The program, which will welcome its first cohort of students in fall 2017, is designed for musicians who are interested in building a foundation for their artistic careers as well as attaining an elite liberal arts education.
“Institutionally, the partnership represents an understanding of the arts and art-making in the 21st century, especially the growing impact of technology and realities of a globalizing arts landscape,” said Carol J. Oja, William Powell Mason Professor of Music and chair of the Department Historical Musicology at Harvard. “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.”
The Harvard-Berklee partnership is modeled after Harvard’s successful joint degree program with New England Conservatory, which began in 2005. In the new program, students must be accepted to both Harvard and Berklee independently, as well as complete an audition and interview at Berklee.
Here’s how the five-year program works: Students pursue their bachelor’s degree at Harvard while taking private lessons and preparatory classes at Berklee during the first three years. In addition, they participate in ensembles at either institution, and pass instrumental proficiency exams at Berklee. In their fourth year, students complete their bachelor’s requirements, including a senior thesis, if desired. They finish their selected master’s program (master of music or master of arts) in the final year.
Berklee offers master’s degrees in scoring for film, television, and video games; music production, technology, and innovation; global entertainment and music business; music therapy; and contemporary performance.
“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 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.”
With recent faculty additions of Vijay Iyer and Yosvany Terry to Harvard’s Music Department, Oja said this new alliance creates a natural framework for music students who desire an extraordinary liberal arts education and a world-class conservatory environment.
“The base is broadening, and as time changes and the department grows, this opens up all sorts of possibilities,” Oja added.
Redman, a Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist who graduated Harvard in 1991, praised the partnership, saying he wished that it had existed when he was in Cambridge 25 years ago.
“One of the most integral and consequential facets of my ‘Harvard experience’ was being so close to the vibrant Berklee scene. It opened my ears and enriched my life. And it laid the seeds for a future I didn’t even know I had,” he said.
Applications for the 2017-18 academic year will be accepted beginning today for Berklee and in early August at Harvard.