Doctor of Musical Arts Applicants

The Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) at NEC is our highest academic degree program, designed for emerging scholars who are also top-flight performers and are seeking academic careers. Admission is extremely selective and is based on review of audition and entrance examination results, writing sample, and all submitted supporting materials and recommendations. The DMA program is intentionally kept small, with only 8-12 students entering the program in most years. Successful applicants must demonstrate leadership as performers, combining breadth of repertoire with knowledge of style and literature. All DMA applicants must have earned a Master of Music degree from an accredited college or university prior to matriculation.

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 us. We strongly recommend that you contact the Admissions team member who specifically handles your major or degree program.

Required Application Materials

Online Application, which will include submission of your prescreening recordingunofficial transcriptsDMA Statement of PurposeDMA Writing Sampleartistic resume (including a brief repertoire list), English proficiency documentation (if applicable), contact information for your letters of recommendation, and the application fee. These items should all be uploaded to the online application; please do not mail any items to NEC.


All DMA applicants in performance must submit a video prescreening recording as part of the online application by December 1. For majors that do not have explicit DMA prescreening requirements listed in their Audition Requirements, please follow the live audition requirements. After review of the prescreening recording, qualified applicants will be invited to present a live audition and take the DMA entrance exams at NEC. Applicants in Music Theory and Composition must submit written materials and compositions by December 1. Following faculty review, qualified applicants will be invited to NEC to interview and take the DMA entrance exams.


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 and do not have electronic transcripts sent to NEC by your school. Obtain an unofficial copy from your school and scan into a PDF file for upload 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 may 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, Inc. ( Students are welcome to contact these transcript evaluation services before applying in order to expedite the process and accurately determine what level of study they are qualified for in the United States. If a transcript evaluation service is used, the student 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.

DMA Statement of Purpose

Applicants should submit a brief description of professional goals in relation to the DMA program at NEC instead of the general essay in the appropriate page of the online application.


DMA Writing Sample

Applicants should paste the text from a short paper, or an excerpt from a longer paper (400 - 600 words) on any topic into the online application. Please note that it is not necessary for DMA applicants to submit full-length papers unless they are applying to the Music Theory department.


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).



Three letters of recommendation are required. Please submit one artistic recommendation from your current or most recent private studio teacher and two additional artistic recommendations from other music teachers or ensemble directors/coaches. 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. If your recommenders are unable to upload their letters into our secure server please email the appropriate admissions counselor for further instructions. Recommendations are due January 15, giving your recommenders time after the application submission deadline of December 1.


English proficiency documentation 

All applicants whose first language was not English, including U.S. citizens and permanent residents, must submit documentation of English proficiency. Most applicants prove proficiency through the TOEFL or IELTS exams. Graduate minimum scores are TOEFL 79 iBT or IELTS 6.5. 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 $125 is required. The fee is paid by credit card in the online application when you submit the application. Applicants who submit the complete application by November 1 are offered a discounted fee of $85. The application fee for NEC alumni and current NEC college students is $75 per major/program. If you wish to apply to more than one major/program, a separate application and fee are required for each major/program. NEC does not grant fee waivers.


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

All application information, prescreening recordings, recommendations, transcripts, and English proficiency documentation (if applicable) should be submitted as part of the online application. No offer of admission will be made until all required documents are received. All materials submitted as part of the application process become the property of NEC and will not be returned.

Auditions and Examinations

If invited to a live audition, DMA applicants must attend the audition at NEC on the date specified. DMA applicants may not audition via recording under any circumstances.

DMA Entrance Exams are a critical component of our admission process for the DMA program. Applicants must pass both exams in order to be considered for admission. The two required examinations are three-hour written tests in music history (short answer and essay) and music theory. Examinations are in English, and no translation assistance is permitted. Applicants will be informed following the live audition or interview about whether they should sit for the exams, which are scheduled for the day following the live audition or interview; candidates should expect to be at NEC for two days to complete all components of the process.Applicants in Music Theory and Composition who are invited to interview and take the exams will be contacted by the Admissions Office to schedule an appropriate date in February.

Timeline for Fall admission

  • November 1: Priority deadline for Fall (September) online applications, including upload of unofficial transcripts and prescreening recordings. After review of prescreening, applications submitted by November 1 will be given priority when scheduling dates for live auditions, based on the audition date preferences chosen on the application. Do not book travel until you have received confirmation of your official audition date.
  • December 1: Deadline for Fall (September) online applications, including upload of unofficial transcripts and prescreening recordings.
  • January 1: 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.
  • January-February: Live auditions at NEC
  • 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 are sent
  • April 15: Graduate student response deadline 

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). The application fee for NEC alumni and current students is $75 per program/major.


NEC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or veteran status in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, employment policies, scholarship and loan programs, or other Conservatory-sponsored activities.