Main menu

Profile of the College

As an independent private college, The Boston Conservatory continues to grow today as a vibrant community of artists and educators.

Armed with new energy and new ambitions, the Conservatory is in the midst of revitalization from top to bottom, setting the stage for new achievements for the institution and its students.

Our distinctive, multi-disciplinary structure is the key to our success in training working artists and future teachers. A “trade school” in the best sense of the word, our faculty provide rigorous practical training: class time, applied lessons, practice, ensemble rehearsals and performances—all designed to foster professional skills.

Without exception, our faculty members practice what they teach, holding positions with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops orchestras, Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Ballet, Prometheus Dance, and a host of other prominent local and national companies. Dance faculty bring the traditions of Joffrey, Limón, and Taylor to their classes. Many music faculty are distinguished soloists. The reward for our students is, of course, the chance to see their aspirations modeled in the work and careers of their teachers, every day. In this way, our students perfect their individual voices while polishing the craft that underpins their art.

We believe that core values of literacy and citizenship are vital to mature artistry. Our liberal arts courses are custom-crafted to complement the work of our young artists, encouraging analytical thinking and cross-cultural, inter-disciplinary awareness. These studies offer both critical vocabulary and historical perspective to develop a performing artist who is also a well-rounded, articulate, thoughtful citizen. In addition, our curricula offer opportunities for multi-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary work that enhances the artistic literacy of our students. With grounding in the American vernacular in music, theater, and dance, along with the best classical training in each discipline, a unique training environment is created.

We believe that the best and most effective training for gifted young people is accomplished in an intimate setting—a crucible where talent is stretched and molded, and where values are tested and refined. The Conservatory prides itself on remaining small and selective (just over 700 students), and we strive constantly to take advantage of this intentionally intimate learning environment. We nurture a sense of community that binds students, faculty, and staff in positive relationships and affords unusual opportunities for individual attention.

Our students are seen as “whole artists” and individuals, and we offer a number of programs and events designed to enhance their lives both in and out of the classroom—student government, residence hall councils, time-management and career development seminars, cultural diversity celebrations, proactive health and wellness programs, a student ambassador program, mentoring opportunities in the Boston Public Schools, and a student literary magazine are just a few examples. Further, the diversity of our student body is a beacon to aspiring young performers nationally and internationally. Our student body includes young performers from 29 countries abroad, as well as students of every ethnicity from across the United States. 80% of our students require financial aid.

The Music Division

The study of music is central to the Conservatory’s work in all divisions: without music, there can be no program in dance or musical theater.

The “value added” for young musicians at The Boston Conservatory is the meaningful exposure to a full range of music for the stage in addition to their regular studies of concert music— of course they learn Sibelius and Stravinsky, but they also learn Sondheim, Gershwin, and Rodgers & Hammerstein.

The Music Division's program of study offers:

Immersion in core music course work and performance activities that model the real world;

  • A community of young fellow artists eager for exploration and involvement with top music professionals; 
  • A rigorous balance of academic and performance opportunities, mixed with inter-disciplinary collaborations; and 
  • Practical preparation for the professional environment and graduate studies.

The Music Division currently has a total of 350 undergraduate and graduate students taught by 114 full- and part-time faculty. It awards the Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees as well as Graduate Performance Diploma and Artist Diploma. Twenty-five separate curricula are offered within several departments: Piano, Strings, Voice and Opera, Woodwinds, Brass, Harp & Guitar, Percussion/Marimba and Composition. In a typical academic year, Music Division presentations will include:

  • Undergraduate and graduate student recitals 
  • Faculty and guest artist recitals, including The Boston Conservatory Piano Masters Series, The Florestan Recital Project, and The Boston Conservatory Faculty Recital Series 
  • Master Classes (and often related recitals) with distinguished guest artists who have included Yo Yo Ma, Gilbert Kalish, Gunther Schuller, Bernard Greenhouse, Leon Fleisher, Joe Alessi, Jayne West, Jack Van Geem, Anne Azema, and John Harbison 
  • Ensemble concert performances, including: The Boston Conservatory Orchestra and String Orchestra; The Boston Conservatory Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, and Brass Ensemble; The Boston Conservatory Women’s Chorus and Conservatory Chorale; Children’s opera, fully staged opera, and opera scenes; 
  • Fully-staged musical theater; 
  • Fully-staged dance productions 
  • Summer Vocal/Choral Institute and the Eli Epstein Horn Intensive

An innovative new Music Education curriculum was launched in June 2004. Within the Music Division, The Boston Conservatory now offers three fully-accredited graduate programs that train individuals for careers as public school music teachers. In two of these programs, students with significant performance credentials earn initial Massachusetts licensure as a Teacher of Music/Vocal and Instrumental/All Levels. The Master of Music in Music Education (MMED) Program comprises two summers of intensive study, part-time study during the intervening academic year, and a semester-long teaching practicum. The Graduate Diploma in Music Education (GDME) includes all the course work required for the initial licensure without specific academic courses that are integral to a Masters level program. (The GDME Program is of interest to students who already hold a masters degree in music or another field and now wish to earn a teaching license.) In the third program, students with initial licensure who do not hold a masters degree can earn a Master of Music in Music Education by taking a combination of required courses, elective music education courses, and music electives. Students in this program are not required to complete a student teaching practicum.

The 2005 Summer Institute for Music Education marked the first full cycle of this exciting new program. Strong interest and growing enrollment indicate that we are successfully meeting the need for high-quality music education training.

The Dance Division


Our “Best of Boston” Dance Division trains exceptional dancers for professional careers.

Integrated training in ballet, modern, jazz, tap, ethnic styles, Pilates, Alexander Technique, and choreography is taught by our faculty of professional artists. Small class size ensures personal attention. The Dance Division offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. The curriculum is performance-oriented, and the Conservatory is noted for presenting both re-constructions of the classic ballet and modern repertoire and premieres by celebrated and cutting-edge choreographers of today.

The Boston Conservatory’s renowned Summer Dance Institute for students, teachers, and professional dancers ages 16 and over features an internationally-known faculty of professional dancers and musicians. Classes include all levels of ballet and modern, pointe and variations, Pilates and Alexander techniques, choreography and percussive dance. The program also features three special lecture series: Dance Forums taught by Artistic Director Emiko Tokunaga, Dance Dialogues featuring special guest artists, critics and lecturers, and Dance Traditions presented by summer dance faculty members.

The Theater Division


After merging with the National Associated Studios of Music at the start of the 20th century, the Conservatory expanded its offerings to include training in dance and theater.

Today, The Boston Conservatory’s Theater Division is considered one of the best in the country and has developed a distinctive specialization in musical theater. Both the Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Music degrees are offered. Seniors may choose an emphasis in Directing, Music Performance, Dance or Acting.

The theater curriculum includes all components of theater performance training—acting, speech, dance, theater movement, voice, musicianship, directing, stagecraft, and theater academics. Every aspect of theater training focuses on helping students achieve professional readiness including professional grooming and skills for auditions and cold readings, repertoire development, interviewing skills and business skills—including how to manage agents, casting directors, managers, and contracts. Numerous performance opportunities include musicals (both new work and popular pieces), recitals, senior-directed plays and musicals, a senior showcase in New York City, and springtime concerts with the Boston Pops.

Standards for these “triple threat” (acting, singing, dancing) performers are uncommonly demanding but serve as excellent preparation for careers on Broadway, in television and film work, and with national touring companies.


Our success is visible not only in our learning environment, but in the professional accomplishments of our graduates.

Boston Conservatory alumni from the Music Division have performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Berlin Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, Singapore Symphony, Kaohsiung City Symphony Orchestra (Taiwan), Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Lyric Opera of Cleveland, Handel & Haydn Society, Chicago Lyric Opera, ConcertOPERA Philadelphia, and at the Kennedy Center.

Dance Division alumni have joined the companies of Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, Jose Limón, Paul Taylor, Elisa Monte, Buglisi/Foreman, Stephen Petronio, Sean Curran, London’s Richard Alston, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane, Hubbard Street, Anna Sokolow’s Players Project, Pilobolus, and MOMIX. In addition, dance alumni have joined ballet companies including Boston Ballet, Metropolitan Opera, Ballet Hispanico, Atlanta Ballet, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens, Alberta Ballet, Eliot Feld, Oakland, Indianapolis, Dayton, Louisville, Arizona, Baryshnikov’s White Oak, National Ballet of Portugal, and Hamburg Ballet. They have danced in Broadway productions including Cats, Movin’ Out, Chicago, Ragtime, A Chorus Line, The Wiz, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, King and I, and Carousel.

Alumni from the Theater Division have recently been seen on Broadway in Les Misérables, 42 nd Street, Mamma Mia, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Phantom of the Opera, Never Gonna Dance, The Sweet Smell of Success, and Gypsy. They have toured the U.S. in Jesus Christ Superstar, Contact, Beauty and the Beast, The Producers, Saturday Night Fever, Urinetown, South Pacific, Hairspray, Grease, Ragtime, and Miss Saigon. Alumni have performed at Tokyo Disney, the Globe Theater in London, aboard Carnival Cruise Lines, in national commercials, on television’s “Law and Order,” “Judging Amy,” “Queens Supreme,” “Guiding Light,” and “The Young and the Restless,” and in feature films such as Undercover Brother, Idle Hands, Alive, When Harry Met Sally, and Malibu’s Most Wanted. Still others are producers, directors, and creators of Broadway, touring, and television productions such as Forbidden Broadway and MADTV.

Alumni from all Divisions also serve as educators in their fields of expertise at The Boston Conservatory, as well as New England Conservatory, Boston College, Boston University, Emerson College, Berklee College of Music, Mary Washington College (VA), Regis College, Barnard College (Columbia University), NYU, Brookline Music School, University of Costa Rica Music School, Ballet Academy East (NYC), Lincoln Center Institute, and overseas in Portugal, Korea, Greece, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Pro Arts Consortium and The Boston Arts Academy

The Boston Conservatory is a founding member of the Pro Arts Consortium, an association of six colleges that includes Berklee College of Music, the Boston Architectural Center, Emerson College, Massachusetts College of Art, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts.

Students of Pro Arts Consortium colleges may cross-register for a variety of classes at these schools, greatly extending and enhancing the range of learning opportunities available to them.

In 1998, after 14 years of planning and lobbying, the Pro Arts Consortium helped to found the Boston Arts Academy (BAA), the City of Boston’s first pilot high school for the visual and performing arts. The Boston Arts Academy acts as a laboratory for developing “best practices” in urban arts education, and has won numerous awards for its innovative programs. Richard Ortner, President of The Boston Conservatory, serves on the BAA’s Board of Governors.

BAA students may qualify for dual enrollment in college-level classes at the Conservatory. Our faculty, staff, and students contribute more than 20 hours of weekly private instruction and tutorials and offer weekly collaborations with the string pedagogy and musical theater programs. In addition, the Conservatory provides eight scholarships for BAA students to attend our nationally prominent Summer Dance and Voice & Choral Institutes and maintains a full-time faculty liaison with the BAA to contribute further to curriculum development and classroom instruction.

Community Profile

In addition to our commitment to public education through our BAA involvement and our Music Education teaching-training program, the Conservatory and its students actively contribute to the life of the city in a host of other ways, large and small, including:

Conservatory Connections, a free performance series which offers more than 40 concerts annually. Sites have included the Susan Bailis Assisted Living Center, Rogerson House, Children’s Hospital, Boston Living Center, Boston Public Library, Jewish Memorial Hospital in Roxbury, Morville House, Rosie’s Place, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, and Center Communities of Brookline.

Students also participate in cultural events such as Arts/Boston’s Chalk One Up for the Arts, The Fenway Alliance’s Open Our Doors Day, and the Governor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony at the State House.

GentleMUSES is a unique partnership between The Boston Conservatory and the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The goal is to create a peaceful environment for healing with live harp music. The GentleMUSES (including Boston Conservatory faculty, students and alumni) provide musical programs specifically designed for both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Our popular Children’s Opera Program presents two free productions annually. These well-attended programs provide Boston families with the unique opportunity to introduce opera (normally an adults-only art form) to school-age children.

In addition, our students provide countless hours of volunteer service and donations annually to the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay and The Greater Boston Food Bank.

Organizational Structure and Constituents

Our 26-member Board of Trustees, which meets four times a year, is charged with preserving the integrity of the Conservatory’s mission, setting policy for and overseeing the leadership of the institution, and supporting and promoting the college. Trustees-led committees on Academic Affairs, Audit, Budget & Finance, Development, Facilities, Gala, and Trusteeship meet on a regular basis throughout the year.

A voluntary 36-member Board of Overseers strengthens our ties to the community. Members serve as ambassadors and advocates for the college, and ensure the broadest possible diversity and community representation. Overseers are “on call” advisors to the President and administration, and regularly serve on trustee-led committees.

The Alumni and Parent Associations enhance communication between the college and the families of current and past students and provide valued support for the institution.

Back to top