In 1989 Toronto’s Harris Institute introduced the first accelerated one-year diploma programs taught by award winning leaders. Its goal was to strengthen the Canadian music industry and prepare graduates for lifelong careers in music. At that time the music industry had begun a dramatic decline.
Thirty years later, Harris Institute graduates are in leadership roles in every area of an expanding Canadian music industry. They have established a wide range of successful companies and have won or were nominated for 247 awards in the last 2 years.
Over 60% of the current 62 faculty members have won awards in their subject area. Twenty-one of them have been at Harris Institute for more than 20 years and 11 are honours graduates from the institute.
In 1994 the college relocated from its original 3,200 sq.ft. campus to a 15,000 sq.ft. industrial building designed in 1908 by Massey Hall’s architect George M. Miller. It repurposed the building for education and included three recording studios designed by world-renowned studio designer and founding faculty member Martin Pilchner.
Starting in 1997, Harris Institute delivered six annual ‘Peace and Reconciliation’ programs, funded by the International Fund for Ireland, to groups of 20 young adults from conflicted areas in the North and South of Ireland.
In 2005 the college expanded its accelerated approach by establishing an unprecedented partnership with the University of the West of Scotland offering the option to earn a diploma and a BA or BSc degree in 20 months. In 2015 the partnership was further expanded to offer 2 diplomas and a Master’s Degree in 32 months. The degrees are awarded with full scholarships and the Master’s Degrees include partial scholarships.
In 2006, Harris Institute partnered with the Moscow International Film School and the Gulf Islands Film & Television School to deliver an experimental program for 24 indigenous youth from Siberia and British Columbia’s Salmon Arm Reserve.
For 10 years starting in 2007, with the support of the Ontario Ministry of Culture and the Ontario Media Development Corporation, the college offered weekend professional development courses for mid career professionals.
In a partnership with Nashville’s ProMedia Training, Harris Institute introduced the first Certified Avid Pro Tools courses in Canada.
Harris Institute was the only school featured in Billboard Magazine’s ‘Top 11 Schools’ and Mix Magazine’s ‘Audio Education’s Finest’. It was ranked best private school for a 6th year in the 2018 ‘Media Arts Education Report’.
It is the only post secondary school in North America to have achieved 4 annual 0% Student Loan Default Rates. Its Arts Management Program has achieved 8 annual 0% Default Rates and the Audio Production Program has achieved 6.
In 2015, Harris Institute was the first post secondary school to introduce a comprehensive ‘Political Correctness Policy’that ensured free speech and the open exchange of ideas.
Since 1989 International students have come from 142 countries. In 2018 students came from 9 US States and 19 countries.
In 2018 the college’s founder John Harris received the Cashbox Legacy Award as a Canadian music industry builder and he was featured in an FYI Music News cover story titled “The Man Who Breeds Success”.
Harris Institute is celebrating its 30th anniversary by offering $30K in scholarships for programs starting on March 25 and July 15, 2019.