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Best Music Schools In California

When we talk about music schools in the US, the infamous Juilliard School in New York City or the Curtis Institute out of Philly is usually the first to pop up in the conversation. It’s rare to find a conversation about music schools that even leaves the east coast for that matter. So today, we give all our love to the west side and the home of HollyWood.

Please enjoy the Top 10 Best Music Schools in California.

10. University of Southern California Thornton School of Music

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Student Population: 47,310

Student to Faculty Ratio: 9:1

Tuition 2019-2020: $58,195

The Thornton School of Music is a hidden gem among some of the best music schools in the country. Thornton excels in the world of classical performance, music production, music business, and jazz performance. While Thornton is quite a large school, it does have a little something for everyone leaving no one behind. 

9. The Herb Alpert School of Music

Location: Valencia, CA

Student Population: 1,491

Student to Faculty Ratio: 7:1

Tuition 2019-2020: $51,177

The Herb Alpert School of Music is an excellent pick for both music and academics. We suggest checking their composition/experimental sounds program, musical arts, musicology and ethnomusicology programs just to name a few. Alpert blends the world of music and culture to form “complete makers of music.” Highly recommend that in-state residents check out Alpert as tuition is far cheaper. 

8. California State University – Bob Cole Conservatory

Location: Long Beach, CA

Student Population: 37,622

Student to Faculty Ratio: 23:1

Tuition 2019-2020: $6,763

The Bob Cole Conservatory is a big school with a lot of love as part of their mission statement is to “advance global experiences.” Here is a smorgasbord of opportunities in the music world to excel in string concentration, jazz studies, music history, composition, band, voice, you name it. Bob Cole is all about working together engaging in community outreach as well as fundraising. Why not make the world a better place while pursuing your dreams in the arts? 

7. Musician’s Institute

Location: Hollywood, CA

Student Population: 990

Student to Faculty Ratio: 4:1

Tuition 2019-2020: $28,438

The Musician’s Institute should be one of the first schools on your list when it comes to everything contemporary music. Programs in bass, drums, guitar, keyboard, vocals, songwriting, and even DJ performance & production. This is also a great school if you want to dive into the world of music business. Who wouldn’t want to be in the center of Hollywood everyday? 

6. Chapman University

Location: Orange, CA

Student Population: 9,608

Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1

Tuition 2019-2020: $54,924

Chapman University’s music program is mostly known for their concentration in vocal studies both classical and jazz. Another well-known program is piano performance run by Grace Fong, a world-renowned pianist that has won some of the most prestigious piano competitions. Chapman University has an outstanding liberal arts environment. 

5. San Jose State University

Location: San Jose, CA

Student Population: 35,835

Student to Faculty Ratio: 27:1

Tuition 2019-2020: $7,852

San Jose State University is the second biggest school listed behind the Bob Cole Conservatory. You will find that tuition here is quite affordable and contains the most well rounded list of programs from performance to composition. You can even look into a music history program here as well. You’re definitely in good hands at San Jose State University as they have award-winning faculty having received Grammy’s, Gugenheim’s, grants, and much more. 

4. School of Music & Dance – San Diego State University

Location: San Diego, CA

Student Population: 35,135

Student to Faculty Ratio: 28:1

Tuition 2019-2020: $7,510

The School of Music & Dance at San Diego State University is another very well-rounded music school with a lot to offer. Programs include composition & technology, performance, dance, conducting, music education, Jazz studies and much more. Their mission is to give their students the deepest understanding and appreciation for music and dance providing a culturally rich environment. 

3. San Francisco State University

Location: San Francisco, CA

Student Population: 29,758

Student to Faculty Ratio: 23:1

Tuition 2019-2020: $7,266

San Francisco State University has everything to offer in terms of their music programs. Two unique programs include film scoring as well as game scoring led by composers Steven Horowitz (Super Size Me) and Benjamin Sabey having received awards including “two Barlow Commissions for the Mivos Quartet and the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart as well as the Royaumont Prize of Domaine Forget in Paris.” Another wonderful school that is very well-rounded and affordable. 

2. San Francisco Conservatory

Location: San Francisco, CA

Student Population: 414

Student to Faculty Ratio: 7:1

Tuition 2019-2020: $47,654

The San Francisco Conservatory is among some of the best and prestigious music schools in the US. Most well known for their strings performance programs as well as brass, woodwinds, and piano. Another great program includes Music in Technology and Applied Composition delving deep in the world of sound design using the latest versions of all major digital audio workstations on the market. The San Francisco Conservatory is highly competitive and will most certainly put your abilities to the test. 

1. Music Academy/Conservatory of Music – The Colburn School

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Student Population: 116

Student to Faculty Ratio: 5:1

Tuition 2019-2020: $52,171

Number one on our list is The Colburn’s School Music Academy/Conservatory of Music. Along with the San Francisco Conservatory, Colburn’s Conservatory of Music is among the best music schools in the US. Some may even say it is among the best music schools in the world. For those looking for very specialized private instruction as an instrumentalist, music theory major, chamber music studies, etc, this is the school for you. For those looking to join a conservatory but aren’t quite ready, the Colburn School’s Music Academy is designed to get you prepared as a pre-college program. 

Represent the West Coast Culture

As you can see, California is not only home to Hollywood and Beverly Hills, but to some of the best music schools in the US whether you are just starting out in music or want to be the next Yo-Yo Ma.

Check out the links, and be sure to research what makes the most sense for you.