University of Michigan School of Music – Acceptance Rate, Ranking, and Profile

Since its founding in 1817, the University of Michigan has established itself as one of the best public institutions in the nation, with a research agenda and academic program that rival even the Ivy League schools. 

The School of Music, Theatre & Dance at the University of Michigan continues the tradition begun by the institution, providing the best possible education for artists of various persuasions.

Established in 1880, the UMich School of Music seeks to train musicians and artists in a wide range of fields. Graduates have gone on to successful careers as jazz artists and classical performers, music teachers, and conductors.

As that description suggests, UMich builds its reputation with an unparalleled range and unique opportunities. Among its offerings is Kyai Telaga Madu, one of the country’s most respected Javanese gamelan ensembles. Additionally, the school features numerous university bands, including its famous Michigan Marching Band, seen at UMich’s athletic events.

In addition to these many performance opportunities, the university also features excellent facilities in which music majors can hone and share their abilities. 

The historic Earl V. Moore Building consists of not only two concert halls but also 45 performance teaching studios and 120 practice rooms. Additionally, Moore includes facilities designed for specific instruments, including the harpsichord and forms of percussion.

University of Michigan School of Music Acceptance Rate

University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance
Michael Barera, University of Michigan August (Earl V. Moore Building), CC BY-SA 4.0

The acceptance rate into the UMich School of Music is about 25%, according to Peterson’s.

However, our opinion is that this published rate might possibly be too high, considering that the acceptance rate into their musical theatre program alone is likely less than 5%. Based on our estimation, a more accurate guess would be between 10% and 15%.

While everyone reading this would prefer that Umich’s acceptance rate was indeed 25%. That rate still means that a greater majority of those who apply will be accepted, but the odds are unquestionably better.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that most high-level music schools have low acceptance rates. For example, The Colburn School has a 10% acceptance rate, while The Julliard School accepts just 7% of its applicants.

These schools don’t keep their acceptance rates low just because they like turning away students. Rather, they recognize that they have limited resources and want to devote them to only the best musicians.

Low acceptance rates make for small class sizes, allowing for more faculty attention. With few students to work with, instructors can take their time with students, truly getting to know their strengths and weaknesses and helping them develop mastery of their instrument.

Even better, a low acceptance rate ensures that only the best of the best will make it into the program. This way, students at Umich develop their skills alongside other first-class musicians, resulting in better playing and performing.

UMich School of Music GPA

The minimum required GPA for admission into the UMich School of Music is 3.0. The minimum required SAT is 1180, and the minimum necessary ACT is 24.

While these scores seem reasonable for many students, the most significant requirement for admission into the UMich School of Music is musicianship – meaning the audition, prescreen, portfolio, and more.

To some musicians, UMich’s requirements seem ridiculous. Who cares if you can get good grades in English or Algebra? Isn’t it more important to play your instrument?

The short answer to that question is, “Yes, musicianship does take precedence over grade point average.” But that doesn’t mean that UMich and other top schools completely ignore grades.

They care about GPA because of what it says about your work ethic. If you look at the programs of study at UMich School of Music, you’ll see that much is expected of students. The school wants to bring in those who can handle this challenging workload.

GPA and test scores can say a lot about a potential student’s work ethic. Anyone who can maintain an average of As and Bs while still keeping on top of their daily instrument practice is well suited for the demands of UMich School of Music.

To be clear, no potential student should ignore their audition and daily practice to focus on grades. But they shouldn’t ignore grades either, as that would send the wrong message to admissions counselors.

What Is UMich’s Ranking? Is UMich a good college/conservatory?

The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance is among the best music schools in the world.

Anyone who pays attention to American higher education knows that the University of Michigan is one of the best schools in the country, with a world-class law school and medical school. UMich’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance continues this proud tradition, earning top marks from nearly every observing outlet.

The QS Top University list puts UMich as the 30th best-performing arts school in the world. The outlet specifically cites the quality of Umich’s faculty, its small faculty-to-student ratio, and the employment success enjoyed by graduates. 

At that ranking, UMich beats out respected institutions such as the Schulich School of Music at McGill University and the Royal Northern School of Music in the UK.

UMich fares even better on’s list of music schools in the United States, coming in at number three. Prepscholar praises UMich for providing a conservatory experience at a state school, making it both high quality and highly affordable.

One of the keys to UMich’s stellar reputation is its outstanding faculty. Teachers include Bright Sheng, the Bernstein Distinguished Professor of Composition. A 2001 MacArthur fellow, Sheng has composed work for events such as the 1999 state dinner at the White House and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Notable Alumni of the UMich School of Music

While UMich is certainly proud of the recognition it receives, its greatest claim to fame is certainly the remarkable musicians it has trained.

Composer Laura Karpman may have learned her trade scatting in jazz clubs, but she also graduated magna cum laude from the University of Michigan. With that training, Karpman has become one of the nation’s greatest modern composers, having been commissioned by respected organizations such as the Los Angeles Opera, the Czech Philharmonic, and more. 

In addition to her multiple Emmy nominations, Karpman continues to enjoy success, scoring hit Marvel properties such as Ms. Marvel and What If…?.

Since graduating from UMich with a MA in music in 1986, Minor Wetzel has served as principal viola of both the Ann Arbor Chamber and the Sacramento Symphony Orchestras, and the San Francisco Symphony. Since the 1994-1995 season, Minor has been a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, while also teaching at the USC Thornton School of Music and UCLA.

From this small sampling, it’s easy to see why UMich maintains its stellar reputation, made stronger every year by the accomplishments of its graduates.

What Are the Available Music Majors at UMich?

With such a storied past, it’s easy to see why so many young musicians flock to UMich to follow the example set by these luminaries. With so many fine majors on offer, UMich offers many clear paths.

UMich’s BFA in jazz and contemplative studies equips musicians to take hold of creative inspiration. In addition to learning mastery of their instrument, students take courses to learn meditative practices to better explore their inspirational facilities. 

In addition to their classwork, students also participate in private lessons with UMich faculty and larger ensembles.

Through the strings department, students can pursue a BA or a BM in performance. Whether you want to become a professional musician, with a career in performance with orchestras and ensembles, or a music teacher, training the next generation of artists, this degree will give you the skills you need. 

With courses in music theory and musicology, as well as private lessons and ensemble performance opportunities, string majors will have ample opportunity to increase their understanding of their instrument.

Finally, if music is your passion but you have a flair for the theatrical, then you can earn a BFA in musical theatre. Within one of the best musical theatre programs in the world, students receive conservatory-style training within a liberal arts program, creating well-rounded performers.

Should You Apply to the University of Michigan School of Music?

As a state institution, the University of Michigan has a higher acceptance rate than other first-rate music schools. But even at the best reasonable end, a 15% acceptance rate still means the majority of those who apply will be turned away.

With such low odds, is it worth it to apply to the University of Michigan?

Without question, most people would answer, “Yes.” 

As a state school, UMich School of Music has more resources than other reputable institutions, allowing it to bring in some of the best teachers in a range of fields. 

Not only can musicians follow their passions, whatever they are, but they can also study alongside a variety of creative individuals, creating more chances for inspiration to strike.

It’s no wonder that UMich School of Music graduates has become award-winning composers, conductors, and musicians. Even those who aren’t playing on the world’s most significant stages are shaping hearts and minds as teachers and academics.

With such resources and opportunities, it’s easy to see why so many people apply to the University of Michigan every year.