The Juilliard School, located in New York City, is one of the world’s most renowned music schools – in fact, it may be considered, by general acclaim, the most famous music school in the world. While Juilliard is deeply rooted in tradition, the school has lately embraced new initiatives forward, accepting a $5 million donation that will help music students promoting their careers in this ever-changing world.
Juilliard began in 1905 as the Institute of Musical Art in New York City. After a series of name changes and associated parties coming in and out of the Juilliard picture, it became known as the Juilliard Graduate School in 1924. By 1946, it was given its current name.
The school offers degrees in three distinct programs; Dance, Drama, and Music. All three of the programs have produced scores of outstanding alumni that have become accomplished household names in the world of music.
For students with exceptional academic record and incredible self-discipline, the school additionally offers a highly selective five-year double-degree program with Columbia University, in which the student can receive a four-year Bachelor’s degree at Columbia and then receive a Master’s from Juilliard upon successful completion of the fifth year.
The training of music students here is deeply rooted in an older world of European classical conservatory ideals. There are benefits and downsides to this type and model of training; that said, many students at Juilliard have benefitted from this pedagogy. Along with the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Juilliard produces more musicians that get employed into top-tier orchestras than nearly any other school in the United States.
Juilliard’s endowment is currently slated at over $1 billion dollars.
I won’t lie to you, Juilliard is notoriously one of the world’s most exclusive music schools. In fact, it’s acceptance rate is often among the lowest in the entire country, along with Stanford, Harvard, Curtis, and Yale.
That’s some pretty exclusive company!
In 2013, Juilliard’s acceptance rate was 6.7%.
In previous years, it has been as low as 5.5% and as high as 8%. I don’t think the rate would ever get into the double digits.
Keep this in mind – in some years, students who play certain instruments may never even be given an opportunity to audition for a certain instrument. This happens frequently, for example, in conservatory trombone studios – the teacher can only take as many trombone students as the school needs, which is essentially two orchestra’s worth of trombonists (so about 8-12 players).
In these instances, musicians who apply for a particular performance program with maxed-out studios are usually refunded their application fees and told that no one who plays their instrument will be accepted that particular year. So, just keep in that in mind.
Tuition & Fees
For the 2014-2015 school year, Juilliard’s tuition is $38,190, according to the Juilliard website.
The fees can vary – if you choose to live on campus, a double bedroom with included meals costs $14,290, a single costs $17,840. If you choose to live off campus, you could potentially find a cheaper place to live in if you shack up with roommates somewhere in either Brooklyn or a less expensive area of Manhattan, like Washington Heights.
Juilliard also lists personal expenses, books, supplies, and more at $3,440. This seems rather low to me, considering that New York City is one of the most expensive places to live in the entire world. I would personally estimate closer to $5,000-$6,000 for two semesters at Juilliard, but everyone’s budgeting is different.
Requirements and Admissions Tips
At Juilliard, you will have to provide an in-person audition in order to be accepted. Additionally, you will most likely have an interview with a member of the faculty, if you are selected far enough into the process to get one.
If you are a composer, you will have to take an exam that will test your music theory knowledge as well as ear training ability. I have taken this exam and I can tell you it is difficult. If I had to grade it out on a scale of 1-10 in terms of overall difficulty, I would give it an 8 or an 8.5.
As someone who has spoken to a lot of other composers, I can tell you that the composer entrance exam is held in high regard for graduate students, and much less so for undergraduate students. Still, in order to pass this exam, I would recommend you understand basic 18th century voice leading, how to write a fugue, and be able to transcribe 8-16 measures of four-part harmony after approximately five listens. That is not an easy task by any means.
Unlike many other music schools, Juilliard does not require students to submit ACT or SAT scores, unless the student is homeschooled.
In order to be accepted into any Juilliard program, you do need a very distinct high level of pre-college training.
If you are accepted to audition at Juilliard, I would recommend you schedule a lesson with a faculty member in the department you are interested in enrolling into at Juilliard prior to your audition. Knowing how a specific teacher works with you is critical for determining if a school is a good fit for you. Also, if they like you and your playing in your lesson together, your chance for getting in might be higher. Keep in mind this is only a recommendation and not a fact in every instance.
I do not even know where to begin in terms of alumni that have come out of Juilliard. So many of the most famous names in music have come from Juilliard.
Some people that you probably know include Yo-Yo Ma, who graduated with a Professional Studies degree in 1972, jazz trumpet legend Wynton Marsalis, world-renowned violin soloist and former child prodigy Sarah Chang, modern minimalist composers Nico Muhly, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, jazz bassist and bandleader Christian McBride.
We should probably also mention world-renowned conductors James Levine, Henry Mancini, James Conlon, Alan Gilbert, Gerard Schwarz, Leonard Slatkin, John Williams. These names are only the beginning.
For a good list, check out this Wikipedia page.
The faculty at Juilliard is exceptionally distinguished – almost every member of the performance faculty performs with one of the major professional ensembles in New York City, such as the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
Some faculty members at Juilliard are among the most famous classical soloists in the entire world, including violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Emmanuel Ax.
The composition faculty consists of several of the world’s most performed composers. Pulitzer-prize winning composer John Corigliano, a leading figure in American orchestral music, is one of the several distinguished composition faculty members at Juilliard.
Similar Schools & Ranking
A school similar to Juilliard would be a selective conservatory that is deeply rooted in European tradition. My picks for schools similar to Juilliard in the US would be the Manhattan School of Music, the Eastman School of Music, the Colburn School, the Peabody Institute, and the Curtis Institute of Music.
On Music School Central, we rank Juilliard highly in many of the classical performance categories. Overall, we have placed it into the top three music schools in the country.
The Hollywood Reporter rates Juilliard as the #1 music school in the entire world.
At Juilliard, the graduate students seem to be given higher priority for scholarship consideration than undergraduate students. This is not unusual for a college by any means.
According to the Juilliard website, scholarships are awarded on a “need-based, merit-informed” policy.
Any student applying to Juilliard should also apply for the FAFSA in order to maximize opportunities for receiving financial aid. Grants and loans from FAFSA can help to pay for an acceptance to Juilliard.
Is Juilliard Right For Me?
Many students aspire to go to Juilliard, and for good reason. Indeed, I once was enamored by the prospect of attending this school as well.
Juilliard is right for you if you want to live in New York City, have a distinguished & Eurocentric education, and want to study with big names.
Keep in mind though that while the prestige and the seemingly high promise of Juilliard is incredibly enticing, it is not the right school for everyone.
An article published in the New York Times in the mid-2000s shows us that not everyone who goes to Juilliard ends up with a glorified, distinguished career in the arts.
If you are into creating electronic music, popular music styles, music production, music business, or essentially anything outside of classical or jazz performance and composition, then Juilliard is likely not the school for you.
However, if you have a high degree of classical or jazz training in your pre-college tenure, and you wish to pursue a degree in one of those two genres, then it couldn’t hurt to at least audition. I would recommend visiting the school and staying in New York City for a few days to get a feel of the atmosphere and location.
Maybe Juilliard is the right school for your dreams. But if not, don’t worry – keep checking this site for new information on music schools being published several times a week.
For Juilliard and many other schools, the application process can be confusing and difficult to work through. There are many parts to understanding how to truly and successfully succeed in the audition process.
If you are interested in attending college for music, and you would like to receive high level assistance in how to audition, interview, and master the college application for Juilliard or any other music school, check out Music School Central’s College Counseling Program.