Acceptance Rates at the Top U.S. Conservatories, Colleges, & Universities for Music

by Steven Lipman

Will you get accepted at a top music college, conservatory, or university music program? It can depend on a lot of factors, including the school’s acceptance rate. 

Factors Influencing Acceptance Rates

An institution’s acceptance rate reflects the percentage of students who get accepted into it out of all who apply. When an acceptance rate is higher, a school is easier to get into. Conversely, when a school’s rate is low, it’s harder to gain admittance. 

Many factors can drive down an institution’s acceptance rate, and the circumstances are different for each school. 

Music college with high acceptance rate

Further, the “acceptance rate” you find for a school is an average of the rates for all students. Admissions departments might accept students more or less frequently for specific instruments, musical genres, and particular majors. 

Here is one common reason the admission rate for a particular instrument or major might differ from a school’s overall standard. It can help fill out ensembles. For example, if a school is lacking in trombonist, it might accept more players of that instrument, and thus a higher accept rate for trombonists.

Still, knowing the general acceptance rate at a college of choice serves as a great first step in determining the right school for you. That’s why we at Inside Music Schools put together this multi-tiered list of the acceptance rates of many top schools around the country. 

I’ve divided this list into two categories. You’ll find conservatories and music colleges under one and universities with truly stellar music departments under the other. 

Is there a particular school on the list that interests you? Perhaps you’d like to know whether your chosen instrument tends to have a different acceptance rate. Let’s get on the phone and talk about your music school goals!  Call us at 617-823-5442 or contact us today.


  • Curtis Institute of Music – 3%
    • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • The Juilliard School – 5%
    • New York, New York
  • Colburn Conservatory of Music – 7%
    • Los Angeles, California
  • Oberlin College and Conservatory – 25%
    • Oberlin, Ohio
  • University of Cincinnati College & Conservatory – 26%
    • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Mannes School of Music – 33%
    • New York, New York
  • New England Conservatory – 33%
    • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Boston Conservatory – 42%
    • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Manhattan School of Music – 43%
    • New York, New York
  • Cleveland Institute of Music – 43%
    • Cleveland, Ohio
  • San Francisco Conservatory of Music – 44%
    • San Francisco, California
  • The Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University – 52%
    • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Berklee College of Music – 53%
    • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Shenandoah Conservatory – 70%
    • Winchester, Virginia


Under 50% Acceptance Rate

  • Northwestern University Bienen School of Music – 10%
    • Evanston, Illinois 
  • University of Rochester Eastman School of Music – 13%
    • Rochester, New York
  • The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University – 15%
    • Houston, Texas
  • Bard College Conservatory of Music – 15%
    • Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
  • Longy School of Music of Bard College –  88%
    • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • University of Southern California Thornton School of Music – 20%
    • Los Angeles, California
  • Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music – 20%
    • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Indiana University Jacobs School of Music – 25%
    • Bloomington, Indiana
  • Boston University – 25%
    • Boston, Massachusetts
  • New World Symphony Orchestral Academy – Low Accept Rate
    • Miami, Florida
  • University of Michigan – 26%
    • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • University of North Carolina School of the Arts – 33%
    • Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music – 35%
    • Austin, Texas
  • University of Miami Frost School of Music – 40%
    • Coral Gables, Florida
  • Syracuse University Setnor School of Music – 47%
    • Syracuse, New York

Over 50% Acceptance Rate:

  • University of Denver Lamont School of Music – 58%
    • Denver, Colorado
  • Temple University – 59%
    • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • State University of New York at Potsdam Crane School of Music – 60%
    • Potsdam, New York
  • Lawrence University – 62%
    • Appleton, Wisconsin
  • DePauw University – 67%
    • Greencastle, Indiana
  • Ithaca University – 69%
    • Ithaca, New York
  • The Hartt School at the University of Hartford – 75%
    • West Hartford, Connecticut
  • VanderCook College of Music (Music Education only) –  99%
    • Chicago, Illinois

Founder & President at Inside Music Schools |

Head of admissions and faculty member at Berklee College of Music for 40 years, Steve Lipman and our team at Inside Music Schools speak music as their primary language. We approach each client contact with open eyes, ears, and minds. As the country’s premier music school consultant, he advised students from the United States, Canada, China, Australia, Turkey, U.K., Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Israel, and Italy.