Bard College Conservatory of Music: Ranking, Acceptance Rate, Tuition, and More


One of the intriguing aspects that sets Bard Conservatory of Music apart is its world-class faculty, many sharing appointments between Bard and other top music schools including Juilliard, Yale, and the Curtis Institute of Music.

This unique opportunity allows prospective music students at Bard College to experience unparalleled faculty while also having the chance to perform in New York City, which is a mere 90 miles from the school.

Further, Bard Conservatory of Music requires all undergraduates to pursue a five-year double major, ensuring its students have a professional degree if a career in music doesn’t work out.

But at Bard, a double major is also central to the philosophy of the school, as they believe “the education of the mind is as important as the education of the fingers.”

A sound philosophy as the greatest musicians and artists have more than technical mastery, they are great thinkers with a deep curiosity grounded in analytical and emotional thought. For students looking to grow their musical talents while feeding their intellectual curiosity, Bard is an excellent choice.

Bard Conservatory of Music has numerous scholarship and all applicants to the school are eligible for both need and merit based awards. You can find more about applying for financial aid and scholarships opportunities at Bard here.

Bard College Conservatory of Music was founded in 2005. Recently, in 2013, the school completed the The László Z. Bitó ’60 Conservatory Building, a freestanding, 16,500-square-foot structure containing classrooms, teaching studies, two percussion studios, and a 150-seat recital hall.

In addition to a Bachelor of Music, the double major provides graduates of Bard with a Bachelor of Arts in one of the following areas: The Arts; Languages and Literature; Science, Mathematics, and Computing; Social Studies; and Interdivisional Programs and Concentrations.

Further, Bard Conservatory offers graduate degrees in Vocal Arts, Orchestral Conducting, Choral Conducting, and a Postgraduate Collaborative Piano Fellowship.

bard college photo
Photo by bobistraveling

You can find application instructions for each program here.

The school offers the following undergraduate majors: Bass, Bassoon, Cello, Clarinet, Composition, Flute, Harp, Horn, Oboe, Percussion, Piano, Trombone, Trumpet, Tuba, Viola, and Violin.

Note: degrees in Conducting and Voice are only offered at the graduate level. Further, the conservatory does not offer studies in Electronic Music, Jazz, Guitar, Organ, or Saxophone (Jazz, Guitar, Organ, and Saxophone are only offered through the regular four-year Music Program, which is part of the Bachelor of Arts Program).

For those looking to pursue music at a top-notch conservatory while also graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, Bard College is a fantastic choice. You can find a great brochure on their undergraduate double degree program here.

Acceptance Rate

The acceptance rate at Bard College Conservatory of Music is around 15% making the school selective and similar to the acceptance rates at Oberlin and Eastman.

As with all applications to music school, keep in mind sometimes the numbers just don’t work to your advantage. For example, teachers can only take on a certain number of students for a given instrument each year.

In these cases, musicians who apply for maxed-out studios are usually refunded their application fee and told no one who plays their instrument will be accepted that particular year.

Tuition & Fees

The cost of attending Bard is as follows: tuition $50,704, room & board $14,540, and $680 in other fees for a grand total of $65,924. All students are required to have health insurance, which is available through the school at an additional cost of $1,396 per year.

Although the Bard College website does not list book and personal expenses, a good approximate number for most schools is around $800 for books and around $2000 for personal expenses per academic year.

Of course, the cost of attending Bard College is on the high end; especially when you factor in students pursuing a double major understandably take five years to complete both programs. That said, you will come out with two degrees for the price.

Requirements and Admissions Tips

The application deadline for the undergraduate double degree program at Bard College Conservatory of Music in January 1st for any given academic year.

Prospective students to the Conservatory must submit either an undergraduate performance or composition application online; further, undergraduate applicants can submit an application to Bard College online using the Common Application or bypass the existing Common Application (including omitting standardized test scores, such as the SAT and ACT) by completing The Bard Entrance Examination, which is meant to level the playing field for applicants and is composed of an essay test in three categories: Social Science, History, and Philosophy; Arts and Literature; and Science and Mathematics. Please note: Bard Entrance Exam is due November 1st.

In addition to application materials, Bard Conservatory requires a musical bio or resume, recommendation, and pre-screening recordings.

You can find exact pre-screening and audition repertoire requirements by clicking here and then on your major.

For those of you wishing to find more information about applying for advanced degrees, you can click on the following programs: Graduate Vocal Arts, Graduate Choral Conducting, Graduate Orchestral Conducting, Collaborative Piano Fellowship, and Advanced Performance Studies.

Please note: for undergraduates of the double degree program, you are applying to two programs and you must be accepted to both to attend Bard. If you are offered admission to only one program, Bard Conservatory or Bard College, you will not be able to enroll.

Notable Alumni

Bard Conservatory along with Bard College have some seriously well-known alumni including Chevy Chase; the fraternal songwriters Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman who wrote more musical scores than any other songwriting team in film history including: Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Charlotte’s Web, and The Aristocats; and two members of the legendary American jazz rock band Steely Dan, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.

You can find a list of famous Bard alumni here.


Bard Conservatory boasts an unparalleled faculty of inspiring musicians such as Joan Tower, a leading American composer with works commissioned by the Tokyo Quartet, soloist Evelyn Glennie, and the New York Philharmonic; violinist Arnold Steinhardt who debuted with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the age of 14, and many other great names in classical music.

You can find a complete directory of current Bard Conservatory faculty here.

Similar Schools & Ranking

A school similar to Bard would be a top-notch music school that also offers a top-notch liberal arts degree such as Oberlin College-Conservatory of Music, Lawrence University, and the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music.

We ranked Bard Conservatory at number 9 on our top 15 music school list in 2014 as well as the #1 liberal arts college music program in 2015. Keep in mind, our rankings are only meant as a guide and only you can decide the right school for you.

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