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Berklee Launching Online Music Degrees in September

The first semester of a completely online bachelor's degree program in music will kick off in September, when Berklee College of Music expands Berklee Online. The new program will offer two degrees, one in the music business and the other in music production. The Boston-based school has been offering online classes since 2002, including free, non-credit bearing courses through Coursera and edX. Among the students who have taken online classes through Berklee are members of bands including Nine Inch Nails, Dave Matthews Band, Karmin and Sugarland, as well as studio producers and other industry executives.

According to Mike King, assistant vice president for marketing and recruitment in the online program, the decision to open the degrees was "really based on demand" and a goal of providing Berklee credentials "to students who cannot come to Boston to study."

Tuition in the new program is 60 percent lower than tuition in the physical college. The online degree tuition is $57,960 for 120 credits or about $14,490 per year. Tuition for the face-to-face degree program is $37,800 per school year. Admission will be limited to 300 students, a goal it is on track to reach, the college reported, for its fall 2014 and spring 2015 semesters.

The music production degree will have required courses such as music production analysis and mixing and mastering with Pro Tools and electives such as advanced audio ear training for mix engineers and audio post production for film and TV.

Music business develops expertise in music publishing, licensing, management, touring, marketing and legal aspects. Required courses include music business 101 and music industry entrepreneurship; electives cover copyright law and "online music marketing.

The degree programs also have general education requirements in writing, history, social sciences and math and sciences. But even there the focus is on music. For example, the history requirement can be fulfilled by taking history of rock, and math classes include math for musicians and sampling and audio production.

Both programs will accept up to 60 credits earned from another accredited institution or from the college's certificate programs or individual courses.

King said that although the college's production courses "cover pretty much every major [digital audio workstation] out there, from Pro Tools to Ableton Live to Cubase, Logic [Pro] and many more," the degrees will be "more focused on teaching the Berklee approach to music production using a particular tool, as opposed to simply teaching folks how to use the tool."

The greater value, he added, is the caliber of the teaching faculty. "We have some of the best music producers around teaching our courses, so what we offer is access and direct feedback to their approaches and techniques, in addition to expert guidance on the tool itself."

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