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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.  Virtual auditions will take place in early February 2021. If you are unable to make any of these deadlines, please send an email to sacredmusic@nd.edu.  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.
  1. Submit Pre-screening Materials by December 15 (via application or email to sacredmusic@nd.edu)
  2. Virtual Audition, if selected. These take place in mid-February.

Application Requirements (Checklist): 

  • Evidence of a bachelor’s degree, BM, BS, BA or BME, for the for MSM degree; For the DMA degree, evidence of an additional graduate degree, MM, MSM, or MME
    • Applicants for the MSM degree who do not hold a bachelor's degree in music must submit a transcript showing evidence of at least two years of music theory (4 courses) and music history (4 courses) at the music major level and have performed recitals on their major instrument (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.
  • TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language or IELTS International English Language Testing System for international students whose native language is not English—must submit scores to demonstrate language proficiency. Both tests 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. The TOEFL IBT minimum score is a total of 80 points, with a minimum of 23 on the speaking section. The IELTS minimum score is 7.0.
    • *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 sacredmusic@nd.edu (youtube, vimeo)
    • PLEASE NOTE: Do not send pre-screening material as a .swf attachment.

Organ Applicants—MSM & DMA

  • Submit 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. 
  • Audio and video accepted.

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

COVID-19 Accommodations: Choral conducting applicants should do their best to safely record and submit videos of themselves conducting a choir (conductors and singers may wear masks). If you cannot put together a full choir, we will accept videos of the conductor working with a piano and a small group of 4-6 singers. Videos made prior to February 2020 will be accepted.

Vocal Applicants—MSM

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

COVID-19 Accommodations: Vocal performance applicants should do their best to safely record and submit videos of themselves singing repertoire that meets the requirements, preferably unmasked (in contexts which are safe to sing without a mask), with recorded accompaniment if necessary. Videos made prior to February 2020 will be accepted.

Virtual Audition

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sacred Music Program will not be able to offer on-campus auditions during the 2020-21 academic year. Instead, we will hold virtual auditions in mid-February.

Applicants will meet with the faculty and students and proceed through the following virtual 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) will be Sunday, February 14, and Monday, February 15.

2.  Interview. A short individual meeting with the Director, the DGS, and other faculty scheduled for a convenient time between Friday, February 12 to Monday, February 15 to discuss the applicants background and artistic and career goals.

3.  Virtual audition in front of the faculty of your performance area (organ, voice, conducting) for those selected will be Sunday, February 14, and Monday, February 15.

Additional Concentration Requirements for the Virtual Audition

MSM and DMA Organists
  • Applicants will audition for the organ faculty of Sacred Music at Notre Dame with previously agreed upon repertoire.
  • The repertoire for the virtual audition may contain repertoire from the pre-screening material.
MSM and DMA Choral Conductors
  • Invited applicants will have a zoom private conducting lesson with SMND faculty on a specific composition. 
  • Invited applicants will submit and prepare two works from the classical canon; faculty will choose one piece to work on with the applicant.
  • (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 two contrasting in two different languages with recorded accompaniment. We recommend one art song and 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 sacredmusic@nd.edu 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:
Margot Fassler, Director (mfassler@nd.edu)
Mark Doerries, DGS and Head of the Graduate Conducting Studio (mdoerries@nd.edu)
Kola Owolabi, Head of the Graduate Organ Studio (oowolabi@nd.edu)
Stephen Lancaster, Head of the Graduate Voice Studio (slancast@nd.edu)
Other faculty are also available.