StudyAdvantage Magazine

Top 3 Universities to Study Hip Hop Music

Published: February 14, 2017

afrika-bambaataa-at-rock-in-rio Afrika Bambaataa – one of Hip Hop’s founding fathers


Hip hop has been criticised for glorifying drugs, violence and carrying a sexist undertone. Still, it plays an important role in Black, Latin and urban-youth cultures and has become a social phenomenon worthy of academic study. Perhaps the controversies surrounding the genre are based on a misunderstanding, or perhaps a rather shallow analysis? For years, universities like Cornell in the US and Southhampton in the UK have offered courses in hip hop in their music and social-sciences programmes.


Now, you can actually study Hip Hop as a degree in its own right.


Diploma: Hip Hop Studies. McNally Smith College of Music, Minnesota, US


As McNally Smith is not a University, this course is not a BA. Still it allows you to gain 45 transferable credits in as short a period as 12th months. You can use these for any AAS or BA you might want to pursue in the future. What’s more, McNally is a prestigious musical college with a long list of notable alumni and most of their staff are professional musicians or active music business professionals of other sorts.


Unsurprisingly, their shiny Hip Hop Studies course provides students with an in-depth, hands-on experience of everything that goes into becoming a successful hip hop artist – from writing lyrics to managing your own music brand. Want to know more? Check out their introductory video.



Hip Hop History BA Degree. North Carolina Central University



North Carolina Central University is a public historically black university in Durham, next door to Duke. As it was founded in 1910 specifically to allow black students to attend college, as they were banned from white-colleges by the Jim Crow Laws, the school has a long tradition of promoting multicultural and collaborative learning.


In keeping with this tradition, they offer a Hip Hop specialisation as part of their History Degree. In fact, it is the first school that allows you to both Major or Minor in Hip Hop. You get to learn about the history of Hip Hop and its socio-political significance for the Black community. And if you want a break from all that music, you can also take a large variety of other courses from European to Carribean history. There are also plenty of extra-curricular activities on offer. The University’s Marching Band for example has won state-wide awards.



Hip Hop Minor BA in Africana Studies. College of Humanities, University of Arizona

4375768502_3941ef527f_zUniversity of Arizona Tucson Campus – good weather guaranteed


University of Arizona website describes this as the first Minor dedicated to rap music. The head of Africana Studies at the University adds that although Hip Hop is now associated with misogyny, drugs, violence and multi-millionaire stars, it started as a way for urban Black youth to express their anger at poverty and racism they suffered in the 1960s and 70s. This is precisely how you will study Hip Hop in this course. Looking at films, lyrics and even graffiti you’ll learn how hip hop evolved as it spread globally and what it expresses now.


Still not convinced? Arizona is one of the sunniest places on earth and the university is among the top 100 best schools in the world. They’re also a public university, so you can even save some cash!


Want to know what it’s like to study at Cornell? Check out this blog!

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