Harvard and Berklee to Offer Dual Degree in 2017

In the fall of 2017, Harvard College and Berklee will launch a new five-year dual degree. The new program will enable students to earn a bachelor of arts at Harvard and a master of music or a master of arts at Berklee. Student applications for the program are now being accepted.

The dual degree will allow these two institutions to offer the best of their individual strengths. The curriculum is designed for exceptional musicians who want to pursue an elite liberal arts education and an advanced music degree in preparation for a range of artistic careers.

“Berklee’s programs have steadily gained prestige and power, turning the school into a formidable cutting-edge incubator for the newest waves of performance and composition,” stated Carol J. Oja, chair of Harvard’s music department. “Institutionally, the partnership represents an understanding of the arts and art-making in the 21st century, especially the growing impact of technology and the realities of a globalizing arts landscape.”

Harvard undergraduate music concentration provides a foundation in music theory, analysis, composition, and criticism while exposing students to a variety of musical styles and traditions to develop their critical understanding of music in diverse cultural and historical contexts. Course offerings explore links between musical works and developments in art, literature, philosophy, and science. The curriculum also focuses on performance practices of various styles and time periods.

Berklee currently offers four master’s degree programs at its campus in Valencia, Spain, and two at its main campus in Boston. Areas of study include a focus in scoring for film, television, and video games; music production, technology, and innovation; global entertainment and music business; music therapy; and contemporary performance. None of these areas of study are currently available at Harvard.

Participants will pursue the undergraduate curriculum at Harvard while taking private lessons and other preparatory courses at Berklee during the first three years of the program. They will also be required to participate in ensembles at either institution, and pass instrumental proficiency exams at Berklee. Preparatory course work at Berklee may be completed during the fall and spring in Boston, or in the summer either in Boston or at Berklee’s Valencia campus or through Berklee Online. During the fourth year, students will complete all Harvard BA degree requirements, including a senior thesis if desired. During year five, students will complete their selected master’s program at Berklee.

Applicants to the program must be accepted to both Harvard and Berklee independently, and complete the audition and interview process at Berklee. Harvard undergraduates may also apply to the program as transfer students during their freshman or sophomore years.

Modeled after Harvard’s successful joint degree with New England Conservatory, the Harvard-Berklee partnership will be mutually beneficial, expanding opportunities for students while enriching the communities of both institutions. While Harvard students have informally collaborated with Berklee musicians for years, a formalized relationship will offer increased access to Berklee courses, including those at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and allow them to tailor their programs to specific areas of interest.

“Joshua Redman, Yo-Yo Ma, Aaron Goldberg, Tom Morello, and a number of other highly accomplished musicians have studied at Harvard,” said Berklee President Roger H. Brown. “Imagine the possibilities when a world-leading Harvard undergraduate education can be augmented by private lessons, ensembles, and music classes in jazz, production, film scoring, and more at Berklee.”

“It would have been impossible for me to progress as a jazz musician while studying at Harvard had I not been able to take advantage of the wealth of talent and resources at Berklee,” says acclaimed jazz pianist Aaron Goldberg, endorsing the new program. “In a way, I lived a double life, though without a double degree.”

“One of the most integral—and in hindsight, consequential—facets of my Harvard experience was being so close to the vibrant Berklee scene,” adds renowned jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman. “Hanging out with Berklee students was my jazz immersion. It’s how I learned to listen, and began to learn how to play. It opened my ears and enriched my life. And it laid the seeds for a future I didn’t even know I had.”

For students with demonstrated financial need who are pursuing the joint degree, annual awards are available through the Paul and Catherine Buttenwieser Endowed Scholarship Fund, established by Berklee Presidential Advisory Council member Paul Buttenwieser and his wife, Katie. “Music has always been a great passion of ours, so Katie and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of this exciting new alliance and support the next generation of artists who will mold the future of music and the music industry.”