Choral and Sacred Music

Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Master of Music (MM)
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Applicants to programs in Choral Music must submit an audition recording (video format preferred for undergraduate applicants, required for graduate applicants) to be pre-screened by the faculty. The results of this pre-screen will determine whether an applicant will be invited to perform a live audition on the USC campus in Los Angeles.

Note: Recordings will not be accepted via mail or email for this program. Recordings must be submitted online through the “Fall DecisionDesk portal” by the December 1st deadline. Any application not complete by December 1 may be removed from consideration.

To access the Fall portal to submit your recording click on the following link:

USC Thornton Fall DecisionDesk

The pre-screen recording should include the following:

  • BA applicants: Two selections, in contrasting styles, from the standard solo vocal repertoire. Applicants are encouraged to prepare at least one of these selections in a foreign language. Should you have conducting experience, please provide video footage.
  • MM and DMA applicants: A choral ensemble performance of a minimum of 10 minutes and a rehearsal of a minimum of 10 minutes conducted by the applicant, including choral works from several periods and styles, with at least one being a twentieth-century work. Although the stated application deadline is December 1, graduate choral applicants are encouraged to submit all materials by November 1 in order to allow greater time for pre-screen processing.

Please note the following additional requirements for MM and DMA applicants:

  • MM applicants are preferred to have had a minimum of two years experience as the regular conductor of a choral ensemble, however potential MM candidates are reviewed based upon potential, and ability to apply new concepts. DMA applicants should have a minimum of four years experience as the regular conductor of a choral ensemble (for both MM and DMA, this can be full or part-time; church, synagogue, professional or community chorus).
  • All applicants must submit a brief resume with the USC online application specifically noting conducting experience and a repertoire list divided into categories of works sung, works studied or conducted in rehearsal, and works conducted in performance.
  • All applicants are required to submit 3 Letters of Recommendation (see the USC online application for instructions on how to submit.)
  • A scholarly writing sample must be submitted with the USC online application (not more than 10 pages, an excerpt from a larger paper is acceptable).
  • A Statement of Purpose (not more than one page, 12-point type, double-spaced): what are your personal and career goals as a musician? Why do you want this degree and what do you hope to do upon successful completion of this program? And why, in particular, do you want to study at USC?

BACM live audition

Based on the results of the pre-screen, the faculty will invite a select group of applicants to the USC campus in Los Angeles for a live audition. At the live audition, each applicant will perform two solo vocal selections, for which an accompanist will be provided. In addition, applicants will be asked to demonstrate basic sight singing and pitch retention ability and will also take a one hour test covering basic aural and written theory skills.

MM/DMA live audition

Based on the results of the pre-screen, the faculty will invite a select group of applicants to the USC campus in Los Angeles for a live audition. At the live audition, each candidate will conduct a choral ensemble on a predetermined composition and rehearse an additional selection during a 20 minutes live audition. Additionally, applicants will take examinations in choral literature, sight-singing, pitch retention, harmonic function, and keyboard skills. In addition, each applicant will perform a solo vocal selections, for which an accompanist will be provided.

Important note

In addition to having official copies of college/university transcripts mailed to the USC Admission Office, applicants also MUST upload copies of transcripts online with the application. Also all letters of recommendation should be submitted by recommenders through the online application process (details are in the application). Any letters of recommendation that cannot be submitted in this fashion should also be uploaded with the application.

Applications for spring admission are not accepted for this program.