The mission of Berklee College of Music is to educate, train, and develop students to excel in music as a career. Berklee was founded on two revolutionary ideas: that musicianship could be taught through the music of the time; and that our students need practical, professional skills for successful, sustainable music careers. For over half a century, we've demonstrated our commitment to this approach by wholeheartedly embracing change. We update our curriculum and technology to make them more relevant, and attract diverse students who reflect the multiplicity of influences in today's music. And we are developing new initiatives to reach and influence an ever-widening audience.
Berklee Online, the online extension school of Berklee College of Music, was founded in 2002 to extend the mission of the college to students who could not otherwise attend the campus-based programs. Berklee Online has an over twelve-year track record of providing high-quality learning experiences to students through online instructor-led courses and certificate programs, receiving UPCEAs distinguished College Course for Credit award eight years in a row, along with one of its instructors winning the Excellence in Teaching award in 2013 and 2014. From the beginning, feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive, but two themes have emerged again and again: (1) students want low-cost options for accessing Berklee's curriculum, and (2) students want online degree programs.
Berklee College of Music, through Berklee Online, has increased the affordability of, and access to, its high-quality music curriculum, becoming the first nonprofit music institution of higher learning to launch massive open online courses (MOOCs) with Coursera and edX; launch online, accredited bachelor degree programs in music business and music production at 62 percent less than the main campus tuition; and partner with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) to offer a one-of-a-kind, affordable MBA in music business.
Berklee Online, the online extension school of Berklee College of Music, was founded in 2002 to extend the college's mission to students who could not otherwise attend the campus-based programs. Berklee Online has provided high-quality learning experiences to students through online instructor-led courses and certificate programs for over twelve yeas, receiving UPCE's distinguished College Course for Credit award eight years in a row. Furthermore, one of its instructors won the Excellence in Teaching award in both 2013 and 2014. From the beginning, feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive, but two themes have emerged again and again: (1) students want low-cost options for accessing Berklee's curriculum, and (2) students want online degree programs.
To address the first request, Berklee Online created a companion website, Berklee Shares (http://www.berkleeshares.com), which provides free course lesson content, along with book chapters published through the college's publishing arm, Berklee Press. To more fully understand the demand for degree programs, Berklee Online looked to Eduventures and later the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University to provide key research and analysis of our student population. The endgoal was understanding where the demand for degree programs existed. Based on the experience and insight gained from these initiatives, Berklee Online set a series of targeted goals to meet student needs with regard to affordability and access which, at the same time, supported the college's mission:
1. Expand availability of free, high-quality learning content
2. Offer bachelor-level online degree programs
3. Gain experience with graduate-level online offerings
The following content explains how Berklee Online met each goal, along with outcomes that serve as supporting evidence.
Goal 1: Expand availability of free, high-quality learning content
Solution: Partner with Coursera and edX to offer MOOCs.
Over time it became clear that the Berklee Shares website was not the only vehicle through which to provide free learning materials. While continuing to maintain the site, Berklee Online launched a YouTube channel featuring video content from its courses, in addition to interviews with faculty, students, and other music industry professionals. It is now the fifth-most viewed education channel, having received over 17 million views.
The launch of MOOCs presented a natural extension for Berklee Online's free content strategy. The MOOC platforms presented a way for thousands of learners to form a community around a course experience delivered largely through video lectures. In September 2012, the college became the first music institution of higher learning to partner with Coursera. In the spring of 2013, Berklee Online launched four MOOCs through Coursera: (1) Introduction to Guitar, (2) Songwriting, (3) Introduction to Music Production, and (4) Jazz Improvisation (https://www.coursera.org/berklee).
In May 2013, Berklee became the first music institution of higher learning to partner with edX (https://www.edx.org/school/berkleex). In addition to providing free content to edX students, the partnership provided a wonderful opportunity to experience an open-sourced learning platform consistently improving through contributions from Google, Stanford, and other partners. The first course on edX, an Introduction to Music Business began January 27, 2014.
Goal 2: Offer bachelor-level online degree programs
Solution: Launch Bachelor of Professional Studies Degree in Music Business and Music Production
Based on resounding results from both Eduventures and the Kellogg School of Management studies, Berklee Online embarked on a two-year process to begin offering bachelor degree programs fully online. The research pointed to two areas of focus: music business and music production. It was clear that these two majors would serve students who aspired to have a career in the music industry, who may already have a successful career in the industry but have not yet earned their bachelor's degree. They also serve students who may have begun their studies at Berklee, but left to pursue a gig or opportunity of a lifetime, and now wish to finish their degree.
While Berklee Online had been a relatively autonomous unit of the college, the degree program has required collaboration with almost every department on campus
Goal 3: Gain Experience with Graduate-Level Offerings
Solution: Partner with SNHU to Offer a One-of-a-Kind, Affordable MBA in Music Business
The research we have conducted also indicates that students are interested in graduate-level courses. While we are several years away from offering graduate programs online, it made sense to partner with another university who has considerable experience in the space and who has a track record for affordable, practical, student-centered programs: ÂSNHU.
SNHU offers an MBA program with a number of different career-focused concentrations. Berklee Online teamed up with SNHU to create a music business concentration designed to prepare students for leadership positions in the music industry. The following video provides an overview of the program: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVil5e764OQ
The courses have now completed their 8th run and have, combined, enrolled close to 1.4 million students. The courses have been very well received by students, with a clear majority rating the video lectures, the real-world applicability of the content, and the depth of the content as either 'excellent' or 'very good'.
Berklee Online's curriculum plan for MOOCs is key to the sustainability of the project. The faculty who develop MOOCs are experienced course authors and teachers with Berklee Online, which means they are comfortable in front of the camera and with what is expected of them, which in turn helps ensure an efficient development process and keeps costs down. In addition, the subject areas of the MOOCs represent popular subject areas in Berklee Online's catalog, but do not duplicate any of its courses. Instead, they provide an introduction to a topic that can be more fully explored through Berklee Online courses. For instance, a student who completed Coursera's Jazz Improvisation by Grammy award winner Gary Burton can then study directly with Gary in a small cohort through his Berklee Online course. Because of the natural pathway for students, we have been able to recoup our production costs for MOOCs through Coursera and edX students enrolling in Berklee Online courses. At the same time, we are imparting quality learning experiences to thousands of students who would otherwise not have an opportunity to study on the Boston campus.
Online Bachelor's Degree
The tuition for the program is $58,000, or $5,800 for 10 semesters of full-time study (four courses per 12-week semester). The tuition represents 38 percent of the tuition for the campus-based program and provides a more affordable option for students who cannot study at, or access, the Boston facilities.
Berklee Online launched the application for the degree program on October 7, 2013. The first cohort began in September 2014, with a second cohort in January 2015. To meet its costs, Berklee Online needed to enrol 150 qualified students total over the two cohorts. In total, 258 students matriculated.
One of the admissions requirements is for students to submit a written essay or video presentation describing their background, their goals for the degree program, their career aspirations, and how the degree program will help them achieve their career aspirations. The following video presentation is representative of the kinds of top-notch talent we are seeing in the applicant pool.
Carla Hassan Application Video (all audio examples throughout include Carla's singing voice): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lTBbfNFdaI&feature=youtu.be
We are hearing from many applicants that they believe that the online program will provide them the flexibility they need to both earn their bachelor's degree and continue to pursue their career and dreams in the music industry.
3. Online Music Business MBA
The concentration includes four music business courses. Working with Berklee's dean of graduate studies, Berklee Online developed graduate-level versions of courses currently offered at the undergraduate level, in addition to providing training to faculty on teaching graduate-level courses effectively. Launched in July 2013, the program had an entering cohort of 20 students, with a total of 150 students through the end of the first academic year. Similar to Berklee Online's efforts to develop MOOCs and bachelor's degree programs, the partnership with SNHU provides students with high-quality, affordable learning experiences to help them succeed in the music industry.
[Impact is included in the section above]
Berklee Online will continue to diversity its portfolio of offerings to expand the reach of the college and provide music education opportunities to a global base of aspiring musicians. This fall marked the launch of three new online degree majors, a series of Spanish language MOOCs for underserved populations, and discussions with our partners at SNHU about collaborating on new programs together.