Orchestra concert 4/25/21

Adam Bodony, director of Purdue's Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras prepares to cue a downbeat.

Purdue’s Board of Trustees recently approved the implementation of a music degree, the first in the school’s history, that can pair with majors in the College of Liberal Arts and STEM majors.

Prior to this, music-minded Purdue students could earn concentrations in music technology and general music study. The new pathway will allow for students to receive a bachelor’s degree in music.

Arne Flaten, head of the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Design, Art and Performance, said specifics about what can be offered and who will be teaching must be finalized before the degree pathway can be officially launched.

“Students will choose a concentration in general music studies or music technology,” Flaten said.

Before the degree can be offered, it must also first be approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, Flaten said.

Purdue is the only Big Ten university that doesn’t offer an undergraduate or graduate program for music.

By the program’s fourth year, it’s estimated that 100 students will be pursuing the degree, according to board of trustee’s documents. If Purdue’s enrollment projection is correct, two new faculty members will be needed within five years of the program’s inception, according to documents from the board’s website.

Letters of support and approval for the program were sent to Purdue from other state universities, including the director of the School of Music at Purdue University Fort Wayne and the dean of the College of Fine Arts at Ball State University.

The music degree was originally created to pair with the Degree-plus program and offer a path for students who want to study music at Purdue. The Degree-plus program is offered to students pursuing a degree in the College of Liberal Arts and an accompanying academic discipline.

“There are many professions where having training in two disciplines is highly desired, which include, radio, television, film, audio production and design, social media and advertising,” Flaten said. “Those in STEM areas may find a second degree in music advantageous, if they plan careers in software development, acoustic architecture and design, building construction and animation.”

Various local businesses and art organizations have already agreed to partnerships with Purdue to provide students with internship opportunities. Some include the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra, the Tippecanoe Arts Federation and Piano Solutions, according to board documents.

The degree will be presented to the state commission for higher education in May or June. If it is approved, Flaten said it will launch in Fall 2022.

“Offering a bachelor’s degree in music aligns with Purdue’s status as a comprehensive university,” Flaten said. “The music major expands the opportunity for students to enrich their studies and prepare them for new levels of career achievement — not to mention the enhanced quality of life.”

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