Tufts/NEC Combined Degree
Tufts University-New England Conservatory Five Year Degree Program
The Tufts/NEC combined-degree program gives you the opportunity to get a solid foundation both in
music and in the liberal arts without having to sacrifice one for the other. It is a good choice for
those who, at the time of applying to colleges, are undecided as to whether they should pursue solely
some form of music study or enter a different field. By the end of the five years, students who have
successfully fulfilled all the requirements for the program will have both a B.A. or B.S. degree and
a B.M. degree which will allow them to select from a broad range of post-graduate opportunities.
Being enrolled in the Tufts/NEC five-year program will allow you to experience two very
different educational environments: the university environment at Tufts and the smaller
conservatory environment at NEC. Even though you may major in, for example, trumpet at NEC and
psychology at Tufts, you will most likely find that the classes that you take at the two
schools will complement each other in unexpected and gratifying ways.
Although the combined-degree program offers many wonderful educational opportunities, it brings
with it a number of challenges as well. That is only to be expected, since the task set before the
students in the program is to earn two complete degrees at two different institutions in five years.
The purpose of mentioning some of these challenges is to help you get as prepared as possible in
case you decide to undertake the combined-degree journey.
One thing to be aware of is that someone who enrolls in the five-year program can expect to
spend around five hours per week commuting by bus between the two schools. Another is that fulfilling
the requirements for two degrees in five years means taking a heavier course load than most other students
do. This in turn means that there is less time available for extracurricular activities, internships, etc.
Since Tufts and NEC operate on different schedules, a holiday at one school is sometimes a school day
at the other. This difference also means that it is difficult for combined-degree students to have a
full-length spring break.
Registering for the classes you wish to take is also complicated by the fact that you need to fit both
Tufts and NEC courses into your schedule, as well as make an allowance for the time it takes to commute
between the two schools. Fortunately, however, combined-degree students are given top priority during
registration at Tufts, which somewhat alleviates this problem. Still, certain majors at Tufts may
require extra effort in order to be accommodated within the combined-degree schedule.
Many students choose to spend a semester or two abroad while at Tufts. This opportunity is open to
combined-degree students after three years. Those who take advantage of it usually find that going away
for one semester rather than a whole year is the best choice, since it is otherwise difficult to finish
all the requirements at NEC on time. Tufts offers programs in London, Oxford, Paris, Madrid, Tubingen,
Ghana, Chile, Japan, China, and Hong Kong. In addition, many programs arranged by other institutions are
available through the Programs Abroad Office
A combined-degree student, as we have seen above, has to deal with specific challenges. However, there
are also many small rewards to be reaped along the way and a worth-while prize at the end of the road,
which is why students continue to enroll in the program. For those who are prepared to go the extra mile,
it offers a most stimulating and enriching path to take.
Text written by Thomas Fowler, BA in Classics at Tufts, BM in Guitar Performance at the NEC.
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