Keyboard Studies

Master of Music (MM), Graduate Certificate (GCRT)

Graduate Spring Application Deadline

October 1st

Looking for Fall Admission?
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Current USC Thornton Student?
Click here for additional information

Graduate Application Requirements for Spring Admission

This section is for all Master’s (MM) and Graduate Certificate (GCRT) applicants including current USC students applying for a USC graduate program (Spring semester only). Note: This information applies only to classical piano applicants. Applicants wishing to study harpsichord should refer to the Early Music program requirements for information regarding entrance requirements.

All applicants are required to submit two separate application forms:

  1. USC Application for Graduate Admission
  2. Thornton’s SlideRoom application form

The total application fee is $115 ($90 for the USC Graduate Application and $25 for the SlideRoom Media/Materials upload). All required materials must be received by October 1. Application materials will not be accepted via mail or email. If both required application forms are not submitted by the appropriate deadline, your application will be removed from consideration.

Applicants experiencing hardship or extenuating circumstances due to natural disaster or public health concerns in their local area that may affect their ability to satisfy application requirements may contact the Thornton Office of Admission at uscmusic@usc.edu to explore possible accommodations. Though we cannot guarantee that accommodations/exceptions will be possible, applicants are encouraged to contact the Admission Office as soon as possible to allow the maximum amount of time to consider the options.

Applying For

Spring Admission

Auditions Required?

Yes, 2 rounds

Questions?

Email: uscmusic@usc.edu | Phone: (213)740-8986

Complete the USC Application

Applicants must complete the USC Graduate Application and submit all other application materials required by the October 1st deadline.

USC Graduate Application Fee

The application fee for the USC Graduate application is $90. Application fee waivers are available to qualified applicants, and must be requested before submitting the USC Graduate Application. If you plan to apply for a waiver of the USC Graduate Application fee, please do so at least two weeks before the application deadline. The deadline will not be extended for applicants who fail to request a fee waiver in time. Details and instructions can be found here.

Transcripts

All transcripts are due October 1st. Please carefully read the transcript requirements below.

Scans (PDF format) of official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended must be uploaded into the USC Graduate application. Official transcripts are issued by the registrar’s office of each institution. Unofficial transcripts or documents printed from an on-line student system will not be accepted. Failure to upload scans of official transcripts may significantly delay the release of a final admission decision.

Please note that official transcripts must also be submitted separately to the USC Graduate Admission office following the guidelines here.

Program Materials Section

When completing the USC Graduate application, it is important to pay special attention to the following items that you will find in the “program materials” section of the application:

  • Thornton SlideRoom portal – A link to access the Thornton SlideRoom portal will be provided in this section.
  • The Documents tab – Documents submitted in this section will not be accessible to the Thornton faculty. Thornton faculty will only be able to review documents submitted via the Thornton SlideRoom portal. In order to complete this section, you must check the box indicating that you do not wish to upload documents in this section.
  • The Questions tab – Enter your SlideRoom Confirmation number where indicated (you will receive your SlideRoom confirmation number upon submission of the SlideRoom form).
International Applicants

Click here for important additional requirements and instructions.

Complete the SlideRoom Portfolio

All applicants must complete the Thornton SlideRoom portfolio by the October 1st deadline.

All Thornton supplemental materials must be uploaded through SlideRoom, which you will access through the link provided in the “Program Materials” section of the USC Graduate Application.

SlideRoom Requirements

SlideRoom Application Portal

A link to the SlideRoom portal is located inside the USC Application for Graduate Admission, in the “Program Materials” Section.

The SlideRoom application fee is $25 (fee waivers are not available). Thornton supplemental materials will not be accepted via mail or email.

The SlideRoom form must be submitted before the USC Application for Graduate Admission (Applicants can start both forms and work on them at the same time). Once SlideRoom is submitted, you will need to enter your SlideRoom confirmation number into the “Questions” tab, also located in the “program materials” section of the USC Graduate application.

Prescreen Recorded Audition

Applicants to programs in Keyboard Studies must submit a prescreen recording (an Audio only recording is allowed, but a video recording is preferred) to be reviewed by the faculty. The results of this prescreen will determine whether an applicant will be invited to perform a live audition. Applicants will be notified of prescreen results and live audition details via email from the corresponding Thornton department.

All applicants should carefully note that no concerti will be accepted as audition pieces and that all audition pieces MUST be memorized. Persons failing to prepare the full audition program following the guidelines described on the prescreen recording, will not be permitted to perform a live audition nor offered admission to the program.

The Keyboard Studies faculty welcomes and encourages repertoire composed by marginalized and/or under-represented groups, including but not limited to, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and women. To view the list, please click here.

Each movement of each piece submitted for prescreen must be uploaded as a separate file (e.g., a Bach prelude and fugue must be uploaded separately, each movement of a Beethoven sonata must be uploaded separately). Each uploaded file must also be labeled to indicate the composer, title, and movement (if applicable). This labeling must be done in the designated “TITLE” field in the SlideRoom portal.

Current USC Thornton students applying for a graduate program are not required to submit a prescreen recording, however they must indicate on the application that they are a current Thornton student or they will not automatically be scheduled for a live audition. Current USC students are encouraged to contact Kit Bellamy (keb@usc.edu) in the Thornton Admission office with any questions or concerns regarding audition scheduling.

The prescreen recording should include the following works entirely from memory:

Master of Music and Graduate Certificate

  1. A Prelude and Fugue by J.S. Bach from The Well-Tempered Clavier
  2. A complete sonata by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, or Beethoven, excluding Beethoven opp. 49 and 79
  3. A complete work of a 19th-century composer
  4. One piece or single movement of contemporary, modern or impressionist style
  5. An etude of virtuosity at the level of those by Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Debussy, Bartok, Stravinsky or Ligeti
Résumé

The résumé should list musical, professional, and academic experience and is generally 1-2 pages in length.

Repertoire List

This list should include works studied and performed. Etudes, scale studies, arias, art songs, chamber music, solo pieces, and original compositions are all examples of what could be included in this list.

Statement of Purpose (Optional)

Graduate applicants are encouraged to prepare a brief statement of their professional goals, as well as their purpose in applying for the Keyboard Studies program. The Statement of Purpose is typically 1-2 pages in length.

Transcripts

All transcripts are due October 1st. Please carefully read the transcript requirements below.

Scans (PDF format) of official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended must be uploaded into SlideRoom. Official transcripts are issued by the registrar’s office of each institution. Unofficial transcripts or documents printed from an on-line student system will not be accepted. Failure to upload scans of official transcripts may significantly delay the release of a final admission decision.

Please note that official transcripts must also be submitted separately to the USC Graduate Admission office following the guidelines here.

Letters of Recommendation

1-3 recommendation letters are required from graduate Keyboard Studies applicants for the spring semester. Recommendation letters are to be submitted online through the Thornton SlideRoom portal via the “References” section by October 1. We cannot guarantee the review of any material received after October 1.

Perform Audition if Invited

The results of the prescreen will determine whether an applicant will be invited to perform a live audition. Applicants will be notified of prescreen results and live audition details via email from the corresponding Thornton department. Please do not make travel plans to audition at USC Thornton until you have received confirmation of your audition appointment.

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to visit our campus and live audition events can be the ideal opportunity for this kind of visit. We therefore encourage applicants to perform their live auditions in person on the USC campus. Applicants who live more than 100 miles from the USC campus and are unable to travel to Los Angeles for their live audition can indicate their preference for an online audition on their Thornton application in SlideRoom. Applicants who live within a 100 mile radius of the USC campus are required to perform their live audition in-person.

Live Audition Requirements

All applicants should carefully note that no concerti will be accepted as audition pieces and that all audition pieces MUST be memorized. Persons failing to prepare the full audition program following the guidelines described on the prescreen recording, will not be permitted to perform a live audition nor offered admission to the program.

The live audition should include the following works entirely from memory:

Master of Music and Graduate Certificate

  1. A Prelude and Fugue by J.S. Bach from The Well-Tempered Clavier
  2. A complete sonata by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, or Beethoven, excluding Beethoven opp. 49 and 79
  3. A complete work of a 19th-century composer
  4. One piece or single movement of contemporary, modern or impressionist style
  5. An etude of virtuosity at the level of those by Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Debussy, Bartok, Stravinsky or Ligeti

Current USC Thornton Classical Piano students pursuing certain piano performance degrees are eligible for modified or reduced requirements for the audition. Please refer to the Keyboard Studies Department Handbook for details.