Liberal Arts and Sciences Requirements

At Berklee College of Music, we foster students' creativity and artistry by educating the whole person. Berklee's liberal arts and sciences program focuses on the interdisciplinary learning that artists and musicians need to succeed in today's world, especially on writing and communication, and entrepreneurial, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. Liberal arts courses provide a cultural context for the music being studied; relate the world of music to other arts, politics, literature, and science; encourage in students an appreciation for diversity; and prepare students to make the complex ethical choices they will face throughout their lives. Berklee's Liberal Arts and Sciences Department is designed to empower students with broad knowledge and transferable skills, and a strong sense of values, ethics, and civic engagement. The partnership of Liberal Arts and music in the Berklee curriculum means that graduates are accomplished musicians who also excel as collaborators, communicators, and problem solvers. Berklee College of Music belongs to the American Association of Colleges and Universities, an international organization in support of liberal education in institutions of higher education. Berklee is also a member of the Consortium for the Liberal Education of Artists.

What Are the Liberal Arts and Sciences?

At Berklee, liberal arts includes the study of humanities such as literature, creative writing, poetry, philosophy, languages, communication, art history, history, music history, visual culture, drama, women's studies, and Latino studies; natural sciences such as biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science, and mathematics; social sciences such as psychology, economics, sociology, history, anthropology, and political science; and more. 

Africana Studies and the Liberal Arts

Africana studies programs have existed at liberal arts colleges and universities since a five-month strike resulted in the creation of the first Black studies program at San Francisco State University in 1968. Africana studies focuses on the history, culture, philosophies, and peoples of Africa and the African diaspora. In summer 2022, in recognition of the importance of the African diaspora to music studies and culture, Berklee created the Africana Studies Department separate from the other liberal arts. In honoring Africana studies’ place in liberal arts and its importance to the Berklee curriculum, students will be able to use Africana Studies Department courses to fulfill liberal arts and sciences requirements. 

Entrance Requirements

All Berklee degree students

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the liberal arts program at Berklee, students will:

  • synthesize knowledge from a variety of disciplines;
  • evaluate major artistic, literary, cultural, and historic themes and trends;
  • relate music to other arts and to society;
  • assess aesthetic principles and concepts;
  • analyze major issues in liberal arts;
  • understand key terminology in liberal arts;
  • compose written and oral communications;
  • apply critical thinking and practical reasoning skills;
  • apply problem solving skills; and
  • apply information literacy skills including incorporation of primary and secondary sources in original documents.
Curriculum and Courses

40 total liberal arts and sciences credits are required of degree students. Please see your specific major grid for additional information and other major-specific LAS requirements. 

Foundational Courses (take all courses)

Africana Studies/Liberal Arts and Sciences Subject Area Courses (choose one course in each category)

  • Natural Science/Math: Any course with prefix LMSC except LMSC-130 (3 credits)
  • Social Science: Any course with prefix LSOC (3 credits)
  • Visual Studies: One course; any course with prefix LVIS (3 credits)
  • History Any course with prefix LHIS or AFST-301 Women in Africa and African Diasporic Cultures (3 credits)
  • Music and Society Any course with prefix LMAS or AFST-302 Black Liberation Music, AFST-303 Hip-Hop Roots and Routes, AFST-304 The Sugar Road: A Sweet and Sour History of the African Diaspora, and AFST-305 African Diasporic Music, History, and Culture: Diasporic Connections and Considerations (3 credits)

Music History (take one course in each category)

  • Music History Series:        
    • Western European Classical Music: MHIS-201 History of Music in the European Tradition: Topics, MHIS-202 History of Music in the European Tradition: Iconic Works, or MHIS-203 History of Music in the European Tradition: Chronology (2 credits)
    • African American Music History and Culture: MHIS-221 Music of the African Diaspora in the United States: Topics (2 credits; required for catalog years prior to fall 2023) or AFST-221 Global Afrodiasporic Musics (3 credits; required for catalog years starting fall 2023)
    • Music History Elective: Choose any 300-level MHIS course: MHIS-3XX (2 credits)

Africana Studies/Liberal Arts and Sciences Electives (choose two courses)

  • Choose two courses (6 credits) from any of the above 3-credit liberal arts and sciences categories or any Africana studies courses. Additional options for electives include LFRN (French), LJPN (Japanese), LHUM (humanities), LPHL (philosophy), and LSPN (Spanish). Liberal arts and sciences elective courses must be 3 credits, and the course code must have a prefix from the above list or AFST.