MM & DMA Frequently Asked Questions


Fall 2023 Admission & COVID-19 Top

How will the COVID-19 pandemic affect the Bienen School of Music admissions process?

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly affected how students and families navigate the college admission process. Even as we see communities starting to rebuild and reopen, we understand that many have experienced school closures or restricted activities, and that families around the world are enduring financial strain and loss of loved ones. We are committed to working with applicants to ensure all candidates receive full consideration for admission to the Bienen School of Music.

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Is the Bienen School planning to change fall 2023 application deadlines due to COVID-19?

The Bienen School has no plans to change fall 2023 application deadlines. 

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My prescreening/audition requirements normally require that I collaborate with other musician(s). How should I record my prescreening or audition?

The Bienen School does not expect any applicant to stray from CDC guidelines in order to record prescreening or audition materials. Please see your program/instrument’s Audition & Program Requirements for comprehensive information about this year’s requirements.

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Will you be having on-campus auditions?

The Bienen School of Music will offer on-campus auditions for fall 2023 admission. This modality is subject to change based on the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic. For those unable to audition on campus, all instrument areas will offer some sort of virtual audition format such as a Zoom audition or recorded audition option. Check your instrument's prescreening and audition requirements page for more details.

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Can I take a trial lesson?

Lesson requests with faculty are made directly through the faculty members themselves. Visit our Faculty Profiles to find contact information for individual faculty members.

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How can applicants let the Bienen School of Music know about ways they have been impacted by the pandemic?

You are welcome to upload a statement about how you have been impacted by the pandemic to your application or include information in your Personal Statement. Please note that including information about your experience with the pandemic is optional.

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Are international applicants still required to submit proof of English proficiency or a waiver application if English is not the applicant’s first language?

Yes. English language tests are available online, and information about submission timelines and the English proficiency waiver application option can be found here. 

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How can prospective students learn more about the Bienen School without visiting campus in person?

Contact the Office of Music Admission at musiclife@northwestern.edu with any questions, or to make a Zoom/phone appointment with the Bienen School of Music's admission counselor.

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Applications Top

What are the English language test requirements/minimum scores for graduate applicants?

Master of Music

TOEFL: 85iBT ||| IELTS: 6.5 ||| Duolingo English Test: 115


Doctor of Musical Arts

TOEFL: 95iBT ||| IELTS: 7.0 ||| Duolingo English Test: 120

See more information about English language proficiency requirements.

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Does Northwestern waive the English language test requirement for international applicants who have received a bachelor's degree in the United States?

If English is not your first and primary language, you will be required to submit an English language test score or apply for an English proficiency waiver.

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Do you accept MyBest TOEFL scores?

MyBest TOEFL scores are not accepted.

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Are GRE scores required for the graduate program (MM/DMA)?

GRE scores are not required to apply to the MM or DMA program. There is no minimum score requirement.

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Financial Aid Top

Is there financial aid available/how do I apply for financial aid?

All admitted MM applicants are automatically considered for merit scholarships, graduate assistantships, and work-study assignments. The most aid an MM student can receive in financial aid is equivalent to the full cost of tuition.

All DMA applicants offered admission are automatically offered a full-tuition scholarship, stipend, and subsidy for the Northwestern University Student Health Insurance Plan. This package will be renewed for the second year of coursework.  

For domestic students with U.S. citizenship, we recommend completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to be considered for student loans to supplement aid provided by the Bienen School.

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Is there financial aid for international students?

There is no difference in the merit-based scholarship process for international applicants. International students are ineligible to apply for federal student loans through FAFSA, however. There are some options for international students to receive a private loan, however many of them do require a U.S. citizen to act as a co-signer. More information can be found here.

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How much does it cost to attend Northwestern University/the Bienen School?

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Are there graduate assistantships?

Yes. All admitted applicants are considered for graduate assistantship positions.

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