Organ Studies

Bachelor of Music (BM)

Undergraduate Application Deadline

December 1st (First-year and Transfer)

Undergraduate Application Requirements

This section is for all first-year and transfer applicants from outside of USC applying to the Bachelor of Music (BM) Organ program for the fall semester. USC does not accept applications for spring admission unless you are already a current USC student.

Note: This information applies only to undergraduate organ applicants. For classical piano, please refer to the Keyboard Studies program page. Current USC students should follow the change/addition of major application process.

The total application fee is $110 ($85 for the Common Application and $25 for the Thornton Portfolio in SlideRoom). All required materials must be submitted by December 1.

Recordings/materials must be submitted online through the SlideRoom Portfolio by the December 1st deadline and will not be accepted via mail or email for any program. We cannot guarantee the review of any material received after December 1. Any application not complete by December 1st may 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 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

Fall Admission

Auditions Required?

Yes, 2 rounds


Email: | Phone: (213)740-8986

Complete the USC Application

All applicants must complete the USC Undergraduate Application and submit all other application materials required by USC Admission by the December 1st deadline: First-year applicants, Transfer applicants, International applicants.

Note: Undergraduate applicants to the Thornton School are only permitted to select one Thornton major through the Common Application and it must be selected as the first-choice major. Applicants who would like to be considered for admission to a second Thornton major must complete the Second Major Request process.

Complete the SlideRoom Portfolio

All applicants must complete the Thornton SlideRoom portfolio by the December 1st deadline. All Thornton supplemental materials must be uploaded through SlideRoom, which you will access through the link provided in the “Portfolio Instructions” section in the Common Application (see details below). Thornton supplemental materials will not be accepted via mail or email.

All first-year applicants: By selecting a Thornton program in the first-choice major field, the Common Application will automatically populate with the following text: “Because of the major you selected above, you will need to submit a Portfolio for your program to complete your application”. Select “Yes, I understand.” and refer to the Portfolio Instructions in the left hand column.

All transfer applicants: By selecting a Thornton program in the first-choice major field, the Common Application will automatically populate with the following text: “Because of the major you selected above, you will need to submit a Portfolio for your program to complete your application”. Select “Yes, I understand.” and refer to the “USC Thornton School of Music” SlideRoom link that will automatically populate below the portfolio question.

Applicants will be asked to provide the following materials in the SlideRoom portfolio:

SlideRoom Requirements

Prescreen Recorded Audition

Applicants to programs in Organ Studies must submit a recording to be prescreened by the faculty. The results of this prescreen will determine whether an applicant will be invited to perform a live audition.

Undergraduate applicants must submit two selections, in contrasting styles, from the standard solo repertoire. Audio or video recordings will be accepted.

Introductory Video for All Undergraduate Applicants

All applicants to undergraduate Thornton programs are required to submit a single-take, unedited, and preferably unrehearsed 1-2 minute video that offers a brief personal introduction and answers the following question: How do you envision using your USC Thornton education to become a force for positive change in the evolution of the music profession and music as an art form?

Young Artist Project Introductory Video

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 two minutes. In this video applicants must 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?


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.

  • First-year applicants are not required to upload transcripts in SlideRoom but must submit official transcripts to USC Admission, as required.
  • Transfer applicants are required to upload a copy of all college transcripts in SlideRoom in addition to the official transcripts that must be submitted to USC Admission.
    • Note: USC Admission also requires official high school transcripts (with date of graduation) and official college transcripts of any and all college coursework completed through the fall term for all transfer applicants.
Letters of Recommendation (Optional)

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. Important notes for optional letters of recommendation:

  • Any optional letters of recommendation you want reviewed by the Thornton faculty must be submitted via the Thornton SlideRoom “References” section by December 1. We cannot guarantee the review of any material received after December 1.
  • Required letters of recommendation submitted to USC Admission through the appropriate Common Application avenues will automatically be included with the Thornton SlideRoom application for review by Thornton Faculty for first-year/freshman applicants.
  • USC Admission will not receive any optional letter of recommendation submitted through the Thornton SlideRoom “References” section.
  • Any recommendation sent via mail or email will not be reviewed by the Thornton faculty.

Perform Audition if Invited

The results of the prescreen will determine whether an applicant will be invited to perform a live audition. Notice of the results of the prescreen audition will be sent to applicants via email in late December. All organ applicants, that pass the prescreen round, are urged to contact Dr. Ladd Thomas, chair of the department of organ studies, at (213)740-7703 to further discuss audition requirements and arrangements for an audition appointment. Live auditions typically occur in January and February. 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

Three or more selections from various stylistic periods of the standard organ literature should be prepared for the live audition.

Undergraduate Theory Exam

All undergraduate applicants (except in Composition and Music Industry) are required to complete a music theory examination as part of the live audition requirements. The exam will measure proficiency in basic music theory. Further details about how and when the exam will be administered will be provided in the audition confirmation sent to applicants invited for a live audition. Exam results alone will not prevent a student from being admitted to USC or the Thornton School. The Thornton Admission office cannot release exam details in advance of the exam. Inquiries regarding the content of the exam will not be answered.