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Berklee College of Music, founded in 1945, is a private, degree-granting four year college in Boston, Massachusettsmarker. It has a 2009 fall enrollment of approximately 4,100 students and a 2009 faculty of approximately 500. Berklee offers an accredited four-year baccalaureate degree or diploma, with majors in composition, contemporary writing & production, film scoring, jazz composition, music business/management, music education, music production and engineering, music synthesis, music therapy, performance, professional music, and songwriting.


Lawrence Berk at the blackboard with students

Berklee was founded by Lawrence Berk and was originally named Schillinger House of Music, after his teacher Joseph Schillinger. The original purpose of the school was to highlight the Schillinger System of musical harmony and composition. After expansion of the school's curriculum in 1954, Berk changed the name to Berklee School of Music after his son Lee Berk. When the school received its accreditation in 1973, the name was changed to Berklee College of Music. In 2003, Berkleemusic, the online branch of Berklee College of Music, was founded. The school's current president, Roger H. Brown, was installed in 2004.

At the time of its founding, almost all music schools focused primarily on classical music. The original mission of Berklee was to prepare students for careers in music through the study and practice of contemporary music, providing formal training in jazz and other contemporary music not available at other music schools. Since then, Berklee has added additional areas of study including film scoring, music synthesis, songwriting, education, and music therapy.


  • 1945 - Founded by Lawrence Berk, Schillinger House is the first U.S. school to teach the popular music of the time, jazz.
  • 1960s - Name changed to Berklee School of Music. Guitar is recognized as a principal instrument.
  • 1966 - Berklee's first fully accredited baccalaureate degree class graduates.
  • 1970 - Name changed to Berklee College of Music.
  • 1971 - Duke Ellington receives the college's first honorary degree.
  • 1979 - Lee Eliot Berk becomes the college's second president. Establishes the world's first undergraduate degree program in film scoring.
  • 1984 - Launches the world's first college-level major in music synthesis.
  • 1987 - Begins offering the world's first college-level songwriting major. Students spend several days in Nashville, attending clinics, concerts, and jam session, giving birth to an annual pilgrimage to Music City.
  • 1991 - City Music, Berklee's program to make music education available to underserved youths, is launched.
  • 1993 - Hand percussion established as a principal instrument. Berklee International Network founded to support contemporary music education globally.
  • 1994 - Berklee Center in Los Angeles opened.
  • 1995 - Student-run Heavy Rotation Records is launched to promote student rock, pop, and hip-hop talent.
  • 1996 - Music therapy major is established.
  • 1999 - Hip-hop is incorporated into the curriculum.
  • 2002 -, an online music school, is launched.
  • 2003 - Student found the college second label, Jazz Revelation Records.
  • 2004 - Roger H. Brown is named the college's third president.
  • 2005 - Music business/management becomes the most popular of the college's 12 majors.
  • 2006 - Presence of bluegrass on campus increases, as mandolin and banjo become principal instruments.
  • 2006 - The Berklee Internet Radio Network ( BIRN) hits the digital airwaves.
  • 2008 - Cafe 939 opens, a student-run, 200-seat, live-music venue and coffeehouse.
  • 2009 - Berklee enrollment tops 4100, largest in college history.


The College recommends two years of music study on a primary instrument and/or significant practical experience in musical performance, a diploma from an accredited secondary school with satisfactory marks in college-preparatory courses. The admission process also includes a mandatory audition and interview conducted in Boston and sites around the world. The current listed acceptance rate on CollegeData is now 32%, though the admission rate for the last class was 14%, due to an influx of new students over the past couple years.

Applying to Berklee College of Music is a three-step process. All applicants to the college must submit an online application, participate in a live audition and interview, and mail in the appropriate transcripts to be considered for full-time enrollment at the college. Berklee uses fixed application deadlines for each semester of entry.

Demographics and statistics

Berklee has a large percentage of undergraduate students from outside the U.S.—23 percent—representing more than 70 countries. Women comprise 29 percent of the student body. Domestic minority enrollment is African-American, 11 percent; Latino, 10 percent; Asian-American, 3.4 percent. The five countries that supply the largest percentage of foreign students to Berklee are Japanmarker, Koreamarker, Canadamarker, Mexicomarker, and the United Kingdommarker.

Berklee offers three full time semesters per year: Fall, Spring, and Summer. The Fall and Spring semesters are 16 weeks in length, whereas the Summer semester is 12 weeks.

The average class size is 11 and entering students also receive private, individual instruction on their principal instrument. The holdings of the College's Stan Getz Media Center and Library include more than 32,000 recordings, 26,000 books, 22,000 musical scores, 23,000 lead sheets, and 5,000 videos/DVDs.


Berklee Performance Center

The Red Room at Cafe 939

To prepare for careers in music, students work in studios, labs, classrooms, and performance spaces that emulate the conditions found in professional environments. Students learn the fundamental and enduring qualities shared by great music and explore music technology applications in the most up-to-date educational facilities possible in contemporary music education. Through continual upgrading of music technology applications, equipment, and facilities, the college ensures that students have access to the most effective resources to support their education.

  • 17 buildings in Boston's Back Baymarker neighborhood
  • 3 dormitories in the Back Bay and Fenway-Kenmore neighborhoods
  • A practice and rehearsal building in Boston's Allstonmarker neighborhood
  • An Internet radio station: The BIRN - Berklee Internet Radio Network. Five channels of music which broadcast Special Events, Interviews, Concerts, Clinics, Alumni Music and International Music, comprising a four room production facility with Broadcast, Production, Live, and Edit studios
  • The Berklee Performance Center - Housed in the renovated, historic Fenway Theater, the Berklee Performance Center seats 1,200 in its main hall and facilitates over 130 student and faculty concerts each year. Its direct link with the college's recording studios and video taping facilities allows professional quality recording of events and concerts. In addition, there are approximately 75 outside professional shows, special seminars, and clinics featuring important members of the music community which are held at the Performance Center throughout the year. The Berklee Performance Center is located at 136 Massachusetts Avenue, near the intersection with Boylston Street. Many notable musicians have started their musical career on this stage, including John Mayer and Paula Cole, both of whom attended the college during the 90s.
  • Cafe 939, a state-of-the-art, all-ages, student-run music venue and coffee house.
  • Four additional recital halls equipped with a variety of sound reinforcement systems.
  • 16 Recording Studios


Recording Studio A

Berklee offers student musicians courses of study toward a fully accredited four-year baccalaureate degree or diploma in the following:

Students may combine many of Berklee's 12 majors, depending on the nature of the program, in order to broaden their course of study and fulfill diverse interests and career preparation goals. The dual major program requires a five-year course of study and is available to both degree and diploma candidates.



Since Berklee is a music school, athletics are not a focus of campus life. If students want to play sports, they can sign up for NCAA Division III athletics at Emerson Collegemarker due to Berklee's membership in the Professional Arts Consortium. Students are also offered discounted or no-cost memberships at some nearby fitness centers, like the Boston Kung Fu Tai Chi institute and the Tennis and Racquet club, as part of Berklee's LiveWell program.

In February 2006, several students organized the Berklee Ice Cats, an ice hockey team named after former Massachusetts team, the Worcester Ice Cats, that is Berklee's first official athletic institution. The Ice Cats first competed in the New England Senior Hockey League in the 2006–2007 season. It will begin its first official intercollegiate season in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) in 2007-2008. The team practices in Cambridgemarker. Berklee's debut into the world of intercollegiate sports was on September 16, 2006, against Emerson Collegemarker for the inaugural Boylston Cup, emerging victorious.

In 2007, the Ice Cats signed on former Boston Bruin and two-time All-Star John McKenzie as head coach.



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