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 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 papger 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 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.


All applicants are required to submit representative works from the major areas of organ literature—a major Bach work, a Romantic work, and a contemporary work. DVDs will not be accepted.

Choral Conducting

Applicants must submit a video file up to fifteen minutes in length showing the conducting of both rehearsal and performance.

Voice: Early Music, Oratorio, and Chamber Ensemble

Repertoire for the audition recording should include seven selections of contrasting style and language from the sacred (oratorio, mass, cantata, sacred song, etc.), operatic, and art song repertoire. Selections can be chosen from any period, including contemporary compositions. At least three selections should be from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, and one aria by J. S. Bach is required. Applicants should choose selections that highlight their versatility as performers.


Auditions are held in New Haven, and on-campus attendance is mandatory. Applicants are chosen for formal audition on the basis of the performance recording, scores, and application credentials. If selected for audition, applicants will be informed as soon as possible of the time and place to appear before an auditions committee. Auditions are held in New Haven. Visit the School of Music website for up-to-date information regarding audition dates.

Organ applicants are strongly encouraged, though not required, to perform different works from those on the application recording. However, works should be chosen from the same three categories (see above). Applicants will be asked to demonstrate sight-reading ability and other essential musical skills.

Choral conducting applicants will be expected to present a highly developed level of comprehensive musicianship, including theory, transposition, keyboard skill, and score reading. Individual conducting assignments for the live audition will be made in the letter of invitation to audition.

Voice applicants may perform the same or different works from the audition recording; however, works should be chosen from the same repertorial categories (see above). 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 Institute with the School of Music should arrange to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) of the Educational Testing Service. More information and applications are available at, or call 609.771.7670. Please use institution code #7072. Failure to use this code may result in lost scores. The Institute expects students to achieve a score of 600 (or 250 for the computer-based examination and 100 for the Internet-based examination) on the TOEFL, but will review all applications that meet the TOEFL requirements of Yale School of Music.

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.