Best Music Schools In California | Cost, Requirements, & How To Apply

When choosing the right school for you, it’s important to arm yourself with all the facts you can. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of the best music schools in California to help you make your college decision.

There are many excellent music schools on the west coast, especially in California, the most populous state in the country.

If you live in California, many of these music schools offer an in-state tuition discount, which can save you and your family a lot of money.

Whether you live in California or are planning to move there to study, California offers some great options for earning a music degree.

Are There Music Schools In California?

There are over a dozen schools in California that offer music certificates and degree programs at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels. Often, application requirements include an audition.

Once enrolled, students can also participate in ensembles and performances. Specializations and concentrations are offered by many programs, allowing students to customize their studies.

California programs also allow students to study the music business in addition to the performing arts. Most master’s and doctoral programs include a senior project, thesis, or dissertation, depending on the level and program.

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How Much Do Music Schools Cost In California?

The 2020/2021 full-time annual price to attend Los Angeles College of Music is $47,763 for all students regardless of residency. This fee consists of $24,450 for tuition, $16,578 for room and board, $900 for books and supplies, and $1,200 for other fees.

Tuition at Los Angeles College of Music costs $24,450, the same as California residents. The net price indicates how much it actually costs to attend Los Angeles College of Music, taking into account typical grants and scholarships. Net price depends on family income and financial needs.

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What Are The Requirements For Music Schools In California?

Before entering a music school in California, an applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Minimum Texas GPA of 2.00
  • Minimum major GPA of 2.25 (students majoring in music must have a 2.85 for Texas State music major)
  • Minimum minor GPA (if applicable) of 2.00
  • A minimum grade of C or better or CR in each music course required for the major or minor
  • Minimum hours 120 hours (Diploma in Music Studies requires more than 120 hours to fulfill course requirements through College of Education teacher certification courses)
  • Additional hours (level 3000 and 4000) 36 hours
  • Proficiency in a foreign language Completion of at least 2 years of study in one language at high school or university level
  • Computer Literacy Completion of at least 1 year of computer coursework at the high school or university level.

Admission requirements for graduate school usually include a bachelor’s degree in music or music history, such as a bachelor of arts in music or a bachelor of music.

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What Are The Best Music Schools In California?

California Institute of the Arts

CalArts is something of a pleasant anomaly in the world of music. CalArts has many niche interests; in addition to standard fare such as performance and composition, CalArts is home to some of the following majors:

Experimental Popular Music, African Music and Dance, Experimental Sound Practice, North Indian Music, and World Music.

CalArts is also completely arts-based; musicians go to school with directors, ceramicists, dancers, actors, etc. The melting pot of this creative environment leads to genre-defying collaborations.

In addition, CalArts has close ties with the Disney company, which is always in need of creative people for its productions. In fact, Walt Disney himself was a teacher at the school when it first opened over 60 years ago.

CalArts is a smart choice for a student who doesn’t want to pursue rigorous academics but likes the idea of ​​an arts-only institution; like the other independent, non-collegiate music programs on this list, CalArts does not require the SAT for admission.


San Francisco Conservatory of Music

One of the nation’s most important music schools, the San Francisco Conservatory, like most other major independent conservatories, is affiliated with a premier orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony.

The atmosphere at SFCM is best described as small and close-knit. This school, like the other four on this list, is an independent music school that is not affiliated with a university.

The school also has a new program called Roots, Jazz and American Music (RJAM for short). The RJAM program includes internationally successful artists such as guitarist Julian Lage.

Another teacher, pianist Rebecca Mauleon, has performed with such celebrities as Santana and Tito Puente. This is what makes SFCM one of the best music schools in the country – faculty who have actually been there, done that in the music field are the people you will find at this school.

San Francisco itself, while primarily a tech city, is a great place for an artist to hang their hat. More than 100 institutions call San Francisco home, providing student musicians with ample opportunities to perform in and out of school.


Colburn School (Los Angeles, California)

Classical musicians call Colburn the “Curtis of the West Coast” for a reason—he’s small, incredibly selective, and free.

Like Curtis, it caters only to classical musicians; however, unlike Curtis, it caters only to instrumentalists and conductors. Curtis, on the other hand, additionally has voice and composition programs.

One of the latest programs Colburn has introduced is a Diploma in Conducting. Led by esteemed conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, formerly music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, only three fellows are accepted into this program in any given year.

Colburn’s faculty are among the best in the country. Some of these include Clive Greensmith, who was the cellist of the Tokyo Quartet for almost 15 years, Andrew Bain, who was the principal horn player of the LA Phil for 8 years, and Mark Lawrence, a top trombone teacher.

Not only is Colburn in a great music city, it’s literally less than 1 block from Walt Disney Concert Hall, where the LA Phil performs. Students here have direct access to faculty who also perform at the LA Phil.


California State University-Northridge

CSU-Northridge has a surprisingly large influence in the world of music. First, many music educators throughout the state of California have trained at CSU Northridge.

This means that, by association, tens of thousands of musicians have been taught in high school by someone who is a graduate of that school.

In addition to education, CSU-Northridge is one of the nation’s leading undergraduate programs with an emphasis on two popular areas of study in contemporary music – film scoring and the music industry. And they have quite experienced student jazz musicians.

The jazz faculty here is nothing short of outstanding, with musicians like jazz legends John Pisano, Wayne Bergeron (who also teaches at the next school on this list) and Louis Conte, a percussionist who has performed with Eric Clapton, Madonna and James Taylor.


Los Angeles College of Music

Similar to Berklee, Los Angeles College of Music focus is on contemporary popular music – that includes music production, performance, songwriting, jazz, the whole nine yards.

Unlike Berklee, LACM is young and small – only 200 or so students make up this unique school. LACM is also, perhaps controversially, a for-profit music school.

Although this is not usually seen as a positive thing, in this case it is normal because the quality of the school is very high. In particular, some of the teachers here are big names not only in Los Angeles, but across the country.

People like jazz trumpeter Wayne Bergeron, formerly of Maynard Ferguson’s ’80s band, and Tim Landers, bass player for several notable acts, including Al Di Meola and Gil Evans. It is also one of the few schools in the US where you can study guitar or bass.


Azusa Pacific University School of Music

One unique program at Azusa Pacific that few other music schools offer is the Music and Worship major. Although this degree is not required to work in the Church, this degree will give students an advantage when seeking employment in a religious institution.

Other interesting offerings at Azusa Pacific include a major in Commercial Music. This program prepares students well for the traditional music industry. Graduates of the school work in both secular and Christian sectors of the music business.

Finally, APU is among a growing list of schools with an entrepreneurship program specifically for music. This program, available at the Master’s level, is designed to help student musicians begin and develop careers in music business or management.


University of Redlands School of Music

The University of Redlands ranks among other fine music programs in Southern California, including Chapman, UCLA, USC, Pepperdine Music Program, LACM, CSU-Northridge, and more.

The University of Redlands maintains a close relationship with the regional orchestra, appropriately known as the Redlands Symphony Orchestra.

University of Redlands students have found themselves performing as substitutes or even sectional players in this group. In addition, a number of teachers regularly speak in this group.

Music education is one of the most popular majors at this school, which is actually the trend for most music departments and programs in the country.

Although students are licensed in California upon graduation, reciprocity agreements ensure that students can teach in a K-12 public setting in any state.

Dual degree programs are also common here in music and an outside field, making it a strong choice for a student interested in both music and science.


Chapman University Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music

Chapman is a music school on the rise and will likely be in the top 25 music schools in the country, if not already, within the next decade.

Perhaps his most famous program is voice. Although primarily a classical vocal school, high school students can also take jazz vocal lessons, giving students a solid foundation in two of the most significant and challenging genres of music.

Another well-known program is “Piano”. Grace Fong, one of the school’s junior teachers, has won some of the world’s most prestigious competitions, including Leeds in 2006 and the Bosendorfer International Competition in 2007.

Chapman as a whole is probably best known for its film school, the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. Although not a music program, the facility’s presence fosters a unique collaboration between music students and film students.


University of California Los Angeles Herb Alpert School of Music

Historically, UCLA has not typically been considered in the same company as other Tier 1 university music schools such as Michigan, USC, and Northwestern.

The school also has a growing roster of world-renowned faculty, a new undergraduate jazz program known as Global Jazz Studies, and perhaps the most diverse musicology and ethnomusicology program in the country, UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music has a lot going for it. .

What I like about UCLA for some students is its connection to a large university. Having spoken to over 2,000 parents of music students, I can confidently say that over 80% of them want a school that offers both music and academics, and their children mostly want to be in a big city.

UCLA is especially good for in-state students because the tuition is much lower than comparable great music programs.


How Much Do Musicologists In California Earn?

As of October 4, 2022, the average annual salary in Los Angeles for a musicologist is $57,672 per year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, this one will be an approximation

Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that’s about $27.73 an hour. This is equivalent to $1,109 per week or $4,806 per month.

While ZipRecruiter sees salaries ranging from $128,883 to $18,938, most salaries in the musicology category currently range from $32,615 (25th percentile) to $65,756 (75th percentile), with the highest salaries (90th percentile) earned by $104,158 per year in Los Angeles.

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How Do I Become A Musicologist In California?

Musicology programs can help prepare you for a career as a teacher, researcher, writer, or critic, among other careers. However, you can also go on to manage a music library or work in another profession that uses your knowledge of music history and theory.

You will most likely need a college degree if you want to work in musicology. While a master’s degree in music or musicology may be sufficient to work as a music composer or lecturer at a local college, many research and teaching positions require a doctoral degree.

Master’s programs typically take two years to complete and can lead to a Master of Arts or Master of Music in Musicology. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in general or historical musicology, music, or music education may require an additional 3-4 years of study.

As an aspiring graduate student, you can also find programs in ethnomusicology and music theory.

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What Are The Best Paying Music Jobs in California?

The average salary range for musicology jobs varies widely (as high as $33,141), indicating that there may be plenty of opportunity for advancement and salary increases depending on skill level, location, and years of experience.

According to the latest job postings on ZipRecruiter, the musicology market in both Los Angeles, CA and the surrounding area is very active.

To estimate the most accurate annual salary range for musicology jobs, ZipRecruiter continuously scans its database of millions of active jobs posted locally across America.

A career as a musicologist requires hard work, determination, and the drive to successfully complete a rigorous academic program. Numerous master’s programs at the doctoral level.

A career as a musicologist includes research, publishing, and teaching. Graduate students should be geographically flexible when considering musicology jobs, as faculty recruitment depends on institutional requirements.

Music Schools In California FAQs

How Long Is Music Schools In California?

A music degree in California usually takes three years. However, many universities will offer the option of a sandwich year (field placement), extending the course to four years.

Are There High School That Offer Music Subject In California?

High schools that offer music as a subject can also be found in California. Some of them:
·         LACHSA (Los Angeles County High School for the Arts)
·         Idyllwild Academy of Arts
·         Auckland School of Art

What Are The Best Music Therapy Schools In California?

Music therapy schools are schools that teach music and instruments to students who may be struggling. Some of them in California include:
·         California State University-Northridge
·         Bay Area Music Therapy
·         Music Therapy Services of Orange Co
·         McKee Music Therapy Services LLC


In this post, we’ve reviewed the best music schools and programs in California. In this particular list, we’re looking at great non-profit music programs at conservatories and universities in the state of California.

Collectively, these schools are home to some of the world’s best music educators, classical performance programs, jazz improvisational talent, and emerging songwriters and producers who will forever shape the world of music.

References – These Are 10 of the Best Music Schools in California


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