Founded in 1945, Berklee College has grown into a major destination for students entering the popular music field. Producer Quincy Jones, jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter, singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge and Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer are just some of the 100 alumni who have earned greater recognition by capturing music's highest honor, the Grammy Award. To join that list, you'll need to pass a rigorous application process that includes an audition, interview and evaluation of your academic aptitude.
Start an Initial Application
Create an account at the college's application website, and enter your personal information into it. You must also pay a refundable application fee, which is $150 at the time of publication. To evaluate your academic abilities, Berklee requires you to submit current transcripts or GEDs. Unlike other institutions, Berklee doesn't consider ACT or SAT scores. However, if scores are a strong area, include them along with your references, resume and samples of your creative work.
Ace Your Audition
Practice rigorously for your audition, which normally runs 15 minutes. You'll be notified a week after the initial application. Plan on preparing a musical piece that showcases your abilities. For example, you could improvise over a jazz standard, play an original song or perform a well-known artist's solo that you've transcribed. The evaluation team will also test your improvisational and rhythmic skills, and ability to read music. You may also be asked to jam with a faculty member or play a technical passage that you haven't encountered before.
Pass Your Interview
Prepare to explain your academic and professional goals in an interview with the Board of Admissions. Expect questions about why you chose Berklee and how studying there will benefit your own creative aspirations, states the "Audition and Interview" section of the college's website. The board will also explore what kinds of personal contributions you'll make to the Berklee community, and why you consider the college a good fit for your overall goals and objectives.
Choose a Program
Once you're admitted, you must declare proficiency on one principal instrument. Berklee offers 30 instrumental programs, ranging from banjo to voice, to advance your proficiency. You must also declare a major. Options include a dozen programs in areas like composition, music management, performance and songwriting. More than 25 minor programs are also available to help you focus on areas within your major program. Students will graduate with a Bachelor of Music degree and a professional diploma in the business aspects of management, performance and production.
Secure a Scholarship
The tuition cost of a degree and diploma program is $38,940 and $33,566, respectively, at the time of publication. Once expenses like room and board are added, on-campus students will pay $66,657 and $60,283, respectively. For off-campus students, the respective total cost for both programs is $61,489 and $56,115. The college offers $40 million in scholarships and grants, for which you're automatically considered during the application process. About 40 percent of incoming students receive aid that equals roughly 40 percent of their total education, the college's website indicates.
- Berklee College of Music: A Brief History
- Berklee College of Music: Cost of Attendance for 2015–2016
- Berklee College of Music: Alumni Grammy Winners
- Berklee College of Music: Scholarships
- Berklee College of Music: Undergraduate Admissions
- Berklee College of Music: Undergraduate Admissions: Audition and Interview
- Berklee College of Music: Undergraduate Admissions: Supporting Materials
- Berklee College of Music: Undergraduate Programs: Majors
- Berklee College of Music: Undergraduate Programs: Minor Programs of Study
- Berklee College of Music: Undergraduate Programs: Principal Instruments
Ralph Heibutzki's articles have appeared in the "All Music Guide," "Goldmine," "Guitar Player" and "Vintage Guitar." He is also the author of "Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton," and holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.