The Best College Scholarships for Music Students

By Stacy Zeiger , last updated December 18, 2011

College scholarships for music students often reward students based on their talent along with other selected criteria. While many schools offer their own scholarships through the department of music, the best college scholarships for music students have students compete on a national level. The amounts of these scholarships vary, but they will help students offset the cost of college tuition and gain national recognition for their talent.

The National Association for Music Education

The National Association for Music Education sponsors multiple scholarships for students at the college level. Students may apply for the Copyright Awareness Scholarship where students are awarded scholarships for presentations related to copyright law, particularly as it relates to the music industry. Through the Electronic Music Competition Talent Search, students who compose a piece and create a presentation to persuade administrators to improve music education could win scholarships and other musical prizes. Multiple other scholarships award prizes to talented high school music groups to help high school seniors attend college.

From the Top

From the Top, a PBS television show, focuses on providing music education and financial assistance to talented musicians to help them study at higher levels, including receiving a college education in music. By performing on From the Top, students have the opportunity to earn up to $10,000 in scholarships as part of the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award. Approximately 25 students win the award each year. In addition to the $10,000 scholarship, student winners who are admitted into the New England Conservatory of Music have the opportunity compete for $7, 500 in scholarships.


The National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts sponsors the YoungArts program. Open to 17 and 18-year-olds, this competition provides students with the opportunity to showcase their talents and win scholarships. Musical students may choose to apply in the categories of performing arts, jazz, music, or voice and compete to win up to $10,000 in individual scholarships. Talented students are also selected to participate in YoungArts Week, which is a program held every year to showcase exceptionally talented youth and help improve their craft. In addition to these benefits, students who apply for YoungArts have access to additional scholarship opportunities and the chance to train with world-class artists.

BMI Foundation

The BMI Foundation has dedicated its work to providing funds to help students perform and study music. Each year nearly twenty different programs through the BMI Foundation award scholarships and grants to students and music programs in need. For college students, one of the more notable programs includes the John Lennon Scholarship for songwriters and composers, which awards up to $20,000 in scholarships to three college students who submit original pieces to the competition. College students who are classical composers may also compete to win a BMI Student Composers Award, which provides scholarships to multiple student composers, up to age 28, who are currently enrolled in a music degree program. Other scholarships with the program are directed toward those who meet specific criteria related to race or gender, including Hispanic scholarships and scholarships for female composers.

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