Students who dream of studying music in college face the demands of auditions and rehearsals that come with gaining entry into top music programs, as well as the typical stress of high school graduation. Hundreds of colleges offer music as a major, but a few rise to the top due to reputation and quality. Taken from a combination of the recommendations from the industry paper The Hollywood Reporter and the newspaper USA Today, these schools offer students the opportunity to participate in truly outstanding programs.

The Juilliard School

The Juilliard School often is cited as one of the oldest, most reputable, and most acclaimed music conservatories in the United States. Due to an extremely rigorous audition process and a 6.5 percent acceptance rate, admission to Juilliard is an accomplishment in its own right. Julliard boasts more than 100 years of pre-professional level music education, students are fully immersed in the world of music and mentored by seasoned professionals. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 3 to 1, students receive close training and mentoring with their instructors. The New York City location also gives students ample exposure to professional musicians and opportunities to build a resume while still enrolled in college.

Berklee College of Music

Located in Boston, Berklee College of Music offers students the opportunity to choose from dozens of highly specialized majors and classes with an average size of only 11 students. With more than 350 student ensembles and student-run organizations, Berklee has a more contemporary focus than more traditional music schools, encouraging students to pursue new ideas in production and composition. Alumni boast more than 300 Grammy wins, proving that the music education provided by Berklee is hard to beat.

USC Los Angeles

As one of Los Angeles' oldest cultural institutions, USC Los Angeles' Thornton School of Music has been educating musicians for more than 130 years. Students enrolled in this large university will have a uniquely different experience from those enrolling in a smaller conservatory-style program. Since Los Angeles is in close proximity of the hub of movies, TV and entertainment production companies, students have the opportunity to delve into the world of professional music while completing their degree program. The Thornton School of Music also has a strong focus on community classrooms, so students have a strong presence in local schools where the next generation of musicians is being trained.

Oberlin Conservatory

As the oldest continually operating conservatory in the United States, Oberlin College offers students BA, BM, and performance degrees along with a liberal arts education that is ranked in the top 25 of the nation. Oberlin students can look forward to temporarily owning a masterpiece via the Art Rental program where for a nominal fee they can check out a piece of art from the campus museum to use as inspiration during their studies. A special four-week semester in January gives students the option to pursue independent study projects for credit.

Southern Methodist University

A surprising choice for USA Today's number 1 spot, Southern Methodist University offers students the opportunity to earn a bachelor of music degree in areas including music education, performance, composition or music therapy. SMU boasts a strong music faculty made up of well-rounded performers, composers, scholars and educators. Students engage in private study, group ensembles, master classes and live performances in one of the school's several concert facilities. A high amount of financial aid offered to music students combined with highly personalized attention and small class sizes and a graduate study option make this school a great choice for students looking for a quality music education.

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