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What is a Conservatory School?

Calling all aspiring artists and virtuosos! A conservatory school offers students training and immersive programs in their respective art forms. If this intrigues your artistic senses, get ready to step into a symphony of possibilities known as the “conservatory school.” Read more below about what a conservatory school is, the typical admissions requirements, and the types of degrees awarded. Take a look at the “conservatory vs. university” section to help you find your ideal school!

What is a conservatory school? 

A conservatory school is an institution that provides training and education in the arts. Conservatory schools focus on nurturing students’ artistic talents and skills in disciplines such as music, dance, theater, or film. Conservatory schools offer a comprehensive curriculum that integrates artistic training with academic studies. These schools often prioritize practical training, performance opportunities, and artistic exploration to prepare students for careers in the arts. 

What are the typical admission requirements for a conservatory school? 

Admission requirements vary between conservatory schools, but typically include an application, audition or portfolio submission, academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, and an interview. Many conservatory schools do not require standardized testing. Rather, the focus of their admission process is on auditions and portfolios, so make sure you are ready to show off your talents!

Degrees from a conservatory school

Conservatory schools typically offer diploma or certificate programs rather than traditional degrees such as bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Conservatory programs primarily focus on training and artistic development rather than a comprehensive academic course load.

However, some conservatory schools may have affiliations with universities or colleges which allows students to earn degrees in addition to their conservatory training. For example, the Juilliard School offers a masters in music through their Vocal Arts Department. At the undergraduate level, the Conservatory of Music at Baldwin Wallace University offers three Bachelor of Music degrees: Bachelor of Music – Performance, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Music Education.

Conservatory schools vs universities

Below, we list a few of the main focus points of both conservatories and universities so that you can get a quick overview of which might be best suited for your artistic endeavors. Keep in mind that some conservatory schools are affiliated with universities or colleges and offer joint programs. However, not all conservatory schools are affiliated with a university and therefore operate independently.

Conservatory schools

Specialized focus

Conservatory schools primarily focus on arts education and offer specialized training in artistic disciplines. The curriculum is designed to provide intensive and immersive experiences in the chosen art form. 


Conservatory schools prioritize training and performance opportunities. This allows students to receive hands-on experiences to develop their artistic skills and prepare them for a career in the arts.

Smaller class sizes

Conservatory schools typically have smaller class sizes which allow for more personalized attention and instruction. This allows faculty to closely mentor students’ artistic development. 

Limited academic options

While conservatory schools do provide some academic courses, they primarily focus on the arts. Therefore, academic subjects are usually limited to core requirements with less emphasis on a broad range of subjects.


Academic options

Universities offer a wide variety of academic options such as arts, sciences, humanities, business, and much more. This allows students to explore various fields of study. 

Balanced curriculum

Universities offer a more balanced curriculum that is a combination of academic subjects and art classes. Students have the opportunity to pursue majors or minors in the arts while also taking courses that interest them. 

Extensive resources

Universities often have extensive resources such as libraries, research facilities, and diverse extracurricular activities. 

Frequently asked questions about conservatory schools

How early can students enroll in a conservatory school?

The enrollment age varies among conservatory schools, but generally, students can begin attending a conservatory school as early as elementary school.

Do conservatory schools offer academic courses in addition to art courses?

Yes! Conservatory schools typically offer academic classes alongside the arts in order to provide students with a well-rounded education. These courses include math, science, language arts, and social studies.

How are conservatory schools funded?

Conservatory schools receive funding through tuition fees, donations, grants, or public funding. The way a conservatory school is funded depends on the specific conservatory school and its location and affiliation.

Can I pursue multiple art programs at a conservatory school?

It depends on the conservatory school itself. Some conservatory schools allow students to pursue multiple art programs. It really depends on the resources and curriculum of each specific conservatory school.

Are conservatory schools only for students planning to pursue a career in the arts?

Conservatory schools are not exclusively for students planning to pursue a career in the arts. Students who have a passion for the arts and want to develop their talents, regardless of their future career plans, can also enroll.

Are conservatory schools only for extremely talented students?

Not exactly! Conservatory schools do value talent, however, they also focus on developing a student’s artistic ability. Some conservatory schools have an extremely competitive admission process in which talented students have an advantage. Therefore, it is dependent on the conservatory school itself and their admission requirements.

Do conservatory schools offer scholarships?

Many conservatory schools provide scholarships or financial aid options to help students. For example, the Berklee College of Music offers 60 million dollars in scholarships each year!  Don’t forget to check out Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool to help you find all the scholarships you qualify for!