Taylor Swift to Receive Honorary Doctorate From NYU

by John Downey '23 on April 8, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Taylor Swift to Receive Honorary Doctorate From NYU

Singer-Songwriter and NYU’s Graduates Will Be “Feelin’ ‘22”

Olivia Riportella ’25

Taylor Swift will soon be able to add a doctorate degree to her already long list of achievements. After her busy year of releasing chart-topping albums Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version) as well as related projects and music videos, while also re-recording future Taylor’s Version releases, the prestigious New York University has announced that they will be awarding Swift an honorary doctorate degree. The “All Too Well” singer will receive a doctorate in fine arts, honoris causa.

Swift is set to be awarded her doctorate on May 18 at Yankee Stadium, the same morning that NYU’s class of 2022 will receive their degrees. The superstar has also been selected to deliver the commencement speech for those graduates that same day in what the university is deeming a “traditional” ceremony. Notably, later in the day, NYU intends to hold a separate “doubleheader” commencement ceremony to honor the classes of 2020 and 2021, who were unable to have their respective ceremonies last year and the year prior due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a recent statement, the Manhattan school expressed that they regard Swift as “one of the most prolific and celebrated artists of her generation.” They also emphasized the singer-songwriter’s wide variety of achievements, highlighting her status as the only female artist in history to win the music industry’s highest honor, Album of the Year at the Grammys, three times. 

NYU’s decision to honor Swift this May is not too surprising given the star’s presence in the university’s curriculum. Indeed, NYU is currently offering a course dedicated to Swift and her work. The course is held at the university’s Clive Davis Institute and is being taught by Rolling Stone reporter Brittany Spanos. According to a representative for the program, Spanos is covering Swift’s evolution as a creative music entrepreneur, the discoveries of youth and girlhood present throughout her discography, the legacies of country and pop songwriters, the politics of race in contemporary music, and Swift’s influence on young songwriters such as Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish. 

In a statement on the purpose of the course, Spanos expressed, “[I hope students] learn how to appreciate [her] type of songwriting and listen to her and understand her beyond the way that the public has shaped her.” 

As Spanos’ remark indicates, Swift has had a turbulent relationship with the public over the years, with everything from sexist stereotypes of her only writing about her love life to the infamous events of summer 2016 leading people to form opinions about her that are less than accurate. Spanos hopes that students will evaluate the truth behind such perceptions of the singer-songwriter and learn to appreciate her artistry and great musical achievements. 

Although Swift herself does not have a hand in this course, her upcoming receipt of an honorary degree from the school as well as the important role she will assume as NYU’s 2022 commencement speaker suggests that she has nothing but a positive relationship with the university. Needless to say, both she and NYU’s graduating seniors will be “feelin’ ‘22” on May 18.