Vocal Arts (Classical Voice/Opera)

Master of Music (MM), Graduate Certificate (GCRT), Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Graduate Fall Application Deadline

December 1


Looking for Spring Admission?

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Current USC Thornton Student?
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Graduate Application Requirements for Fall Admission

This section is for all MM, GCRT, and DMA applicants including current USC students applying to the classical Vocal Arts program (fall semester only). Note: This information applies only to classical voice applicants. For Choral Music, please refer to the Choral Music program page.

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.

Teaching Assistantships are available to MM and DMA students. Click here for details.

Applying For

Fall 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 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

Click here for important additional requirements and instructions.

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.

Prescreen Recorded Audition

Applicants to programs in Vocal Arts must submit a video recording to be prescreened by the faculty. Only video recordings are acceptable. The results of this prescreen will determine whether an applicant will be invited to perform a live audition. Prescreen results will be sent to applicants via email in late December.

Master’s applicants must submit five or more selections of contrasting styles. The five selections may consist of a combination of art song, operatic arias and/or oratorio arias; one of the five selections must be an aria or art song in English and the others must represent at least two other foreign languages. All selections must be memorized and piano accompaniment is required.

Graduate Certificate applicants must submit at least five selections of contrasting styles. The five selections may consist of a combination of art song, operatic and/or oratorio arias; one of the five selections must be an aria or art song in English. At least three of the five selections should be operatic arias and represent three different languages. All selections must be memorized and piano accompaniment is required.

DMA applicants must submit at least six selections of contrasting style which represent at least four languages, one of which must be English. Selections may include art song, operatic arias and/or oratorio arias. It is recommended that one of the selections be a piece composed in the last 30 years. All selections must be memorized and piano accompaniment is required.

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 Vocal Arts 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 graduate Vocal Arts applicants (except DMA, see below). 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.

DMA applicants are required to submit 3 letters of recommendation, one of which must be a letter from a professor who has assessed a substantial research or analysis paper that the student has written.

Doctoral Introductory Video (DMA only)

A “Doctoral Introductory Video” must be submitted through SlideRoom by December 1st.

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 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.

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.

Applicants who are invited to perform a live audition will receive their prescreen decision and audition appointment details in the same email, in late December. Live auditions typically occur in late January and early 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

Master’s applicants must submit five or more selections of contrasting styles. The five selections may consist of a combination of art song, operatic arias and/or oratorio arias; one of the five selections must be an aria or art song in English and the others must represent at least two other foreign languages. All selections must be memorized and piano accompaniment is required. The same selections may be used for both the prescreen recording and the live audition.

Graduate Certificate applicants must submit at least five selections of contrasting styles. The five selections may consist of a combination of art song, operatic and/or oratorio arias; one of the five selections must be an aria or art song in English. At least three of the five selections should be operatic arias and represent three different languages. All selections must be memorized and piano accompaniment is required. The same selections may be used for both the prescreen recording and the live audition.

DMA applicants must submit at least six selections of contrasting style which represent at least four languages, one of which must be English. Selections may include art song, operatic arias and/or oratorio arias. It is recommended that one of the selections be a piece composed in the last 30 years. All selections must be memorized and piano accompaniment is required. The same selections may be used for both the prescreen recording and the live audition. DMA applicants invited for a live audition will be interviewed by the faculty as part of their live audition, during which they will be asked questions regarding their specific interest in the Thornton DMA in Vocal Arts and possible elective fields of study.

Piano Accompaniment

Piano accompaniment is required for all voice auditions (in-person or online). Applicants who live within a 100 mile radius of the USC campus are required to perform their live audition in-person. Voice applicants who are invited to perform a live audition on the USC campus are strongly encouraged to bring their own pianists for their audition. If a voice applicant performing their live audition on the USC campus is not able to bring their own pianist to the audition, they must request a Thornton-provided pianist by the deadline stated in their audition confirmation. Audition confirmations for fall voice applicants will be issued via email by the end of December. In this email confirmation, applicants will be given specific information about how to formally request a Thornton-provided pianist for the audition, including a specific deadline by which the request must be received. Applicants will also be required, as part of this request, to provide PDF documents of the repertoire they will be performing for their audition. These PDF documents will be forwarded by the USC Thornton Admission office to the Thornton-assigned pianist in order to facilitate the pianists’ preparations in advance of the audition.

****Applicants will be assigned a pianist by USC Thornton only if they make a request for a pianist according to the instructions given and by the deadline specified in the email audition confirmation. If this request is not received by the deadline a pianist will not be assigned by USC Thornton.****

On the day of the audition, applicants will have an assigned warm-up room for approximately 30 minutes before their scheduled audition appointment. Applicants who have been assigned a pianist by USC Thornton will be able to rehearse their repertoire with the Thornton-assigned pianist for about 15 minutes of that warm-up time.

Graduate Academic Admission Examination (DMA only)


DMA applicants to Vocal Arts must take Thornton’s Graduate Academic Admission Examination. The examination will be administered via an online platform on January 15, 2022 from 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM Pacific Standard Time. Applicants will receive materials to be reviewed in preparation for the exam about two weeks prior to the exam date. Additional details will be sent in mid-December to those applicants who are required to take the exam.

This written examination reflects the types of critical inquiry with which graduate-level courses at USC Thornton engage. The examination will be assessed by academic faculty as a measure of an applicant’s readiness for the academic rigors and multi-disciplinary structure of Thornton graduate programs. This assessment will be one of several important components considered by the faculty in order to reach a final admission decision for each applicant.

The examination will be administered in two sequential sections:

  1. Conceptual Essay: Applicants will be given an essay prompt about an issue or issues in the music profession today. Applicants will be asked to write a short essay exploring various aspects of the topic(s) introduced by the prompt, responding to specific questions and drawing on their own experience, knowledge, and opinions as appropriate.
  2. Analytical Essay: Applicants will be given a scholarly/literary text on a music-related topic. Applicants will be asked to respond in essay form to a series of analytical questions relating to the text provided. The analytical issues may concern basic music theory (possibly with reference to a short example in musical notation), music history, and/or aesthetics.

It is important to note that Thornton’s Graduate Academic Admission Examination is not an examination for which students are generally able to study or prepare. It is not designed to examine factual knowledge, but rather the ability to think analytically and express critical thought in academic language, as this is the type of work that is required for graduate-level academic courses at USC Thornton. While the content of Thornton’s Graduate Academic Admission Examination may be drawn from a wide range of scholarly sources, it may be helpful to refer to the following publications by our own faculty:

  • Barrett, Janet & Peter Webster: The Musical Experience: Rethinking Music Teaching and Learning.
  • Brown, Bruce: W. A. Mozart: Così fan tutte (Cambridge Opera Handbook)
  • Demers, Joanna: Anatomy of Thought-Fiction: CHS Report, April 2214
  • Foster, Kenneth J: Performing Arts Presenting: From Theory to Practice
  • Gordon, Stewart: Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas: A Handbook for Performers
  • Nye, Sean. “Sprockets + Autobahn: Kraftwerk Parodies, German Electronic Music, and Retro Dreams in Amerika.” In Dreams of Germany: Musical Imaginaries from the Concert Hall to the Dance Floor. Neil Gregor and Thomas Irvine, eds.
  • Page, Tim: On Music: Views and Reviews
  • Simms, Bryan: The Atonal Music of Arnold Schoenberg, 1908-1923
  • Sloan, Nate. Switched on Pop (blog with Charlie Harding). http://www.switchedonpop.com.