Jakub Madej

Starting this admissions cycle, high school seniors applying to Yale College will be able to simultaneously apply for a joint degree with the Yale School of Music.

The five-year joint Bachelor of Arts/Master of Music program has existed for many years, but until this year only Yale College juniors could apply. As part of the new system, the admissions processes at Yale College and the YSM will be kept separate and students will have to be admitted into both institutions simultaneously in order to take part in the program beginning in their first year. Interested students will have to submit two applications and come to campus for a live audition sometime in February, according to the program’s webpage. Only instrumentalists are allowed to pursue the degree. And juniors will still have the opportunity to apply for a slot in the program moving forward.

“We obviously attract students who have a strong interest in these areas and have wonderful track records and talents that might make them conservatory-ready, but [who want both] a well-rounded liberal arts education and an incredibly strong arts education,” said Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan. “It’s an opportunity to give the top musicians in the country just a little bit more of an idea of what their Yale experience will look like when they are trying to make decisions between us and some of our peer institutions.”

Melvin Chen, deputy dean of the School of Music, said one of the primary reasons for the new joint degree policy was the YSM’s desire to be more competitive among similar dual degree programs, such as those at Columbia University and the Juilliard School, as well as Harvard University and the New England Conservatory of Music.

“There are really great musicians who are also very intellectual, great students going to these other programs and our goal is to bring some of them to Yale,” Chen said. “We were missing out on a lot of [them] because, for a very talented musician, who their teacher is is very important.”

Under the current system, Chen said, undergraduates who hope to practice their instrumental skills have to study with graduate students at the music school. By contrast, if students are admitted to the new joint program as first years, they will be able to study with one of the music school professors as soon as they set foot on campus.

Chen said that another reason for the addition is the music school’s desire to become more integrated into the broader University community. The school has already taken steps in that direction, he said, by constructing the Adams Center for Musical Arts, which opened in January in the heart of campus and is shared by the music school and Yale College.

“Having a few more students who are both School of Music students and Yale College students, I think, [will] reinforce that integration,” he said.

According to Director of Undergraduate Admissions Margit Dahl, one advantage of Yale’s dual-degree music program over others is that entering the program will not cost students anything extra while they are enrolled in Yale College, since music school is tuition free. Similar joint programs at other schools, Dahl said, impose significant additional costs on students.

Chen emphasized that the program is likely to be very small, with only one or two students admitted each year.

Dahl said she does not expect the program to be small because not many students will apply.

“It will interest students who are both truly superb instrumentalists and know as early as their senior year of high school that they want to get a Master of Music degree,” she said. “That is not a common occurrence.”

If students are admitted into Yale College but not YSM, Quinlan said, they will still be allowed to reapply to the five-year program during their junior year. They also will have an opportunity to play in the Yale Symphony Orchestra, as well as other orchestras on campus, and take music lessons for credit, he said.

“If they’re able to come to Yale College, I don’t think that prevents them from later going on and studying at the School of Music and having a very good musical education,” Chen said.

This year’s deadline to apply to the School of Music is December 1.

Anastasiia Posnova | anastasiia.posnova@yale.edu