Who says you can’t get a great education for a price that does not empty the bank account?

We see more and more top music schools & programs with enormous tuitions…

In fact, some of the top programs have tuition, fees, and housing soaring over $70k per year!

With such an enormous investment required for admission into a top music program, many families desperately search for schools not only providing top-tier music education, but significantly less expense than a top private music school.

So, this begs the question: where do you go to find these “unicorn” schools?

Most people know state schools are cheaper than private schools for in-state students. That is definitely one intelligent place to look.

Many of these state schools actually have not only excellent music programs, but also friendly tuitions for out-of-state students.

Today, we examine 10 amazing music schools that are less than $30k a year for combined tuition and fees for out-of-state students (excluding housing).

We will highlight what we like about these schools, what their strengths are, and why they may fit your specific interests well.

Additionally, some of the schools on here provide mega-value, with the #1 school being less than $15k/yr. for combined tuition and fees!

These are our picks for the top 10 “bang-for-your-buck” (ie: amazing value for the affordable price) music schools in the US.


10. Arizona State University Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (Tempe, AZ)

arizona state university photo

Photo by kevin dooley

The first school we examine is in the beautifully picturesque Sonoran desert of Arizona.

ASU may get overlooked by some for schools along the coasts, but don’t let that fool you – many of the nation’s top teachers are on the faculty at this school.

One such decorated faculty member is Robert Spring, former President of the International Clarinet Association and longtime teacher at ASU. A regular on woodwind panels and competitions, Robert Spring is among the most experienced active pedagogues today.

Another program at ASU among the top in the country is its Music Therapy department. This is a program aimed at helping a student first master the fundamentals of becoming a professional music therapist.

After this initial stage, ASU’s program focuses on funneling a student into a professional internship in preparation for a career.

The school also has its own Music Therapy Clinic, providing an experiential, pre-clinical education for aspiring music therapists.

Although I highlight here the music therapy and classical performance programs, ASU is worth visiting for any music student serious about getting a top-tier education at a high-value, affordable institution.


9. CSU Northridge (Los Angeles, CA)

CSU Northridge’s Manzanitas Hall – photo by Cbl62 via Wikimedia Commons

Located in a northwest neighborhood of Los Angeles, CSU Northridge is a unique music school that is

This particular music department is notable for being one of the few undergraduate programs in the country with a film scoring program.

While the majority of film scoring programs have, in the past, been reserved for graduate schools, this school is noted for top-tier undergraduate film scoring.

The school is also prominent for its Music Industry degree, essentially a music business degree combining both training for thriving not only as a performer, but as a music executive, administrator, or entrepreneur.

Graduates of their Music Industry program are as accomplished as it gets, with some working for record labels, at the helms of music companies, and more.

Additionally, the school’s performance department is very good, with students of all levels admitted into the school’s programs.