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Harvard University and New England Conservatory
Five-year AB/MM Program in Music

  Program of Study
  Grants and support
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  New England Conservatory
  Visit NEC
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 In the News
"Could NEC save music training at Harvard?"
"They Study to Their Own Soundtrack"
Juggling Music & Academics
Note: If you are appying to the NEC/Harvard program, you fill out the Harvard College Application as if you were simply applying to Harvard. There is no separate application.
When you fill out the NEC application, there is a box to check that indicates you are interested in applying to the dual degree program.

Meet some of the students

A few of the first graduates of the joint program: Malcolm Campbell, Sandy Cameron, Bong-Ihn Koh, Charlie Albright


The Five-Year Dual Degree Program in Music


The Harvard/NEC program is a joint five-year program leading to a Bachelor of Arts (AB) at Harvard College and a Master of Music (MM) at New England Conservatory. During the first four years of the program, students pursue the AB curriculum in the concentration of their choice at Harvard and take studio instruction each semester at NEC. Ensemble participation at either institution is encouraged, and a specific range of music courses must be taken as a prerequisite to the NEC portion of the degree (four courses plus an ensemble requirement). Students will graduate from Harvard in four years. Students will receive the MM degree from New England Conservatory after successful completion of the fifth year of study.

NEC requires students to complete a jury each year to make sure that they are on track with NEC requirements. At the end of the 4th year, students will have both a jury and a placement exam for the graduate portion of the program.

The program is open to high school students who apply to both institutions separately through each institution's normal admissions process.

Performance applicants to the joint program will be expected to audition at NEC during the Conservatory's regular auditions period (Feb/Mar), and composition applicants to the joint program will be required to submit scores and recordings to NEC, but will not have to audition. In addition, Harvard undergraduates who are between the freshman and junior years may be considered for admission to the program.

For Harvard College admissions, no auditions are required. Applicants may, if they choose, include a performance CD or scores as supplementary material for their Harvard College application. This is not a requirement.

In addition, Harvard undergraduates in their freshman year may be considered for admission to the program.

Further information:

Harvard College
Harvard College Admissions Office
Harvard/NEC application information

New England Conservatory
Office of Admission at New England Conservatory
617-585-1100 or

Outline of Program of Study

Year 1:
Regular Freshman curriculum at Harvard College

Studio instruction (one hour per week) at NEC

Ensemble participation, by advisement, appropriate to the area of music specialization at either institution is encouraged 

Years 2 and 3:

In the sophomore year students will choose a field of concentration in accordance with Harvard's academic requirements. Those students enrolled in the joint program will have three concentration options: (1) full concentration in music, (2) a joint concentration that combines study in music and another discipline, or (3) some other academic concentration. All students in the joint program will be advised by the Head Tutor of the Harvard Music Department as they progress through their undergraduate studies, particularly with regard to ensemble participation and studies in music theory and music history. Students should expect to take, at a minimum, Music 51, Music 150, and Music 97 as part of their AB program of study. These courses are part of joint and full concentration requirements in music but will be taken by students in other fields as electives.

Students may pursue any area of concentration at Harvard, including music

Courses as required at Harvard

Studio instruction at NEC

Ensemble participation, by advisement, appropriate to the area of music specialization at either institution is encouraged.

Immediately prior to the end of the third academic year at Harvard, students' preparedness to continue into the Masters degree part of the joint program will be reviewed and confirmed by a faculty jury at NEC. The result will be communicated to the student prior to the end of Harvard's academic year.

Year 4:

Concluding year of AB degree combined with first year of MM study

Concluding curricular requirements for AB degree at Harvard

Studio instruction at NEC

Ensemble participation, by advisement, appropriate to the area of music specialization at either institution is required.

First year Master of Music promotional evaluation for performance majors (or portfolio reviews for composition majors) at NEC. The promotional evaluation at the end of the first year of MM study consists of an instrumental (or vocal) jury, and, for composition majors, a portfolio review.

NEC MM requirement (all majors): one musicology course -- can be fulfilled at either institution

NEC MM requirement (all majors): one theory course -- can be fulfilled at either institution

NEC MM requirement (all majors): two music elective courses -- can be fulfilled at either institution

Additional requirements for Collaborative Piano, Vocal Pedagogy, and Wind Ensemble Conducting majors that must be fulfilled at NEC

Students must earn a minimum of 8 NEC credits per semester in year one of the MM program: Studio (4 credits per semester), Ensemble (both semesters, no credit) and two courses per semester (2 credits for each course).

Graduate Study

Year 5:
Studio instruction at NEC

Ensemble participation as required for MM to be fulfilled at NEC

Graduation recital (or portfolio review for composition and theory majors)

Graduate level music elective coursework--can be fulfilled at NEC or Harvard

Remaining graduate level course/performance requirements specific to each major as listed in the NEC course catalog

Students must earn in the last year the balance remaining of a total of 36 credits required to earn the MM degree.


(check back often for updates and new information)

  • How many students are accepted to this program?
    5-7 students are accepted each year to this program.
  • Do I need to check a special box on the Harvard application?
    No. Apply to Harvard as if you were an applicant to the regular four-year college program. There is a box to check, however, on the NEC application.
  • If I do get accepted to both institutions can I assume I will be entered in the Joint Program?
    No. A selection committee will review the applications of those students admitted to both Harvard and NEC who have indicated interest in the joint program. This committee will make final decisions; students accepted to the Joint Program will be notified by May 1 at the latest.
  • Do I have to be a music concentrator at Harvard?
    No, you may concentrate in any field at Harvard.
  • How does tuition work?
    The student must pay Harvard tuition for the first 4 years and an additional fee to NEC for the cost of lessons. The fifth year they pay NEC tuition only. The student should apply for financial aid at both schools.
  • May I apply to the NEC/Harvard joint program as a transfer student from another institution?
    No. Unfortunately the admissions schedule doesn't allow for students to transfer directly into the Harvard/NEC program from an outside institution.
  • Do my Advanced Standing credits apply to this program? Could Advanced Standing credits take time off the years needed to complete the joint program?
    In theory it would be possible to enter with Advanced Standing and complete the whole joint program in four years. This would be near impossible to do, however, unless you were a music concentrator at Harvard, so that many of your requirements overlap.
  • I am a Harvard freshman. May I still apply to the joint program?
    The NEC joint program would not change your status as a regular, full-time Harvard student, and to apply to the joint program you don't need to do anything at all on Harvard's side. You will have to complete the undergraduate application and audition for NEC, and let them know that you are a current Harvard freshman interested in transferring into the joint program. It is not possible to apply to the joint program after the freshman year.
  • If I'm in the joint program, can I get Harvard College credit for a course I take at NEC?
    You can receive Harvard College credit for an NEC course only if Harvard does not offer anything similar, and if it is approved by the Harvard faculty in advance.
  • Can I defer my admission?
    NEC does not grant deferrals. Harvard does. If you want to take a gap year and you are interested in the joint program, apply to Harvard, defer, then apply to NEC (and the joint program) during the winter before you plan to enter (e.g. during your gap year).
  • How does early action work?
    You can apply to Harvard early, but you will still have to wait until the NEC regular application deadline to apply to NEC and the joint program. You should plan on attending Harvard whether or not you're accepted into NEC or the joint program; you won't know that piece of information until May.

Composition Prizes and Department Grant Support

There is some support available for Harvard students in the Department of Music. The following grants are given annually, and several apply to undergraduate composers and performers.

Please check with the department for deadlines. All compositions should be presented to the Music Department staff member Eva Kim.

"The Bohemians"
(New York Musicians Club) Prize

By the gift of two thousand dollars from "The Bohemians" (New York Musicians Club) there has been established in the Department of Music a prize in original musical composition. The competition is open to undergraduates or the members of any graduate school of the University. The interest of the bequest will be awarded for an original composition for one or two instruments.

Francis Boott Prize

From the income of the bequest of Francis Boott, of the Class of 1831, a prize of exactly two hundred and fifty dollars has been established for the writer of the best composition in concerted vocal music. The competition is open to undergraduates or to members of any graduate school of the University.

The prize is offerred for the best composition for chorus of not less than three nor more than eight parts, either a capella or with accompaniment for piano, organ, or small instrumental ensemble, requiring not more than ten minutes for performance. The choice of text, which may be either sacred or secular, Latin or English, original or selected, is left to the contestant.

Every effort will be made to arrange a performance of the winning composition before the end of the academic year, provided the composition falls within the scope of the available performing forces.

George Arthur Knight Prize

In 1909 the University received from William H. Knight, of the Class of 1903, a fund for the establishment of a prize in memory of his brother, George Arthur Knight, late of the Class of 1907. On this foundation the George Arthur Knight Prize is offered for the best composition in instrumental music, "preference to be given to compositions for string quartets or trios, though works with piano accompaniment may compete." The competition is open to all members of the University.

Hugh F. MacColl Prize

From the bequest of Hugh F. MacColl of the Class of 1907, this prize was established in 1954, The income from the fund is "to be applied from time to time . . to the awarding of prizes" in an undergraduate competition "for original musical compositions."

John Green Fellowship

This award was established by friends and family of the late John Green '28 in support of excellence in musical composition. It is made annually to an undergraduate OR graduate student composer.

Department Grant Information

John Knowles Paine Traveling Fellowships

Each spring, the Music Department awards John Knowles Paine Fellowships for travel and study. The Fellowships were established in 1912 by Mrs. Paine in memory of her husband and are available to music concentrators in their senior year (for study during the summer following graduation) and graduate students in the Department of Music.

If you are interested in applying, please submit a letter to the Department Chair, detailing your plans of travel or study and proposed budget. If you have any questions, please see the Head Tutor or the Department Administrator.



Visiting the Department

New England Conservatory is around 3.5 miles from Harvard. For information on visiting NEC, click here.

Harvard College Admissions Tours and Information Sessions
(highly recommended)
Cambridge Area Accomodations

Academic Calendar

You are welcome to visit the Music Department anytime during regular office hours, Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm, year-round. Please know that meeting with music department staff in no way impacts your application; these meetings are informational only. Individual academic departments (such as music) are not involved with the Admissions process at Harvard College.

To make an appointment to visit the Harvard University Department of Music

Call 617-495-2791 or write to arrange an appointment with Lesley Bannatyne, Managing Communications Coordinator. Expect your visit to last around 15 minutes.

If you decide to make an application
The Harvard College Office of Admissions and Financial Aid handles the admissions process in its entirety. All questions about the admissions process, as well as all supplementary application materials, should be sent to them:

Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
Harvard College
86 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Harvard College Admissions also tracks all applications and is responsible for all materials and submitted information. If you need to know the status of your application, contact them at 617-495-1551. NOTE: Please do not call the Music Department about the status of your application or the return of your materials. We don't have them.

The best times to visit the department are when classes are in session. However, you can come by at any time to see the building and facilities. The Music Department is open 9-5 Monday through Friday except for holidays.




c 2014 President and Fellows of Harvard College