Applicants to the Master of Music (MM) degree are required to have completed a bachelor’s degree, or its recognized equivalent, from an accredited college or university prior to matriculation. Applicants whose college studies have been completed outside the U.S. are required to submit all academic records with official English translations, as well as documentation of U.S. degree equivalency. Applicants who do not demonstrate degree equivalency are not eligible for admission to the MM program, but may be considered for the Graduate Diploma. We recommend that applicants with questions about their degree equivalency contact the Admissions Office and/or have their academic records evaluated by a foreign credential evaluation service before applying.
Applicants to the Graduate Diploma (GD) must hold a bachelor’s degree, undergraduate diploma, or equivalent certification. Applicants should demonstrate knowledge, repertoire, and experience comparable to that of MM applicants, but will be expected to meet a higher performance standard.
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.
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 for most majors will submit a recorded video audition (or portfolio for Composition, Theory, and Musicology applicants) as described in our Audition Requirements. There will not be live auditions on NEC's campus. Prescreening will only be required of applicants in Violin, Viola, and Cello. Applicants to the Artist Diploma, Doctor of Musical Arts, and Harvard/NEC dual degree programs may be asked to connect in February for a follow-up live-stream interview and audition, but all other applicants will be evaluated musically based on the recorded audition (or portfolio).
- To allow applicants the necessary time to submit a recorded audition, the application deadline for most majors for Fall 2021 will be January 8, 2021. Applicants in Violin, Viola, Cello, and Voice must submit by a December 1, 2020 deadline.
- 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 (or portfolio for Composition applicants), 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.
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 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.
All applicants must submit short essays (75-300 words each) on the following topics:
- 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?
- Beyond musical contributions, what would you bring to the NEC community?
- Other than working with NEC's world-renowned faculty and performing in our incredible halls, explain the specific features of the NEC experience that are exciting to you and how you believe you will benefit from these aspects of an NEC education.
Contemporary Improvisation applicants only: Please explain your reasons for choosing to pursue the CI major, including a description of the influences on and motivations for your personal style.
The short essays should be 75-300 words each and must be entered into the online application. 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.
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.)
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. Recommendations are due January 15. The two required recommendations are:
Artistic recommendation from your current private studio teacher.
Artistic recommendation from another music teacher or ensemble director/coach
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 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.
A non-refundable fee of $125 is required. The fee is paid by credit card in the online application when you submit the application. If you wish to apply to more than one major/program, a separate application and fee are required for each major/program. 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, 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.
All instrumental and vocal applicants must perform an audition. Due to health concerns, all 2021 applicants will audition via recording. Composition applicants must submit a portfolio of representative works. Please carefully review the Audition Guidelines for audition recording repertoire.
Timeline for Fall admission
- December 1: Online application deadline for Fall (September) 2021 in Violin, Viola, Cello, and Voice only, including upload of unofficial transcripts, recordings, and TOEFL or IELTS score reports (only required of applicants whose first language is not English, and who have not been approved for a waiver of the examination requirement).
- January 8: Online application deadline for Fall (September) 2021 in all other majors not listed above, including upload of unofficial transcripts, audition recordings (or composition, theory, or musicology portfolios), and TOEFL or IELTS score reports (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: Final audition recording upload due for invited applicants in Violin, Viola, and Cello only.
- 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 earlier did not qualify them for admission.
- End of March: Admission decision letters and financial aid awards are sent
- April 15: Graduate admitted student response deadline
NEC accepts applications for entry in January (Spring semester) on a space-available basis. Applicants interested in January admission should contact the Admissions Office at firstname.lastname@example.org in late-September to inquire about anticipated program openings before completing an application. If spring enrollment is available, all application materials are due by November 1. Spring applicants should submit an audition recording. Admission decisions for the Spring semester will be sent on a rolling basis starting in mid-November.
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.
Re-Admission to NEC
NEC students who currently hold "Inactive" status do not need to apply for re-admission. Requests for re-activation of enrollment should be directed to the Dean of Students no later than March 1 for a September return and October 1 for a January return. Timely submission of all materials is in the student’s best interest as openings are limited and financial aid is often expended early.
Former NEC students who have withdrawn from their programs must re-apply through the Admissions Office. Students requesting re-admission must submit a new online application and updated transcripts, recommendations, and other supporting materials. An audition or interview is typically required. Scholarship and financial aid are reconsidered based on an updated admissions evaluation. In order to be considered for scholarship or financial aid, all appropriate paperwork must be provided to the Financial Aid Office.
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.