Just in: Juilliard tops world college rankings… again

Just in: Juilliard tops world college rankings… again


norman lebrecht

March 22, 2016

The influential QS university rankings are out and, in the performing arts category, Juilliard comes top again.




Second is Vienna, third the Royal College of Music in London.

QS is UK based and, some would argue, UK biased.

To rank the elite Curtis Institute alongside London’s Royal Holloway is, well, counter-intuitive.

As for placing the Tchaikovsky Institute and the Franz Liszt Academy in the low 20s, that’s simply perverse.

Like the deluded election pollsters, QS needs to rethink its sampling model.

Full list here.



  • Peter says:

    “Influential” in what sense? I see relevance to salary negotiations for professors, but little relevance to actual quality of instruction, which depends mostly on the individual teacher, an average for a school being irrelevant from the individual prospective student’s POV.

    Also you must correct – which QS obviously doesn’t – for the huge PR asymmetries between private institutes, competing for paying customers, and the publicly financed institutions of continental Europe, the latter spending much less on PR than the former.

  • Eddie Mars says:

    [[ To rank the elite Curtis Institute alongside London’s Royal Holloway is, well, counter-intuitive ]]

    Why so? Or do Americans have no equals in the world any longer?

    • MWnyc says:

      It’s not about Curtis being American. It’s that Curtis has extraordinary faculty and 100% scholarships for its students – which together mean that its admissions are among the most competitive of any school of any type on the planet.

      • Peter says:

        Speak for yourself, or maybe the US please, not for the planet, thank you.

        • HugoPreuss says:

          I am not American, but I don’t understand the combativeness of these posts. Curtis is an institute with world wide renown, and that highly gifted students without much cash are drawn to a conservatory which offers full scholarships, seems to be self-evident, and not a subject to ridicule.

          • Peter says:

            I’m contesting the implied notion, that because something is expensive, it is therefore better. Curtis has to offer scholarships, because otherwise they could not attract talent. Schools which don’t ask for these huge amounts of money because their financing is public, like all reputable continental European schools, do not have to bother with these scholarships in the first place.
            It has nothing to do with the quality of the education.

            Having said that, these private schools often pay their professors well, which in turn gives them an advantage at times when the best teachers are wanted by many.

            Basically these rankings are complete nonsense, particularly for music majors, where nobody later cares where anybody studied.
            You have to win the audition, the name of your Alma Mater means nothing in that moment.

            Basically these ranking agencies are as corrupt as the Wall Street rating mafia. It’s mostly about competing for paying customers for the private schools.
            Europe doesn’t have these ratings, because there is no business case in running such an agency.

  • Fred Morgenstern says:

    How ludicrous. First of all, many of these are not universities at all (including the #1 spot). Second, how can places like University of Texas at Austin be ranked above schools like Eastman or New England Conservatory? I’d be baffled if I thought that this list deserved a lick of respect.

  • Bennie says:

    Performing arts ain’t beauty contest. Anybody who cares about such rankings are as shallow as the makers/voters of the rankings themselves.

  • Janice says:

    The US does the same with colleges, US colleges magically rank above all else. Forget centuries old Universities with the brightest in the world, it’s all about how much extra money they can get from tuition fees, and no one charges tuition like American schools.

  • MWnyc says:

    I can’t help wondering if Curtis scores as low as it does, and Juilliard as high – simply because the category is performing arts (as a whole) rather than music (in particular). Curtis teaches only music; Juilliard covers virtually all the performing arts.

    • Anon says:

      It probably has more to do with Julliard having a consulting contract with QS and Curtis not. But that’s of course only unfounded speculation without any reference to the real world.

      Do we know what the main sources of revenue for London based QS Ltd are?
      I think that would make a fine object of journalistic investigation for our blog host.

  • Marg says:

    Such rankings are totally unreliable. A short survey of the academic literature researching so called ‘world class’ university rankings and how they are arrived at, exposes the fallacy. However, there is a public out there that likes this sort of thing and will continue to believe it.

  • Nannerl says:

    How can Harvard be on this list at all, much less #17??? It doesn’t have a performance department! Larry Lesser used to say there was a sign up on the Music Dept. building when he was there that read, “Music should be seen and not heard!” We used to laugh that the undergrad engineering majors had to go over to MIT to take mechanical engineering courses because Harvard (college) was so adamant that they were not a “trade school” that they would ban any course of study that were practical applications of any field of study. Of course, they may have changed since I was there, but I doubt it, since it was such a very strong raison d’être there.

    • Nannerl says:

      Yes, Leon Kirchner was the sole champion of those of us who were at Harvard to get a liberal arts education, but desperate to continue our music studies. We were so grateful that we could play chamber music under the guise of a course carefully named, “Chamber Music Performance and Analysis” with its existence justified by that last word! Lynn Chang took over from Prof Kirchner. I don’t think this one course, with its “under the radar” life, justifies Harvard being ranked on this list! I have to say that the extracurricular performance opportunities were, however, plentiful. Hasty Pudding, of course. Does Lowell House Opera still exist? Bach Society has been a veritable training ground for top conductors. I was in Prof Kirchner’s Harvard Chalber Orchestra as well, a professional orchestra which had a lot of BSO members playing. But nothing one could get academic credit for expect Prof Kirchner’s MUS125 course.

    • Elizabeth Owen says:

      Is the Hasty Pudding Club just amateur? I saw a Mamet play there once. It was re-written before it got to New York.

  • BettyBoop says:

    What on earth is this “QS?”

  • Sue says:

    I’m not at all surprised to hear about Juilliard’s current high status; what magnificent musicians have taught and graduated from that esteemed institution.

  • Andrey says:

    “Tchaikovsky Institute”? Conservatoire, you mean… And… even being Russian… Maybe there is something truthfull about its present position in the rating. Alas.