First-Year Applicants

Undergraduate applicants are expected to demonstrate an advanced level of performance with the potential to grow as a musical artist. Graduation from an accredited secondary school (or its equivalent) is a prerequisite for enrollment. Homeschooled applicants must submit records indicating that they will have completed high school equivalent studies in accordance with the homeschool laws of their state of residence. 

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 recording (if required for your major or program), unofficial transcripts, essay, 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 system.

Unofficial transcripts

Electronic versions of unofficial high school transcripts must be submitted as part of the online application to NEC. 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. If you have attended multiple schools, please submit transcripts from all high schools attended.

  • Students who have been homeschooled should work with their families to submit transcripts showing subjects studied, materials used, a parent/tutor evaluation, and a parent/tutor signature. Homeschooled applicants who have completed any studies in a traditional high school should submit transcripts from that institution. Incoming homeschooled students must submit final records indicating that they completed high school equivalent studies in accordance with the homeschool laws of their state of residence.
  • 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.


All applicants must submit an essay addressing the following topic:
Describe your educational and professional goals in detail. Then, explain the specific features of the NEC experience that are intriguing to you and how you believe you will benefit from an education at NEC. Focus primarily on opportunities that go beyond the chance to work with our amazing faculty or perform in our beautiful halls.

  • The essay should be 300–500 words and must be entered 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.
  • Contemporary Improvisation applicants must submit a second essay explaining their reasons for choosing to pursue the CI major. This essay should include a description of the influences on, and motivations for, their personal style. 

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).


All applicants must submit supporting letters of recommendation. 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. The two required recommendations are:

  • Artistic recommendation from your private studio teacher addressing your musical work to date and readiness to study music at a conservatory level. (If your private studio teacher is unable to write a recommendation, please ask another music teacher or conductor.)
  • Academic recommendation from a non-music teacher addressing your writing and cognitive abilities.

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. Undergraduate minimum scores are TOEFL 61 iBT or IELTS 6.0. 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. 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. Undergraduate applicants with exceptional financial need may be considered for a partial fee reduction by submitting documentation to the Admissions Office prior to November 15. 


Standardized tests: SAT or ACT 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.

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 (when required).
  • 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.
  • February 1: Video audition recordings due from applicants not performing a live audition.
  • 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.
  • March 1: Final TOEFL or IELTS score reports required of applicants whose first language is not English and whose TOEFL or IELTS score submitted by January 1 did not qualify them for admission.
  • End of March: Admission decision letters are sent
  • May 1: Undergraduate student response deadline 


All instrumental and vocal applicants must perform an audition. Applicants to composition must submit appropriate materials for review. Please carefully review the Audition Requirements for repertoire guidelines for both prescreening and live auditions.

Double Majors

Conservatory study requires intense focus in a specific area, so NEC allows double majors only on a limited basis. While applicants may apply to more than one major (submitting a separate application and fee for each major), students may initially enroll in only one major.

BM candidates interested in pursuing a double major in two performance areas or a performance area and composition can apply to add the second major during their first year of study. BM candidates wanting to double major in Music History or Music Theory can apply to add these majors during their second year of study. A double major requires approval of both department chairs, the academic advisor, and the Dean of the College. Students approved to pursue double majors must be in residence at NEC for five full-time years and will be charged additional tuition.

Students may apply to more than one major or program, although it is generally recommended that students focus on one major for conservatory admission. A separate application and fee must be submitted for each major, instrument, or program to which you apply. Students may enroll in only one major in their first year of study at NEC.

Spring Applications

NEC accepts applications for entry in January (Spring semester) on a space-available basis. Students interested in January admission should contact the Admissions Office at in late-September to inquire about anticipated program openings before completing an application. If spring enrollment is available, all application materials are due by October 15. Spring applicants should submit an audition recording; those applicants living within reasonable traveling distance to Boston may subsequently be asked to perform a live audition. Admission decisions for the Spring semester will be sent on a rolling basis starting in mid-November.

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.