An agreement between the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and Los Angeles City College will streamline the transfer pathway for music students interested in pursuing their bachelor’s degree at UCLA.

The agreement, which was celebrated Feb. 19 at the LACC music department’s Herb Alpert Music Center, aims to insert more certainty into a process that can often be complicated and confusing for students and their families. It clearly lays out UCLA’s coursework and credit requirements, and identifies specific courses that LACC students will be required to complete before transferring. The arrangement also designates certain LACC faculty and advisers who will support students through the transfer process.

Community colleges are a vital building block of the U.S. higher education system, providing students with an affordable path to the expanded opportunities for learning, professional growth and economic mobility that four-year colleges and universities provide. According to a study by Columbia University’s Community College Research Center, about 80% of community college students plan to transfer to a four-year university to complete their bachelor’s degrees, making it especially important for universities and community colleges to make the transfer process easy to navigate.

“The opportunity to transfer from LACC to UCLA has not only helped me become a better musician, but also a better human being,” said Moses Aubrey, who earned a Herb Alpert School of Music LACC Transfer Scholarship and is now a fourth-year student at UCLA. “I know the lessons learned here will help toward my career goals.”

At the ceremony, Aubrey, a bass player, gave a solo performance of classical works and one of his own compositions.

Karen Contreras, a UCLA undergraduate ethnomusicology student who transferred from LACC, said the partnership will give students like her a chance to focus on their crafts as they work to build a foundation for their careers in music.

“The time I spent at LACC allowed me the freedom to discover my musical and creative interests, and UCLA has provided me with the opportunity to live on campus and dedicate my time to my musical studies,” Contreras said.

Supporting students like Aubrey and Contreras is of special importance to Herb Alpert, who has been a generous supporter of both UCLA and LACC and is a longtime advocate for supporting music scholars and future music professionals. In concert with the new partnership, the Herb Alpert Foundation renewed its annual gift of $200,000 for scholarships to the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and added $50,000 per year specifically to support music students transferring from LACC to UCLA.

“I love that LACC has helped so many low-income students who, despite their financial challenges, have succeeded in maintaining a strong commitment to education and to self-improvement,” Alpert said. “And it’s great to know that UCLA and LACC are now working together to give these hardworking students a chance to continue their education at UCLA, which will have an immeasurable impact on their futures.”

Building and serving a diverse student community that embraces transfer students is also a priority for Eileen Strempel, dean of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, whose research on transfer students is nationally recognized. Strempel is devoted to expanding access to higher education for students from traditionally underserved and underrepresented communities.

“We must strive to provide visible and viable pathways forward for community college students like Moses and Karen,” Strempel said. “Our community colleges serve a diverse population, and public institutions like UCLA have a special role to play in assuring that the musicians, scholars, music educators and music industry players of tomorrow look more like our communities in Los Angeles. We must strive to be elite without being elitist.”

Christine Park, professor and music department chair at LACC, said the partnership will enable her students to save both time and money while also maintaining momentum toward their degrees.

“Community college students often face a variety of obstacles that delay or prevent them from attaining their degrees,” Park said. “With this partnership in place, students will know exactly what is required for them and will be prepared to be competitive with their peers for admission into UCLA’s program.”