Graduate Admissions

NIU student Keelan Wright with his saxophone.

At NIU, you get the best of everything. You’ll study in a conservatory setting, learning from and performing alongside world-renown, award-winning faculty who are dedicated to your growth as a musician, all while gaining the benefits and resources of a major research university. Being 65-miles west of Chicago, you’re close to a vibrant music scene, surrounded with numerous opportunities to perform on campus, in the community and in the city.

Admissions Process

When pursing Music as a major here at NIU, it is a two-step admissions process.

All application materials should be submitted by March 1, 2020 (priority deadline). Auditions are held in January and February. Please see our specific audition dates. If you are unable to attend one of our scheduled audition days, you must receive permission to schedule a separate audition or submit a video audition.

Following February 20, please contact Brigid Crawford at to schedule an audition. Applications and auditions will be accepted based upon studio capacity. We encourage you to apply and audition as soon as possible for full consideration.

  1. Apply to the Graduate School.
  2. Audition for the NIU School of Music. 
    • Auditions are held in January and February.
    • Auditions for Spring/Fall 2021 applicants will be held virtually via Zoom.
    • Please review studio audition requirements.

Depending upon the program specialization a portfolio and/or interview may be in place of a performance audition.


The Graduate School sets a minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.00, though a lower GPA may be considered.You must have completed a Bachelor of Music degree to be considered, with limited exceptions to this requirement. The School of Music does not require the GRE for admission. Please contact Professor James R. Brown, coordinator of graduate studies, at with questions.

International Applicants

If you are an international applicant, you must report your TOEFL or IELTS scores to the Graduate School. Masters applicants must have a score of 80 on the computer-based TOEFL. Performer’s certificate students must have a score above 65. Students who have earned an undergraduate or graduate degree from a US college or university are exempt from taking the TOEFL or IELTS again.


There are various funding opportunities for graduate students, including tuition waivers and graduate assistantships. You are encouraged to apply for both funding opportunities. Completed assistantship forms should be sent to Professor James R. Brown, coordinator of graduate studies at To be considered for either of these opportunities, all graduate, music and funding application materials must be submitted by March 1 for priority consideration. You will be contacted in late March/early April about the status of your tuition waiver and/or assistantship.