Located in Denton, the College of Music at the University of North Texas boasts one of the largest student bodies of any music school in the US.
This size speaks not to the school’s standards, but to its popularity, and the fact that so many people want to study at UNT despite its incredibly low acceptance rate.
Why would so many flock to Denton? Because the College of Music is a true trailblazer, drawing on a commitment to innovation that dates back to 1890.
As one of the first schools in the world to introduce a Jazz studies program, UNT is still considered among the world’s best Jazz schools.
Every year, the school hosts more than 1,000 concerts featuring students and faculty.
Mounting everything from opera and symphonic concerts to experimental and intermedia performances, UNT is devoted to helping students and the community connect through a love of music.
These concerts happen at any one of the school’s great performance spaces, including the majestic Murchison Performing Arts Center, with its approximately 1000 seats, or the 1025-seat Winspear Performance Hall.
These major spaces allow UNT to bring in world-class visiting performers and give students a chance to play on massive stages.
With its combination of storied history and devotion to innovation, it’s easy to see why so many people want to learn their instrument at the UNT College of Music.
UNT College of Music Acceptance Rate
While there is not a recently published acceptance rate, a former article in the North Texas Daily mentioned that 1 in 6 students are accepted to the school, giving UNT College of Music an acceptance rate of approximately 15%.
With so much to offer musicians, it’s no surprise that so many people apply to study at UNT. But because it puts such a strong emphasis on quality, the College of Music accepts only a tiny fraction of those who apply. With an acceptance rate of 15%, at least eight out of every ten applicants are rejected, with nine out of ten being passed over every other year.
That might seem unnecessarily harsh to some, but UNT’s numbers are very similar to those of similar quality.
The highly-prestigious Thornton Music School at the University of Southern California takes in a few more applicants, with a 20% acceptance rate, while the Shepherd School of Music at UNT’s fellow Texas institution Rice University has an acceptance rate of just 12%.
Of course, nobody likes to hear those numbers when they’re applying to UNT.
When you’re putting in all the work to gather materials and fill out forms, you want to believe that the effort will always pay off in an acceptance letter.
But believe it or not, low acceptance rates are good for those attending these schools.
By turning away the majority of those who apply, UNT’s School of Music ensures that its students are the best of the best.
Students learning at UNT get to develop their skills alongside other first-class musicians, sharpening their abilities to the highest possible degree. Even better, the lower acceptance rate leads to smaller class sizes, allowing for greater one-on-one time with the school’s faculty.
Does this information make the application process better? No, not really. But it does help you remember why you work so hard to join the ranks of UNT’s student body.
UNT College of Music GPA
The minimum GPA at the UNT College of Music is similar to that of the parent university, which is 3.0.
One might wonder, quite reasonably, why UNT’s College of Music would even care about GPA. As long as you can play your instrument, isn’t that all that matters? Who cares if you can diagram a sentence or complete long division.
Part of the reason comes down to simple metrics. The higher GPAs in a student body, the higher ranking a school will get from outlets such as U.S. News & World Report. But schools also look at GPA to understand the quality of the applicant.
To be sure, the College of Music does put greater emphasis on instrument mastery than they do on academic achievement. But they do look at an applicant’s grades – not so much to assess knowledge, but to assess work ethic.
As anyone who’s played an instrument and graduated high school can tell you, it’s hard work to maintain a respectable grade point average.
Between practice schedules and daily life, it’s easy to let schoolwork slip into the background. Only someone dedicated to both their craft and to doing their best work can maintain a B or higher average.
When UNT looks at an applicant to the College of Music and sees a 3.0 GPA, they see a hard worker who can handle the program’s demands. They’ll see someone who will stick to the College of Music’s program and add to their number of excellent musicians.
Is UNT College of Music a Good Music School? UNT Music Ranking
Yes, the University of North Texas College of Music is an excellent music school.
As shown above, UNT asks a lot of those who hope to join their College of Music. With such stringent demands for applicants, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the school offers so much to those who are accepted.
UNT boasts one of the world’s best jazz programs, as its faculty and students have won numerous awards.
Collegiate ensemble the One O’Clock Lab Band has been nominated for seven Grammy awards, most recently in 2015.
Jazz publication Downbeat Magazine has issued several awards to UNT students, including seven in 2021.
But that’s just one of the ensembles available to UNT students. In addition to One O’Clock Lab, UNT features eight other jazz lab bands and numerous ensembles, including those for contemporary music and early music.
The school’s three orchestras include the 80-member Symphony Orchestra, one of the most respected in the nation.
With these accolades, it’s no wonder that UNT regularly ranks high on lists from various outlets, placed within the top ten by Universities.com, The Hispanic Outlook on Education Magazine, and others.
According to Billboard Magazine, the College of Music has been a Best Music Business School for four consecutive years. The Hollywood Reporter puts UNT within the top 20 music schools in the United States.
Notable Alumni of UNT College of Music
Rankings and faculty accomplishments are one thing. But the best way to judge the quality of any music school is to look at the musicians it produced. By that standard, the UNT College of Music is even more impressive than previously indicated.
After graduating from UNT in 1949, Bob Dorough went on to teach the children of the world as the music producer on Schoolhouse Rock.
Dorough’s songs, such as “Three is the Magic Number” remain hits passed down from generation to generation. Outside of his children’s songs, Dorough also worked with some of the finest musicians of his lifetime, including Blossom Dearie and Miles Davis.
Guitarist Herb Ellis came to UNT in 1940, on his way to becoming one of the best jazzmen of his era. Ellis played alongside Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald and served as a member of the Oscar Peterson Trio. His solo work was recorded on albums produced by legendary labels such as Verve and Concord.
Saxophone player Jeff Coffin may be best known for his membership in the Dave Mathews Band. But his first big break came when he joined the One O’Clock Band before graduating from UNT in 1990.
Since then, Coffin has become not only one of the most popular saxophone players in the nation but also a devoted teacher, committed to sharing his passion for music with the next generation.
What Are the Available Music Majors at UNT College of Music?
Any musician would be inspired just by glancing at the UNT College of Music’s alumni lists. They can carry that inspiration with them as they embark on their own journeys with one of the school’s many first-class majors.
Like most great music programs, the UNT College of Music is built on a foundation of classical performance.
These majors focus on the student and their chosen instrument, with a curriculum that combines classroom study, group performance, and individual practice.
Within the classic performance major, students emphasized their chosen instrument. For example, those working in percussion choose from the diverse class offerings at UNT. Under the tutelage of expert faculty members, students participate in ensembles and student orchestras to put their learning into practice, preparing them to become professional musicians themselves.
Likewise, the Jazz performance major takes those same principles and applies them to this uniquely American form of music. Housed in the division of Jazz studies, this track also focuses on instrument mastery. However, it puts a higher priority on improvisation and collaboration.
No matter which way students want to go, they’ll be able to take advantage of everything that UNT College of Music offers.
They’ll get to work closely alongside seasoned professionals and find many chances to play music live for audiences. They’ll be supported every step of the way as they earn their degrees and move on to the larger musical world.
Should You Apply to UNT College of Music?
The University of North Texas College of Music is not just one of the best schools in the state of Texas. It’s one of the best music schools in the entire world.
That fact alone seems to suggest that any aspiring musician should at least apply to UNT. But in our enthusiasm, we can’t forget that the College of Music remains incredibly competitive, with an acceptance rate of just 15%.
In other words, the large majority of those who go through the trouble of applying to UNT will be met with rejection.
Nothing we can say will change that fact. But we can remind you why it might be worth the risk to apply to UNT anyway.
Nearly every major outlet ranks UNT among the world’s best music schools, especially for those interested in classical performance, jazz performance, or the music business.
Students at UNT get to learn their instrument alongside some of the most well-known performers in the world, studying technique and theory with true modern masters of the art.
Attending UNT means walking in the footsteps of people whose music still inspires and entertains today. It means getting the chance to make a real mark on music history, to leave a legacy that remains long after you’re gone.
So while applying to UNT takes a lot of hard work and certainly runs the risk of rejection, no serious musician would deny that the potential benefits outweigh the risk.