religion. The Bachelor of Music in Applied Music includes options for performance focuses in piano, organ, voice, winds, brass, strings, or percussion. University of Houston also offers students the option of a Bachelor of Arts degree that follows a liberal arts track but with a strong emphasis in the music field. A minimum of 50 semester hours of music is required along with the Bachelor of Arts college requirements.

The university campus includes the Moores school building, 3 dedicated recital halls, multiple classroom and rehearsal rooms, a music library and a multi-purpose beta space. The Moores Opera House boasts one of the largest performance stages in the Houston area, state-of-the-art acoustics, an orchestra pit that fits 70-80 musicians, yet it maintains the intimate feel of an old European opera house. This 800-seat performance venue provides students with an exceptional performance space as they pursue their music educations.

Students interested in musical performance at University of Houston can choose from eight performance ensembles including aura, band, chamber, choral, jazz, opera, orchestra, and percussion.

Visit University of Houston's website.

Median Salary $42,300
Median Debt $31,000
Annual Tuition $21,253
Graduation Rate 53%

The University of Texas at San Antonio offers two Bachelor degrees in music along with three music minors. Bachelor's degrees at the university include the Bachelor of Music and the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music. Minor concentrations include Minors in Jazz, Music Marketing or Music Technology.

To obtain performance experience, there are 14 performance ensembles to choose from including four bands, four choirs, two lyric theatre options, two orchestras, and two jazz options. Band ensembles include wind, symphonic and university band as well as SOSA, the Spirit of San Antonio marching band. The Choir ensembles offered are concert, women’s choir, men’s glee club, and chamber singers. Jazz students can opt to join the jazz ensemble or the jazz combos for further studies. For the theatre inclined student, UTSA has a lyric theater, which hosts a mainstage and an opera workshop offering stage and touring productions, plus a fully staged opera each year.

String musicians have the opportunity to perform in the 70-member UTSA Orchestra in the classical and symphonic traditions and the Chamber Orchestra which is open to all UTSA students and provides training opportunities for student conductors.

In addition, the University offers a number of additional small chamber ensembles concentrating on percussion, flute, tuba, guitar, trombone, new music lab, and a mariachi ensemble that performs regularly in the San Antonio area.

The Bachelor of Music degree requires a minimum of 131 credits in Music Performance, 130 credits in Composition, 130 in Music Marketing or 129 in Music Studies, which includes the UTSA core curriculum requirements. Another option for students interested in careers related to music that allow them flexibility in their educational concentration is the Bachelor's of the Arts Degree in Music which requires the university's core curriculum credits plus 30 semester credit hours in music courses.

Visit The University of Texas at San Antonio's website.

Lubbock (TX)
Median Salary $41,400
Median Debt $27,000
Annual Tuition $24,122
Graduation Rate 64%

The Texas Tech University School of Music offers performance opportunities in major musical ensembles and chamber music. Five undergraduate degrees are offered, featuring the Bachelor's in Music, along with four music concentrations including Performance, Music Theory, Music Composition and Music leading towards Teacher Certification. The school also offers an Advanced Bachelor's to Master’s degree which provides students the opportunity to apply six credit hours to both their Bachelor's and their and Master of Music Education degree.

The TTU School of music offers a wide array of performance ensembles including five choirs, four bands, and two string ensembles. The University Symphony Orchestra is one of the region’s major string ensembles and boasts an 80+ member orchestra which performs seven major concerts throughout the year.

TTU School of Music expands the global scope of students' music degrees with its Vernacular Music program, featuring unique performance opportunities with Baltic and Celtic ensembles, tango orchestra, mariachi band, and medieval band. TTU School of Music also has campuses in Spain and Costa Rica, with numerous international alliances in Asia and South America. Students can also take pride in the school’s fame in niche musical arenas such as Mariachi, and composition and performance at the Metropolitan Opera and Disneyworld.

In addition, TTU School of Music offers students a 541-seat Hemmle Recital Hall, in which an 84-rank Holtkamp Organ with 4,469 pipes is housed. West Texas’s largest instrument collection is also housed at TTU School of Music, providing students with Fazioli and Steinway concert grand pianos, a Kingston French double harpsichord, a Martin harpsichord, and a 36-bell carillon.

Visit Texas Tech University's website.

San Marcos (TX)
Median Salary $41,300
Median Debt $28,379
Annual Tuition $22,559
Graduation Rate 56%

Texas State University's School of Music features two professional-quality venues and state-of-the-art production facilities. Music students can choose from four bachelor’s degrees with a variety of minor concentrations available, as well. The Bachelor of the Arts in Music requires 120 semester credit hours and includes a liberal arts foundation with the student’s choice of a minor or second major.

Texas State also offers a BA in Music with Music Studies, which provides a path to teacher certification in K-12 schools in choral or instrumental, with minor concentrations available in jazz, mariachi or music composition with 18 credit hours. The BA in Performance is another option, including classical guitar, keyboard or instrument, jazz or classical vocal with an optional minor in Opera for 20 credit hours. For 18 credit hours, students can also choose a minor in Music Composition.

The only one of its kind in the Southwest, Texas State offers students the unique Bachelor of Science in Sound Recording Technology, which trains students in the recording industry field. Students can also add an optional minor in Music Composition for 18 credit hours.

Texas State School of Music offers a wide array of performance opportunities through its nearly 30 wide-ranging ensembles. There’s something for everyone with five bands, five choirs, four jazz ensembles, three operas, two orchestras, and five Latin ensembles including salsa, mariachi, and Afro-Caribbean hand-drumming. Students looking for something even more rare can consider the Gamelan Lipi Awan, a Balinese gamelan gong kebyar orchestra, and Mysterium for New Music which experiments with new and improvisational works.

Visit Texas State University's website.

Median Salary $40,600
Median Debt $24,325
Annual Tuition $21,616
Graduation Rate 53%

Stephen F. Austin State University's School of Music offers students a variety of musical degree paths to choose from including bachelor’s degrees, certificates, and music minors. Students in the Bachelor of Music degree programs can major in Performance, Composition, Music Education, Sound Recording Technology or Pedagogy.

The Bachelor of Music in Performance specializes in technical skills in instrument or voice. Students can also choose from concentrations in Keyboard, Keyboard Pedagogy, Orchestral Instruments or Voice. The Bachelor of Music in Education prepares students for a career in teaching with concentrations in Elementary, Choral/Keyboard or Instrumental. For students interested in the recording arts field, SFU School of Music offers the Bachelor of Music in Sound Recording Technology or SRT.

Facilities at the School of Music features the Wright Music Building which houses an abundance of concert and recital halls, a percussion suite, composition studio, rehearsal halls and classrooms. In the school’s Piano Lab, students can hone their skills on any one of 16 Yamaha Clavinova CLP Digital Pianos, which feature 88-keys and simulate an acoustic instrument. Instructors can add to the musical compositions with a Yamaha Digital Piano that provides hundreds of orchestral sounds for the students.

SFA School of Music also features the Turner Auditorium for performances with exceptional acoustics and state-of-the-art lighting.

A wide array of musical ensembles are offered at SFA to train students in their performance skills. The school features four concert bands and various chamber winds ensembles, two jazz bands, keyboard, a percussion ensemble and steel band, four orchestra ensembles, and a trombone choir. SFA also offers 5 vocal choirs - a cappella, madrigal, men’s and women’s choirs and the opera choir which features a full-length opera production each spring and includes opportunities to develop set construction, costuming and lighting skills.

Visit Stephen F. Austin State University's website.