Artist Diploma Applicants

The Artist Diploma (AD) program is NEC's highest performance program, offering a handful of especially gifted performers the opportunity to deepen and challenge their artistry, broaden their musical perspective, and explore areas of personal and professional growth, free from the typical responsibilities of academic and professional life. While there is no prerequisite degree requirement for entry into the AD, most applicants have completed one or more college-level programs.

Criteria for Admission
  • Exceptional talent as a performer with a compelling, individual artistic voice
  • A high level of musical accomplishment and demonstrable promise to make positive contributions to the field 
  • Musical curiosity and an openness to a broad range of musical styles and repertoire
  • Dedication to artistic excellence; discipline to sustain the highest level of artistry; a strong interest in collaborative music-making
Gala 2021
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.

Please be sure to read all of the application instructions thoroughly, and note that due to the selective nature of the Artist Diploma program, all applicants to this program are required to present a live audition on campus. 


Required Application Materials

Our online application will include submission of your prescreening 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.

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 (up to 500 words each) on the following topics:

  1. How do you think public engagement with live music will change in the next ten years?
  2. What are some small things that make your day better?
  3. Please write about a musical experience that you consider to be a defining moment for you in your development as an artist. Please explain how that experience continues to influence your musical values and approach to being a performer.
  4. Please indicate your specific artistic and educational goals for the Artist Diploma program. How will these objectives help you achieve your professional goals? (Aside from your audition, this statement is the most important component of the admissions process.)

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. 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 79 iBT or IELTS 6.5. The online versions of these exams (e.g., TOEFL Special At Home Edition, IELTS Indicator) will also be accepted. We do not accept Duolingo scores. 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. 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.

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.

Timeline for Fall Admission
  • December 1: Deadline for Fall (September) online applications, including upload of unofficial transcripts and prescreening recordings.
    • In some situations, we will accept applications after December 1. Please contact us at for more information.
  • 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: Filing deadline for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Only required for U.S. citizens and permanent residents. 
  • February-March: Live auditions at NEC.
  • 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.
Tuition and Financial Aid

Although the AD program is tuition-free, all AD 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). The application fee for NEC alumni and current students is $75 per program/major.

Piano hands
Artist Diploma Auditions and Repertoire

AD applicants who are invited for a final audition after prescreening must present a live audition on campus.


Program-Specific Guidelines

Artist Diploma in Instrumental Performance


Please record and submit videos of both of the following:

  1. A varied, full recital-length program that best represents you as an artist, displaying musical sensibilities, technical accomplishment, and stylistic awareness, and

  2. A full concerto (all movements, including any cadenzas) with accompaniment.

Live Audition and Interview

The NEC Artist Diploma offers substantial training as both a recitalist and soloist. Please help the audition panel understand your artistry by preparing both of the following:

  1. A compelling 60-minute recital that makes a personal artistic statement. 

  2. A full concerto with accompaniment.


  • You may choose the first work of your performance, and the audition panel will then choose from among the other works on your program to comprise a total of about 25 minutes of live performance.

  • You are strongly encouraged to perform diverse repertoire, including works composed by women, people from historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, and/or musicians from one's own cultural background.

Artist Diploma in Opera Performance


The audition program should demonstrate the fullest range of the applicant's artistry. Please include 6 to 8 opera arias in at least 3 different languages. Please do not submit oratorios or art songs.

Live Audition and Interview

Please be prepared to perform six opera arias in at least three languages. You are encouraged to offer a diverse repertoire list that includes at least one aria from late 20th or early 21st-century works.

At the audition, you may be invited to engage in conversation with the panel to discuss why you chose to apply for the NEC Artist Diploma, how you chose your audition program, and what you specifically hope to achieve if you are offered the opportunity to enroll.

Recording Guidelines

Video prescreening recordings are required of all Artist Diploma applicants, including NEC students and alumni. Recordings must be uploaded as digital files to our online application by December 1 and must be produced in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • Each piece must be performed in a single, unedited take.
  • All tracks must be clearly numbered and labeled with composer's name, title of work, and movement.
  • Proper lighting should be used and camera should show full range of movement and use of instrument.
  • Recordings should be of the highest quality.

Applicants who are invited to the final round must present a live audition at NEC.