General Questions/About NEC | Programs | Applying | Auditions

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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 25-30% of the overall 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.

Q: Do undergraduates have to take liberal arts courses at NEC?
NEC undergraduates must 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 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. 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 with only 5-6 students 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: Yes, please indicate in the NEC online application that you are applying to "Both Harvard & Tufts dual degree programs." Please also complete separate applications at both Tufts and Harvard.

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 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. Students are ultimately only able to initially enroll in one major.

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

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: 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: Most majors are required to submit a prescreening recording, which should be uploaded as part of the online 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.

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. Recorded auditions are not permissible for applicants to the Collaborative Piano, Conducting, and Piano majors, regardless of country of residence. Applicants to all other majors may audition via recording if they live more outside of North America. 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: Our new Student Life and Performance Center is opening for Fall 2017! This facility will feature a residence hall for all first- and second-year NEC undergrads plus a new dining hall, library, and performance and rehearsal spaces. 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 a meal plan.

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 11am, 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 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 Admissions Office 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.

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.