Best Colleges For Songwriting

Last Updated on December 14, 2022 by

This article is a resource for those looking to make a career out of songwriting. We created this site because we wanted to provide the most useful information possible for those seeking a college education in songwriting. This list will help guide you into choosing the right school that will help you achieve your goals

Musicians can significantly benefit from attending songwriter-specific schools, where instructors will work with students to develop skills that will help them craft hit songs. The best colleges for songwriting vary depending on the types of programs offered and the music industry professionals who teach students.

Collegelearners is replete with up-to-date information on songwriting colleges near me, singer-songwriter program, bachelors degree in songwriting, University of Colorado Denver songwriting, and so much more. Be sure to visit our catalog for more information on similar topics.

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is a songwriting degree worth it

Songwriters are defined by their unique musicality, insightful lyrics, and strong storytelling abilities. There are lots of components to being a great songwriter, including singing, playing an instrument, and arranging music in your head. But you don’t have to have the chops of John Lennon or Carrie Underwood in order to be a fantastic music writer.

Do I need to study songwriting in college to be able to write songs?

With all you can learn about songwriting in a formal songwriting program, you would assume that it is key to becoming a great songwriter. These programs do provide the foundation needed to write songs. They also provide an environment where a songwriter can play a song for their peers and get objective feedback, helping them become a better songwriter.

The ability to play one’s song in a nurturing environment is invaluable and is found in the better formal songwriting programs. The unparalleled experience of song feedback, song analysis, and song critique is most essential to a songwriter.

But please remember, these formal learning experiences do not provide the songwriter with the main ingredient that all songs need to possess – passion and truth. These qualities must come from the individual songwriter.

Songs that translate best to the listener are usually well-written and come from a songwriter who is being true to his or her heart.

These formal songwriting programs focus on the music, lyrics, and the business of music. Subjects typically included are:

  • developing melody, harmony and rhythm
  • song structure
  • lyric writing
  • rhyming
  • the marriage of lyrics and music
  • recording demos
  • pitching songs to artists
  • pitching songs for commercial purposes
  • copyright and ownership of one’s songs
  • registration of songs with the Library of Congress and Performance Rights Organizations (PRO)
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Suggestions for Aspiring Singer/Songwriters

Divya recommends the following to anyone interested in a career as a singer/songwriter:

  • Strengthen your music theory and aural skills, as well as your instincts, in order to be able to find your niche.
  • Learn to use Sibelius, the music composition and notation software.
  • Keep performing!
  • Develop a large skill set that includes keyboard and rhythm proficiency. Singers need solid instrumental performance skills in addition to their vocal chops.
  • Learn how to convey the meaning of the lyrics with your physical movements.
  • If you don’t get what you want, at least learn how to ask for what you need.
  • Develop other interests. Non-music-related experience and knowledge inform and enhance your music.

Songwriters armed with this body of knowledge often have the ability to write about most any subject and in most genres. Their learned craft allows them to write about anything from an object, animate or inanimate, or for a background that fits to a dramatic action in a TV or film plot.

They have the ability to create songs on assignment that can be used in any type of situation that requires a song. These songwriters also have the ability to write for the trends, writing the next big hit with the hope that their song be picked up by a current pop star.

colleges with songwriting majors

1. New York University

Stern Building... - NYU (New York University) Office Photo | Glassdoor

New York is the concrete jungle where dreams are made of—and at NYU, there’s nothing you can’t do. Follow in the footsteps of songwriters Wendy Luck and James Dooley in the Steinhardt School of Music. Students can concentrate in Contemporary Production and Songwriting within the composition major, focusing on contemporary music and modern production technology. NYU is obviously located in the heart of New York City, which is one of the world’s most famous locations for live music. Whether it’s seeing live jazz at the Blue Note or checking out the latest Broadway musical, students absorb music from the best new songwriters. Students have the option to study abroad in either Prague or Paris. They can also participate in a summer songwriter’s workshop, where they take classes on songwriting for six weeks. In case you want to start recording, use one of NYU’s 12 recording studios. There’s a reason so many songs are written about New York – because it’s a great place to write songs.

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2. Smith College of Music

You might think McNally Smith is the name of every generic country singer ever, but every country singer ever could learn a thing or two here. McNally Smith offers students a songwriting major in its Bachelor of Music in Composition degree. Students can take songwriting, arranging and sound production classes, which focus specifically on using microphones, signal chains, multi-track recording, digital editing, signal processing, sampling and mixing. McNally Smith’s career center helps students land internships centered around the entertainment industry in order to integrate their students into professions in music. More details about their programs can be found in their magazine Crosstalk, which features internships and alumni profiles. The editor-in-chief is the Dean of Academics John Krogh, so you know you’re getting the right information. Alumni include Justin Bonhiver (former lead guitarist of Quietdrive) and pop artist Alison Scott. You might want to consider this school as your (Mcn)ally in the future; it’ll give you a leg-up into the industry.

 3. Berklee College of Music

For a lot of Berklee students, the word “Grammy” refers to the awards on their shelves as opposed to their grandmothers. Berklee’s music department produced legends including Quincy Jones, John Mayer and Diana Krall. As a student you can major in songwriting, where you’ll attend songwriting and lyric writing classes. Berklee keeps its students motivated to perform and compose with 16 state of the art recording facilities and internships in the songwriting field. This includes the Berklee Funded Fellowships. These sponsored internships pair a student with employers in the new media and creative industries or experiential learning and networking in the L.A./ area. This school is, as alum John Mayer would put it, a wonderland for songwriters.

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4. Syracuse University

Birds might sing in the sycamore tree, but songwriters sing (and write) at Syracuse. Syracuse gives students the option to study composition as well as music industry. Composition focuses on actually creating music, while music industry focuses on music production, business and management, so you can market your songs within the industry. “As a songwriting practitioner (30 million units sold, 9 Gold/Platinum records) I am able to help guide our students in fertile directions in their quest to boldly tell the world something it ought to know through song,” Music Industries and Technologies professor Bob Halligan said. “We take great joy in encouraging young people to ‘become themselves’ and bring their song talents to the surface—and to the world.” Syracuse alumni include indie singer-songwriter Pete Yorn. Students complete a mandatory music internship (which the university helps you find and uses for credit) and use multiple recording studios. I’d consider that a pretty good Syr-excuse to apply to this school.

 5. University of Michigan  

University of Michigan

Baby it’s cold outside in Michigan, so stay in your dorm and write songs. At the University of Michigan, you can take classes in general music composition, as well as specific jazz composition. They have the “write hear/right now” program, designed for songwriters to display their songs through a concert series or participate in the Midwest Composers Symposium, which features composers from four schools. The University of Michigan also offers the EXCEL program (Entrepreneurship Training and Career Services), specifically helping students transition into the music industry with internships in the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and the University Musical Society. Follow in the footsteps of legends like Iggy Pop (even if he didn’t study songwriting when he was here), or look to younger, fresher artists like Theo Katzman, and head for Michigan. Maybe you’ll write the University of Michigan Wolverines’ next new fight song… or the soundtrack to the actual Wolverine movie.

Music programs with concentrations and coursework for aspiring lyricists are offered at a number of institutions, including those listed here.

College/UniversityLocationInstitution TypeDegrees OfferedUndergraduate Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)*
California State University – FullertonFullerton, CA4-year, PublicBachelor’s, Master’sIn-state $6,886; Out-of-state $18,766
College of Southern NevadaLas Vegas, NV4-year, primarily associate’s, PublicAssociate’sIn-state $3,492; Out-of-state $10,371
Florida State UniversityTallahassee, FL4-year, PublicBachelor’s, Master’s, DoctoralIn-state $5,656; Out-of-state $18,786
Houston Community CollegeHouston, TX2-year, PublicAssociate’sIn-district $1,632; In-state $3,360; Out-of-state $3,756
Lone Star College SystemThe Woodlands, TX2-year, PublicAssociate’sIn-district $1,600; In-state $3,880; Out-of-state $5,200
Ohio State University – Main CampusColumbus, OH4-year, PublicBachelor’s, Master’s, DoctoralIn-state $10,726; Out-of-state $30,742
Santa Monica CollegeSanta Monica, CA2-year, PublicAssociate’sIn-state $1,142; Out-of-state $8,918
Texas State UniversitySan Marcos, TX4-year, PublicBachelor’s, Master’sIn-state $10,280; Out-of-state $21,900
The University of Texas at AustinAustin, TX4-year, PublicBachelor’s, Master’s, DoctoralIn-state $10,610; Out-of-state $37,580
Best Songwriting Schools & Colleges - Inside Music Schools

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