Screen Scoring

Master of Music (MM)

Graduate Application Deadline

December 1

Current USC Thornton Student?
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Graduate Application Requirements

This section is for all MM applicants including current USC students applying to the Screen Scoring program. Admission to the Screen Scoring program is limited to fall semesters only.

All applicants must possess an undergraduate degree (no exceptions). If that degree is not in music composition or screen scoring, equivalent professional experience will be considered. The selection process favors those applicants who demonstrate in their submitted sample-materials a fundamental ability and sensibility for composing and producing music for picture, whether learned in school or in the industry. Applicants therefore are expected to possess intermediate-or better-level proficiency in music technology, i.e., digital audio workstations (Pro Tools preferred); writing programs (Logic software preferred, but Cubase, DP, and Pro Tools accepted); and notation programs (Sibelius recommended, but Finale and Dorico accepted). Those applicants selected for enrollment in the scoring program whose skills are relatively weak in any of these areas are required to improve their skill sets prior to enrolling. (Several online training sites, such as Lynda.com, offer relevant courses at reasonable prices.)

Students who hold a Master’s of Music degree in scoring for visual media from another institution are not eligible for admission to this program.

The Screen Scoring faculty and staff seek to improve diversity and inclusion within both our program and our industry. We especially encourage applications from women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

USC Screen Scoring Diversity Scholarship: In 2020, the USC Thornton School of Music partnered with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Bleeding Fingers Music to create the USC Screen Scoring Diversity Scholarship for Black composers who will enroll in the USC Thornton Screen Scoring program. This scholarship, which is part of Sony Music Group’s Social Justice Fund efforts, aims to encourage inclusivity and expand opportunities for Black composers, who are vastly underrepresented throughout the film and scoring community. This scholarship will be awarded to one Black student who is admitted to the USC Thornton Screen Scoring program each year, and will cover the full estimated cost of attendance for USC Thornton’s one-year MM Screen Scoring program (including tuition, housing and meals, application fee reimbursement, equipment, and software purchases). It will also include an apprenticeship opportunity at Bleeding Fingers Music, the leading custom scoring company in the film and television industry, founded by Hans Zimmer, Steve Kofsky and Russell Emanuel.

The creation and production of music for visual media involves the use of sophisticated technological tools and expertise. Therefore, applicants to the USC Thornton Screen Scoring program should possess (or be able to acquire) and be comfortable using the equipment and gear listed here.

Read more details about the program

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 December 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

Fall Admission

Auditions Required?

No.

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 December 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 December 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

Please review special requirements for International applicants here.

In addition to the application materials required of all applicants, international applicants must submit certified translations of any transcript or diploma not issued in English, and a statement of financial support. In addition, those international applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the TOEFL or IELTS scores in compliance with the requirements listed in the link provided above. Please make sure you submit language test scores by the posted deadline, or you may not be considered. Do not assume that having a degree from an American, British, or other English-speaking country makes you exempt from this requirement.

We encourage you to contact Thornton Admissions to discuss your specific circumstances, rather than assume that you are exempt from the language test requirement. (uscmusic@usc.edu, 213-740-8986)

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 “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.

Video Introduction

A video introduction of yourself seated at your workstation that is 2-3 minutes in length in which the audio reproduction easily can be heard (we ask that you not add source music or underscore). On this video, please detail for us your music history, including formal studies along with any experience performing, composing, arranging, conducting, and/or scoring to visuals. Second, please inform us of your familiarity with music technology while providing a description of your private-studio workspace and process; and relate your experience, if any, in recording, mixing, or producing recordings.

Video introductions will not be accepted via mail or email for this program.

Score Manuscripts

Full-score manuscripts (with optional sketches) in PDF format of 3 original compositions to be uploaded to the USC Thornton SlideRoom Portal. It is important that all three submitted score manuscripts be professionally rendered, using software such as Finale, Sibelius, or Dorico, and that they accurately reflect the audio recordings.

Compositions will not be accepted via mail or email for this program.

Recordings

Quicktime recordings of your submitted compositions, all 3 of which must be presented with your music in sync to video picture, and uploaded to the USC Thornton SlideRoom Portal. The submitted audio/video samples of your work can be from visual-media projects that you scored originally or, alternatively, from a film, television, or other visual-media source in which you replace the original audio track with your own music. Do not be concerned about the absence of dialog or sound effects on your submitted tracks. Note: Customarily, student and other amateur films present a greater challenge to score effectively, so we recommend that you favor clips from professional movies, television projects, or games.

Your 3 original compositions should convey your ability to capture mood, color, action, and panorama for the visual media through both composition and orchestration. We request that you demonstrate a range of styles in your submissions (i.e., don’t submit three action cues). The selection committee will appreciate receiving live recorded works whenever possible; however, midi-generated recordings, as well as hybrid recordings (i.e., midi combined with live recordings), are quite acceptable. Applicants are permitted to submit only one cue per any single visual-media project; in other words, the 3 scored scenes must be from 3 different films, television shows, or games.

The total running time of all three submitted works should be not less than 5 nor more than 15 minutes in length. You may submit a 4th audio-only track (with accompanying manuscript score) if you feel that it speaks to your talent and skills in a way that the 3 audio/video clips do not.

Recordings will not be accepted via mail or email for this program.

Résumé

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

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 Screen Scoring program. The Statement of Purpose is typically 1-2 pages in length.

Transcripts

All transcripts are due December 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 Screen Scoring applicants. Recommendation letters are to be submitted online through the Thornton SlideRoom portal via the “References” section by December 1. We cannot guarantee the review of any material received after December 1.