Application and Deadlines

Applications and Pre-screening Materials for the Master of Sacred Music (MSM) and Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) programs are due on December 15. The SMND office will notify applicants by mid-January if they have been selected for an in-person (or virtual in the case of international applicants) audition. For 2024, all SMND auditions will be held on February 22-23, 2024. If you are unable to make any of these deadlines, please send an email to Fee waivers can be requested and will be considered on a case-by-case basis — please send all requests to the Graduate Studies Coordinator, Christine Trail. Please note, for the upcoming academic year, online applications will be available on September 1st.

Notre Dame Main Building And The Basilica Of The Sacred Heart

The application process for the MSM and DMA includes three steps:

  1. Complete Graduate School Application by December 15. 
    • Include all application requirements below
    • When applying, please complete the "Graduate School Degree Seeking" section.
  2. Submit Pre-screening Materials by December 15 (via application or email to
  3. In-person or virtual audition, if selected. 

Application Requirements (Checklist): 

  • Evidence of a bachelor’s degree, BM, BS, BA or BME, for the MSM degree; For the DMA degree, evidence of an additional graduate degree, MM, MSM, or MME
    • Applicants to the MSM program typically possess a Bachelor of Music or a Bachelor of Arts in Music. Those holding a Bachelor's degree in other areas may also apply and will be considered for admission; these applicants should ideally be able to exhibit collegiate coursework (or the equivalent thereof) in both Music Theory and Music History, in addition to a record of performance experience (e.g. recitals in voice, piano, organ, etc.).
    • Applicants to the DMA degree without a masters degree in music are rarely accepted.
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Statement of intent
  • Pre-screening audition materials *see below for more details
  • Three letters of recommendation 
  • Unofficial transcripts (applicants should not send official transcripts until they've been admitted and confirmed)
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is NOT required of MSM or DMA program applicants
  • DMA applicants must include a writing sample; the writing sample should be a paper 10-15 pages in length, demonstrating your ability to write about music at an academic level.
  • Students whose native language is not English must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or Duolingo English Test scores to demonstrate language proficiency. Both TOEFL and IELTS are offered several times each year at sites in the United States and abroad; for those taking the TOEFL, the University’s institution code is: 1841.

    Minimum TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo scores depend on the type of test you’re taking.

    If you are taking the TOEFL IBT, then the minimum score is a total of 80 points, with a minimum of 23 on the Speaking section.
    If you are taking the TOEFL ITP Plus for China Solution, the minimum score is a total of 550.
    If you are taking the IELTS, the minimum score is 7.0.
    If you are taking the Duolingo English Test, the minimum score is 120.

    • The Graduate School will waive the TOEFL/IELTS requirement for non-native English speakers who spent a minimum of two years at an academic institution whose primary language of instruction was English. A letter from the Registrar’s Office (or the office responsible for academic records) confirming English as the language of instruction is required.
    • We will not be able to invite students to the In-person audition who have not submitted their TOEFL scores by January 15. 

Pre-screening Audio/Video Materials: 

All Applicants

  • Methods to submit required pre-screening material:
    • Use the portfolio section of the graduate school application
    • Send web links by email to (youtube, vimeo)
    • PLEASE NOTE: Do not send pre-screening material as a .swf attachment.

Organ Applicants—MSM & DMA

  • Submit audio or video recording of one major work by J. S. Bach (a Prelude and Fugue; Concerto; Trio Sonata; Major Chorale Preludes from the Leipzig Chorales or the Clavierübung III) 
  • Submit an additional two contrasting pieces of the applicant’s choice. 

Choral Conducting Applicants—MSM & DMA

  • Submit a minimum of one performance excerpt and one rehearsal excerpt
  • Submit at least two works of contrasting styles (Baroque, Renaissance, Classical, Romantic, 20th-21st Century, etc.) as your performance and rehearsal excerpts
  • Optional: Additional examples of rehearsals and performances that represent the applicant’s best work
  • Total time of submitted pre-screening materials may not exceed 15 minutes

Voice Applicants—MSM

  • Submit 2-3 recorded (unedited) selections from the art song, oratorio, and operatic aria repertories.
  • Selections must include two languages other than English, include at least one aria, and show contrasting styles.
  • Video recordings submitted as YouTube links are preferred.

In-Person or Virtual Audition:

The SMND office will notify applicants by mid-January if they have been selected for an in-person (or virtual in the case of international applicants) audition.

Applicants will meet with the faculty and students and proceed through the following audition activities: 

1.  Diagnostic exam in musical skills. Sightread an excerpt either by singing (conductors, singers) and/or playing (organists, singers), take aural dictation, and analyze elements in a score such as instrumentation and formal procedures (conductors).

2.  Interview. A short individual meeting with the Director, the DGS, and other faculty to discuss the applicants background and artistic and career goals will be scheduled TBD.

3.  Audition in front of the faculty of your performance area (organ, voice, conducting) for those selected will be scheduled for Thursday and Friday, TBD. Applicants should make use of an external microphone that is connected to their computers to improve the sound quality over Zoom.

Additional Concentration Requirements

MSM and DMA Organists
  • Applicants will audition for the organ faculty of Sacred Music at Notre Dame with previously agreed upon repertoire.
  • The repertoire may contain repertoire from the pre-screening material.
MSM and DMA Choral Conductors
  • Invited applicants will prepare one work from a list of pieces which will be emailed to you approximately 3-4 weeks prior to the audition date.
  • (DMA conductors only) Written diagnostic exam in music history and analysis. The applicants will answer general questions about Western European and American art and sacred music history, including identification of musical styles and formal analysis of musical excerpts.
MSM Singers
  • Prepare three contrasting pieces in three different languages, including at least one aria.
  • Singers must also prepare to sing their voice part in an assigned excerpt of approximately 24 measures of a piece of choral repertoire.

For further information regarding the Sacred Music Program, contact the Sacred Music office at or by phone at (574) 631-1300

SMND faculty are available to speak with you on the phone or zoom as you prepare your materials:
Peter Jeffery, Director (
Gabriel Radle, Director of Graduate Studies (
Mark Doerries, Head of the Graduate Conducting Studio (
Kola Owolabi, Head of the Graduate Organ Studio (
Stephen Lancaster, Head of the Graduate Voice Studio (
Other faculty are also available.