Music Programs Statement

On Friday, June 10, Anna Maria College informed the 21 students in its three music majors (Music, Music Education, and Music Therapy) of our intention to discontinue these programs at the end of the 2023-24 Academic Year. The announcement comes after a lengthy examination of music’s future viability as an academic major with recent years of declining music enrollment. The College is committed to helping all of its music students with their path forward. Of the 21 students, 15 are juniors and seniors who can continue their existing path at Anna Maria College toward a music degree. Faculty will work individually with all music students, including the six sophomores, to support their academic plans.

Efforts over the years to support and strengthen the music programs have not resulted in more students choosing Anna Maria for music studies, even as other majors at the College have experienced enrollment growth. Looking forward, we do not see any different variables that will bring music enrollment to a level that would sustain the program for the future. Unlike most other academic majors, music is a collective undertaking, where it takes a complete group of performers to make the learning experience vibrant and viable.

Anna Maria is fully committed to the Catholic liberal arts foundation that guides all our programs incorporated with our mission centered on the community-oriented professions.

Below are some questions and answers to provide you with additional context:

What was the rationale to make this decision and what steps did you take in recent years to address the situation?

Enrollment numbers in music have long been a concern. Anna Maria has made several investments to support the music program despite the troubling enrollment trends. These investments include physical and technology upgrades to the music classroom spaces and to the music program in general; support for the summer music institute; institutional support for seasonal concerts and new community partnerships; the contracting of outside performers; grant proposals; and marketing promotions through advertisements and articles. Even with this, enrollment in the major has not changed for the better. Incoming students have overwhelmingly selected other academic majors which may be due to many factors and career choices 

What support will be offered to current music students?

Support for students comes first. Faculty and Administration will work with each music student to determine their path forward and address any concerns 

Is the College at risk of closing?

No. Applications are strong. We have received new and recent funding for mission-centric programs from foundations and the federal government. This support underscores confidence in the College, our students, faculty, and the array of liberal arts and professional programs we offer.  

Could the enrollment dip be just a temporary effect of the pandemic?

The pandemic increased the pressures across all majors, including music. Unfortunately, the enrollment trends in music preexisted the pandemic and have continued to be a challenge. There were only four prospective music students committed to Anna Maria for 2022-23. Of the 21 current music students, 15 are juniors and seniors and six are sophomores. 

Can you consider reorganizing or redesigning the major instead?

The decision to discontinue these majors is enrollment driven, not about the format or quality of the program. Music Therapy, where most of the current music students major, and Music Education are both programs that operate under licensure requirements. Their respective structures are established and well-respected. The primary factor in this decision is that incoming students are choosing other majors at Anna Maria or choosing other institutions for music.

Some other majors have low enrollment, why is music identified for discontinuation?

Music is a much more expensive program to operate when compared to other small-enrollment majors. The high-quality music program we offer requires specialized faculty, unique facilities, climate-controlled environments, instruments, and contracted performers. That is not the case with other small-enrollment majors which have more balance between enrollment and revenue and require fewer specialized needs and equipment. And, in those majors, a smaller enrollment does not negatively affect the academic experience. Music is a collective undertaking. It takes a complete group of performers to make the learning experience vibrant and viable, which is what students expect and deserve from their major. 

What efforts have been made to market the program and recruit more students? Why haven’t they worked?

As stated previously, the College has extended significant support to the Music program through the years to include College and Faculty efforts to market the programs. The trend of students pursuing other academic interests and career choices is not unique to Anna Maria. Locally, two respected music education institutions in Boston merged prior to the pandemic as part of a strategic reshaping of those institutions which specialize in the field. Music employment opportunities at the K-12 level have declined which has a direct effect on career pursuits and there is an ongoing national narrative that challenges the value of liberal arts majors overall. Anna Maria is fully committed to the Catholic liberal arts foundation that guides all our programs, but music as a liberal arts specialization is no longer sustainable for our college.  

What happens to clubs and activities associated with music and bands at athletic games?

There will be enhanced opportunities for clubs and activities involving music as the Office of Student Life becomes more involved.  

Are other majors at risk of being discontinued?

Anna Maria is continually modifying its course catalog and course content to stay aligned with current and future academic and career trends while also being true to our mission of service and a Catholic liberal arts tradition. Recent additions within Academics include the introduction of new majors in Addiction Studies, Web Design, Communications, a certificate program in financial planning along with plans for Cybersecurity and other programs of interest to students.