Graduate Application

Welcome to the Bienen School of Music!  Please read the following page carefully for application requirements to the Master of Music (MM) and Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degrees. 

(PhD Applicants: Go to PhD Application)

Graduate Application Requirements

The application to graduate programs in the Bienen School of Music is online, via our Graduate Application. Prescreening recordings, composition or education portfolios, transcripts, resumes, and other media or written documents should be uploaded during the application process. NOTE: To successfully upload these requirements to the application, your materials must be converted to modern, mainstream file types. Digital document files, scanned images, and media files that were created on outdated software programs may not be viewable by our faculty. Extremely large files (such as graduate theses or large-scale compositions) that cannot be uploaded should be mailed to:

Office of Music Admission and Financial Aid
70 Arts Circle
Room 2-120
Evanston, IL 60208

The Bienen School of Music will not return any application materials that are mailed to our office, so it is strongly encouraged that you upload all materials along with your application. Prescreening recordings  and composition portfolios must be uploaded within the graduate application; physical recordings will not be accepted.

Graduate Application Checklist

  • Graduate Application
  • Application fee. $75, nonrefundable (credit card only)
  • Transcripts.  You are required to provide transcripts from all postsecondary schools that you have attended. Transcripts must include grades and the institutional grading system, courses initiated and completed, and should show any degree(s) that were awarded or are anticipated.
    • To save you time and money, we will accept scanned copies of transcripts for the purposes of your application; however, these scanned copies must be uploaded to your Graduate Application. Scans that are sent as email attachments from an applicant will not be accepted.  If your transcript is printed on two sides of a page, make sure you scan both sides of each page. Take special care to ensure that the transcript scan is clear and legible. Scanned transcripts will be considered “unofficial”, and we reserve the right to request an official transcript if there is uncertainty or a scan is not legible. If your application is successful and you enroll at Northwestern, you will be asked to provide final, official transcripts at that time.
    • If your school provides electronic transcripts and requires an email address, please use
    • If you transferred schools during a prior degree, we need copies of transcripts from both institutions.
    • If your transcript is from an institution outside the United States, we may request additional information regarding specific courses of study.  In some cases, you may be asked to have your transcript evaluated for U.S. equivalency.    
    • Transcripts that are not in English must be translated into English and evaluated for U.S. grade equivalency by an approved educational credentialing service.  We recommend World Education Services or Educational Perspectives.  Do not translate them yourself.  Official electronic reports may be sent to
      • IMPORTANT: The Bienen School of Music requires that individual courses and grades are listed in an evaluation report. For both WES and Education Perspectives, select the course-by-course evaluation. If you would like to use a different translation/evaluation service, or if you are not sure whether your transcript needs an evaluation, please contact us at
  • Letters of Recommendation.  Two letters of recommendation are required, although you may submit more than two. Within the graduate application, you will have the opportunity to list all of your recommenders, and you will be asked to provide their email addresses. They will then receive an email that allows them to upload their letter of recommendation to your file. If your recommender does not wish to use the online form, they may mail a copy to our office. Emails from personal accounts will not be accepted.
  • Résumé. You should upload your résumé within the graduate application—do not mail hard copies to our office. Performance applicants will also be given the chance to upload a repertoire list, which should consist of musical selections that you have studied to the point of performance. Educators and doctoral applicants are welcome to upload their professional curriculum vitae (CV) in lieu of a résumé, if desired.
  • Individual program requirements.  Consult the 2017-2018 Audition and Program Requirements before starting your application. This booklet will outline if your intended degree program requires prescreening recordings, writing samples, or portfolios.
  • English language proficiency.  If your native language is not English, regardless of citizenship, you are required to provide official results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Scores that are more than two years old will not be accepted. Please see our TOEFL Requirements page for more information.

Graduate Application Timeline

Graduate Application due December 1
NOTE:  All supplemental materials, including prescreening recordings, portfolios, transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, and writing samples, are due on December 1. You can upload all of these materials to the Graduate Application. We will not accept late materials—hard copies must arrive in our office by December 1
Audition or interview confirmations sent Mid-December - Early January
On-campus auditions and/or interviews February 8-18
Final audition via recording due December 1
NU Admission Decision released March
Enrollment Deposit due April 15

Northwestern University does not discriminate or permit discrimination by any member of its community against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, parental status, marital status, age, disability, citizenship, or veteran status in matters of admission, employment, housing, or services or in the education program or activities it operates.


Contact the Office of Music Admission and Financial Aid at or (847) 491-3141.

Request information from the Bienen School of Music.