Frequently Asked Questions
Below, please find answers to frequently asked questions about scholarships for entering Berklee College of Music students. Scholarship information for continuing students can be found here.
All applicants (domestic and international) to the college's full-time degree or diploma programs are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships through our audition and interview process. The college awards scholarships primarily on the basis of the live audition and interview; however, we also provide opportunities for applicants to submit original compositions through the Berklee Writing and Composition Scholarship.
The college selects seven outstanding entering musicians annually to receive the Presidential Scholarship which covers the cost of tuition and housing. To qualify, applicants must demonstrate the highest musical merit and potential as well as financial need. There is no separate application required for students to be considered for the Presidential Scholarship. In addition to the Presidential Scholarship, the college selects one Canada Scholar to receive awards covering the cost of tuition and housing.
Berklee College of Music entering-student scholarships may not be used for the Twelve-Week Full-Credit Summer Program.
The Berklee Achievement-Based Scholarship provides an opportunity for high-achieving continuing or returning students to be considered for scholarship. This scholarship is targeted to outstanding upper-semester students who are currently not receiving a merit-based scholarship. Students are required to submit an online achievement portfolio highlighting their musical and academic accomplishments, achievements in their major, and faculty recommendations. Scholarships through the Berklee Achievement Scholarship are all partial-tuition scholarships with the average award issued at $5,000 per year.
For entering students, scholarships range from $10,000 per year up to full tuition. The vast majority of scholarships awarded to entering students are partial-tuition awards and average approximately 40 percent of tuition. A limited number of full-tuition scholarships are available to exceptionally gifted musicians who participate in our audition and interview process. Each year, less than five percent of the entering class qualifies for our exclusive full tuition scholarships.
In addition, the college also selects seven outstanding entering musicians annually to receive the Presidential Scholarship, which covers the cost of tuition, on-campus housing, the required laptop and the comprehensive fee. To qualify, applicants must demonstrate the highest musical merit and potential through the admissions process as well as high financial need. Each year, twenty-five of our top applicants in the fall entering class are nominated for the Presidential Scholarship and invited to submit supplemental materials for further review. The Scholarship Committee reviews all submissions including the required financial aid forms and selects the seven recipients in April. Students already enrolled at the college are not eligible to be considered for the Presidential Scholarship.
In addition to the Presidential Scholarship, the college selects one Vans Off The Wall Scholar, one Canada Scholar, and one A. R. Rahman Scholar to receive awards covering the cost of tuition, on-campus housing, the required laptop and the comprehensive fee. Candidates for these awards are also invited to submit supplemental materials including the required financial aid forms for further review by the scholarship committee. Final decisions are announced by June 1 each year. Students already enrolled at the college are not eligible to be considered for these scholarships.
Continuing students who are currently not receiving a merit-based scholarship are eligible to apply for the Berklee Achievement Scholarship. This scholarship is targeted to outstanding upper-semester students going into their third and fourth years of study at the college. All Berklee Achievement Scholarships are partial scholarship opportunities ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 per year. There are no full tuition scholarships available through this process as full tuition scholars are identified through our entering student scholarship process.
Entering-student scholarships are renewable through graduation. Scholarship recipients are expected to maintain high academic and musical standards as outlined in the Berklee College of Music Scholarship Conditions and Renewability Guidelines, which are included in every entering-student scholarship award letter. Continuing students are also expected to renew their scholarship by submitting an achievement portfolio after they have completed four full-time semesters. Further details regarding the scholarship renewal process are available in the the Office of Student Financial Services.
No. The college's scholarships for entering students are merit-based, and scholarships are primarily based on the audition and interview process. Composition and songwriting may also be taken into consideration through the Berklee Writing and Composition Scholarship. Continuing student scholarships are awarded through the Berklee Achievement Scholarship and are based on the review of an applicant's achievement portfolio.
Entering students are not awarded scholarships based on a particular major because students are not accepted to the college into a major. Students generally declare their major in their third semester of attendance. All entering students are evaluated for scholarship consideration by the scholarship committee based on the strength of their admissions application (audition, interview, academics, and/or original compositions).
However, there are a number of scholarships designated for upper-semester students studying in particular majors that are awarded through the Spring Awards process. The Spring Awards are small, partial tuition merit awards ranging from $500 to $5,000 that are targeted to high-achieving continuing students nearing graduation. A select group of students are nominated by the faculty, chairs, and deans for Spring Awards based on their outstanding academic and musical achievement in their major/instrumental department.
Further, continuing students who are currently not receiving a merit-based scholarship are eligible to apply for the Berklee Achievement Scholarship. This scholarship is targeted to outstanding upper-semester students going into their third and fourth years of study at the college. As part of the evaluation process, achievement within the major and has a direct impact on their scholarship decision. All Berklee Achievement Scholarships are partial scholarship opportunities ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 per year. There are no full tuition scholarships available through this process as full tuition scholars are identified through our entering student scholarship process.
All applicants (domestic and international) to the college's full-time degree or diploma programs are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships through our audition and interview process. Domestic students may apply for need-based funds by submitting the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at fafsa.ed.gov. Entering international students are not eligible to submit the FAFSA in order to receive need-based financial aid. Students should review the information provided in the Paying for Your Education section of the website for more information on need-based funding.
To apply to the college, students are required to participate in a live audition and interview. Through this experience, they are considered for both admission and scholarship. Applicants may also choose to submit an application for the Berklee Writing and Composition Scholarship in order to be considered for scholarship support based on their original compositions in addition to their instrumental skill. Applicants should submit their original material following the application deadlines for their intended semester of entry. Students who are accepted to the college will be issued a scholarship decision with their admissions decision.
Berklee College of Music entering scholarships may not be used for the 12 Week Full-Credit Summer Program.
Yes. Transfer students are treated as entering students, and they too are required to audition and interview as part of the admission and scholarship evaluation process for all applicants to the college's full-time degree or diploma programs. Transfer students may also choose to submit an application for the Berklee Writing and Composition Scholarship in order to be considered for scholarship based on their original compositions in addition to their instrumental skills.
The college does not award scholarship based on particular instruments. All applicants to the college's full-time degree or diploma programs are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships through our audition and interview process. However, while the college understands there are musicians with multi-instrumental abilities, students are expected to declare a principal instrument when they enroll, and entering scholarship students are expected to perform for the college on their principal instrument as a condition of the award.
Change of principal instrument or failure to perform on the principal instrument will result in review of the award decision and may result in the loss of scholarships.
Accepted students may defer their enrollment to a future semester and request to re-audition for scholarship consideration in the next academic year. Students who were offered a partial scholarship may request to re-audition in an attempt to increase their scholarship level. Students are permitted to audition once per academic year so applicants should speak with a counselor in the Office of Student Financial Services to discuss their options for re-auditioning.
Domestic students should also apply for need-based financial aid by submitting the FAFSA. In addition, all students should seek financial assistance in the form of scholarships and sponsorships outside of the college. Some excellent resources for information about these types of funding can be found by contacting local, state, and federal government institutions, by accessing the Internet, and by researching this information in a local public library. Further, we encourage you to check out our outside scholarship resource that we curate.
After students enroll, there are some opportunities to receive additional funding from the college but the opportunities for students to increase their funding is limited. There are three main sources of additional, partial funding: the Berklee Achievement Grant program, the Spring Awards, and student employment.
The Berklee Achievement Grant program is an incentive-based awards program for students who have Berklee College of Music scholarships and/or grants that eliminates tuition increases for qualified students. Students with Berklee College of Music scholarships and/or grants who earn a minimum cumulative grade point average equal to or greater than 3.0 and also demonstrate financial need may qualify for an increase in aid for their second, third, and fourth years at the college. The grants are $1,500 per year and are awarded for the fall and spring semesters ($750/semester). These grants are intended to eliminate tuition increases for qualified students.
The Spring Awards are small, partial tuition merit awards ranging from $500 to $5,000 that are targeted to high-achieving continuing students nearing graduation. A select group of students are nominated by the faculty, chairs and deans for Spring Awards based on their outstanding academic and musical achievement in their major/instrumental department.
The college also has a student employment program that provides opportunities for students to work on campus part-time in order to assist students in meeting their educational expenses. Student employment is open to all students, domestic and international, and eligibility is based primarily on a student’s suitability to a particular position with preference given to students demonstrating financial need. Students who participate can expect to earn approximately $1,500 to $2,500 per semester. We generally advise students that working on campus is an excellent resource to assist them with their miscellaneous and personal expenses rather than budgeting this income for paying their tuition.
Selecting the right college is both an academic decision and a financial decision. Berklee College of Music is an expensive private college that offers an unparalleled education at a premium cost. It’s important that students and families have a comprehensive financial plan in order to afford the cost of attendance for four years of study. Therefore, we advise students to plan their enrollment at the college for four years based on the financial aid package they receive as an entering student. Students seeking a four-year degree/diploma are not encouraged to enroll if they do not have sufficient funding to support their studies for their entire program.
We understand that financing a Berklee College of Music education is challenging for many families. There are some alternative options where students can create a path that is more affordable and appropriate for their needs. Here are three ways for students to earn Berklee College of Music credits towards their undergraduate program in order to reduce their educational expenses:
1. Transfer Credits
Candidates for the bachelor of music degree may transfer up to 24 credits of required liberal arts courses. Find more information on transfer credits.
2. Credit by Exam (Testing Out)
The college has a unique system of allowing students to take placement tests in our core curriculum subjects where they can test into higher levels of the curriculum if they know the material. If a student can successfully place out of courses such as Harmony I and Ear Training I, not only is the student exempt from that course, but he/she also receives full credit at no cost. With the advent of the college’s online courses, both the faculty-intensive paid online courses as well as free MOOCs (massive open online courses) on Coursera and edX, an enterprising student can prepare for the Berklee College of Music curriculum before even arriving at the campus and use Credit by Exam (CBX) to save time and money. We also encourage students to review the harmony and ear training materials available for purchase through Berklee Press at: http://www.berkleepress.com/catalog
Essentially, credit by exam is a tool for affordability, access, and progress through the curriculum.
3. Credit Transfer Agreements with Articulating Partner Schools
The college has 19 international partner schools and six in the U.S. and Canada empowered to teach the first two years of the Berklee College of Music curriculum. Many of these programs were started by college alumni and/or employ many of our alumni as teachers. Each school is significantly less expensive than the college, both because their tuition is less and they are typically in lower cost-of-living locations. In the U.S., our partners comprise three community colleges (Miami-Dade, Cuyahoga in Cleveland, and Fullerton in California) that are publicly subsidized.
While almost every student would rather spend four full years in Boston, not every student can afford to do so. Therefore, these alternatives provide students with more affordable options towards earning their degree.
Furthermore, coming to the physical campus in Boston can be cost-prohibitive for some students. Therefore, the college also offers online bachelor’s degrees (bachelor of Professional Studies) in music production; music business; electronic music production and sound design; composition for film, television, and games; songwriting; and interdisciplinary music studies. These options have overall tuition fees of about 60 percent less than the physical campus and if the student already has housing, the overall cost of a four-year education is significantly less than our on-campus programs.
While promoting this as a viable option for some students, we also need to be transparent about what is not part of an online education—the choices in major, the physical facilities, the engagement in the college community, the extra-curricular activities, the faculty and staff who serve as mentors and advisors, and the counseling services—these are all greatly reduced or non-existent in the pure online education model.
The federal government requires that scholarships be applied to a student's eligibility as calculated by the FAFSA. Any additional funding you receive from any source may require an adjustment to your eligibility for federal or state aid.
Berklee College of Music entering student scholarships are valid for one year and include an expiration date in each award letter/email.
Applicants who are offered a scholarship and do not plan to enroll in the college before the award expires should speak with a Student Financial Services counselor to discuss their options for reapplying for scholarship consideration.
The endowed funds listed on the website are not scholarships that students can apply for separately. These scholarships fund scholarships awarded to students through our existing entering and continuing scholarship processes, including the admissions application and the Berklee Achievement Scholarships and Spring Awards programs).
Each year, the college issues scholarship offers to the admitted class and we expect only a certain percentage of those students will accept the scholarship offer to enroll in the college. Therefore, scholarships offered to entering students who do not enroll are not redistributed to other students in the entering class.
Please contact our office by phone at 800-BERKLEE (237-5533) or 617-747-8681, or by email at email@example.com.