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College Music Programs

BHS Jazz students attend a broad range of colleges. Some students are interested in majoring in music. Other students are interested in going to schools where there is a good music program and/or a thriving musical community. Here is some information to get you started.


What to look for in a college 

  • Who would be your teacher?

  • Location - what musician opportunities are there in the location?

  • Find a supportive environment that supports all aspects of you

  • Specific programs

  • Creative peers/supportive peer environment

  • Options….for double majors, etc.

  • Philosophy of school towards music, women, sexuality, or whatever

  • Being able to branch out / wide influences

  • Social environment

  • Cost/financial aid available

  • Curriculum: check the classes

  • Admissions requirements/philosophy

  • Culture of location/school




Being a skilled musician helps your application stand out. Going the extra mile to show a school you are super interested, including audio samples of your playing cannot hurt your application, and in many cases will significantly help. This is something you can do during the summertime or early fall (before you get completely overwhelmed by the application process)  -- make a good quality recording of yourself soloing on a couple of tunes with a combo, or playing a movement from a classical concerto. Ms. Cline has great mics and a decent piano in her classroom, and you can schedule a time after school. Many people also go to local recording studios to do this.


There are some schools that may even be easier to get into as a music major -- then you can change to another major when you get there, or at the beginning of your second year.  


College Overview

Here is an unscientific list of colleges BHS Jazz has collected over the years from students and parents. These views do not reflect the views of BHS Jazz; they have been collected from parents and guardians over the years, and are subject to change. If you have additions or corrections, please email



  • The Herb Alpert School of Music offers Global Jazz Studies, Ethnomusicology, Music and Musicology and a good number of strong BHS Jazz students attend. It’s also possible to double major in other liberal arts fields fairly easily andinor in Music Industry.



  • Thornton School of Music offers Jazz, Industry, Technology, Classical, Keyboard, Comp, Ed, Performance, Pop, Movie Scoring, etc.



  • Supportive dual-degree program exists between its conservatory and liberal arts college. They have outstanding faculty who are very available to students.


Manhattan School of Music 

  • Performance and MT/Comp; Music Ed in combination with Columbia across the street.  MSM is located in the former Juilliard campus and the state of the facilities reflect that.  


The New School 

  • If you need financial aid to attend college, this might not be a good school for you -- they have very little for some instruments. Some BHS students have gotten aid, however.  Unique in that you can take from any private teacher in NYC once you have passed your juries and the school will pay for it. No big band at this school;combo focused.  Ralph Alessi (an excellent trumpeter) recently joined the faculty (2019).   


University of Miami 

  • Frost School of Music. The Stamps Quintet is a full ride group -- free college -- that two recent BHS grads have gotten into; runs every 4 years.  Even outside of Stamps Quintet, there is significant scholarship money available.  Has a powerhouse trumpet studio/teachers.    


New England Conservatory of Music 


Cornish College

  • Seattle, Washington. Music Performance only

  • Rolling admissions means you can apply any time

  • Seattle has a great jazz scene; Cornish has an outstanding faculty


Indiana University (Jacobs School of Music)

  • Well-established jazz program as well. Bloomington is a lovely college town. Out of state tuition is lower than most private colleges, but difficult to get in-state residency for in-state tuition. Nice feel to the school and town.    


Berklee College of Music 

  • There are really two schools here -- an elite jazz school that offers good scholarships, great staff, and a creative student body, and then … 900 guitar majors. Berklee accepts everyone who applies, then uses the money from those 900 guitar majors dreaming of becoming rock stars to fund their small, elite, good school. So if you apply, you need to be aware of which Berklee you are being accepted into. You’ll know if they give you scholarship money that you are in the good one.


CSU Northridge

  • Best jazz/non-classical music program in California behind UCLA and USC. 

  • CSUs also have an exchange program with German conservatories -- for the cost of attending the CSU you can study in Germany at a *great* music school for one or more years.  You have to speak German very well -- there is a language test you have to pass.  But an especially great opportunity for classical musicians as there is so much more work in Europe than the US (about 5x more paid classical music work!), and you will start making contacts and getting opportunities for that work.


CSU Long Beach

  • Best CSU for classical music


Univ. of the Pacific 

  • Degrees in music composition, education, history, management, therapy, industry studies, jazz/honors, and performance as well as minors in many of these; open to non-music majors


UC Davis (no major) 

  • Many BHS music alumni are there and playing in college groups.


California Institute of the Arts  

  • Performance, MT/Comp, MHist/List. Jazz, Tech


Curtis Institute of Music 

  • Philadelphia, PA; 4% acceptance, Performance and MT/Comp. 



  • Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins

  • Peabody is still primarily known for its classical music.  


Georgia Institute of Technology 

  • This school only offers B.S. degrees, so if you have a kid who is heading in a techy direction, but wants to keep up his chops or even minor in music, this school has a surprisingly capable jazz program

  • Their Music Technology department is small, but growing and those students choosing to pursue the BSMT major have access to top-level equipment and are on first-name basis with their instructors. 

  • Make no mistake, it’s a tech school and kids will be expected to continue with calc, physics, and comp sci classes, etc., but they will have great access to high-end maker spaces and will learn where music and mechanical/electrical/computer engineering/industrial design intersect.

  • Research opportunities exist in the fields of brain music, computational and cognitive musicology, music informatics, and robotic musicianship. Atlanta is a music hub where recording studios abound.

Temple: Boyer College of Music and Dance 

  • Jazz programs definitely exist. 

  • No true big band (professors sit in to fill the band).  



  • Small (2K students), liberal arts college which includes music majors and minors


McGill, Canada

  • Schulich School of Music offers performance, ed, comp, MT, hist, jazz, plus minors in tech, entrepreneurship, jazz arranging, conducting. Grad school as well.


Univ of N. Texas

  • Huge, very well-established jazz school.  Must study classical with private teachers for the first two years (the idea is that you need to play correctly from a technical standpoint for the long term).  

  • But, you still play jazz in ensembles during those first two years.  This school is a really good value because you get in-state tuition as long as you get at least $1,000 worth of merit scholarships.  


SF Conservatory 

  • Has an elite jazz program run along with SFJazz and using the SFJazz Collective as professors.


Cabrillo College 

  • This is the community college where the kids sometimes attend festivals. Sweet place to live away from home and participate in a great music program for an affordable price.



  • No conservatory.  But, you can major in music.  The school states that there are many opportunities to play. Cannot audition for jazz program until sophomore year.  


California Jazz Conservatory 

  • Great opportunity to stay home and work with fabulous faculty in a school totally dedicated to jazz. They often have scholarship money available to BHS Jazz students.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

  • No major, but they are interested in musicians coming to their school, and there is an active music scene there--and it is in Boston.


List of “Off the Radar” schools that are a great value 

  • Michigan State

  • Northern Colorado

  • University of Illinois

  • Florida State

  • Slippery Rock outside of Pittsburg

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