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Music Theory

Unlocking the Power of Music Education at Berklee College of Music

Photograph of the blog post author, Richard Gilbert-Cross

Richard Gilbert-Cross


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Berklee College of Music

Berklee College of Music is a renowned institution that has been at the forefront of music education for over 70 years. Since its founding in 1945, the college has grown to become one of the most prestigious music schools in the world, attracting students from all corners of the globe. Furthermore, Berklee’s faculty consists of some of the most accomplished musicians and educators in the world, including Grammy Award winners, composers, and performers who have worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry.

In this article, we will explore the history of Berklee College of Music, its academic programs, its famous alumni, and the impact it has had on the music industry. We will also delve into the college’s approach to music education and its vision for the future of music.

What Is Berklee College of Music?

Berklee College

Berklee College of Music is a private music college located in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. It is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world.

Musical students of Berklee have gone on to enjoy the most success of any college in the world, with its alumni achieving 310 Grammy Awards, 108 Latin Grammy Awards and many Emmy, Tony, Academy and Saturn Awards.

Berklee College of Music is known for its innovative approach to music education and its commitment to preparing students for successful careers in the music industry. 

The college has a focus on contemporary music education, including jazz, rock, pop, and hip-hop

As part of its musical tutorage, Berklee offers undergraduate and graduate degree programmes in music performance, composition, music production and engineering, music business, music therapy and film scoring.  

Where Is Berklee College of Music Located?

Berklee Location

The Berklee College of Music address is located at 1140 Boylston Street in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. Its main campus is situated in the Back Bay neighbourhood of Boston, near the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In addition to its Boston campus, Berklee has satellite campuses in Valencia, Spain, and Perugia, Italy.

A History of the College

Berklee College of Music is a private music college in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. It was founded in 1945 by Lawrence Berk as Schillinger House, named after the music theorist Joseph Schillinger. The school’s original goal was to teach students to compose and arrange music using Schillinger’s principles. In 1954, the school was renamed Berklee School of Music in honour of Berk’s son Lee Berk and his wife, the pianist and composer Mildred F. Berk.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Berklee expanded its curriculum beyond Schillinger’s methods, offering courses in jazz performance and composition. It also began to attract students from outside the United States, particularly from Europe and Japan. In the 1970s, Berklee became known for its popular music programme, which included courses in rock, pop and funk. Many famous musicians, including Quincy Jones, Gary Burton and Bruce Hornsby, have taught or attended Berklee over the years.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Berklee continued to grow, opening satellite campuses in Valencia, Spain and Perugia, Italy, as well as offering online courses. In 1994, the school changed its name to Berklee College of Music to reflect its status as a fully-fledged college offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Berklee College of Music Today

Today, Berklee College of Music is one of the most prestigious music schools in the world, with over 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 100 countries. Its curriculum covers a wide range of musical styles, including jazz, rock, pop, Latin, and hip-hop, and includes courses in performance, composition, music production and music business. 

The college also offers several specialised programmes, such as the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, the Berklee Indian Ensemble, and the Berklee Valencia campus’ master’s programme in The Master of Music in Music Production, Technology, and Innovation.

Over the years, Berklee has produced many famous alumni, including Quincy Jones, John Mayer, Esperanza Spalding, Diana Krall, and Branford Marsalis. The college has also received numerous accolades for its innovative curriculum, including recognition from the Grammy Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Berklee provides students with state-of-the-art facilities to support their music education and career development. The college campus itself is made up of 34 buildings in Boston with plenty of facilities for students to enjoy their time there.

Recording Studios

The college has several professional-grade recording studios, including the Berklee Studios, The BIRN (Berklee Internet Radio Network), and the Berklee Music Network, which are used for recording and producing music projects.

Music Technology Labs

Berklee has several music technology labs, each equipped with the latest hardware and software for music production and sound engineering.

Practice Rooms

Berklee has over 300 practice rooms equipped with pianos, amplifiers, and recording equipment for students to practice their instruments and work on their compositions.

Performance Venues

Berklee Performance Rooms

The college has 12 performance venues, including the Berklee Performance Center, the David Friend Recital Hall, the Red Room at Cafe 939 and the Oliver Colvin Recital Hall, where students can showcase their talents and perform for live audiences.

Library and Archives

Berklee has four libraries for students to utilise for their studies and research. The Stan Getz Library and Archives houses a vast collection of books, sheet music, audio and video recordings, and other music education and research materials.


The college provides on-campus student housing options, including residence halls and apartment-style suites.

Dining Options

The college has several dining options, including four cafes, restaurants, and food trucks, serving a variety of cuisines.

Athletic Facilities

Berklee has a fitness centre and a dance studio for students who want to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Office Buildings

Berklee has 41 office buildings and centres for student services.


Berklee Accommodation

Berklee College of Music offers several student accommodation options, including on-campus residence halls, off-campus apartments and homestays. Here are some details about each option:

On-Campus Residence Halls

Berklee College of Music has several on-campus residence halls, namely 150 Massachusetts Avenue, 160 Massachusetts Avenue and the Fenway Apartments. These residence halls offer a variety of room types, including singles, doubles and suites, and are fully furnished with amenities such as kitchens, lounges and laundry facilities. Students who live in the on-campus residence halls are also provided with meal plans and 24-hour security. 

Off-Campus Apartments

Berklee College of Music partners with several off-campus apartment complexes to provide housing for its students. These apartments are fully furnished and typically offer one- to four-bedroom units. Students who choose to live off-campus are responsible for arranging their own meals through Dining Services.


Berklee College of Music also offers a homestay programme, which allows students to live with a local host family in the Boston area. Homestay hosts provide students with a private room, meals and opportunities to practice their English and learn about American culture. 


Berklee College of Music is considered one of the top music colleges in the world and has consistently ranked highly in various music school rankings. 

In the 2022 edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject, Berklee College of Music was ranked as the number one music school in the world. Niche also listed Berklee as the 8th best college for music in America.

Elsewhere, The Hollywood Reporter ranked Berklee as one of the top music schools in the world. Yamaha also listed the college in their Top 10 Yamaha Institutions of Excellence, whilst the college also made the list of Billboard’s 2022 Top Music Business Schools. 

Student Demographics

Berklee Alumni

Berklee College of Music has a diverse student body representing over 100 countries. 

According to College Factual, the full-time Berklee College of Music undergraduate population consists of 46% women and 54% men.

41% of Berklee graduate students are white, 31% international, 10% Hispanic, 6% Black or African American, and the remaining 12% comprise Asian, Multi-Ethnic, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and students of unknown origin.

56% of the college’s students are 18-21, just under the country’s average, with 6% aged 35 and over.

College President and Staff

The current college President in 2023 is Erica Muhl, a composer, conductor and Founding Director of USC’s Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy.

The original President was Founder Lawrence Berk. After he left his position in 1979, his son Lee Eliot Berk was President until 2004. Business and philanthropist Roger H. Brown then stepped into the position before Erica Muhl took charge in 2004 as Berklee’s fourth President after Brown’s retirement.

Berklee College of Music Notable Alumni

Many Berklee College of Music alumni have gone on to successful careers in the music industry.

Famous Berklee alumni include Quincy Jones, John Mayer, Esperanza Spalding, Diana Krall, Charlie Puth, Branford Marsalis, Melissa Etheridge, Kevin Eubanks, Lalah Hathaway, Bill Frisell, Steve Vai, St. Vincent (Annie Clark), amongst many others. 

Famous Berklee College of Music Dropouts

While many successful musicians have graduated from Berklee College of Music, several famous musicians dropped out of college before completing their degrees.

In fact, some of the college’s most famous alumni dropped out of the college but still managed to pursue highly successful musical careers. Famous Berklee dropouts include Quincy Jones, Branford Marsalis, Diana Krall, John Petrucci and Kevin Eubanks.

How Does the Admissions Process Work?

The Berkeley College of Music admissions process is a multi-step process that involves several components. 

The Berkeley College of Music admissions requirements are as follows:


Firstly, those wishing to study at Berklee must submit an online application. The application requires applicants to provide their personal information, academic history and music experience. Applicants must also submit a personal statement and one or more music performance recordings.


Once the application is submitted, applicants must complete an audition. Depending on the applicant’s location, the audition can be done in person or virtually. During the audition, applicants will perform several pieces of music and will be evaluated on their technical proficiency, musicianship, overall potential and readiness to succeed in the programme.

The college offers auditions in-person and online via Zoom.


Applicants who pass the audition will be invited to an interview with a member of the admissions team. The interview is a chance for the admissions team to learn more about the applicant’s background and goals.


Following the interview, the Berklee College of Music admissions team will decide whether to offer the applicant admission to the college. Afterwards, applicants will receive notification of their decision by email.

What Is the Berklee College of Music Acceptance Rate?

The Berklee College of Music acceptance rate can vary depending on several factors, including the number of applications received in a given year, the qualifications and experience of the applicants and the number of available spots in the program.

According to the latest data available from Berklee, for the autumn 2021 semester, the acceptance rate for undergraduate programmes was 37%. For graduate programmes, the acceptance rate was 58%.

It’s important to note that admission to Berklee is based on more than just test scores and grades. The school also considers factors such as a student’s audition, creative portfolio and personal statement, among other criteria. So, while the acceptance rate can give you a general idea of the competitiveness of the admissions process, it’s not the only factor to consider when applying to Berklee.

Berklee College of Music Tuition Fees

The Berklee College of Music cost for admissions depends on what type of studies the prospective students apply for. However, Berklee does offer guidance on fees for a single, two-semester (autumn and spring) academic year. For the 2023-2024 academic year, the fees for Berklee College of Music undergraduate students are $76,148.94 for a degree and $69,388.94 for a diploma.

These fees as broken down below for a degree/diploma.

Berklee College of Music tuition fees:

Mandatory fees

  • Full-time tuition: $48,830/$42,070 per year
  • Required fees: $1,440 per year
  • Software bundle: $236.94

Optional expenses

  • Room and board: $19,440 per year 
  • Berklee Student Health Insurance Plan: $2,572

Indirect expenses

  • Off-campus room and board: $19,440 per year
  • Personal expenses: $1,375
  • Transportation: $1,100
  • Books: $1,085
  • Federal Stafford Loan fees: $70

Students should also consider other additional expenses, such as travelling to and from the campus.

Berklee College of Music Financial Assistance

Berklee College of Music tuition fees can be made more affordable through scholarships, grants, payment plans and financial aid.

Scholarships and Grants for Berklee College of Music

According to its website, Berklee awards more than $60 million annually in institutional scholarships and grants to students from Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Berklee Valencia, Berklee NYC, and Berklee Online.

All students are considered for merit-based scholarships. Prospective Berklee College of Music students are offered the chance to submit materials within their admissions application. Songwriting and musical abilities will then be considered before a decision is made.

Undergraduate scholarships are granted for up to eight total semesters of enrollment.

The college also has scholarships for high-performing students who wish to continue their studies with the college. These are offered through initiatives such as the college’s Thrive Scholarship and division awards.

International students studying in the United States can also apply for merit-based scholarships for both Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee. However, they are not considered for need-based institutional aid.

Institutional Need-Based Grants for Berklee College of Music

Berklee College of Music offers need-based institutional grants for all students who submit through a College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile. However, priority is given to those with the highest financial need.

Students requiring temporary funding during their studies can apply for this through the Special Circumstances Appeal Grants scheme.

What Courses Does Berklee College of Music Offer?

College instruments

Berklee College of Music degrees are offered as undergraduate music studies in 14 majors: 

  • Composition
  • Contemporary Writing and Production
  • Electronic Production and Design
  • Film and Media Scoring
  • Game and Interactive Media Scoring
  • Independent Recording and Production
  • Jazz Composition
  • Music Business/Management
  • Music Education
  • Music Production and Engineering
  • Music Therapy
  • Performance
  • Professional Music
  • Songwriting

For non-musicians/performers wishing to pursue a career in the music industry, the college also offers a Bachelor of Arts in Music Industry Leadership and Innovation course.

In addition to their major course, Berklee College of Music offers students the opportunity to complete a minor or specialisation course. Some of these include:

  • Classical Music
  • Conducting
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • History
  • Mediterranean Music
  • Music Technology
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Spanish Arts and Culture

As an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree, Berklee College of Music requirements state students must declare one principal instrument with which they can work on their proficiency. 

Students may also move forward with a second instrument for additional private lesson fees if they meet certain requirements.

Berklee College also offers 12 institutes that allow students to deepen their focus in particular areas. Some of these include:

  • American Roots Music Program (which focuses on America’s rich musical and cultural heritage)
  • Berklee Global Jazz Institute (exploring the social power of music and connecting music with the natural environment)
  • Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education (focusing on the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of performing and visual arts education)
  • Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice (equity in the jazz field and the role of jazz in gender justice)
  • Berklee Popular Music Institute (the business of live music, including A&R, artist development, booking, promotion, social media, sponsorship and live shows)

Berklee College of Music Online Courses

Berklee Online Courses

Berklee College of Music offers a variety of online courses and programs through Berklee Online. The courses are catered for all levels of ability, from Undergraduate (levels 1-4) to Graduate (levels 5-6).  

Some of the individual courses offered include Audio Mastering Techniques, Copyright Law, Guitar Chords 101, Music Business Finance for Entrepreneurs, and Popular Singing Styles: Developing Your Sound.

Furthermore, there are currently fifteen different learning focuses, including Guitar, Piano and Keyboard, Dance and Theatre, and Songwriting. The software involved ranges from Logic to Ableton Live and Final Cut Pro. 

These programmes are designed to provide students with a comprehensive music education that is flexible and accessible.

It’s important to note that online courses and programs at Berklee Online are taught by the same faculty who teach on-campus courses, and they are designed to be as rigorous and comprehensive as their on-campus counterparts.


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