A part of the esteemed Berklee College of Music, the Boston Conservatory is an institution for music education that takes a more modern approach to teaching, striving to help students become uniquely talented, creative minds who will create the trailblazing sounds of the future.
Initially established in 1867, the Boston Conservatory — known colloquially as BoCo — is among the oldest music schools in the United States.
Perhaps most well-revered for its renowned faculty and its innovative approach to musical education, BoCo offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary undergraduate experience that goes beyond the study of music.
Community service and engagement are also a pillar of the conservatory’s mission, with liberal arts courses designed to encourage social awareness and critical thinking playing a prominent role in the music curriculum.
Since merging with Berklee in 2016, the unified institution has become an even stronger school for musical studies, incorporating the respective strengths of each half to create a greater whole.
Students who want to pursue a degree in music would be foolish to overlook the highly-esteemed Boston Conservatory since the program has everything a music student needs to succeed in college. To learn more about what makes BoCo the prestigious music school it is, read on for information about its acceptance rate, major offerings, notable alumni, and more.
Boston Conservatory Acceptance Rate
The acceptance rate into Boston Conservatory is, depending on the year, about 30%.
However, some programs at Boston Conservatory are significantly more selective than others. For example, the musical theatre program at BoCo has acceptance rates, in some years, of less than 15%.
On top of the potential for each program’s admissions official to apply different levels of selectivity when considering applications, another factor that can influence acceptance rates is the total number of applications the school receives in a given admission cycle.
In 2021, BoCo received a total of 3,200 undergraduate applications. That year, around 1,500 were for the theatre program, 1,400 for music, and the remaining 300 for dance.
Looking at these numbers, we can see why the theatre and music programs may have lower acceptance rates: there are simply too many applicants.
Acceptance rates can also vary depending on the availability of space and faculty within specific programs.
For example, students who play very popular instruments may have a harder time getting accepted to the Boston Conservatory than students who play more obscure instruments, since seats in the popular instrument’s program may fill up very quickly.
On the other hand, students who play more obscure instruments may also find that due to their instrument’s relatively unpopularity, the school has not allocated a whole lot of resources to their program, meaning that a low number of spots would be available to begin with.
Boston Conservatory GPA
The average GPA at Boston Conservatory is about 3.5.
However, admission into Boston Conservatory is much more than about GPA. Students are evaluated on their potential through their audition, portfolio, application, resume, and more.
The school has even explicitly stated that the audition is the single most crucial part of the application process. After the BoCo Board of Admissions reviews auditions, they move on to a more holistic analysis of the student, from musical ability to academic credentials.
Because the Boston Conservatory takes this primarily holistic approach to admissions, students whose grades in high school were a little less than BoCo’s median should not worry that they have zero chance of being accepted to the school.
Rather, they should direct their energy toward absolutely nailing their audition since knocking this part out of the park is the best way to boost chances of acceptance.
Students are advised to choose an audition piece well within their skill level so that they can completely master the piece, rather than trying to impress the Board of Admissions by poorly playing a more difficult arrangement.
In addition, crafting a well-organized, beautifully written personal essay is another way for students to show the admissions department that they are a good fit for the school based on who they are as an individual.
Is Boston Conservatory a Good Music School? BoCo Ranking
Yes, Boston Conservatory is an excellent music school.
Now that BoCo and Berklee have joined forces as a united institution, BoCo students have access to more classes, more extracurricular activities, and more opportunities than ever before.
BoCo has been acknowledged for its stellar music programs and faculty by a number of media publications.
According to Careers in Music, a website dedicated to research relating to the music industry and employment, BoCo’s composition program is one of the top 10 best music composition programs in the country.
In a list of the 15 best music schools in the United States by Prep Scholar, Boston Conservatory and Berklee were collectively ranked #3, noting especially how the different focuses of the two schools — BoCo’s being intense, classical conservatory training and Berklee’s being contemporary and jazz — balance one another out nicely.
Another reason that the Boston Conservatory is such a great music school is its excellent faculty. Some of BoCo’s music program instructors are members of the Boston Symphony, one of the oldest and most prominent orchestra groups in the country, as well as many other major music organizations in the New England region.
In addition to their highly-acclaimed music programs, BoCo also has a very strong musical theatre program. In the past, students in this program have been placed in Broadway roles and other prestigious professional acting opportunities after graduating from BoCo.
Notable Alumni of Boston Conservatory
Being one of the top music schools in the United States, it is no surprise that the Boston Conservatory has several notable alumni.
In 2022, four Boston Conservatory alumni were nominated for Tony Awards in three different categories.
Many BoCo alumni have been seen on Broadway. One is Barbara Cook, actress and soprano singer who rose to Broadway fame in the 1950s and 60s in classic musicals like Oklahoma!, The Music Man, and She Loves Me.
Kimiko Glenn, who played Brook Soso in the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, attended BoCo. She has also had a number of remarkable voice acting roles, including Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and Baby Shark’s Big Show.
Andre Cerullo, BoCo class of 2013, is now the associate music director and conductor for the national tour of the hit musical Hamilton. Before, he held the same job title for other big shows, from Pippin to West Side Story.
BoCo grad Vanessa Becerra is another example of the many successful performers the conservatory program has produced. She won the Grammy Award for Best Operatic Recording for her performance in The Ghost of Versailles with the Los Angeles Opera.
What Are the Available Music Majors at Boston Conservatory?
The Boston Conservatory offers over 55 music programs, which are distributed across its three broad divisions: theatre, dance, and music. There is a lot of natural overlap between the former two areas and music, so students who are passionate about the musical arts have plenty of options to choose from.
For one, BoCo offers highly-esteemed composition programs for both undergraduate and graduate studies. Each year, the school hosts as many as 30 concerts featuring works composed by students in this program.
The contemporary classical major at BoCo is an innovative program intended to teach classically trained musicians the skills they need to succeed as classical performers in the modern music industry. Students in this program have a vast array of performance opportunities, many of which involve collaborative events both on and off campus.
Beyond musical instruments, BoCo also offers a variety of music majors in other areas, like voice. In fact, the school’s voice/opera program is widely regarded as one of the best of its kind in the country.
The Boston Conservatory’s program offerings extended into the realm of drama, too. BoCo offers a four-year B.F.A. program in musical theatre. The program is very well-known, regularly being visited by casting directors and talent recruiters for major productions.
Should You Apply to Boston Conservatory?
There may be reasons to believe that another college would be a better fit for you, but at the end of the day, there is simply no denying that the Boston Conservatory is an amazing college for studying music.
From its world-class faculty to its state-of-the-art facilities, its innovative curriculum, and its commitment to diversity and inclusion, BoCo has a wealth of stellar resources and support to offer its music students.
As of the 2021-22 academic year, BoCo has an undergraduate enrollment of 648 students, plus an additional 212 graduate students for a total enrollment of 860.
Looking at these statistics, we can calculate that the student-to-faculty ratio at the school is just 5:1. This means that at the Boston Conservatory, faculty are able to provide one-on-one instruction, guidance, and support to the select few students who are admitted to the school.
Additionally, the school hosts more than 700 performances every year, some of which are by students and faculty members, others of which feature world-famous guest artists like cello master Yo-Yo Ma. This provides students numerous opportunities to develop performance skills, either by attending shows or by participating in them.
On top of all that the Boston Conservatory has to offer as an institution, there is also its location. Boston is a hub for the music and theatre industries. The city is home to over 100 theatre companies!
There is little to lose by applying to Boston Conservatory, and yet so, so much to gain. For these reasons, we can say: yes, you should apply.