Private Instruction Policies

All majors at Berklee require at least four semesters of participation in private lessons (8 credits earned) and successful completion of four final exams on a principal instrument. Students in the Performance, Professional Music, and Music Education majors must earn private lesson credits, and pass final exams, as follows:

  • Performance: 24 credits (eight semesters) eight final exams; plus four Recital Preparation

  • Professional Music: 12 credits (six semesters) six final exams

  • Music Education: 12 credits (six semesters) six final exams


A documented medical excuse or a family emergency constitutes an excused absence. Otherwise, it is at the teacher's discretion whether an absence is recorded as excused or unexcused.
If the student has three unexcused absences before the mid-term exam, the teacher may withdraw the student from the class. Faculty keep accurate records of student absences, but ultimately it is the student's responsibility to withdraw from a class.


An Incomplete grade is given by the teacher, not the department chair. It is granted in private lessons only in extreme circumstances. These circumstances include a documented medical excuse or family emergency. To receive an Incomplete grade, the student must be passing the course and have satisfactory attendance. An Incomplete must be made up the next semester, provided the student is enrolled at the college. If not enrolled, the student has one calendar year to complete the make up exam.

Make-Up Exam Fee

A fee of $20.00 must be paid to the Bursar's Office for late final exams. The student must bring the receipt to the make up and present it to the teacher.

Credit By Exam

Credit By Exam (CBX) will not be available for courses in which both proficiencies and participation are the criteria for credit. Theses courses include private lessons, ensembles, and labs. However, the chair of the department may grant CBX for private lessons for those students who have advance-placed on their entering placement exam and need to line up their residency requirements. Generally, CBX for private lesson is granted for levels 1-4. The student should see the chair of the department with any questions concerning CBX and private lessons.

To receive Credit By Exam, students will be expected to perform above and beyond the minimum criteria for the exam level in question because both proficiency and participation are included in the criteria for credit. All students will be awarded their CBX credit after their senior recital or the final project of their program.

The Syllabus

Each teacher will provide each student with a syllabus at the beginning of the semester. The syllabus is the contract between the student and the teacher.

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