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! A link to the 2023 application will be posted by September 1. 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.


  • Applications for Fall 2023 (September) admission should be submitted by December 1. Most programs require a prescreening recording as described in our Audition Requirements

    • In some situations, we will accept applications after December 1. Please contact us at for more information.

  • For applicants to the Bachelor of Music and Tufts/NEC Five-Year Dual-Degree who pass the prescreening round and are unable to travel to Boston due to ongoing pandemic restrictions, NEC will provide additional information regarding audition procedures shortly after the prescreening results are announced. 

  • Due to the selective nature of our Harvard/NEC Five-Year Dual-Degree program, applicants to that program must present a live audition on campus.

Applications for Spring (January) admission are accepted on a space-available basis. Students interested in a Spring 2023 start term should contact the Admissions staff about anticipated openings before submitting an application.

Required Application Materials

Online Application, which will include submission of your prescreening 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 Enrollment 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. 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. Contemporary Musical Arts (CMA) applicants only: Please explain your reasons for choosing to pursue the CMA major, including a description of the influences on and motivations for your personal style.

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. The online versions of these exams (e.g., TOEFL Special At Home Edition, IELTS Indicator) will 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. 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. For the Spring 2023 and Fall 2023 application period, NEC will return to a live audition format following prescreening, with flexibility for applicants who are unable to travel to Boston due to ongoing pandemic restrictions. 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: 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.
    • January-February: Live auditions at NEC.
    • February 1: Video audition recordings due from applicants not performing a live audition.
    • February 1: 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

    For students who are advanced in more than one specific area, NEC has provision for double majors. Applicants may apply to more than one major (submitting a separate application and fee for each major) and will receive admissions decisions for each. Although students may be admitted to more than one major, they 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 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 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 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.