Yale Double Majors

Hi, I am looking into schools with strong academic rapport and also good music program. However, I know that to do both at a school like Yale sounds incredibly difficult. For Yale specifically, is it possible to be a politics major and also study classical music (voice performance)? How in-depth is the music major? Or can you minor in music? Any info would be very appreciated!

@Daisy789 - There are no “minors” at Yale, but it is common for students to have two majors. Beginning last year, prospective students were permitted to apply for both the School of Music and Yale College, so that’s another option. Visit the Department of Music website. You will see just how many opportunities there are for students to study and perform classical music. For voice students, in particular, there are undergraduate opera groups - Baroque and Classical - in addition to all the a cappella groups, and the Glee Club which regularly tours Europe and other foreign countries. Best of luck!

Yale is a completely wonderful place to be a student with a strong interest in music, including (especially including) vocal performance, who expects to study other academic fields as well. One thing the OP may want to note, however, is that there is no “vocal performance” major available at Yale College. There’s an academic Music major, towards which a limited number of performance classes can be applied for credit, but that’s a pretty far cry from what a vocal performance major would look like at a college that offered it. And, unfortunately, voice students are excluded from the dual-enrollment BA/MM program between the college and the School of Music.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that undergraduates can’t take high-quality voice classes. They can, and do. But they can’t get a bachelors or masters degree in voice.

@JHS - Thank you for correcting my mis-statement above. I just checked the Music Department’s website and it does explicitly state that “the B.A./M.M. program is not open to vocalists, composers, or conductors.” It is only open to instrumentalists, which I didn’t know. Many of my friends who are singers, conductors and composers are music majors and have many extraordinary opportunities to study and perform at Yale. Their training is rigorous enough to prepare them for conservatories after they complete their undergrad degrees.

@zoebrittany @JHS thank you!! But if one were to only apply to the college, do you think there would still be good opportunities to attend performance classes/seminars offered by the music school? Say for example, if choosing to only to apply to the college, would there still be a good chance of attaining the same access and attention in the opera group? Or is priority given to music students (which I would assume)?

@zoebrittany for your friends who are singers, did they play additional instruments as a member of the music school? Or just voice students, but who were not able to enroll in the college also.

The Yale School of Music is a graduate school almost exclusively (and exclusively for voice students). The voice students at the music school are not involved at all in the undergraduate opera programs; they have their own (very small) opera program, in which undergraduates do not participate (some may get to sing in the chorus in productions; I don’t know for sure).

Currently, there are two separate undergraduate opera organizations. Opera Theatre of Yale College is purely an extracurricular activity, and is entirely student-run and student-staffed. It’s part of an extensive network of undergraduate theater clubs, which is traditionally one of the most exciting aspects of Yale undergraduate life, and from which all sorts of successful actors, directors, and designers have emerged. The Yale Baroque Opera Project is actually a credit-bearing undergraduate class chosen by audition and taught in part by Music School faculty that culminates in a full production of a baroque opera.

The opera groups are only a sliver of the many, many extracurricular clubs that bring undergraduates together to sing at Yale. Some are more than a century old, others get formed and break up in the space of a few years. Their repertoires range from great classical choral works to a cappella pop to slavic vocal traditions. Probably somewhere around 15-20% of undergraduates sing in one or another club.

@Daisy789 - Again, it is very common for students to double-major at Yale, but “the B.A./M.M. program is not open to vocalists, composers, or conductors.” It is only open to instrumentalists, so you can only apply to the College and therefore will not have access to graduate classes or performance opportunities. However, there are many, many, opportunities for undergrad voice students to study and perform vocal music.

The usual thing for a student with a strong background in the arts is to include a supplemental video or art portfolio along with their application. These supplemental materials aren’t seen by the admissions staff, but sent to faculty in the relevant arts departments to evaluate. Once you are admitted to the College you can audition separately for vocal teachers and groups after you arrive on campus. (Prior to this year, when the new BA/BM degree became an option for very advanced music students, some students accepted to the College were invited to audition for spots in SOM faculty studios. But I don’t know if this is still the case).

Some of my friends play instruments in the YSO and perform with the Glee Club. Most just sing. I’m an instrumentalist and have performed with the Baroque opera group. @JHS is correct that students can take the class for credit, but other students, like me, just rehearse and perform with the group. All the vocal groups are wonderful! I have friends who double major in music and a variety of unrelated fields, including engineering, linguistics, EPE, etc., and perform with vocal groups on campus. It is a very typical thing for students to do. Happy Bach’s Birthday! Best of luck!

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Thanks! If one were to submit videos of performing along with the college application, and the materials get sent to music faculty, does this have any influence on the admission decision (since the admissions committee does not review it themselves)?

The faculty reviewing the artistic supplement video/audio give it a rating compared to other students and send that rating back to admissions. A poor rating for an otherwise strongly admissible candidate will not turn a yes into a no, nor will a high rating turn a no into a yes. However, a high rating could tip a maybe into a yes.

Thank you! @JaneyM

zoebrittany, Thank you so much for your insightful information. My son is currently a junior and considering biochemistry and piano majors in college. He is very interested in the Yale B.A./M.M. program, but we are intimidated by the competition as for a high school senior regarding the audition - do the high school applicants have to compete with “the top of cream” professional level undergraduate musicians? Is the criteria the same for both types of applicants? Will it be “less” competitive for him only to apply for Yale undergraduate Department of Music and study biochemistry at the same time?
P.S. My son has been studied piano for 10 years, won various regional and international awards. Love music, but not sure about future music career yet.
Highly appreciate your advice. Mom of pianist - Wenjie

Closing old thread.