America's Best College Guitar Programs

By Michael J. Kishel

There are a number of things that one must keep in mind when assessing my picks for the best college level guitar programs.

First is that any of the graduates or people close to the graduates of the following schools are likely to tell you that theirs is the best of them all. This is actually a very good thing. This kind of attitude lets you know that the experience at that school is truly fantastic. In truth, you can become an incredible musician at any of these schools. The real deciding factor is the dedication of the individual. For the extremely dedicated individual, it is possible to go through a lesser music program and come out a superior musician to someone who was less dedicated and attended a top school. There are also other factors involved with choosing an appropriate program. Will you have to move? What is the cost of living in the local of the school? Is the financial aid package sufficient enough for you to be able to reasonably attend the school? The top music programs are among the most demanding programs in higher education. You will probably not be able to work more than a part-time job, if that. There are many considerations and none should be taken lightly. A degree from any school is better than being a drop out from a top school because the necessary considerations were not made. With all that said I would also like to add that this is only my personal assessment based on my knowledge of these programs, graduates, faculty, success stories, real world experience, ect. So here it is:

Musicians Institute

#1 Musicians Institute (GIT), Hollywood CA - Arguably the best guitar program in the world. Musicians institute is particularly strong in all rhythm section instruments. With legendary teachers and graduates as well as being located in the hub of the music industry, this school is the total package. Every aspect of the industry and your career is covered in the program. Your instructors systematically identify your weaknesses as a musician and a professional and not only seek to correct them, but to elevate you skills and knowledge to the highest possible level.

Berklee College of Music

#2 Berklee College of Music, Boston MA - Berklee College of Music is the reason that Musicians Institute (GIT) is "arguably" instead of "definitely" the best college level guitar program. With graduates like Steve Vai and Al Dimeola Berklee is a sure way to boost your ego. But it is more than your ego that will get boosted, alot more. Berklee has a full music program including wind and orchestral instruments. It is for this reason that I place Berklee behind Musicians Institute. Musicians Institute was designed to be the ultimate guitar program with no intention of ever making it a full music program. A focused effort. Because Berklee has a full music program I would consider it to perhaps be the ultimate music school but not the ultimate guitar program (but it's probably still a very close toss-up).

Frost School of Music University of Miami

#3 Frost School of Music University of Miami, Miami FL - University of Miami School of music has quite an alumni list. Gloria Estefan, Enrique Iglesias, Jon Secada OH! and did I forget to mention Joe Diorio and Steve Morse? The list goes on and on. This is really a first class music program that has attracted some of the finest musicians in the world to become instructors there. Pat Metheny was even an instructor there at one time. Jazz and Latin are the big topics but there are other opportunities as well.

#4 University of Southern California, Los Angeles CA - Another amazing program. The studio Jazz guitar program is truly first class. With teachers like Joe Diorio, David Oakes, and Steve Trovato (who also teach at GIT, except Joe now) it is a nice blend of first class teachers, location in the hub of the industry, and a university experience. Pepe Romero also teaches there for any of you classical people.

#5 University of North Texas, Denton TX - University of North Texas College of music is a name that you will tend to hear a lot in conversations about the best music programs. Their program is top notch in every department. The guitar program is not any better than the program for other instruments. Why? Because UNT strives the be the best music school in the country PERIOD! Not better in one area than another. The best, PERIOD!

Especially for Colorado residents: University of Northern Colorado, Greeley CO - If you are looking for a good music school and must stay in Colorado for any number of reasons (most likely financial) then you still have an above average option. That option in UNC. UNC may not look so great on this page full of superstars, but I can assure you that it has its merits and you can be very successful there. UNC is my choice for a Colorado music program. The undergraduate program is an excellent program but not a "superstar" program. The graduate program in Jazz studies on the other hand is widely regarded as one of the best in the country (Ranked #5 by US News and world reports a couple of years ago). With tuition prices similar to that of community colleges, UNC is also one of the best bargains in higher education.

Have a question about Mike's picks? Contact Michael J. Kishel

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