Conservatory Acceptance Rates: Here Are The Latest Numbers [2024]

and Dr. David Lee Fishbest by category, SCHOOLS

Curtis Institute of Music

Are you a talented musician dreaming of getting into a top conservatory? We have the acceptance rates for the most prestigious music schools in the US. In our “Conservatory Acceptance Rates (2024 edition” article, we’ll share the insider scoop on your competition. Discover which conservatories are the most exclusive and which offer better acceptance odds. Whether you’re an aspiring violinist, pianist, or singer, this article will give you valuable insights into your chances of getting into your dream school. Don’t miss out on this essential information.

What is a Conservatory?

A conservatory is a school that provides intensive specialized professional training in the performing arts, primarily focusing on music performance and related disciplines.

Some key things that characterize conservatories:

  • They offer rigorous multi-year undergraduate and graduate degrees tailored specifically for students pursuing careers as musicians, vocalists, musical theater performers, dancers, composers, conductors, and other performing artist roles.
  • The training is very practical and hands-on, intensely focused on developing technical excellence, artistic expression, ensemble collaboration skills, music theory/history knowledge, and more.
  • Programming emphasizes frequent practice and performance through recitals, concerts, and theater productions (over typical academics).
  • Admissions criteria prioritize demonstrated artistic skill/talent over general academic metrics like test scores or GPAs at top-tier conservatories.
  • Most are tied to universities as affiliated schools or colleges within larger institutions. Some are independent.
  • Leading conservatories are highly selective compared to typical arts programs, with world-famous schools accepting only 5-7% of applicants.

In summary, conservatories provide rigorous performance-oriented training to those pursuing music and other performing arts careers. The culture is immersive, competitive, and centered around achieving excellence. Graduates have the skills to audition for, join, and perform in orchestras, operas, theaters, and other troupes globally.

The Culborn School is a top conseratories with a low acceptance rate
The Culborn School

Acceptance Rates at Top Conservatories

Here, then, are the overall acceptance rates for each school on our list of top US conservatories. Keep in mind the following:

  • Some schools do not publish acceptance rates; the numbers are taken from various sources.
  • A range of rates for a school indicates a disagreement among sources of information stemming from differences in methodologies in gathering and reporting information.
  • Rates provided are aggregates for entire schools. The actual rate for a particular instrument or area of study within a school may differ.
  • The acceptance rates for conservatories within larger institutions are often more challenging to pin down.
  • Rates are based on data for the 2022-2023 academic year. Rates can vary from year to year.
  • Various factors can influence acceptance rates, including the number of applicants, the specific criteria used by each institution, and changes in admissions policies.

For these reasons, the rates should be used as general guidelines and may not reflect each institution’s most current or precise figures. Prospective students are encouraged to consult directly with the schools for the most up-to-date and specific admissions information.

Be sure to read

Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia, PA)

Esteemed for its exclusive admission process, Curtis offers a personalized educational experience with a low student-to-faculty ratio. Renowned alumni and a strong focus on orchestral training make it a top choice for aspiring classical musicians. Its programs include opera, conducting, composition, and string instruments.

Curtis Institute acceptance rate: 5%​ to 10%​

The Juilliard School (New York, NY)

As a globally recognized institution, Juilliard excels in music, dance, and drama. Its alumni network includes some of the most famous names in the arts. The school provides intense, conservatory-style training, nurturing students in various disciplines, from historical performance to jazz studies.

Juilliard School acceptance rate: 7% to 11%​.

Colburn Conservatory of Music (Los Angeles, CA)

Colburn stands out for its commitment to providing free education to all its students. The school offers performance-focused training in classical music, emphasizing solo and chamber music. It also fosters community engagement through various outreach programs.

Colburn Conservatory acceptance rate: 10% to 12%.

Oberlin College and Conservatory (Oberlin, OH)

Oberlin’s unique combination of a liberal arts college and a professional music conservatory allows students to pursue diverse academic interests alongside their music education. The conservatory is known for its commitment to social activism and musical innovation.

Oberlin Conservatory acceptance rate: 25% to 35%

University of Cincinnati College & Conservatory (Cincinnati, OH)

The Cincinnati Conservatory offers comprehensive programs, including composition, music theory, musicology, and various performance disciplines. Its students benefit from state-of-the-art facilities and numerous performance opportunities in a vibrant arts scene.

Cincinnati Conservatory acceptance rate: 26%​.

Mannes School of Music (New York, NY)

Mannes integrates traditional music conservatory training with innovative curriculum changes, including entrepreneurship and interdisciplinary courses. It encourages students to explore the intersections of music, technology, and other arts.

Acceptance rate: 24% to 33%.

New England Conservatory (Boston, MA)

NEC fosters a highly collaborative environment and is known for its strong emphasis on ensemble playing. It offers unique programs like Contemporary Improvisation, encouraging students to explore music beyond the traditional classical repertoire.

New England Conservatory acceptance rate: 36% to 43%

Boston Conservatory (Boston, MA)

Boston Conservatory excels in providing intensive training in music performance, composition, and music education. It is also renowned for its dance and musical theater programs, fostering a multidisciplinary artistic environment.

Boston Conservatory acceptance rate: 30% to 46%

Manhattan School of Music (New York, NY)

Provides a wide array of programs in classical and jazz music, focusing on innovative artistic development. It also offers pre-college programs and extensive community outreach initiatives.

Manhattan School of Music acceptance rate: 11% to 55%

Cleveland Institute of Music (Cleveland, OH)

Known for its strong orchestral program, CIM also offers a comprehensive music education with composition, music theory, and musicology programs. It emphasizes both solo performance and chamber music.

Cleveland Institute acceptance rate: 30% to 39%

San Francisco Conservatory of Music (San Francisco, CA)

The conservatory is at the forefront of integrating technology into music education, concentrating on new music and contemporary composers. It also has robust programs in historical performance and roots music.

Acceptance rate: 42% to 46%

The Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins (Baltimore, MD)

As part of a major research university, Peabody students benefit from a rich academic environment alongside their music studies. The institute is known for its strong orchestral, opera, and early music programs.

Peabody Institute acceptance rate: 52%

Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA)

Unique in its focus on contemporary music, Berklee offers extensive programs in music performance, production, songwriting, film scoring, and music business. It is renowned for its cutting-edge approach to music education and industry connections.

Berklee College acceptance rate: 46% to 55%

Shenandoah Conservatory (Winchester, VA)

Shenandoah offers a comprehensive music education with programs in instrumental and vocal performance, composition, conducting, and music therapy. It is known for its close-knit community and opportunities for student-faculty collaboration.

Shenandoah Conservatory acceptance rate: 74%


The acceptance rates at top conservatories reveal a landscape of highly competitive and prestigious institutions, each striving for excellence in music education. These rates underscore the selective nature of these schools, reflecting their commitment to maintaining high standards and nurturing exceptional musical talent. For aspiring music students, these statistics highlight the importance of thorough preparation, dedication, and a deep passion for their craft.

It’s essential to remember that while acceptance rates provide a glimpse into the competitiveness of these institutions, they are just one aspect of what makes a conservatory the right fit for a student. Prospective applicants should also consider factors such as the faculty, curriculum, performance opportunities, and overall school environment. A lower acceptance rate doesn’t necessarily equate to a better quality of education, and each student’s ideal conservatory experience will be unique to their personal and professional goals.

As the world of music education continues to evolve, these top conservatories remain at the forefront, shaping the next generation of musicians and artists. Whether you’re a performer, composer, or educator, these institutions offer unparalleled opportunities to grow and excel in your musical journey. Remember, the path to a successful music career is as diverse as music itself, and finding the right conservatory is a crucial step in this exciting and rewarding journey.

FAQ About Conservatories

Do Conservatories Only Train Classical Musicians?

Though conservatories have origins in rigorous classical music education, many leading schools today have expanded beyond classical to offer programs across genres, including contemporary music, jazz, pop, musical theater, dance, drama, and more. Schools like Juilliard, Oberlin, Boston Conservatory, and even the classical-focused Curtis Institute allow some flexibility to customize and blend traditional and modern styles. Berklee College of Music focuses more on rock, pop, and jazz than just classical. So while classical training remains integral, conservatories accommodate and empower serious students across artistic disciplines, contemporary genres, and traditional ones through the same intense performance-centered training culture.

Do You Need to Major in Music to Attend a Conservatory?

No, many top conservatories allow students across various majors to audition and attend. However, programs are highly performance-focused and require extensive commitment. The core curriculum tends to emphasize applied performance over typical academics.

What’s the Difference Between a Music College and a Conservatory?

The primary difference is conservatories focus intensely on professional performance skills for careers in music and performing arts, while colleges offer more general music and arts programs as part of a well-rounded liberal arts education model.

Are Conservatories Harder to Get Into Than Normal Colleges?

Yes, leading music conservatories are highly selective in admissions compared to typical colleges and arts programs, accepting 5-15% on average of applicants based on rigorous auditions versus broader academic metrics that colleges emphasize.

Do You Have to Play an Instrument to Go to a Conservatory?

While conservatory students tend to specialize in specific instruments or vocal performance, programs in related areas like musical theater, dance, directing, conducting, composition, and music business are also available at some schools.

What Degree Do You Get From a Conservatory?

Conservatories offer rigorous Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degrees, Bachelor and Master of Music degrees, Performer Diplomas, and Certificates tailored to those pursuing professional music performance careers over typical liberal arts education.

Doctor Fish Says

Doctor Fish of College Music Major

With the acceptance rates at top conservatories being so low, you need every advantage on your side to maximize your chances at a dream school, from your application materials to your prescreening videos and auditions. I’ve helped college-bound musicians win acceptance at top conservatories of all types. The College Music Major team and I can help you too. Here are the services we offer.

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About the Author

Dr. David Lee Fish

Dr. David Lee Fish, Ph.D. is the founder of College Music Major. A veteran figure in music and education whose extensive career spans decades, he's known for his unique approach to music and for sharing his passion with others. His expertise ranges from performance and songwriting to education and private consulting.