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General Information and Requirements

Institute students are immersed in a vibrant interdisciplinary environment that fosters a collaborative learning experience. Students admitted to the Institute are automatically fully enrolled in either the Yale School of Music or the Yale Divinity School or both, depending on the degree being pursued. Students who wish to apply to the Institute of Sacred Music must submit the online application found at http://ism.yale.edu/admissions. Online applications are to be submitted, and all supporting materials are to be sent directly to the Institute of Sacred Music, to arrive no later than:

  • • December 1 for students applying to the Institute of Sacred Music and Yale School of Music; and
  • • February 1 for students applying to the Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School.

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 April 1. 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.

Letters of recommendation and transcripts will be kept on file for one year. Students who are not admitted may reapply the following year without resubmitting these materials, although they may send new ones if they choose. All other application materials and the application fee must be submitted, as for first-time applicants, by the deadline.

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, 409 Prospect Street, New Haven CT 06511-2167; e-mail, ism.admissions@yale.edu.

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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://apply.music.yale.edu/apply.
  • 2. Official transcripts of all academic records from all colleges and universities attended. (These will be forwarded from the student’s School of Music application; there is no need to send a second set to the ISM.)
  • 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, such as a term paper, thesis, course paper, etc.
  • 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 sense of vocation
  • • your interest in interdisciplinary study
  • 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 Web site.


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.

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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 for ordination who desire interaction with practicing musicians as part of their education.

Students who also wish to be considered for enrollment in the Divinity School alone (should they not be accepted to the ISM) must fill out a separate Divinity School application by the deadline; they will pay only one application fee.

The following materials must be received by January 15:

  • 1. Completed online application with nonrefundable application fee of $50 (U.S.). This fee must be submitted with the application and cannot be waived.
  • 2. Official transcripts from each college or university attended, each in a sealed envelope, from the registrar or designated school records official.
  • 3. A personal statement not to exceed 700 words explaining reasons for your interest in theological 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/or interest in and preparation for the ministry in common formation with musicians.
  • 4. 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.
  • 5. Three letters of recommendation.
  • 6. 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.
  • 7. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (optional; recommended for applicants to the M.A.R. concentrations and/or those considering an eventual Ph.D.).

Extended Degree Applications

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. The number of openings available for the extended year is determined in late August/early September. The selection committee can fill no more than this number of openings but may develop an alternates list if warranted.

Applications are due in the ISM Office of Admissions by October 1; notifications are sent by November 15.

Students must include the following items in their applications: (1) address and e-mail address; (2) area of concentration; (3) a completed M.A.R. course plan, with anticipated fourth-term courses included; (4) a statement explaining why the student wishes to extend his or her concentrated M.A.R. program; (5) a description of the doctoral program to which the student will be applying and how it fits into his or her statement of interest above; and (6) two letters of recommendation from Yale faculty. One of these letters must be from a faculty member in the student’s area of concentration.

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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 at the end of February; for detailed information, please see the School of Music’s Web site: http://music.yale.edu/admissions/prescreening.

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 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 demonstrate 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.

Occasionally, the Institute will admit a composition student as an affiliate after he or she has been admitted to and funded by the School of Music. Interested students should inquire at the ISM admissions office for further details.

Divinity School Applicants

Divinity School applicants are not required to appear for an interview, though faculty may wish to conduct a phone interview in some cases. 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.

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Graduate Record Examination

Those applying jointly to the Institute and the Divinity School may submit GRE scores to support their application. 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.

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Tests of English for Speakers of Other Languages

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.

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; Overall Band Score, minimum 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 for writing and speaking) or by having received a degree from an accredited university or college (minimum of two full years of course work) where English is the language of instruction. (TOEFL scores will not be accepted for Divinity programs.) More information and applications are available at www.ielts.org.

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International Students

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.

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Internal Applicants

On occasion, current Divinity School or School of Music students may wish to apply in their first or second year of study to be an Institute student as well. To do so, they should submit the following by January 15:

  • 1. Completed online application form. The application fee is waived.
  • 2. Official transcripts of academic records from all colleges and universities attended, including most recent Yale transcript. Unofficial copies may be obtained from current school registrars at student’s request.
  • 3. Two letters of recommendation from current faculty, at least one from Institute faculty.
  • 4. An essay to include a discussion of reasons for pursuing graduate study at the Institute of Sacred Music, comments on specific areas of interest for study, an indication of your sense of vocation, and areas of greatest importance as you consider your future career in relation to the Church. The essay is not to exceed one page.
  • 5. Official scores from GRE or TOEFL or IELTS (if applicable; see above for details).

Internal applicants typically remain on their original YDS or YSM financial aid package. Those who wish to apply for need-based financial aid with the ISM should contact the ISM Office of Admissions for details.

Students admitted in their second or third year to the ISM shall attend the ISM Colloquium for the remaining time in their program. Other curricular requirements may be adjusted.

M.A.R. students in the ISM who wish to transfer to the M.Div. program must apply to the ISM faculty for admission and a third year of ISM funding. Applications are due by October 1 of the third term of a student’s concentrated M.A.R. program. Admission and funding decisions will be announced by November 15 of that term.

See also the section on the Extended Degree Program for related information.

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Transfer Applicants

Students enrolled at other colleges or universities who wish to transfer to Yale and be enrolled in the Institute of Sacred Music should speak to the Institute’s Office of Admissions regarding their particular circumstances.

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