Chamber Music Applicants

The Professional Piano Trio Program and the Professional String Quartet Program are specialized two-year residency programs intended for members of established piano trios and string quartets. Most applicants to these programs will have completed their baccalaureate studies before matriculating into the Professional Chamber Music Programs. Piano trios and string quartets that demonstrate the ability and commitment to achieve a professional career are eligible for this intensive course of study, and their constituent members are eligible for any of the existing NEC graduate degrees, including the Graduate Diploma and Master of Music, provided that they meet any qualifying degree requirements for those degree or diploma programs.

NEC offers two-year programs in Chamber Music for Piano leading to the Master of Music degree or Graduate Diploma, and further study leading to the Doctor of Musical Arts is also available. This selective program is open to a limited number of students each year. Successful applicants must have significant experience with chamber music repertoire and performance.


NEC typically only hosts two resident training ensembles at any given time, one string quartet and one piano trio. Openings will depend on the expected graduation of the current ensemble. The current anticipated openings are:

String Quartet: Closed for Fall 2021 applications
Piano Trio: Open for Fall 2021 applications

Application Process

We are delighted that you are applying to NEC! If you have any questions throughout the process, please do not hesitate to contact Zach Schwartz (String Quartet Program) or Claire Paik (Piano Trio Program).

Applicants to Chamber Music for Piano apply individually rather than in pre-formed groups and should therefore follow the normal graduate (MM & GD) application guidelines.

All Quartets and Trios should follow the instructions below.

Due to the ongoing global pandemic, NEC will be adapting our application and admissions procedures for the Spring 2021 and Fall 2021 application periods. We hope that these changes will allow everyone to have a safe and successful application experience. Please be sure to read all of the application instructions thoroughly, and note that some of the significant changes include:

  • Applicants will submit a recorded video audition as described in our Audition Requirements. There will not be a prescreening round or live auditions on NEC's campus. Applicants to the Chamber Music programs may be asked to connect in February for a follow-up live-stream interview and audition.
  • To allow applicants the necessary time to submit a recorded audition, the application deadline for Fall 2021 will be January 8, 2021.
  • We understand that it may be challenging to make arrangements for rehearsal/recording spaces, pianists, and other collaborative musicians. Please let us know if you have any questions regarding your situation; we will be happy to work with you to find a solution.

Required Application Materials

Online Application, which will include submission of your audition recordings, unofficial transcripts, short essays, artistic resume (including a brief repertoire list), English proficiency documentation (if applicable), contact information for your letters of recommendation, and the application fee. These items must all be uploaded to the online application: please do not mail or have items delivered through Parchment, Naviance, or other third-party systems.

In addition to application information regarding individual members of the ensemble, ensembles may also wish to submit an ensemble biography, list of publicly-performed repertoire, and relevant press materials (including reviews, photos, etc.). These supplemental materials should be uploaded in PDF form along with the recordings into the online application of the primary ensemble contact.

Unofficial transcripts

Electronic versions of unofficial academic transcripts must be submitted as part of the online application. Transcripts should show coursework completed, grades earned to date, and classes in which the student is currently enrolled. PDF files are preferred. Please do not mail hard copies of transcripts as part of the application process. Obtain an unofficial copy from your school and scan into a PDF file for upload to the online application. Please do not have electronic transcripts sent to NEC via a secure online system used by your school or university. Again, get an unofficial PDF copy of your transcript and upload it to the online application. Graduate applicants should upload transcripts from all previous undergraduate and graduate study, not just from the most recent program.

  • All transcripts must be in English. International students whose transcripts are not issued in English must also provide official translations.
  • The Admissions Office does not require that international applicants have their transcripts evaluated by an organization specializing in foreign credential evaluation, such as World Education Services or Educational Credential Evaluators. NEC may later request such an evaluation if there is uncertainty regarding the qualification of prior studies. If a transcript evaluation service is used, the applicant must still upload electronic versions of transcripts in English to the online application.
  • If students are accepted and choose to matriculate at NEC, we will then require official copies of all final transcripts showing graduation dates and degrees received.

Short Essays

All applicants must submit short essays (75-300 words each) on the following topics:

  1. Describe a situation in which you overcame a challenge. How did you approach this challenge and what specific steps did you take to address it?
  2. Beyond musical contributions, what would you bring to the NEC community?
  3. Ensemble Statement of Purpose: Please describe your ensemble's professional goals and explain how an NEC residency could contribute toward your career.

The short essays should be 75-300 words each and must be entered into the online application. The first two responses should come from the perspective of the individual applicant, while the third should be a unified statement from the entire ensemble. Please compose and save your responses in a word processing program prior to pasting them into the online application. The online application will accept only basic text formatting, so do not use bold, italics, underlines, indentations, etc.


Artistic Resume

All applicants must submit an Artistic Resume into the online application. Please note that the online application will accept only very basic text formatting. Please compose your essay in a word processing program with the intention of pasting it into the online application, but keep the formatting very simple. Do not use bold, italics, underlines, indentations, etc. (Sample Artistic Resume) This resume should provide a brief overview of your artistry and accomplishments. It should not be exhaustive; please do not submit an extensive list of everything you have ever done. The Artistic Resume should cover the following topics relating to the applicant's intended program and major

  • Academic study (institutions, dates, and degrees awarded)

  • Applied/private study (with whom, dates, etc.)

  • Performance experience

  • Awards and distinctions

  • Festivals and summer programs

  • A representative list of works studied and performed in the past three years. Indicate pieces performed in public recitals/concerts and those that are in-progress. For composers, list your own works and their instrumentation. For conductors, list works you have conducted and a description of the ensemble(s).



Two recommendations per ensemble member are required:

  • Artistic recommendation from your current or most recent private studio teacher.
  • Artistic recommendation from someone who can speak on behalf of your ensemble as a whole.

NEC does not use a specific recommendation form; instead, recommenders should compose an original statement on the applicant's behalf. All recommendations should be submitted via the online application system. Applicants must enter the name and contact information for each recommender into the online application. Once the application is submitted, instructions will be emailed directly to each recommender. Applicants should therefore be careful to enter their recommenders' email addresses correctly. Recommendations are due January 15.


English proficiency documentation

English proficiency documentation is required for all applicants whose first language was not English, including U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Most applicants prove proficiency through the TOEFL or IELTS exams. Graduate minimum scores are TOEFL 61 iBT or IELTS 6. A PDF scan of the official score report should be uploaded to the online application. Students who will have completed a full-time degree program at a school where English is the language of instruction may qualify for a waiver of the exam requirement. No offer of admission will be made until English proficiency has been demonstrated.

International applicants should also be aware of student visa and other international student requirements.


Application fee

A non-refundable fee of $40 per chamber music ensemble member is required. The fee is paid by credit card in the online application when you submit the application. If a student wishes to apply to more than one major/program, a separate application and fee for each major/program is required. NEC does not grant fee waivers.


Standardized tests: GRE scores are not required and do not factor into our admission decision.

All application information, recordings, recommendations, transcripts, and English proficiency documentation (if applicable) should be submitted as part of the online application. All materials submitted as part of the application process become the property of NEC and will not be returned.


Chamber music applicants must upload complete video audition recordings into the online application by the deadline. After review, some ensembles may be asked to connect in February for a follow-up live-stream interview and audition.

The online application will ask each applicant to upload recordings; only the group's primary contact should upload the actual recordings – the others should upload a dummy audio or video file just to satisfy the system’s requirement (dummy files should be named “See [primary contact's name]'s application for recordings”)

Timeline for Fall admission

  • January 8: Deadline for Fall (September) online applications, including upload of unofficial transcripts and audition recordings (or composition portfolios).
  • January 8: TOEFL or IELTS score reports due. Only required of applicants whose first language is not English, and who have not been approved for a waiver of the examination requirement.
  • January 15: Recommendation letters due.
  • February: Live-stream interviews and auditions for invited ensembles.
  • February 15: Filing deadline for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Only required for U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
  • End of March: Admission decision letters and financial aid awards are sent
  • April 15: Graduate admitted student response deadline

Tuition and Financial Aid

Although the Piano Trio and String Quartet programs are tuition-free, all applicants must complete the NEC Application for Financial Aid contained within the online application. U.S. citizens and permanent residents must also file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

NEC Alumni and Current Students

NEC alumni must file a complete application including requested transcripts and supporting materials. Current NEC students and alumni interested in applying to begin a new degree or program must obtain unofficial copies of their NEC transcripts from the Registrar's Office and upload these to the online application (the NEC Admissions Office does not have access to your academic records otherwise).