Application Materials

USC Application for Admission

All music applicants are required to submit an application for admission to USC, as well as all supporting documents required by the University (e.g. academic transcripts, standardized test scores, etc.). Applicants are urged to contact the USC Office of Admission or visit the USC Admission Website for specific information regarding University admission requirements.

First Round of Consideration

Many programs at the USC Thornton School of Music require an audition recording, submitted via SlideRoom, to be evaluated by the faculty as part of the first round of consideration.  The results of the first round will determine whether an applicant will advance to the second round of consideration. Applicants must carefully review the specific requirements for their chosen program to be sure these requirements are met.

Second Round of Consideration

Most programs in the USC Thornton School of Music require a second round of consideration. Details regarding the second round of consideration will be sent in late December via email to applicants who are advanced from the first round of consideration. Programs in strings, keyboard collaborative arts, and French horn will require additional repertoire for the second round of consideration.  For other programs, though additional repertoire will not be required, the second round of consideration may include interactive activities such as an online performance audition and/or interview.

Résumé – to be submitted via SlideRoom

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

Repertoire List – to be submitted via SlideRoom

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 – to be submitted via SlideRoom

If required for your major, applicants are encouraged to prepare a brief statement of their professional goals, as well as their purpose in applying for the particular program. (All applicants to the Historical Musicology department please see the Historical Musicology Application Requirements page for specific instructions on the Statement of Objectives.) The Statement of Purpose is typically 1-2 pages in length, unless otherwise noted in the application requirements for the specific program.

Doctoral Introductory Video – to be submitted via SlideRoom

USC Thornton recognizes that DMA and PhD graduates are expected not only to be elite performers and scholarly experts in their fields, but also exceptional and versatile teachers, inspiring and innovative leaders, and consummate musicians with strong complementary skills. This is a tall order, and it necessitates a well-honed individualized academic portfolio. To this end, USC Thornton requires every Doctoral student to declare, in addition to the major field, an academic field and two elective fields, one of which may be a field outside of music. The purpose of this multidisciplinary approach is to support each student’s personal and artistic development in a way that will be well-aligned with her/his professional goals.

As a reflection of the individualized nature of the USC Thornton Doctoral programs, DMA and PhD applicants are required to submit (via SlideRoom) a single-take, unedited, and preferably unrehearsed video of no more than four minutes, including a brief personal introduction, a description of professional goals, and an explanation of how pursuing a DMA or PhD at USC Thornton will support the pursuit of those goals.

Introductory Video for Undergraduate Classical Performance and Composition

The classical music profession is changing, and we’re changing with it. USC Thornton’s undergraduate classical music curriculum (called “The ReDesign”) maintains a rigorous foundation of the finest conservatory training, while also offering flexibility for students to chart their own artistic pathway. We aim to create musical leaders who can not only take advantage of traditional opportunities, but also discover new ones – and even create their own. All four years are aimed at the two things most important to musicians: taking their musicianship to the highest levels and preparing for a thriving professional life.

At the heart of the ReDesign is the Young Artist Project. This individualized, mentored project is pursued during the junior and senior years of the program, and requires students to develop and fully realize a unique project related to their work as a classical musician. This could involve developing a hybrid performance, conducting original research, exploring new creative technologies, or applying creative expression to a pressing social issue.

To help us get to know our applicants and their unique identity as young musicians, all applicants to undergraduate programs in classical music performance and composition are required to submit (via SlideRoom) a single-take, unedited, and preferably unrehearsed video of no more than three minutes. In this video applicants must (1) offer a brief personal introduction, and (2) answer the following question: If you were pitching your Young Artist Project idea today, what is the most daring project you would propose and why?


Official transcripts are required from all applicants from any institution(s) they are currently attending or have previously attended. Graduate and transfer applicants are also required to upload scans (PDF format) of official transcripts to the SlideRoom Portfolio. All transcripts, unless otherwise instructed, should be submitted directly to the USC Admission Office. Please visit the USC Admission website for specific information on how to submit official transcripts.

Letters of Recommendation

Undergraduate Applicants- In addition to the recommendation letters required by USC Admission submitted via the Common Application, undergraduate applicants may submit optional letters of recommendation via the SlideRoom Portfolio “References” section. Undergraduate applicants should pay special attention to the important notes for optional letters of recommendation, details on the Undergraduate Application Process page.

Graduate Applicants- Applicants to some graduate level programs are required to submit one to three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant’s academic and professional background. All DMA applicants must submit at least one letter from a professor who has assessed a substantial research or analysis paper that the applicant has written. All recommendation letters should be submitted through the SlideRoom portal.