The city of Boston may be the country’s best-known college town, home to legendary schools such as Harvard, the University of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Alongside those esteemed institutions stands the Berklee College of Music, one of the finest music schools in the nation.
Since its founding in 1945, Berklee has established itself as the largest and most respected school focused on contemporary music.
In addition to its first-rate jazz program, Berklee focuses on all aspects of modern music, offering majors in production, engineering, and even entrepreneurship.
Thanks to this commitment to popular music, Berklee has trained innovators known around the world, including those who create some of the most famous music of the past 75 years.
In addition to its international campus located in València, Spain and its highly-respected online school, Berklee operates a well-appointed campus in Boston.
The main campus consists of 25 buildings, including 40 recording studios, multiple film scoring facilities, and music synthesis faculties.
Each of these areas comes equipped with the latest in music technology, ensuring that students work on the same equipment they’ll use later in their careers.
Because Berklee understands the importance of collaboration, it recently built a 16-story building that includes hundreds of dorm rooms and a performance center.
By combining students’ work and living spaces, the school understands that creativity can strike anywhere and that the next great song can arrive at any time.
Berklee College of Music Acceptance Rate
The acceptance rate into Berklee College of Music is 52%.
By most metrics, a 52% acceptance rate means that the school in question is selective. Half of those who apply to study at Berklee will be rejected at that rate. Of the approximately 6,700 people who apply to Berklee each year, thousands will be turned away.
Without question, that hurts to hear, especially when one is going through the application process. It takes a lot of work to gather materials and prepare a strong audition. We all want that work to pay off with an acceptance letter.
But when put into a larger context, Berklee’s numbers don’t look bad at all. Most schools of similar quality have far lower acceptance rates.
For example, the famous Julliard takes only 7% of its applicants, while the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia takes in just 2%. Even quality state schools like the University of North Texas have a 15% acceptance rate for their school of music.
In addition to the fact that you’re less likely to be rejected, there are many benefits to attending a school with a high acceptance rate.
While some people like the designation that comes from going to an elite school, others see an advantage in the wider array of people found at a school that takes in more students.
With a wider student body, Berklee attendees will be exposed to a greater range of musical styles and approaches, resulting in a more singular style.
Berklee College of Music GPA
The typical GPA for an entering student at Berklee is 3.0.
However, grades are not the most significant determining factor for admission into Berklee. Every student must pass an audition on their primary instrument as well as successfully complete an interview.
When one thinks about preparing for a first-class music school like Berklee, one doesn’t think about hitting the books. They think about practicing their instrument, mastering their scales, or preparing a jaw-dropping performance piece.
So why does Berklee care about students’ average GPA?
There are actually several answers to this question, some of which come down to reputation. Even music schools want recognition from outlets such as U.S. News & World Report, which take grades into account when putting together its lists.
But more importantly, schools like Berklee care about what grades represent. If a student can maintain a B average through high school, then they have a strong work ethic. That’s especially true in the case of top-level music students, who need to stay on top of their instrument practice.
Schools care about work ethic not for some vague moral reason, but for practical purposes. College is hard work, constantly asking students to do their best while maintaining a certain level of excellence. A GPA of 3.0 or higher shows the admissions counselor that the student in question can handle the workload at the school.
Is Berklee a Good Music School? Berklee Ranking
Berklee is currently ranked as the #2 best music school in the country, according to Niche.com.
There’s no question that Berklee is an excellent school.
Many reputable ranking outlets ranks it among the nation’s top five, standing alongside the Julliard School, the Curtis Institute, and others. It earns this reputation in part because of its first-class facilities, but also because of the quality musicians who teach there.
Future pop music professionals can study under Rodney Alejandro, associate professor of songwriting. An industry veteran who has performed with Stevie Wonder, Sofia Carson, and others, Alejandro has participated in projects that have been nominated for Grammies and Latin Grammies. He brings his experience and expertise to Berklee, training future songwriters on the secrets to a good hook and a catchy tune.
Those with more of an interest in classical performance can study under professor David Wallace, chair of the strings department. A teacher with decades of experience, Wallace brings to Berklee a reputation for excellence formed during long stints at Julliard and as a teaching artist with the New York Philharmonic.
In addition to the ensembles he formed, Wallace has also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chamber Society of Lincoln Center, and others.
Notable Alumni of Berklee College of Music
Any quality music school has its share of awards, including Grammy award winners. But Berklee College of Music outdoes them all in this department, with 123 alumni winning 310 Grammies so far. That number includes nine alumni who won during the 2022 Grammy Awards.
One such Grammy winner is singer-songwriter and producer Makeba Riddick, who graduated from Berklee in 1999. Since leaving school, Riddick has worked for all of the greatest pop stars of our time, including Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Mariah Carey. Using the skills she developed at Berklee, Riddick has written hits for P. Diddy and others, crafting the music that dominates the radio.
After he left Berklee with a degree in professional music in 1995, Alex Lacamoire wrote orchestration for some of the most popular Broadway musicals of recent years.
Lacamoire’s work on In the Heights, Hamilton, and Dear Evan Hansen has earned him Tony and Grammy awards. Drawing from his Berklee education and his roots in the Cuban-American community, Lacamoire continues to revolutionize the field.
Just these two highlights would be enough to secure the reputation of any music school. But they are just two of many excellent musicians who have studied at Berklee, proving its value as a top-level music school.
What Are the Available Music Majors at Berklee?
Like all of the best music schools, Berklee offers programs in composition and performance. But what really sets Berklee apart is its majors related to the modern music business.
As part of the music production and engineering program, students collaborate with songwriters and musicians to produce and create pop hits.
Working with the school’s state-of-the-art technologies, students learn how to mix and master songs, helping to craft the perfect song. These courses teach students to approach the studio like an instrument, collaborating with the performers to create music through production.
Those more interested in the hustle and bustle of creating music than the actual performance can enroll in Berklee’s music business and management degree.
Students can choose from one of three tracks covering entrepreneurship, music products, and music management. Students work alongside industry professionals to gain real-world experience regardless of which track they choose, leaving Berklee ready to begin their careers.
Should You Apply to Berklee?
As has been made clear throughout the previous paragraphs, Berklee is not only one of the best music schools in the country. It is also one of the most unique.
Although harpists or classical pianists will certainly find much to like at Berklee, they won’t necessarily be served as well if they have an interest in the music of the past 100 years.
But if you’re interested in creating the music that people will be listening to for the next 100 years, then Berklee is the place for you.
The school takes seriously the music of today, as demonstrated by its renowned jazz program and music production and business degrees. For those who want to become producers, pop songwriters, or moguls in the modern music landscape, then Berklee is the best choice by far.
Even better, Berklee has a much higher acceptance rate than other schools of its caliber, bringing in 52% of those who apply. While that still means half of the hopefuls will be rejected, those are far better odds than other institutions who join Berklee among the top ten music schools in the country.