Frequently Asked Questions

How should I submit my application?

NOTE:  BOTH applications are needed to be considered for graduate study in our programs (this includes performance areas that require pre-screen recordings).

First Stage:  The first part of the application must be submitted through the Graduate School's application system (ApplyYourself).  Go to our Application page for current links.  In this part of the application you will indicate basic information, including your contact information, basic biographical information, your first language, your educational background, and other identifying information.  The people who serve as your recommenders will submit their support letters through this system.

Second Stage:  All supporting documents for your application will be submitted through Decision Desk.  Go to our application page for the current link.  The particular documents submitted here will depend on the degree program to which you are applying.  All pre-screening recordings, audition recordings for MM students, scans of transcripts, scholarly papers, scores and sound files MUST be submitted through Decision Desk. 

What if I have a technical problem with my online application?

Please contact the online system directly - either the Graduate School's application system (ApplyYourself) or Decision Desk.  The Music Department has no information on how to solve technical issues with those websites.

Where do I send my supporting materials?

All supporting documents to be submitted by the applicant MUST be submitted through Decision Desk.  Please do NOT submit supporting documents through the Graduate School's ApplyYourself application.  The only supporting materials that are submitted through ApplyYourself are your letters of recommendation, which are submitted directly by your recommenders.  The only materials that you will submit as hard copy to the department are your transcripts.  Please see "Special Notes on Transcripts" below.

Special Notes on Transcripts

The Stony Brook University Graduate School requires official transcripts, and this is their policy:

Applicants are only required to submit transcripts from all undergraduate institutions attended from which a degree was earned. Applicants, however, must submit all transcripts relating to any graduate level work undertaken, regardless of whether or not a degree was earned. Please note a department's graduate program admissions committee always reserves the right to request additional information. 

This means that you will be uploading transcripts to Decision Desk AND mailing us the official transcripts from applicable schools.

1. When you upload your transcripts to Decision Desk, please make sure it is ONE document per transcript (do not upload each page of a transcript as a separate document).  You can upload a copy of your official transcript, or upload a printout of a transcript from your school's online portal.

2. For the required hard copy official transcript(s):  Have your school(s) send your transcripts to us directly.  For these, photocopies or scans of transcripts are NOT acceptable.  We know that procuring transcripts from overseas schools and conservatories can be difficult, but you will not be admitted unless we submit an official version to the Graduate School.

2. If you have your school(s) send your official transcripts to you, do NOT open the envelopes.  The unopened envelopes should be sent to us directly.

3. Official transcripts should be sent directly to the Music Department and NOT the Graduate School.  Please have them sent to:


Graduate Coordinator
Department of Music
3304 Staller Center, Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-5475


How do I know if you received my package?

Please send your items via a service that provides tracking. The sheer volume of mail we receive at this time of year does not permit us to individually acknowledge every item of mail received. We ask that you please do not call and ask us if we received your package. Please also understand that if you send a package via the US Postal Service, any tracking information received will tell you when it arrived in the Campus Mail Room, not when the Music Department received it.

How can I obtain a waiver of the application fee?

All applicants are required to pay the application fee. Exceptions include:

  • Students who are U.S. citizens and have current documentation from a financial aid administrator of an appropriate college or university official substantiating that they are currently enrolled and that the payment of the application would create a financial hardship (complete financial information for the current academic year must be provided, including total cost of education and amount and types of financial aid received). To qualify, applicants must request a waiver from the Graduate School Admissions Office before they submit their application for admission, and should include the necessary documentation listed above.
  • Students who have a fellowship/scholarship through McNair, Project 1000, SEEK, and AGEP. To qualify, applicants must have a letter or e-mail from the appropriate agency sent to the Graduate School Admissions Office.

Appropriate supporting documentation for the application fee waiver can be emailed to Once the Graduate School Admissions Office receives the appropriate documents we will waive the fee for the applicant so they may submit their on-line application without paying. Application fees cannot be refunded so please do not submit and pay the fee if you are requesting a waiver.

For more information, please visit

What are the TOEFL-IELTS Requirements?

If your native language is not English, the following requirements are in place:


  • Overall score of 7.0, with no subsection recommended to be below 6


  • Master's Degrees (MM and MA): 85 for admission, 90 to be eligible for appointment as a Teaching Assistant
  • Doctoral Degrees (DMA and PhD): 90 for admission and to be eligible for TA/GA support

Spoken English

  • All students with a TA/GA stipend whose native language is not English must demonstrate a sufficient level of English-speaking proficiency and may be required to take ESL courses based on these measures. Proficiency is determined by the speak subsection score. For IELTS and TOEFL speak subsection scores, please see the chart below:



Course Requirement



7.5 or higher


Eligible to TA



ESL 598

Eligible to TA



ESL 596

Eligible to run recitation and lab sessions and/or grade



ESL 591

Not eligible to TA

Reporting of Scores

  • IELTS : An official score report should be submitted to the Music Department. Copies or scans of these reports will not be accepted.
  • TOEFL: Applicants should have Educational Testing Services (ETS) send official scores directly to Stony Brook University. Our institution code is 2548.
  • The SBU Graduate School only accepts scores for tests taken within the last two years. For example, TOEFL exams taken prior to January 2015 will not be accepted for Fall 2017 applications.
  • If you have taken either test multiple times, the Graduate School will consider the highest score for admission (the highest score must be an official score received directly from ETS).

Music Department Policy on Waivers

  • No waivers will be granted to students applying to the Doctoral program (DMA or PhD) or to the MA program.
  • Students applying to the Master of Music (MM) program may request a waiver if they have earned/will earn a four-year degree at an institution in which all instruction is in English.

More information

Please see the Graduate School Websites for further clarification:

Who has to take the GRE?

MA students in History/Theory, Ethnomusicology, and Composition, and Ph.D. students in History/Theory, Ethnomusicology, and Composition must submit GRE scores.  MM and DMA applicants in performance are not required to submit GRE scores.  Stony Brook University’s code is 2548. GRE scores can only be accepted if sent electronically; scores that are mailed in are not acceptable.

What if I haven’t taken the TOEFL or GRE exam yet?

We need to have the results in our office no later than the end of December 2017.  If your score is not received on time, it could jeopardize your admission to the program.

What sort of writing samples do I have to send?

MM Applicants

Submit one original essay, in English, in music research, analysis, or criticism that demonstrate your ability to carry out scholarly work in music. The paper, typically generated in prior course work, should be at least ten pages in length and demonstrate knowledge of proper bibliographic citation practices (your paper must contain a bibliography). 

DMA Applicants

Submit two original essays, in English, in music research, analysis, or criticism that demonstrate your ability to carry out scholarly work in music. The papers, typically generated in prior course work, should be at least ten pages in length and demonstrate knowledge of proper bibliographic citation practices (your paper must contain a bibliography). 

History/Theory and Ethnomusicology Program Applicants

Submit 2-3 original essays in music research, analysis or criticism. In addition to these, you may submit papers on other subjects if you think that they support some aspect of your application for admission. Please limit your essays to those that exemplify your best work. 

Composition Applicants

You do not need to submit essays; you only need to submit scores and recordings. 

I submitted a pre-screen recording.  When will I be notified of the result?

Applicants who were required to submit a pre-screen recording will be notified by email in early January with the result.

How do I find out my audition date and time?

Actual audition schedules are set by the studios themselves.  Studios contact applicants directly to set up audition times. You may contact the professor of your studio to follow up on this.  Click here for the faculty information page.

How does the Department decide?

This is actually a very complex decision process. The Department looks for students who will benefit from the program, and for students who will contribute to the musical and academic climates at Stony Brook. For performers, it is a two-step process; first, you have your audition to determine admissibility on a performance basis, and then faculty reviews your file for academic admissibility.

When does the Department decide?

Offer letters for the Performance programs are generally sent out in late March. Offer letters for Composition and the History/Theory and Ethnomusicology programs are sent out in mid-to late-February.

What if it’s Mid-April, and I haven’t received my letter yet?

If you have not heard anything by mid-April, please send us an email (to with your full name, and the area you applied for.

Can I call for your decision?

Results are only given in writing. Please do not call for your result.

What if my application is incomplete?

If your application is incomplete, the University will not admit you. It is crucial that all elements are included in the application. SOME items may be received late, but the earlier you submit your materials, the better. If your application is substantially incomplete, you will not be admitted.

NOTE to MM/DMA students:  Do not wait for “audition results” before sending in supplemental materials. You will go to your audition, and the performance faculty makes their recommendations for admission. After this is done, the faculty reviews the files for academic admissibility – to determine if you meet the academic requirements for admission to the program. It is only after both of these processes are concluded that you would get any information regarding the results of your audition.

What about double majors?

Applicants who wish to be double majors must audition/apply separately for each major department and must be admitted by each area. You only need to send one application and pay one application fee, but you should indicate on the application that you wish to apply for more than one area of specialization.

General Notes

  • When applying, the computer system may accept an application past the Department deadline.  Please check the Department of Music's application deadline as the application fee is not refundable. 
  • While MM applicants who live more than 250 miles from Stony Brook's campus may audition via live recording, we strongly suggest that schedule a live audition.
  • FINANCIAL SUPPORT: Everyone who applies is automatically considered for financial assistance from the Music Department, usually in the form of a Teaching Assistantship/Tuition Scholarship. There are no special forms to fill out for Departmental support. US Citizens and Permanent Residents are also eligible for other forms of financial aid, which are applied for via the FAFSA form. Most NY residents are also eligible for TAP. 
  • GRADUATE COUNCIL FELLOWSHIPS AND TURNER FELLOWSHIPS – if you wish to be considered for either of these financial opportunities, you will need to have your application completed by December 1. Students wishing to be considered for these awards must be U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents, and Turner Fellows must self-identify as either African-American, Native American, or Hispanic on their application.


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