Dual Degree

I’m a senior in high school. I want to dual degree computer science and music, but nearly all of the programs I’m finding are like Harvard/NEC, Columbia/Juilliard, Oberlin, or Bard, where it’s freakishly hard to get accepted to the music program. Computer science is my priority, but I can’t imagine doing less music (for about all of high school I’ve been doing half and half). I’m struggling to find more target music schools that allow dual degree.

(Also, location isn’t super important, but I would prefer in the northeast and in a city.)

Does anyone know of some I should look more into? I really need more match schools.

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First, have you read the Double Degree Dilemma posted closer to the top of this forum? It might be helpful.

What kind of involvement in music do you want? Mainly lessons and performance, or do also want theory, music history, and music technology etc?

Computer science and music are both intensive and sequential curricula so double major would be tough. I think you are wise to either do double degree, OR major in computer science at a school where there are lessons and performance up to your level, as extracurriculars (and many schools will give credit for lessons and certain performances).

If you are applying for a BA or BS program, be aware that submitting a music supplement with recording, music resume, and letters of recommendation from music teachers or directors can sometimes help your application.

There are many schools with double degree programs for music. If you are sure you want both BS and BM, rather than the extracurricular route:

Harvard/NEC (MM), Tufts/NEC (BM), Bard (conservatory requires double degree), Oberlin (look at their Music Studies program as well), Ithaca, Hartt / U. of Hartford, Bienen /Northwestern, Carnegie Mellon, Michigan, many state universities (check out SUNYs), Mason Gross/Rutgers, Eastman/Rochester (selective music), Johns Hopkins/Peabody (probably not as geared to double degree but possible) and many others.

Some music schools are more supportive of double degrees than others, but I am mentioning a few so you can investigate. Honestly there are a lot more…

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Also, you could major in computer science at a school you really like and that has a good conservatory or music program and then minor or double major in music without a double degree. In some of those schools you can still be in ensembles and study with conservatory faculty. You might have to audition for the various ensembles and faculty studios (but you would get in on some level), but not to get into the music major or minor. What is your instrument by the way? Bard isn’t in the city but it’s a train ride away.

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At some schools with a BM program, the best teachers and performance opportunities go to the BM students. So if you are doing CS, in some cases, it is better to avoid schools with BM programs (there are exceptions, like Oberlin- again, check out their Musical Studies).

You really need to research and also talk to the folks at the school.

Bard requires a double degree for conservatory students.

You can major in CS at a school that has excellent extracurricular music with lessons and performance, often for credit. That is an option.

A double major in CS and music, even a BA, is tough. It helps to be at a school that doesn’t have a lot of distribution requirements

Your other option is double degree with that extra year of course.

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I agree with everything said so far. However, I might take a stab to say maybe you’re getting hung up on the specific degree?!?

Having taught for 25+ years at a major University music school, I can say without a doubt that some of our BA students (meaning they Majored in something other than Music, but took lessons and some music courses to fulfill the BA requirements) were sometimes more talented than the music majors. You see, the decree name itself does NOT indicate passion, talent, career path, etc. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the need to identify the best school, degree, type (dual?, minor?) at this juncture, as if that’s the most important thing. YOUR HAPPINESS is the most important thing.

What you do once you get going in a school or path is what’s important! Many schools are now open to customized degrees, for example. Maybe you’ll find that CS isn’t for you, or that you’d like to prioritize music above CS, whatever. See how easy it is to completely upend this question then? Without being condescending, you’re still at an age where you may not know exactly what you want- it’s a mystery to many of us, regardless of age!!

So I’d advise you to start with what you know NOW to be true: CS major/music minor. Unless there’s a special reason to do so, I don’t see any advantages for doing a double major. Besides, music major is so much more time consuming than some other majors where maybe a cram session before a final exam can still ace the test! You can’t cram music practice- it will consume regular amounts (10-12 hours/minimum a week) of practice time BEYOND classes, homework, papers, ensembles, projects, lab. It will be like doing 3 majors!

Once you’re accepted into the school of your choice for CS, (it goes without saying that you made sure this particular school has a music program), they may/may not require an audition. Without knowing your level of talent on your instrument, I can’t say more than that the school will place you in a studio. You can have a say in this part by proactively contacting the teacher of choice before placements are made (like even before school starts, or as soon as you’re accepted).

Move along like this for a semester or two and see how you feel. There are a LOT of options for tweaking a little (or a LOT) based on your experience.

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Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH




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@ApplicationCoach , there is a difference between double major and double degree. It is very hard to do a double major of CS and music, due to scheduling issues alone. Both are intensive, sequential paths. So if a student wants to do both, either a double degree or music “on the side” would be options.

I agree that talented students can progress, especially composers, while majoring in something else, but it is a more difficult path in many ways.

Finally, it seems that you are advertising a service, and I wonder if you got permission to do that.

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Pursuing a dual degree is easier in some settings than in others. Have you considered the University of Michigan (strong CS and music) or UCLA? Where you are on the same campus within the same institution it will be easier (e.g. University of Michigan, Oberlin as opposed to NEC/Harvard or Peabody/Johns Hopkins). There are many many dual degree students at Michigan, Oberlin, Eastman/Rochester, for example.

What is your instrument/musical interest? That might help with suggestions.

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