McNally Smith College of Music

McNally Smith College of Music

Saint Paul, MN
student ratio
total students
$24,310 | $24,310
in-state | out-of-state tuition
August 1
fall application deadline
acceptance rate
Moderately Difficult
admission difficulty
Average test scores for all first-year students that were accepted and enrolled.
sat math
sat reading
sat writing
act composite


A contemporary music college with a storied tradition

Since 1985, McNally Smith College of Music has equipped thousands of students with the tools necessary to thrive in all facets of the music industry. Located in the vibrant heart of downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota, McNally Smith is the Midwest's premier contemporary music college -- and one of the few true contemporary music colleges in the entire country.

McNally Smith continuously innovates new approaches to its curriculum, integrating them with proven traditional practices to best connect its students to a rapidly evolving world. These days, an effective music education calls for much more than simply training to become a proficient performer, songwriter, producer, or engineer. McNally Smith graduates embark on their lives in music, having cultivated the creativity, critical thinking, tech-savvy, and entrepreneurial skills required for realizing and sustaining success in the digital age.

Students choose their own musical adventures and discover hidden talents

McNally Smith offers a variety of degree and diploma program options so students can achieve their unique goals in a timely manner at an affordable cost.

Those seeking a comprehensive liberal and musical arts education choose from bachelor's degrees in "Music Performance" (voice, keyboard, guitar, bass, percussion, stings, brass & woodwind), "Composition & Songwriting," "Music Production," "Music Business," and "Music Studies." Those aiming to develop a focused skill-set in a particular field explore associate's degrees in "Music Performance," "Recording Technology," "Music Production," and "Music Business," or diploma programs in "Live Sound Technique," "Hip Hop Studies," "Audio Engineering," "Music Performance," "Music Production," and "Music Business."

Undecided music lovers need not fret. A McNally Smith student often begins down one educational path and gleans unforeseen inspiration in a different sector of the college. That's a big piece of the McNally Smith experience -- students routinely become exposed to new ideas, opportunities, and career avenues that many were not aware of or maybe thought were even impossible before stepping foot on campus. Unrealized potential is unlocked on a daily basis within McNally Smith's walls.

Students learn from world-class faculty members and join a network of accomplished alumni

McNally Smith's students learn from the best. The school's faculty consists of world-class industry professionals including Grammy Award nominees, Broadway veterans, authors, major label rockers, Billboard chart toppers, commissioned composers, decorated producers, and industry executives who care deeply about their art and the next generation of music makers.

McNally Smith's graduates instantly join elite company. The school's alumni perform on stages the world over, found successful record labels, hold prominent positions at major radio stations, manage Grammy-winning talent, work at influential booking agencies, and engineer sound (live and studio) for some of the biggest names in the business.

Intimate classroom settings and access to exclusive clinics, masterclasses, workshops, internships, and industry events

An 8-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio ensures that those who attend McNally Smith receive the proper attention and mentorship they deserve. In addition to quality daily interaction with top-notch music professionals, students enjoy exclusive access to a vast array of clinics, masterclasses, workshops and performances conducted by legendary giants from all corners of the music world.

McNally Smith students take advantage of life-changing internships, not only in the Twin Cities, but in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville as well. Students also participate in some the industry's biggest events -- like the annual South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas, where McNally Smith hosts its very own day party and showcase.

Students take advantage of state-of-the-art facilities and peer collaboration

McNally Smith's campus is a music professional's playground. Students work out of the largest production facility in the entire Midwest, featuring 3 distinct live music venues, 70 rehearsal rooms, and 10 separate recording studios.

Peer collaboration is key in developing real-world experience and a quality portfolio. Composition and Songwriting students work hand-in-hand with Music Performance students in the creation of music. Music Production students shape and capture these sounds, while Music Business students push this professional-level material out into the world.

McNally Smith students also enjoy symbiotic relationships with neighboring creative institutions like the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (for film scoring) and Big Table Studio (for screenprinting).

Students see the world via international studies

McNally Smith has developed amazing partnerships with music schools all across the globe, including the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music in India and the Arnhem Conservatory of Music in the Netherlands. Students can embark upon semester-long exchange programs, or even take quick 1-2 week tours and seminars overseas.

Live, learn, and work in a supportive, progressive arts and music mecca

Minneapolis and Saint Paul have long been hotbeds of musical talent and innovation. Bob Dylan and Prince started their careers in the Twin Cities. Husker Du, The Replacements and Soul Asylum -- bands that set the table for the Nirvana-led alt-rock revolution--hail from the area as well. Recently, Atmosphere and countless others have helped Minnesota's hip-hop scene emerge as one of the nation's best.

Iconic buildings like Saint Paul's Fitzgerald Theater (as seen in Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion) and Minneapolis's First Avenue (as seen in Prince's Purple Rain) dot the cultural landscape, alongside scores of other historic music venues, art museums and galleries. There exists a multitude of recording studios, big and small. Record stores remain in abundance. There are more theater companies in the Twin Cities per capita than any other metro area outside of New York. Local radio stations and publications are ardent supporters of homegrown music, helping to further galvanize an engaged arts community.

Students enjoy a high quality of life and ample opportunity at an affordable cost

From fine dining to food trucks, Minneapolis and Saint Paul are also together home to one of the best up-and-coming foodie scenes in the country. Sports fans enjoy year-round action with Vikings football, Twins baseball, Wild hockey and Timberwolves and Lynx basketball, while outdoors-types revel in activities spanning four distinct seasons while exploring an abundance of urban parks loaded with trails, rivers, lakes, and waterfalls.

No car? No problem. There's nary a more bicycle-friendly urban center in America, and McNally Smith even has its very own Nice Ride bike rental station on campus. Mass transit reaches out to all corners of the metro area, and by 2014 the ever-growing Twin Cities light rail will conveniently stop right at McNally Smith's doorstep.

The Twin Cities boasts one of the best employment rates in the nation, thanks to a balance of fortune 500 companies and a strong network of small businesses. Minneapolis and Saint Paul are also home to thriving advertising and marketing industries that rely heavily on creative talent.

In short, the Twin Cities is a fantastic place for savvy, creative-minded people to establish and further their careers. The best part? All these benefits come at a fraction of the cost of living on one of the coasts, and without any of the pretense.


McNally Smith is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music and licensed by the Minnesota Higher Education Services Office.

Location & Contact

19 Exchange Street East
St. Paul, MN 55101

Mrs.Katie Marshall

Admissions Representative

Phone: 651-361-3451
Fax: 651-291-0366

Request More Info

Majors & Degrees

Degrees Offered
  • Visual and performing arts
    • Brass Instruments
      Associate Degree offered for this major. Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Keyboard Instruments
      Associate Degree offered for this major. Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Music Management
      Associate Degree offered for this major. Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Music Related
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Music Technology
      Associate Degree offered for this major. Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Music Theory and Composition
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Percussion Instruments
      Associate Degree offered for this major. Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Stringed Instruments
      Associate Degree offered for this major. Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Voice and Opera
      Associate Degree offered for this major. Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.


42% of applicants are admitted.
  • Acceptance Rate
    • Applied323
    • Accepted138
    • Acceptance Rate42%
    • Enrolled548
    • Female Applicants115
    • Females Accepted38
    • Female Acceptance Rate33%
    • Male Applicants208
    • Males Accepted100
    • Male Acceptance Rate48%
  • Applying
    • Application Fee$75
    • Required for All Essay or personal statement
      Transcript of high school record
      Minimum high school GPA of 2
    • Required for Some audition or demo recording
    • Average high school GPA for first-year freshman2.80
  • Application Deadlines
    • Type Application Closing Notification Date Rolling Admissions
    • Fall freshmen August 1st August 1st Yes
    • Out-of-state Fall freshmen Not Reported
    • Early decision plan Not Reported
    • Other early decision plan Not Reported
    • Transfer Not Reported
  • Test Scores Accepted
    • Test Average School Accepted 25th Percentile* 75th Percentile*
    • SAT Critical Reading 495 440 570
    • SAT Math 506 430 610
    • SAT Writing
    • ACT Composite 22 19 25
    • * 25th and 75th percentile is the score that 25/75 percent of students score at or below.

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition
    • In-state tuition *$24,310
    • Out-of-state tuition *$24,310
    • In-district tuitionN/A
    • * Tuition costs are based on a full academic year typically extending from September to June.
  • Fees
    • Full-time student fees$900
    • Room and board *$5,100
    • Room only *$3,900
    • * Room and board charges vary according to board plan selected (i.e., 12-meal plan, 19-meal plan, etc.) and student level (freshman, sophomore, etc.)
  • Other Payment Considerations
    • Guaranteed tuition plan offeredNo
    • Tuition pre-payment planYes
    • Tuition payment plans offeredDeferred paymentsDeferred payments and Installments
    • Student groups that qualify for full or partial waiver of tuitionEmployees or children of employees

Student Body

  • Gender
    • Total Undergraduate Students548
    • Male Student Percentage77%
    • Female Student Percentage23%
  • Ethnicity
    • Hispanic/Latino4.38%
    • Black or African American9.31%
    • White or Caucasian68.8%
    • American Indian or Alaska Native.36%
    • Asian.91%
    • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.18%
    • Two or more races3.47%
    • Unknown5.84%
  • Other Student Statistics
    • International Breakout6.75% representing 12 other countries
    • Out-of-state Students45% out-of-state student

Campus Life

  • Housing
    • College-owned housing available Yes
    • Housing Requirements Not Reported
    • Housing options Coed housing
    • Percentage of undergraduate students who live in college-owned housing 15%
  • Student Activities
    • Student-run campus newspaper Yes
    • Drama / theater group No
    • Student-run radio station No
    • Student-run television station No
    • Marching band No
    • Choral groups Yes
  • Student Services
    • Legal services No
    • Health clinic No
    • Personal / psychological counseling Yes
    • Women's center No
  • Student Organizations
    • Greek fraternities No
    • Greek sororities No
    • Local fraternities No
    • Local sororities No
    • Other organizations Not Reported
    • Most popular organizations Student Advisory Board, Audio Engineering Society, Minnesota Songwriters Association, Jazz Club, Intramural sports
  • Campus Security and Safety
    • 24-hour emergency telephone / alarm services Yes
    • 24-hour patrols by trained officers Yes
    • Students patrols Not Reported
    • Late-night transport / escort services Not Reported
    • Electronically-operated dormitory entrances Not Reported
    • Other Not Reported


  • Faculty Breakout
    • Total Faculty96
    • Full-time Percentage50%
    • Part-time Percentage50%
    • Female Percentage22%
    • Male Percentage78%
    • Student:Faculty Ratio9:1 or 596 students to 64 faculty