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10 Music Colleges that Offer a Commercial Music Degree

Konzert der Berklee Studenten im Auditorium der JRS, by Stiletto under CC BY-S.A. 3.0

If you want to study music, singing in particular, in college, the vast majority of the programs you find will focus almost exclusively on classical. The problem is that most students out there who love to sing and want to make a career of it aren’t interested in classical singing. Don’t get me wrong—classical singing can be a stunningly beautiful art form that I would love to see all my music students appreciate—but it’s not the be-all and end-all of vocal of music, nor is it the technique that will make you most marketable in the singing world. Luckily, there are some music colleges that offer a commercial music degree, and still more that weave commercial music into their program instead of just focusing on classical. If pop, rock, blues, or jazz singing is what you’re interested in pursuing, I suggest you take a look at some of these schools. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. USC Thornton School of Music

USC offers several commercial music degree programs, including Jazz Studies, Popular Music, and Studio/Jazz Guitar. On its website, it details that it’s a program for the rock, pop, R&B, folk, Latin and country artist.

2. Azusa Pacific

Azusa Pacific offers a B.M. in Commercial Music. It has five track options in the degree program, including a Commercial Vocal Track.

3. Belmont University

Belmont offers a commercial music major with five options for emphasis, including a Performance Emphasis (with a vocal option) and a Song Writing Emphasis.

4. University of Colorado Denver

The University of Colorado Denver offers a commercial voice degree to help students interested in jazz, pop, rock, and musical theatre. The school also offers a B.S. in Music with a Singer-Songwriter Emphasis.

5. Berklee College of Music

While the Berklee School doesn’t exactly have a commercial music major, it’s regular Music Performance program has plenty of commercial offerings, and the college is well known for its commercial emphasis.

6. Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University

For the jazz lover, the Chicago College of Performing Arts offers a B.M. in Jazz and Contemporary Music Studies.

7. Columbia College Chicago

Columbia College Chicago offers a variety of commercial music degree programs, including a B.M. in Contemporary Urban and Popular Music, a B.M. in Performance (including vocal music), and a B.A. in each of these categories as well.

8. McNally Smith College of Music

The McNally Smith College of Music, like the Berklee College, doesn’t exactly offer a commercial music degree, but its bachelor of music offers a wide variety of contemporary music, including rock, jazz, funk, blues, and hip-hop. A separate degree there focuses on songwriting.

9. Musician’s Institute

Famous for its focus on contemporary music, the Musician’s Institute (MI), offers a range of commercial music degrees, including a B.M. in Vocal Performance that emphasizes contemporary vocal training.

10. The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music

The New School offers a B.F.A. in Jazz and Contemporary Music. It has a jazz focus but also includes blues and other commercial offerings.

9 Comments

  1. Casandra Hastings

    South Plains College Levelland, TX also offers Commercial Music degrees and Sound Technology Recording Engineer degrees as well

    Reply
    • Molly Webb

      Thanks, Cassandra! It’s great to hear there’s another one out there.

      Reply
  2. Mark

    BYU also offers a degree in commercial music.

    Reply
    • Molly Webb

      Thanks, Mark! I appreciate the addition.

      Reply
  3. Olive

    Anyone familiar with any similar programs in Canada?

    Reply
  4. Caroline

    What about NYU and FROST at University of Miami? And Loyola New Orleans?

    Reply
    • Molly

      Hi Caroline, thanks for the additions! When I looked up NYU, it looked like the only degree granting vocal ones were Classical and Musical Theatre, but I could be missing it given the vastness of that school. The other two looked like they had jazz vocals, and I was trying to focus on ones with pop vocals in the article, but granted, jazz is definitely a type of commercial music. I’m always happy to hear new recommendations so I can point my students in those directions.

      Reply
  5. Steve Young

    Concordia University Irvine, California also offers a BA in Commercial Music.
    (full disclosure: I’m the program director)

    Reply

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