Questions to Ask Before You Apply to Music School

Berklee College of Music
The Berklee College of Music in Boston is considered one of the nation's finest. Paul Marotta/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Finding a good music degree program can be a challenge. Since careers in music are ultra-competitive, it can be tricky to know which programs offer glorified business school degrees and which will actually prepare you for the career you want.

Before you apply to a music school, do a little research to find the right fit. Here are a few questions to consider.

What Is the School's Reputation and What Will You Learn?

Look for a degree in which the bulk of the courses are music related.

In other words, look for courses on legal issues in the music industry rather than a general course about business legal issues. While picking up some basic business fundamentals may be useful, you want to get into the nitty gritty of what makes the music world tick.

What kind of accreditation does the school have, and what kind of financial assistance does it offer? Any reputable school will be able to tell you how many students receive financial aid. If that percentage is high, then it may indicate the cost of tuition is unreasonably high.

Who Is Teaching the Courses?

The best people to teach you about the music industry are the people who have been a part of it. Check out the profiles of the faculty members and find out their involvement in the music industry. If most of your potential professors seem to have business experience but no actual music business experience, you may not get the knowledge you need.

Professors who have been there and done that and still have connections to the music industry will be better positioned to help you locate a job after graduation.

Are There Internship Opportunities?

Even with a music-related degree, when you start hunting for a job, any potential employer is going to want to see that you have some experience.

Getting good internships is maybe the best selling point for getting a music related degree, so a school that can't deliver some work experience is not worth your time. Pay especially close attention to this if the school you are considering is not located in a city with a music industry presence. Find out what they do to make sure their students get hands-on work.

Do They Offer Job Placement Assistance?

A music industry related degree is no guarantee that you'll be a shoe-in for a job in music when you graduate. Many jobs in the music industry still get filled by word of mouth, and the best way to get a job in music is to know someone who knows someone. In that case, you want to make sure the school you are choosing knows a lot of someones who will be interested in employing graduates of the program. Check and see if the school has a good record of placing students in music-related employment after graduation.

    A good way to judge a music industry degree program is to find out how things turned out for previous graduates. Are they working in music? Are there are any big name success stories? Are the alumni active in helping graduating students find their first job?

    If the admissions office isn't offering any such tales of glory, do a little homework.

    If the school has an alumni association, go through them to track down some past grads and find out how and if their education has helped them in their careers.