Music Performance – Jazz and Contemporary Music

Our Master in Performance – Jazz and Contemporary Music is designed to focus on your individual artistic development and prepare you for professional life in today’s music scene.

This degree programme:

  • is aimed at students who have a Bachelor in Music and advanced artistic abilities;
  • offers one-to-one teaching in a core subject (instrument, voice) and individual support from our internationally renowned teaching staff;
  • helps expand your artistic practice with a range of themed ensembles, band coaching/recording, recording sessions, transdisciplinary formats and career training (self-management);
  • offers a wide choice of options from related musical and artistic disciplines;
  • thanks to numerous collaborations and partner institutions, offers you the opportunity to take part in festivals and HKB concert series;
  • enables you to develop your own musical personality at one of Europe’s leading arts universities.


  • Title/Degree Master of Arts (MA)
  • Specialisations Instrumental, vocal
  • Mode of study Full-time (4 semesters)
  • Start date 16.9.2024
  • Application deadline 15.3.2024
  • ECTS credits 120 ECTS credits
  • Teaching language German, French, English
  • Location Bern
  • School Bern Academy of the Arts

Structure + Content

Our Master in Music Performance – Jazz and Contemporary Music is aimed at musicians who are interested in developing their artistic profile and aspire to a stage career. The two-year programme offers plenty of scope for you to carry out your own projects, which will be supported and mentored by our teaching staff. Our in-house sound studio offers you the opportunity to make professional recordings. High-class ensembles with a variety of styles demand a high degree of commitment and openness from our students. You will explore unfamiliar academic fields in interdisciplinary projects.


You will study with musicians from a range of countries and must be open to challenging music projects. Thanks to the wide range of options on offer, you will be able to follow your own interests. You will not only be mentored in your core subject but in your projects too. You will gain practical experience through contact with our partners (concert houses, events organisers, research institutions, etc.). Here at HKB, you can also expand your artistic horizons by exploring other fields, such as Fine Arts, Literature, Theatre or Opera.

Mode of study + Duration

Our master's degree programme is offered on a full-time basis only and comprises 120 ECTS credits. It is typically completed in four semesters.

Curriculum + Modules

The 120 ECTS credits you need in order to be awarded an MA diploma come from two separate areas.

  • 90 ECTS credits are awarded for your core subject (artistic practice, theory and research).
  • 30 ECTS credits come from your chosen minors and options.


  • Core subject 52 ECTS credits
  • Music practice/projects18 ECTS credits
  • Theory 8 ECTS credits
  • Research 2 ECTS credits
  • Master’s thesis 10 ECTS credits

The programme concludes with a public concert, assessed by a panel of experts. You must also put together an artistic portfolio and create your own website.


Alongside your core subject, you can choose from a list of top-quality minor subjects, each of which generally earns you 20 ECTS credits. Examples include:

Jazz Composition and Specialised Arrangement // Music Outreach – Music in Context // Second or Parallel Instrument – Jazz // Second or Parallel Instrument – Classical // Duet – Piano/Voice // Duet – Piano/Plus // Wind/Brass Conducting // Orchestral/Chamber Music // Classical Ensemble // Historical Performance Practice // Free Improvisation // Opera // Interpreting Contemporary Music // Composition // Lieder and Oratorios // Pop Music // Sound Arts // Dance and Movement // Musical Theatre // Basic Musicology // Research // Expanded Music Practice

Learning outcomes

You will train to become a professional jazz musician. This not only involves honing your instrumental or vocal skills but also developing your own artistic profile and acquiring the tools that will allow you to find your place in the music world. As a musician, you will also need to be adept at self-management and communication. By the end of the programme, you will command the stage: you will be a performer.


HKB maintains close ties to a number of partner universities, both in Switzerland and abroad, and collaborates with international partners on numerous projects. HKB is also a member of several international networks.

Student mobility

Are you a Swiss student interested in living, working or studying in another country? Or do you want to spend a semester at another Swiss university? Or maybe you’re an overseas student who’d like to spend a semester at Bern University of Applied Sciences? Mobility opportunities offer unique and valuable experience. During your studies, you will have the opportunity to spend exchange semesters and experience work placements elsewhere in Switzerland or abroad.

Qualification + Career prospects

Title + Degree

Master of Arts (MA) in «Music Performance – Jazz and Contemporary Music»

Career prospects

The professional world of the trained musician has changed markedly in recent years. New challenges include globalised styles and the project-based nature of the public music scene. Our MA diploma equips you to master these challenges and work in a range of different contexts and situations. Your personal journey will generally involve a variety of different types of work.


Eligibility + Entry

Entry requirements

The number of places available on our programme is limited (‘numerus clausus’). We administer an entrance examination to review your aptitude for our programme. We look for motivation, stamina, resilience and independence in our students as well as a readiness to participate actively in university-level projects.

Academic requirements

A bachelor’s degree in music is required. Candidates with exceptional artistic talent may be eligible for ‘special admission’.

Knowledge + Abilities

We require very good instrumental/vocal technique, imagination, intellectual curiosity and an open artistic approach. We expect students to take part in lively theoretical discussions of the musical material. We also expect you to be able to participate in a transdisciplinary artistic environment and work on interdisciplinary projects.

Language skills

We are active on the international stage and communicate in German, French, English and other languages, depending on the instructor.

Applying from abroad

Foreign nationals require valid travel documents recognised by the Swiss government. A visa is often required. Exchange students must also apply for a residency permit and purchase health insurance before their studies begin. Please research your specific entry requirements carefully.

Candidates for the aptitude test must have a BA in Music and have taken a master’s orientation course in Performance or an equivalent qualification. The Head of the Degree Programme may insist that candidates who pass the aptitude test but have not taken the master’s orientation course provide additional evidence of academic achievement. The exams are held in German, French or English. The exam committee will consist of the Head of the Degree Programme and the relevant specialist teaching staff. To pass, you will need to score a minimum of 4.

In the aptitude test, the jury will assess the following:

  • Prepared solo performance, in a style of your choice (approx. 3–5 minutes).

  • A composition of your own (in a style of your choice), which you will improvise on. You must submit the scores for the accompanying musicians along with your application.

  • Five set pieces that you will be asked to work on prior to the exam. The judging panel will select which pieces you will play in the exam. We will send you the scores for these pieces once the application deadline has passed.

  • Impromptu task. No prior preparation required.

Total duration of exam: 45 minutes

We will provide a professional rhythm section with piano, bass and percussion. Available facilities: piano, drums, amplifier, PA, CD player, rehearsal room.

Practicalities + Application

Please note the dates and deadlines below, plus the documentation and information required.

Application (per application) and aptitude assessment*  

CHF 250


CHF 100

Tuition fees (per semester) 

CHF 750

Tuition fees for international students*** (per semester)

CHF 950

Examination fee (per semester)  

CHF 80

Fee for social, cultural and sport offerings (per semester)  

CHF 24

Membership fee for the Bern University of Applied Sciences Student Association (VSBFH) (per semester)

CHF 15

Leave of absence fee (per semester) 

CHF 100

* The application fee can be paid by credit card or by deposit slip / paper invoice (+ CHF 10.– processing fee). There are no waivers or refunds for withdrawn or abandoned applications. The application is processed after payment has been received.
** If the application leads to matriculation, the matriculation fee is covered by the application fee.
*** International students are defined as persons of foreign citizenship who at the time of obtaining their university entrance qualification were domiciled under civil law neither in Switzerland nor the Principality of Liechtenstein.

There is also a fixed fee for materials whose amount depends on the degree programme as well as additional costs for teaching materials, specialist literature, supplies, etc.

Financial aid is available through grants and loans. Grants are one-off or ongoing payments that don’t usually have to be paid back provided you complete your course. Loans are one-off or ongoing payments that must be paid back after you finish your course. There are also numerous private foundations and funds that offer financial support to students. The electronic foundation directory administered by the Federal Department of Home Affairs offers a comprehensive summary of these organisations and can be searched by keywords (e.g. student, research, financial aid, etc.).

HKB scholarship fund

Many HKB students live in precarious financial circumstances. The opportunities to earn money while undertaking demanding and time-consuming studies are limited. And the cost of living in Switzerland is one of the highest in all of Europe. A doctor’s bill, a healthy diet, and paying the rent or semester and examination fees can become pressing problems. To help in such cases, the HKB scholarship fund provides targeted support by covering the tuition fees from CHF 750 up to CHF 950. To apply for support, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Fill out the online application form in full and print it out
  2. Send the application online
  3. Submit the printed form to the secretariat for your degree programme

The deadline for applications for a semester fee waiver is 15 May to 15 June (for the following autumn semester), or 15 November to 15 December (for the following spring semester).

Applications for a waiver of the semester fees will only be considered and included in the selection process once the course offer has been.

Application form (link valid as of May 15 2024)

Other grants

Cantonal grants

Grants and loans for Swiss students and overseas students are generally paid out by the canton where the students’ parents are tax residents. Students who have been tax residents in the Canton of Bern for at least two years are able to apply for cantonal grants and loans. Applications should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office at the Department of Education.

Other grants

Further information

The websites EDK – Stipendien, and European Funding Guide cover all the key information about grants in Switzerland and overseas.

Your contact persons for questions about scholarships and loans


If you have any questions regarding scholarships and loans please contact Claire Brawand.

At Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH, we promote balance between study, work and family.

A limited number of nursery places are available to BFH staff and students. If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, the relevant documents can be found on the BFH Intranet. The fees are income-based and in line with the cantonal rates described in the Verordnung über die Angebote der sozialen Integration (Decree on Social Integration Offer ASIV) issued by the Canton of Bern. You can apply for a nursery place using the online form on the BFH Intranet. If you’re a new student or member of staff and don’t have access to the Intranet, please contact Sarah Gross. There is no legal entitlement to a nursery place.

Students must fulfil their military service obligations during their studies. Plan and coordinate studies and service obligations well in advance.

We strongly recommend that you complete the military training programme and your first period of civil service before starting your studies. Completing them during your Master will result in absences and may prolong the duration of your studies.

General information about military and civil service

Advisory service

If you wish to get advice on how to co-ordinate your studies and your compulsory service, please contact HKB Student Administration (+41 31 848 49 49).

Start date: 16.9.2024
Application deadline: 15.3.2024
Aptitude test vocals: 2.–3.4.2024
Aptitude test all instruments: 8.–11.4.2024 and 15.–16.4.2024

You’ve decided to study at the Bern University of the Arts? Then don’t hesitate and apply now! By applying online, you always have an overview of the status of your application.

Online Application

You should have the following documents available in electronic form (passport photo: JPG / remaining documents: PDF). No document should exceed 1 MB. 

  • ID card or passport
  • Passport photo
  • Bachelor's diploma or equivalent university degree
  • Transcript of records of current and/or terminated studies
  • A diploma qualifying you for university studies (such as A-Levels, Matura from a Gymnasium, "Berufsmaturität", "Fachmaturität", Abitur)
  • A CV in tabular form
  • A personal statement about your motivation for these studies and for your professional aspirations
  • A confirmation of your exmatriculation (If you were already matriculated at another university)
  • Scores for accompanying musicians should be submitted together with your application.

For foreigners, in addition:

  • Residence permit (if available)

If you do not yet have one or more of the required documents, please state why in the Comments section. 

Consulting + Locations

At HKB, you can expect an open mindset and a friendly, informal atmosphere. Come and see us.

Individual visits can be arranged via the secretariat. Sibyl Hofstetter (Jazz Administration) or Tom Arthurs (Artistic Director of Jazz Studies) will be happy to advise you. Send your request to

New practice and rehearsal spaces in our Jazz division have been available to students since autumn 2015. The 14 practice rooms and two spacious group rehearsal spaces are equipped with the latest technology. The area also includes a common room with various work stations, a kitchen and storage. We also have a professional recording studio that can be booked for projects and other student work.