Two degrees, two colleges, two worlds
Adjusting to University life is a challenge for any entering student. But for a handful of students enrolled in Harvard College’s dual-degree program with Berklee College of Music, the challenges — and the joys — are twofold.
“I couldn’t imagine anything more perfect,” says sophomore Jenny Baker, a singer-songwriter and sociology concentrator. She’s taking advantage of the program to dive deeply into her passions: not only music, but gender studies, social and political inequalities, and criminal justice reform.
“I’m so excited about the chance to tap into Harvard’s resources, and Berklee’s too,” says Baker. “There’s such a different energy at both places.”
The five-year program, launched in 2016, allows students to pursue a bachelor of arts (A.B.) degree at Harvard and a master of music (M.M.) or master of arts (M.A.) at Berklee at the same time. During their first three years, students pursue a degree in the concentration of their choice at Harvard and take private instruction at Berklee. At the end of their third year, students complete an audition and interview to confirm their readiness for the Berklee master’s program. The fourth year focuses on completing all Harvard requirements, and the fifth year on the requirements for the M.M. or M.A.
This fall, Baker was part of both Berklee’s Mixed Pop Styles ensemble and Harvard’s 21 Colorful Crimson, a group of undergraduates in the class of 2021 who create and perform an eclectic mix of music. “There are a lot more musicians at Harvard than I expected,” she says. Going over to Berklee for rehearsals and classes allows her to dive into vocal technique and the experience of performing in an ensemble. She is also interested in other aspects of music, including songwriting, music law, and the challenges faced by artists’ managers. Back at Harvard, she’s taking classes on subjects such as mass incarceration, U.S. immigration policy, and feminist political thought. “I’m interested in doing policy work one day,” she says. “But I’m also dedicated to my music.”