best music schools
Academics and creative pursuits exist at these three music schools in the US. Source: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Just graduated from high school and can’t decide whether to pursue music full-time or focus on academics?

The great news is you don’t have to give up one for another. The best music schools offer dual degree programmes that let you pursue all passions.

Though these programmes vary in terms of their structure and outcome, they all offer a rigorous academic curriculum while keeping your artistic interests in mind.

They also give you access to a professional music network and opportunities to hone your craft. 

Do note that there are a few differences between a dual degree programme and a joint degree programme.

A dual degree programme means students will study two different subjects but will receive two different degrees.

A joint degree is when you study two different subjects at the same time but it will be combined into a single qualification.

Some institutions offer dual degree programmes in partnership with other schools as they are unable to offer a particular course to students. 

For creatives with intellectual passions or intellectuals with creative passions, here are the best music schools that support all your passions:

music schools

The best music schools in the US offer dual degree programmes that are rigorous, flexible and with opportunities to hone your craft. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

Northwestern University 

Musicians with a keen interest in journalism, media, and marketing should explore Northwestern University.

The Bienen School of Music at Northwestern is one of the oldest and best music schools in the nation and they offer dual-degree programmes at the undergraduate level.

It combines a nationally ranked music programme of conservatory-level intensity with the rigour and passion found only at an elite private research university.

Located in Chicago, its location is perfect for out-of-classroom learning opportunities too. 

Here, students can choose between five dual-degree programmes: 

  • Music and Liberal Arts 
  • Music and Communication 
  • Music and Education and Social Policy 
  • Music and Engineering 
  • Music and Journalism

Harvard College 

An Ivy League, Harvard College currently offers two dual-degree music programmes open to undergraduate students.

Harvard’s dual degree music programmes are in partnership with New England Conservatory (NEC) and Berklee College of Music. How does it work?

Students will pursue a bachelor’s degree at Harvard while taking private lessons and preparatory classes at NEC or Berklee.

In their fourth year, students will have to complete Harvard’s bachelor’s degree requirements, and complete their master’s programme in the fifth year.

The first programme with NEC places students on a five-year track to attain a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College and a Master of Music from NEC.

In addition to instrumental performance, Harvard/NEC students may also major in composition, voice, jazz studies, and contemporary improvisation for their master’s degree at NEC.

The second dual-degree programme with Berklee School of Music is extremely competitive.

First introduced in 2016, this programme differs greatly from those offered by other schools.

Berklee offers master’s in film scoring, music production, music business, music therapy, and other subjects untethered to classical or jazz performance.

This programme is designed for students who wish to pursue a graduate degree in pop music or non-performance fields. 

Hear it from a dual-degree student taking the Harvard/Berklee dual degree programme:

University of Michigan 

The University of Michigan not only offers multiple dual degrees, but also offers flexible programmes and one of the best music programmes at The School of Music, Theatre and Dance (SMTD).

They were designed for undergraduates seeking technical or academic studies associated with other units at the University of Michigan.

Future students must seek concurrent admission to both units, with each having its own admissions criteria, deadlines and requirements. 

The dual degree options include: