Music Degree

Music Courses in the USA

Introduction to studying a music course in the USA

A music degree focuses on various aspects of music, such as theory, history, composition, performance, and technology. Music courses are offered at different levels, from beginner to advanced, and in different formats, including classroom-based, online, or a combination of both. A music course aims to give students the skills and knowledge they need to become proficient in their chosen music area and develop their creativity and passion for music.

Students should consider studying music at foreign universities as it will broaden students understanding and appreciation of music and enrich their musical skills and abilities. Studying music abroad can allow students to connect with other musicians and industry professionals worldwide and it can also help students build a global network to benefit their future careers. A music degree in the USA is a gateway to global recognition, with alumni from reputable institutions often enjoying esteemed standing in the international music community.

The USA offers an ideal environment for aspiring musicians, combining academic excellence, diverse musical experiences, networking prospects, and exposure to an advanced music industry. The country's diverse musical landscape, spanning classical, jazz, and contemporary genres, offers international students a broad spectrum of musical traditions to explore.

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Types of Degree

Bachelor of Music (BM)

The Bachelor of Music (BM) degree in the USA is an undergraduate program tailored for students aspiring to pursue professional music careers. International students opting for this program benefit from world-class faculty, advanced facilities, and a vibrant musical community. Studying in the USA exposes students to diverse musical traditions and styles, fostering a global perspective. The USA's rich cultural scene and industry connections provide ample performance and networking opportunities. 

Furthermore, the flexibility within bachelor’s programs allows students to pursue specialization degrees within their chosen field of interest. Students can choose from a Bachelor of Arts in Music (BA or AB in Music), Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music (BFA), Bachelor of Music Education (BME), and Bachelor of Science in Music (BS).

Master of Music (MM or MMus) and Master of Arts in Music (MA or AM in Music)

The Master of Music (MM or MMus) and Master of Arts in Music (MA or AM in Music) are two distinct graduate-level degrees offered in the USA, each catering to different aspects of musical study and career aspirations.

The Master of Music is a professional degree that provides intensive, advanced study in various music disciplines, including performance, composition, conducting, music education, and music theory. International students choosing the MM degree in the USA can benefit from exposure to renowned faculty, advanced research facilities, and diverse musical environments. The curriculum also includes performance opportunities, masterclasses, and collaborative projects, allowing students to refine their craft and build a strong foundation for a successful music career.

On the other hand, the Master of Arts in Music (MA or AM in Music) is a research-oriented degree suitable for those interested in delving into music's academic and theoretical aspects. The program often focuses on musicology, music history, or music theory, allowing students to engage in in-depth research and critical analysis. 

PhD in Music

As an advanced degree in musical education, a PhD provides a comprehensive and immersive experience for musicians seeking to reach the highest levels of artistic excellence. For those inclined toward scholarly pursuits, the Ph.D. in Music offers a research-focused doctoral journey encompassing diverse specializations such as musicology, music theory, ethnomusicology, and composition. International students passionate about music education can explore the Doctor of Education in Music Education (EdD). Graduates emerge as expert educators and leaders capable of shaping and advancing music education practices.


Specific scholarships for international students pursuing music degrees in the USA can vary by university and availability. However, several institutions are known for offering financial aid to international music students. Here are a few:

Scholarship Name University Name  Awarded value
Presidential Scholarship Berklee College of Music Full-tuition
Kovner Fellowship Juilliard School Full tuition and living expenses
Dean's Scholarship Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Partial to full tuition
Distinction in Performance Award New England Conservatory Partial to full tuition

Jobs and Career

A music degree opens doors to diverse career opportunities. Graduates can succeed in the entertainment industry, working in recording studios, as session musicians, or in film and television. Music graduates also excel in arts administration, event management, and production. Some choose to teach at schools, colleges, or universities, shaping the next generation of musicians. Entrepreneurial paths include starting private music studios or businesses related to music technology. The communication and teamwork skills developed during a music degree are transferable to various industries, making graduates valuable assets in fields beyond music.

Here are some positions students can choose from:


Depending on their expertise and demand, professional musicians may earn income through performances, recording sessions, or teaching. Music educators working in schools or universities receive salaries depending on their education and experience levels. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, the median annual wage for music directors and composers was around $52,250 as of May 2020. However, income levels can significantly differ, with some musicians earning substantially more, especially in high-demand genres or metropolitan areas.

While pursuing a passion for music, individuals should be mindful of the diverse income streams and potential for financial success in their chosen musical career path.

Top Universities for Music in the USA

To learn more about the best music courses in the USA, find details on the top-ranking music universities in the US News & World Report 2023 below:

  1. Princeton University
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  3. Harvard University
  4. Stanford University
  5. Yale University
  6. University of Pennsylvania
  7. Duke University
  8. Brown University
  9. Johns Hopkins University
  10. Northwestern University

Study Music in the USA

If you want to learn more about studying a music degree in the USA, arrange a free consultation with SI-USA today.

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