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Immersive education for emerging artists

Graduate study at NEC

Graduate Study at NEC

There is no better place in the world for graduate study in music. The vast resources of NEC, centered on our incredible faculty of artist-teachers, combined with our location in Boston creates an unparalleled graduate education. You will work alongside amazing fellow musicians from around the world in a supportive environment as you all prepare to join NEC's global alumni network of musical leaders.

In addition to the amazing musical resources available to graduate students, Entrepreneurial Musicianship (EM) at NEC fosters a proactive mindset of that will be your foundation in creating a life in music. The EM department provides individualized resources including advising, workshops, internships, fellowships, grants, and gig opportunities to help each student build a creative career.

Master of Music Degree

Most graduate students at NEC pursue the Master of Music degree (MM). This is a two-year program of immersive training in performance, composition, or research, supplemented by graduate-level academic courses in musicology and music theory, repertoire classes, and electives drawn from across NEC disciplines. NEC graduate students also participate in frequent masterclasses with musical luminaries.

The prerequisite for entry into the MM is a bachelor's degree or equivalent. The MM then serves as the qualifying degree for entry into most doctoral degree programs.

The MM is offered in the following majors:

  • Brass: Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba
  • Chamber Music for Piano
  • Choral Conducting
  • Collaborative Piano
  • Composition
  • Contemporary Improvisation
  • Jazz Composition
  • Jazz Performance
  • Musicology
  • Music Theory
  • Percussion
  • Piano
  • Strings: Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Harp, Guitar
  • Wind Ensemble Conducting
  • Woodwinds: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Saxophone
  • Vocal Pedagogy
  • Vocal Performance

Graduate Diploma

The Graduate Diploma (GD) program consists of two years of full-time study in performance or composition. GD students work closely with a studio faculty mentor to refine technique while taking elective courses from across our many departments, exploring new areas of curiosity or revisiting areas of interest in greater depth. GD students perform frequently and participate in NEC's incredible series of masterclasses with guest artists.

The GD is tailored to a student's individual interests and goals in close consultation with their academic advisor, studio teacher, and department chair.

Audition standards are higher than those for the MM program, but not as high as for the Artist Diploma or Doctor of Musical Arts. The minimum requirement for entry into this program is a bachelor’s degree, undergraduate diploma, or equivalent.

The GD is not a degree program and typically does not serve as qualification for entry into doctoral programs (students pursuing a doctoral track must earn a master's degree), although the GD program at NEC has been a successful pathway in preparing students who hold a master's degree for doctoral admission.

The GD is offered in the following majors:

  • Brass: Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba
  • Chamber Music for Piano
  • Choral Conducting
  • Collaborative Piano
  • Composition
  • Contemporary Improvisation
  • Jazz Composition
  • Jazz Performance
  • Percussion
  • Piano
  • Strings: Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Harp, Guitar
  • Wind Ensemble Conducting
  • Woodwinds: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Saxophone
  • Vocal Performance

Three-year MM/GD for NEC alumni

Students who graduate from NEC’s MM program may petition to apply one year’s work from their MM toward a GD (12 credits maximum with grades of B or better). The GD may then be completed in one additional year. Students seeking this track must submit a new application and audition. A new financial aid award will be made for the one-year GD, and this award is not guaranteed if the student chooses to complete the second degree in two years rather than one.