Admissions

General Information and Requirements

Institute students are immersed in a vibrant interdisciplinary environment that fosters a collaborative learning experience. Students admitted to the ISM are jointly admitted to either Yale Divinity School or Yale School of Music, from which they receive their degrees. Students who wish to apply to the Institute of Sacred Music must submit the online application found at http://ism.yale.edu/admission-graduate-study and must separately submit the online application of the appropriate partner school. Applications and all supporting materials must be submitted to the correct institutions by the appropriate due dates:

  • December 1: for students applying to the Institute of Sacred Music and Yale School of Music. Both the ISM and YSM online applications are due on this date.
  • January 15: for students applying to the Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School, the ISM application is due on this date. Applicants to YDS have until February 1 to complete their YDS application.

The Institute’s Admissions Committee will consider applications for all degree programs, invite music applicants for auditions and interviews, and then make its recommendations to the appropriate admissions committee of either the School of Music or the Divinity School. Letters of acceptance will be sent to successful candidates on or around March 15. There is no early decision process, nor is there a summer program. Divinity School students must obtain the ISM director’s approval to complete a degree on a part-time basis. School of Music students must be enrolled full-time and in consecutive years.

Applicants are urged to submit all required materials as soon as possible and to log in to the online application periodically to check that materials have been received by the Office of Admissions. All inquiries should be directed to the Office of Admissions, Yale Institute of Sacred Music, 406 Prospect Street, New Haven CT 06511-2167; e-mail, ism.admissions@yale.edu.

Institute of Sacred Music/School of Music Application Requirements

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

  1. Completed online Institute application. Applicants must also apply separately to the School of Music at http://music.yale.edu. 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 might discuss:
    • your work thus far in sacred music
    • your vocational goals
    • your interest in collaborative-interdisciplinary study 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 or website links directly to the online application.

Audio quality It is very important that the audio quality is excellent on audio and video recordings. If you are given a choice between submitting audio recordings or video recordings, and your video does not have high audio quality, in most cases we prefer that you submit an audio recording. Choral Conducting applicants must provide a video recording.

Organ

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.

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. Singers are asked to include at least one video as part of the seven selections submitted.

Institute of Sacred Music/Divinity School Application Requirements

For degrees in Yale Divinity School, the Institute admits students who seek a theological education with emphasis on liturgical studies or religion and the arts, as well as M.Div. candidates interested in pursuing a range of studies in sacred music, worship, and the arts alongside their degree requirements in the Divinity School. Applicants not admitted to the ISM will still be considered for admission to Yale Divinity School by their admissions committee. The following materials must be received by January 15:

  1. Completed online application. Applicants must also apply separately to the Divinity School at http://divinity.yale.edu. 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. (Admitted applicants must send official paper transcripts in a sealed envelope to Yale Divinity School upon the decision to matriculate.) All transcripts must be in English.
  3. A personal statement not to exceed 700 words explaining reasons for your interest in interdisciplinary study at the Institute and the Divinity School. Include your preparation for or interest in the academic programs in liturgical studies, in religion and the arts, or in preaching and preparation for ministry in and alongside the broad artistic community. Discuss any interest or experience in collaborative work with practicing musicians.
  4. A curriculum vitae (a résumé of academic, employment, and other relevant information).
  5. 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.
  6. Three letters of recommendation.
  7. Scores from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) if English is not your first language (see below for details). TOEFL scores will not be accepted.
  8. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (optional; students are welcome to submit GRE scores to support their application, but will not be penalized for omitting them.) The computer-based General Test is given regularly at testing centers around the world. Contact the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for more information: www.ets.org/gre. Please use the ISM institution code #7072. Failure to use this code may result in lost scores.

Extended M.A.R. Degree Applications

Current ISM students in concentrated M.A.R. programs may wish to apply to take up to six additional three-hour courses during a third academic year in the program. Students interested in being considered for an extended year must submit (1) an online M.A.R. Extension Application, available through the ISM application portal, by January 15, and (2) an extension application to the YDS Admissions Office; see the YDS website (degree requirements) for details on its extension application process. Decisions will be released on or around March 15.

Students must include the following items in their ISM extension applications: (1) completed online application; (2) a completed M.A.R. course plan, with anticipated fourth-term courses included; (3) a personal statement explaining why the student wishes to extend the concentrated M.A.R. program; (4) a description of the doctoral program to which the student will be applying and how it fits into the student’s statement of interest above; and (5) two letters of recommendation from Yale faculty. One of these letters must be from a faculty member in the student’s area of concentration.

Audition/Interview

School of Music Applicants

Applicants are chosen for formal audition on the basis of the prescreening recording 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 the week of February 24; for detailed information, please see the School of Music’s website, http://music.yale.edu/admissions.

D.M.A. applicants will be expected to audition and take written examinations.

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

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

Voice applicants are asked to prepare five pieces of contrasting style, language, and period. 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 repertorial categories as the prescreening recording (sacred music, opera, and art song) and performed from memory. Applicants will be asked to demonstrate sight-reading ability and other essential musical skills.

Divinity School Applicants

Divinity School applicants are not required to appear for an interview, though committee members may request supplementary interviews with applicants on a case-by-case basis during the review process. Decisions made by the admissions committees of the Institute and the Divinity School are based on the application and supporting materials. Applicants are welcome to visit the Institute and the Divinity School campus at any time. Special open house events for prospective students are held during the academic year. Applicants are encouraged to attend one of these events, which offer the opportunity to attend classes, tour the campus, and talk with faculty, staff, and current students.

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 and Yale 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 www.ets.org/toefl. Please use the ISM institution code #7072. Failure to use this code may result in lost scores. The Institute expects students to achieve a score of 100 on the Internet-based test (equivalent to 250 on the computer-based test and 600 on the paper-based test) on the TOEFL, but will review all applications that meet the TOEFL requirements of the Yale School of Music.

Applicants to the Institute and Yale Divinity School must show evidence of proficiency in the English language either by attaining a satisfactory score on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS; Band scores must be a minimum 7.0 in each area) or by having completed their baccalaureate degree at an institution where English is the sole language of instruction. (TOEFL scores will not be accepted for Divinity programs.) More information and applications are available at www.ielts.org.

International Students

International students are a vital part of our community at the ISM. We welcome international applicants and seek to offer them thorough 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 upon offer of enrollment.

Yale Students and the ISM

There are varieties of ways for any Yale student to become involved in the work of the Institute of Sacred Music: through music lessons, musical ensembles, courses, and a range of other activities. Interested students should make inquiries to the ISM director’s office.