Culminating Experience/Thesis: Berklee College of Music

The Master of Music and Master of Arts programs at Berklee College of Music conclude with a culminating experience. This experience is meant to be exactly as named—the culmination of each student’s work in the program, the experience through which students synthesize all they have learned. The culminating experience helps to shape students’ next steps in the profession and in their career. In short, the culminating experience provides an opportunity for students to complete unique and original professional work. Through the culminating experience, students make a creative contribution to and/or define and solve a problem that exists in the profession. This contribution may take the form of a research project, a creative project, a practical project, and/or another project of the student’s devising. Regardless of the form the culminating experience takes—whether creative, research-focused, or practical in nature—the culminating experience represents the highest expression of a student's learning at the graduate level.

Students are required to document their projects with a written proposal. This proposal must be approved by the faculty advisor or program director. Students then build a culminating experience committee to guide and evaluate their work. Upon completion, students reflect on the experience and consider next steps.

All students are required to present their work to their culminating experience committee and the entire Berklee community, if possible, during their final semester.

Upon completion of their culminating experience, students will:

  • make a creative contribution to the profession, and/or define and solve a problem that exists in the discipline of study;

  • design and execute an original project;

  • produce a professional piece of academic and/or creative work, whether a research project, composition, recording or production, performance, practicum, or clinical experience that is analyzed and summarized, or other;

  • evaluate their experience, assessing the contribution made to the profession; and

  • analyze their own artistic, professional, and personal growth as a result of having completed the experience.