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.

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.

Applications for Spring (January) admission are accepted on a space-available basis. Students interested in January entry should contact us about anticipated openings before submitting an application.

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.

Unofficial transcripts

Electronic versions in PDF format 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 applicant is currently enrolled. 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. If you have attended multiple schools, please submit transcripts from all high schools attended.

  • Applicants who have been homeschooled should work with their families to submit transcripts showing subjects studied, materials used, and a parent/tutor evaluation. 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 applicants whose transcripts are not issued in English must 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 applicants 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. 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.


Artistic Resume

All applicants must submit an Artistic Resume into the online application. Please note that the online application will accept only 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 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
  • Festivals and summer programs
  • Awards and distinctions
  • A brief, 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.


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 private studio teacher addressing your musical progress 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. Applicants 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. 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 by at least two weeks prior to the application deadline.?


Standardized tests:?SAT or ACT 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 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
  • May 1:?Undergraduate admitted student response deadline

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. It is generally recommended that applicants focus on one major for conservatory admission.

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 Provost. Students approved to pursue double majors must be in residence at NEC for five full-time years and will be charged additional tuition.

Spring Applications

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? 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 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.