Music Program Admissions

Application Requirements

The Institute admits outstanding choral conductors, organists, and singers  interested in pursuing interdisciplinary study to its music programs based on the application and auditions. The following materials must be received by December 1:

  1. Completed online Institute application (for all disciplines except composition; see below). Applicants must also apply separately to the School of Music at this link. The ISM does not charge an application fee. 
  2. Electronic transcripts of all academic records uploaded into the application. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable, but must include your name, the name of the institution, the degree program, course-work, and your GPA. (If offered a live audition, applicants must send official paper transcripts to the School of Music). All transcripts must be in English. 
  3. Curriculum vitae (a résumé of academic, performance, and employment information). Optional: examples of involvement in liturgical, musical, or artistic activities (orders of worship, prayers, hymn texts or tunes, sermons, special events, etc.).
  4. Repertory list of major performance area.
  5. Audition recording (see recording guidelines below).
  6. A writing sample of 5-6 pages representing the best of your academic writing and thinking. A portion of a senior thesis or term paper is acceptable.
  7. A short essay (500–1,000 words) relating your goals to the mission of the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. The essay should discuss your work thus far in sacred music, your vocational goals, and your interest in interdisciplinary study in collaboration with Yale Divinity School students. 
  8. Three letters of recommendation.
  9. Official TOEFL or IELTS scores, if applicable (see test guidelines below).

Recording Guidelines

An audition recording is required of music candidates. All applicants should upload audio and video files directly to the application website. Audio quality must be excellent on audio and video recordings. If you are choosing between submitting audio or video files, and your video does not have high audio quality, we prefer that you submit an audio recording. Choral Conducting applicants must provide a video recording.


Pre-screening recording:

Representative works from the major areas of organ literature:

  1. A major work by Bach
  2. A Romantic work
  3. A work by a composer born after 1900

Choral Conducting

Pre-screening recording:

Applicants should submit a video of at least 15 minutes that shows them conducting a large ensemble in rehearsal and in performance.

Voice: Early Music, Oratorio, and Chamber Ensemble

Pre-screening recording:

Include seven selections of contrasting styles and languages from the sacred music (oratorio, mass, cantata, sacred song, etc.), opera, and art-song repertoire. Selections can be chosen from any period, including contemporary compositions. However, at least three selections should be from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. At least one aria by J.S. Bach is required. Applicants should choose selections that demonstrate their versatility as a performer.

Video files should be named to include the piece title and date it was recorded.


Auditions are held during the last week of February. Exact dates and details will be included with the invitation to audition.

Organ applicants are strongly encouraged, though not required, to perform different repertoire than they performed in the prescreening round. However, works should be selected from the same three categories (see above). In addition to performing prepared works, applicants will be asked to demonstrate sight-reading ability and other essential musical skills. Time will be allotted for conversation with faculty.

Choral conducting applicants who are invited to audition will be expected to demonstrate a highly developed level of comprehensive musicianship that includes an understanding of theory, aural skills, keyboard skills, harmonic dictation, and score reading. Details about the live audition will be noted in the invitation. Auditions may take place virtually, depending on the COVID-19-related factors.

Voice applicants who are invited to audition will perform five pieces of contrasting styles, languages, and periods. These selections may be the same or different works from the prescreening recording. Of the five selections, prepare at least two Baroque selections (including one aria by J.S. Bach) and a third selection written prior to 1700. All works should be chosen from the same reportorial categories as above and performed from memory. Applicants will be asked to demonstrate sight-reading ability and other essential musical skills.

Composition applicants should file the application of the Yale School of Music and contact the Institute’s Admissions Office to indicate their interest. Composition applicants must come for personal interviews with the Institute’s Admissions Committee and the School of Music composition faculty.  

Language Proficiency Tests

Students for whom English is a second language must demonstrate a level of language proficiency appropriate for study. Applicants to the ISM and Yale School of Music should arrange to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) by December 1. Yale School of Music and ISM will not extend an offer of admission to any student who has not met our English language requirement before March 1 of that application cycle. View full details on requirements and next steps.

International Students

International students are a vital part of our community at the ISM. We welcome international applicants, and seek to offer them support throughout the application process and during their time on campus. In order to gain admission to the Institute and to obtain a visa, international students must show that they have sufficient funds to provide for their expenses while in residence as a student in the United States. Bank affidavits and certificates of finance will be required.