General Questions/About NEC | Programs | Applying | Auditions

Student Life | Visiting NEC | International Students | Tuition & Financial Aid

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General Questions/About NEC

Q: How many students attend NEC?
About 750 collegiate students attend NEC, with a relatively even split between undergraduate and graduate students.

Q: What percentage of applicants get accepted?
NEC accepts approximately 28% of the applicant pool. This varies by major and year to year based on openings created by graduating students.

Q: What is the difference between a conservatory and a regular college or university?
A: Conservatories offer programs in a very specific area of study — in our case, music — with an intensely focused curriculum. Although undergraduate students study the liberal arts as well, most of the coursework is in music. Major emphases are placed on students' private weekly lessons with their faculty mentor and opportunities for performance. Conservatories are most appropriate for students who are focused on performance or composition as a career. Colleges and universities, on the other hand, offer a range of programs and majors and may require additional general education courses.

Q: Do undergraduates have to take liberal arts courses at NEC?
While NEC is a conservatory, our undergraduates take college liberal arts courses to earn their bachelor’s degree. NEC believes that an educated person needs strong critical thinking, reading, writing, and analytical skills, and that it is necessary to become a great interdisciplinary thinker in order to become a great musician. NEC’s Liberal Arts department offers courses in the arts and humanities including writing, literature, social sciences, languages, history, and philosophy. The Liberal Arts department also does an annual drama production, hosts poetry readings, publishes a literary journal, and offers free one-on-one tutoring in writing and academic coursework.

Q: How are teaching studios assigned?
The process for making studio assignments varies by major. In general, the Admissions Office works with the chair of each department to make assignments for those students who have indicated teacher preferences.


Q: What degrees do you offer?
A: NEC offers the Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. In addition, NEC offers Undergraduate, Graduate, and Artist diplomas.

Q: What is the difference between a diploma and a degree program?
A: A diploma program focuses strictly on performance study and does not include any required academic coursework. A diploma program does not qualify a student for admission to the Master of Music or Doctor of Musical Arts degree. We encourage all undergraduate students to enroll in the Bachelor of Music degree rather than the Undergraduate Diploma unless they already hold a Bachelor's degree in another field.

Q: What is the Tufts double degree program?
A: NEC has a joint 5-year double degree program with Tufts University. At the completion of this program, the student earns a Bachelor of Music degree from NEC and a Bachelor of Arts or Science degree from Tufts. Tufts offers double degree students the opportunity to major in any area except music and engineering. Students interested in the 5-year program must apply and be admitted to each school, filing separate applications. Students enrolled in the Tufts/NEC program pay tuition through Tufts University and receive any scholarship awards through the Tufts University financial aid office.

If you are interested in contacting students currently enrolled in the Tufts/NEC dual degree program please contact the Office of Admission by phone at 617-585-1101 or by email.

Please visit the NEC/Tufts Dual Degree program page for more information.

Q: What is the Harvard double degree program?
NEC and Harvard offer a joint 5-year program leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard and a Master of Music degree from NEC. Because applicants auditioning for the program are being considered for the Master of Music degree from NEC, admission into the program is extremely selective--only 5-6 students are admitted each year. In order to be considered for the program, students must be admitted to both schools. There is no guarantee, however, that students admitted to both schools will be admitted into the joint program.

Please visit the NEC/Harvard Dual Degree program page for more information.

Q: Can I apply to both the Tufts and Harvard dual degree programs?
A: You can. To do so, please check the box in the NEC application for admission that indicates you are applying to "Both the Harvard and Tufts 5-year dual degree programs."

Q: What is the difference between the Graduate Diploma and the Artist Diploma?
Both programs are graduate programs focused on performance with no academic requirements. The audition standards for the Graduate Diploma are higher than those for the Master of Music program, though not as high for the Artist Diploma. The Artist Diploma is our most selective performance program, and candidates for the program may have already embarked on solo performing careers or be on the brink of such careers.


Q: What are the deadlines for admission?
Link to Important Dates in the admissions process.

Q: What factors do you really take into consideration when making admissions decisions? Is your decision just based on my audition?
The audition (or, for composers, portfolio review) is a very important component of our admission decision. We also carefully review school transcripts, recommendations, and other application materials. We expect to see that undergraduate applicants can succeed both musically and academically at the college level. We expect graduate applicants who have proven that they are ready to benefit from continued intensive study.

Q: Can I apply to more than one major?
Yes, but a separate application, fee, and supporting materials must be submitted for each major. For live auditions, you must audition on the appropriate audition days for each major. If you are admitted to more than one major, you must select only one in which to enroll.

Q: Are any standardized tests required?
The only standardized test we require are English language exams (TOEFL or IELTS) for all non-native speakers of English. We do not require the SAT, ACT, or GRE.

Q: Can I get a fee waiver?
Unfortunately, we do not provide fee waivers under any circumstances. However, undergraduate applicants with exceptional financial need living in the immediate Boston area may be considered for a fee reduction by submitting the NACAC Request for Application Fee Waiver. Although we do not grant fee waivers, we may reduce your application fee after reviewing your request.

Q: Do you have spring admission?
We offer spring admission on a case-by-case basis. Please call the Office of Admission in late September to see if there will be any openings in your area of study. We do not offer spring admission for Artist Diploma, DMA, or dual degree programs.

Q: What are the academic achievements expected of undergraduate applicants?
A: All first year students applying to the Bachelor of Music program must have a high school diploma and submit official high school transcripts to NEC. Home-schooled students must provide home-schooled transcripts along with proof of high school equivalency based on the laws of your home state.

We prefer to see students who have achieved a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4-point scale), but we evaluate each applicant's individual situation.

Q: If I transfer to NEC, will I enter NEC at the same level I am at my current school?
A: Auditions determine students’ studio level and ensemble requirement. Placement exams and evaluation of transcripts decide class year and the number of semesters required to complete the program. International students may transfer credit if they have met NEC’s English language requirement. NEC awards transfer credit to students previously enrolled in degree programs at other institutions after approval from the Dean’s Office. Students may transfer no more than 60 credits toward the Bachelor’s degree or 36 credits toward the Undergraduate Diploma. Students transferring into the Conservatory should expect to lose credits. For further information regarding transferring, please visit Transfer Applicants.

Q: Does NEC accept AP credits?
A: Undergraduate students may receive up to four credits in addition to transfer credits toward the Bachelor’s degree through Advanced Placement tests, provided they do not take courses covering the same material (i.e. Music Theory). NEC accepts AP scores of 3 or better in general studies and appropriate electives, but requires scores of 4 on the English Literature/Composition or the English Language/Composition exam to be exempt from the first-year writing requirement.


Q: Is an audition required for admission?
Yes, for all majors except composition, music theory, and musicology, where interviews are required instead. For audition requirements and repertoire, please visit Audition Requirements.

Q: Do I have to submit a prescreening recording?
A: Many majors are required to submit a prescreening recording, which should be uploaded as part of the application by December 1. After review, qualified applicants will be invited to present a live audition or interview at NEC. For prescreening recording guidelines for your area, please visit Audition Requirements.

Q: What if I can’t come to an audition?
We strongly recommend that all applicants come to NEC to perform a live audition. We require a live audition for all applicants living in North America for the following majors: Cello, Contemporary Improvisation, Double Bass, Flute, Guitar, Jazz Studies, Percussion, Viola, Violin, Vocal Performance, and Vocal Pedagogy. Applicants to these majors living outside of North America may submit a video recorded audition unless they are applying to the DMA, AD, or Harvard/NEC dual degree.

Recorded auditions are not permissible for applicants to the Collaborative Piano, Conducting, and Piano majors, regardless of country of residence.

All applicants to the DMA, AD, or Harvard/NEC dual degree programs must perform a live audition at NEC, regardless of their country of residence, for all instruments and majors.

Applicants to all other majors may audition via recording if they live more than 500 miles from Boston.  If you will be auditioning by video recording, you must note this choice on your application.

Q: Do you conduct regional auditions?
No. All live auditions take place on the NEC campus.

Q: Can I use the NEC practice rooms if I arrive early for my audition?
All auditioning students will be provided with a reserved warm-up room for a short period of time prior to their audition. It is not possible, however, to practice at NEC any other time prior to your audition.

Q: Are collaborative pianists (accompanists) required?
Pianists are required for doctoral applicants in Flute, Violin, Viola, and Cello; for all Vocal applicants, and for all Artist Diploma applicants (except piano). Pianists are not required for other instrumental auditions, although applicants wishing to audition with their own pianists may do so. Collaborative pianists are provided for Voice auditions for a fee of $25. Vocal/instrumental soloists are provided for Collaborative Piano auditions for a fee of $25. A live rhythm section is provided for free for Jazz auditions.

Q: Is audition feedback available?
No. Faculty audition comments are confidential. 

Student Life

Q: Where can I live on campus?
A: The NEC Residence Hall provides double rooms, with a small number of single rooms and graduate suites. All students residing in the hall are on the meal plan, and dining dollars can be used in our dining hall. A new residence hall will be opening in our Student Life and Performance Center in Fall 2017.

Q: Do I have to live in the Residence Hall?
All new undergraduate students, including transfers, are required to live in the Residence Hall for their first and second years of enrollment. Undergraduate students who are married, over age 21, or living at home with parent(s) at their permanent address in the Boston area may request an exemption.

Visiting NEC

Q: Do you have campus tours?
Yes. We offer tours at noon, Monday through Friday throughout the year. If you are interested in scheduling a campus tour, please fill out the NEC Tour Request form.

Q: Can I attend rehearsals and/or classes when visiting?
Yes. Please contact the Admissions Office to schedule a rehearsal and/or class visit. View course schedules.

Q: Can I take a lesson with an instructor at NEC before I apply?
A: Many members of the faculty will meet with prospective students, according to their availability. Students should contact the chair of the department of interest, who will assist them in contacting and arranging a time to meet with members of their department. Students may also contact the Office of Admission for assistance in this process.

International Students

Q: I am an international student. Do I need to take the TOEFL or IELTS?
If your first language is not English, regardless of your citizenship status, you must demonstrate English proficiency by submitting a TOEFL or IELTS score. The minimum scores for undergraduate programs are 61 iBT TOEFL or 6.0 IELTS, while the minimums for Master of Music and Graduate Diploma are 79 iBT TOEFL or 6.5 IELTS. Students must submit official results; copies and student score reports are not acceptable. Applicants who have completed a full-time, degree program at an English-speaking college/university are automatically considered for an exemption from the exam requirement based on submitted transcripts. DMA applicants do not need to submit a TOEFL score.

Q: If I took the IELTS, can I submit that instead of the TOEFL?
We accept either the TOEFL or IELTS.

Q: I am an international student who will need a student visa to attend NEC. How can I qualify for the I-20 form needed to get the F-1 student visa?
 Once you have received your admission offer, you will need to submit a Certification of Finances form (which we will provide to you) and a bank statement showing that you have the funds needed to cover the entire cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses. You may deduct any scholarship received from NEC from the total cost. Once we have received the form, bank statement, and your enrollment paperwork and $500 tuition deposit, we will send the I-20 to you.  The deadline for receipt of the Certification of Finances form and bank statement is May 15.

Q: What if I need the F-1 visa but cannot get you a bank statement showing the necessary funds by May 15?
We will accept the Certification of Finances form and bank statement after May 15, but your I-20 will be delayed. Since you might have to wait several months to get an appointment for a visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, this delay may affect your ability to arrive in the U.S. in time for orientation.  If you are accepted into NEC and cannot submit the forms and bank statement by May 15, you should contact the Office of Admission to let us know when we can expect the documents.

Financial Aid

General Eligibility & Application

Q: I probably don't qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid anyway?
A: Yes. Many families assume that they don't qualify for aid and ultimately prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. You should apply for aid every year, even if you think you don't qualify. There are many factors affecting eligibility for financial aid. For example, a student who didn't qualify one year might become eligible during the next year when a brother or sister enrolls in college. A change in family financial circumstances might also affect your eligibility for student aid. Moreover, there are a few sources of aid, such as Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and PLUS Loans, that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA form can be filed—for free—online at

Q: Does NEC award Merit Aid?
Yes. Merit Aid may be offered to students who are determined to have no financial need based on the filing of the FAFSA form or NEC Application for Financial Aid and Scholarships.

Q: What do I have to do to file for financial aid?
Please review the information on our Applying for Aid web page.

Q: What are your deadlines for filing for financial aid?
December 1
: NEC Application for Financial Aid (part of the online application) due from all applicants
February 15: FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) due from all applicants and returning students who are U.S. citizens and permanent residents

Q: When will students receive notification of their financial aid award?
Admitted incoming students who have completed their Financial Aid applications on time will receive a Financial Aid award packet by the end of March. These packages will be mailed to students who reside in the USA/Canada and emailed to students living abroad.

Returning students who have completed their renewal Financial Aid applications on time will receive a Financial Aid award packet by early June. These packages will be mailed to students who reside in the U.S. and emailed to students living abroad.

Award letters are e-mailed on a rolling basis to returning students whose files become complete after mid-June.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

Q: The FAFSA needs my parents' financial information but I believe that I am independent. What should I do?
A: To be considered independent for financial aid purposes, you must be able to answer "Yes" to at least one of the following questions [FAFSA Step 3] for the 2012-2013 academic year:

  • Were you born before January 1, 1989?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you?
  • Will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (e.g. MM, GD, DMA)?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
  • Are/were you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
  • Are you or were you in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2009, were you a homeless, unaccompanied youth (as determined by your high school or school district homeless liaison; the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; or the director of a runaway/homeless youth basic center or transitional living program)?

If you answer "No" to all of these questions, then you are considered a dependent student for financial aid purposes (even if you do not live with your parents). This means that you must complete all parent sections of the FAFSA. Your FAFSA results will be invalid without this parent information.

In certain situations, on a case-by-case basis, NEC may make an otherwise-dependent student independent if the student can provide documentation that their individual circumstances warrant such a decision. For more information about NEC's dependency override process, please consult our Dependency Appeal Form.

Q: If my parents did not claim me on their tax return, am still I required to supply their information on the FAFSA?
If you answered "no" to all of the questions in Step 3 of the FAFSA (see above), then you are considered a dependent student for financial aid purposes and MUST complete the parent sections as well as the student sections of the FAFSA.

If you answered "yes" to any of the questions in Step 3 of the FAFSA (see above), then you are considered an independent student for financial aid purposes and are not required to supply parent information on the FAFSA.

Q: If my parents are divorced, whose information do I report on the FAFSA?
A: You should report the information of the parent with whom you lived the most during the 12 months preceding the date you completed the FAFSA. It does not make a difference which parent claims you as a dependent for tax purposes. If you did not live with either parent or lived equally with each parent, the parental information must be provided for the parent from whom you received the most financial support during the preceding 12 months or the parent from whom you received the most support the last time support was given. If this parent has remarried, you are required to report their spouse's information as well.

Q: Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for Financial Aid and/or scholarships?
No. In fact, to be considered for any kind of aid, we require all applicants to submit the NEC Application for Financial Aid and Scholarships by December 1. All U.S. citizens and permanent residents (both prospective and returning) must file the FAFSA by February 1st.

Q: Must I file my taxes before filing the FAFSA forms?
No. Because of NEC's early filing deadlines, it is often impossible for families to have completed their federal tax returns before completing the FAFSA. If you do not expect to have your taxes completed in time, we recommend using estimated financial information instead (e.g. a prior year's income tax return or year-end paystubs). It is much better to use estimated financial information than to miss a deadline! You may submit corrections/updates to the FAFSA at any time by visiting and clicking on "Make Corrections to a Processed FAFSA."

Q: What is NEC's FAFSA school code?
A: NEC's school code is 002194

Q: What if my FAFSA does not reflect my current situation; for example, what if there's a change in my job status?
A: The Financial Aid Office has an Appeal Form that you may submit at any time to update us on any changes to your financial/family information.

Q: What does "Selected for Verification" mean?
A: The Federal Government randomly selects a fraction of FAFSAs for verification. If an asterisk appears next to the EFC figure on your Student Aid Report (SAR, i.e. your FAFSA results), this means that your FAFSA has been flagged for verification. If you are selected for Verification, you must

  • complete a Verification Worksheet
  • send NEC a copy of your official IRS Tax Return Transcript, which you must request directly from the IRS (online at or by calling the IRS at 1-800-908-9946)
  • if you are a dependent student, send NEC a copy of your parents' official IRS Tax Return Transcript, which they must request directly from the IRS (online at or by calling the IRS at 1-800-908-9946)
  • if you are married, send NEC a copy of your spouse's official IRS Tax Return Transcript, which s/he can request directly from the IRS (online at or by calling the IRS at 1-800-908-9946)
  • if you/your spouse/your parents worked but did not file taxes, send NEC a copy of all W2s. 

The NEC Financial Aid Office also reserves the right to select any applicant for Verification.