I have heard about ABRSM levels which the level 8 is equal to music diploma.

But I want to know if there is any higher test levels which equals to a bachelor of music


  • What particular instrument?
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 12:52
  • Have you googled 'bachelor of music'? There's plenty of info. from various bodies.
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 13:16
  • 1
    Can you clarify what "equals" means in this case? From wikipedia it looks to me like level 8 is still just a prerequisite for an ABRSM diploma, and I don't know that any ABRSM test could be taken as a stand-in for a BM in other international university systems. (E.g., if applying to a master's program, even if an ABRSM level encouraged them to admit you in lieu of a bachelor's, I imagine they might require some prerequisite coursework to satisfy their specific entrance requirements.) Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 13:24
  • 2
    @AndyBonner abrsm grade 8 theory can be used as a substitute for music candidates who want to go to ox-bridge but have no UK school credentials.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 20:40
  • 2
    At least in the US, a bachelors degree has enough included in it that I can’t think of a replacement. It might depend on whom you want to present such credentials and for what purpose. If you want to teach music in a public school in the US, or obtain a job of any kind where one of the requirements is a four year degree, then there is no replacement option unless it’s specifically spelled out (sometimes “or equivalent experience” is allowed - such experience would be on your resume/CV). Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 17:43

4 Answers 4


The ABRSM offers a number of diplomas beyond the usual grade 8: ABRSM dilpomas FAQ.

Whether these equate to a bachelors degree is another matter. They aren't going to be anything like a music degree, but more of a certificate for advanced level musicians.


My take on the UK grades (eg from ABRSM, LCME and others) is that Grade 8 is a high-school leaver's level and would be preparatory to university. (In the same way as one might study maths or geography at high school, and then continue to study those at undergrad uni level.) Reason I say that, is that the UK graded exam bodies working through OFQUAL all say in their literature in one form or another that their grades 6, 7 and 8 count towards one's UCAS tariff for uni entrance. So they are, explicitly, high school level.

Above the grades, those bodies have various diploma levels. I'll single out the LCME as an example since they say it in a way that makes it very clear that their levels above the grades are of various university level standards, but they are not as wide as a degree. LCME say for example that all 4 of their performance diplomas (Diploma, Associate, Licentiate, Fellow) are equivalent to a first, second, final year undergrad or masters module respectively.

That makes sense, since they are examining performance only, not all the other courses or modules that would make up each year of study at Uni. (Intuitively it makes sense too: The "E" in LCME stands for Examinations, and is not to be confused with the London College of Music at large, which through its affiliation to the University of West London, confers degrees.


You are confusing certain concepts in regards to music qualifications. Let me take the chance to help. In a broader sense there are two types of musical education provided by tertiary institutions in the West. You have conserve training and you have musicology training.

Conserve training was for many years focused on training performers. In England the big conserve is the RCM in the US it is Juilliard. You do music history and theory but only in the specific ways in which it interact with the performing of your instrument. These places tended not to concern itself with the academic pursuit of music. It housed the top performers that trained the most promising young performers.

You then had music schools that enjoyed the academic pursuit of music. These were places like Oxford and Cambridge in the UK or Berkley and the Peabody Institute in the US. Here you could study performance if you wanted to, but generally they had a more academic interest in the profession.

In many countries you also had nationally accredited NGOs that developed musical curricula that promoted the study of music trough standardized testing. Many nations in the world had them. These ideas are not totally absent from the US as the AP Music Theory course is something in that vein.

Diplomas in music was the highest qualifications these NGOs offered. They where typically split into two types, a performance one and a teaching one. You typically had a process where you applied for admission to the diploma. You had to give a letter of motivation describing your qualifications, your achievements and your goals. They would then decide if you passed the admission.

If you were accepted as a diploma candidate you where then given a certain amount of time to achieve the required theory grade if you had not achieved it already. If you did a performance diploma you where then given details about a performance that you had to prepare. You then basically had to prepare a professional concert to be judged on.

The teaching diploma was different albeit in no way easier. Here you had to teach in front of a panel. You teaching acumen was tested along with your technical grasp of the instrument and your ability to articulate your ideas on teaching.

These diplomas have always been in many ways harder than a degree. They really are tremendous qualifications and requires years of dedication and hard work.

  • 1
    Why all the past tense? ABRSM and AP Music Theory are still ongoing. Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 17:22
  • 2
    Note:in the US the we say “conservatory” instead of “conserve” Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 17:39
  • 2
    Also conservatoire if you want to be posh. Conserve training is presumably learning to make jam.
    – Simon B
    Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 15:53
  • Conservatoires are colloquially known as conserves where I'm from. My speech may have dipped into the realms of slang.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 18:20

Grade 8 is pre-diploma.

Many universities offer a Bachelor of Music degree. There really should be more to a Bachelors or Masters degree than just vocational training, but I believe some colleges dignify their performer courses with such labels.

  • 2
    There is more to a diploma than vocational training as well.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 20:41
  • 1
    But not ENOUGH more to justify a Bachelor's degree I suggest.
    – Laurence
    Commented Sep 23, 2021 at 14:45
  • My Bachelor's degree in music performance at Boston University had several requirements befitting a university degree. Two semesters of a foreign language, either French, German, Italian or Russian, the most useful languages for classical musicians (I think opera singers were required to take more than one language), four semesters of English (two of composition and two of literature) and one science course. Also, each semester we had to take one course of our choice offered by any other school in the university -- liberal arts, communications, engineering, phys ed, whatever. Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 21:45
  • @Mark Lutton Excellent!
    – Laurence
    Commented Sep 26, 2021 at 20:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.