Did You Say Bagpipe Major?

When someone tells you they are majoring in performing arts, it is unlikely that the first specialty that comes to mind is the bagpipes. For a Carnegie Mellon student, however, it isn't so strange . . .

When someone tells you they are majoring in performing arts, it is unlikely that the first specialty that comes to mind is the bagpipes. For a Carnegie Mellon student, however, it isn’t so strange . . .

Carnegie Mellon is said to be the only university in the United States that offers a major in Bagpipe Studies. Over two decades ago, the University’s conservatory program began offering a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music performance, with a major in bagpipe, making it the first and only program of its kind. As if the Scottish terrier mascot and The Tartan school newspaper weren’t screaming Scottish roots already, a bagpipe major is sure to put the icing on the cake. Some say founder Andrew Carnegie, who at one time employed his own personal piper, had something to do with it.

Admission is highly selective for the bagpipe program at Carnegie Mellon, but that also means there is less competition for the bagpipe scholarship offered. Although many universities offer partial scholarships to those that play the bagpipes in their spare time, Carnegie Mellon is the only university in the United States to offer a full four-year scholarship specifically for a bagpipe major. In addition, the University also offers a need-based scholarship to the student, meaning, the scholarship winner will be awarded up to $7,000 a year for four years under the condition that they are pursuing a degree in Bagpipe Studies. Learning how to play the bagpipes is sounding a bit more tempting now isn’t it?

However, the University’s generosity for recruitment hasn’t paid off too well. Today, there is only one student enrolled as a bagpipe major at Carnegie Mellon, and in over 20 years of its offering, only three students have completed the program. Maybe majoring in bagpipes isn’t as appealing as the University thought, but if you used to play, and you are looking for a great scholarship, dust off those bagpipes and give them a second chance! Read more about the only bagpipe major in this story at The Wall Street Journal.

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About Victoria Scibilia

Victoria Scibilia

Victoria Scibilia is a freelance writer and former contributing editor for Carnegie Higher Ed.


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