Frequently Asked Questions

How should I submit my application?

The application must be submitted online.  Go to Within the application there is a link for submitting recommendation letters electronically, or you may print out the form and hand it to your recommenders for hard copy submission. Please do not give us your password for the application. We neither need it nor want it.

Application materials should be mailed to the graduate coordinator of the music department in one large envelope. To that end, we suggest:

  • References should be submitted online.  Recommendations may also be sent by the referees directly to the Department.
  • Have your school(s) send your transcripts to you. Do not open the envelopes.  Photocopies are NOT acceptable. We know that procuring transcripts from overseas schools and conservatories can be difficult, but this is not a requirement that can be waived. We will need transcripts, in English, for every school you attended. If your school does not offer English transcripts, we will need an official (notarized) translation. Some overseas documents will need to be evaluated by World Educational Services (
  • Application: You MUST apply online. We do not accept paper applications.
    • MM/DMA: Indicate on your application which instrument or vocal area you wish to study.
    • MA/PhD: Indicate which area you wish to study – History/Theory or Composition.
  • If you know your GRE or TOEFL scores, please enter them on the application. We will verify them electronically at a later date.
  • History/Theory or DMA students: collect your writing samples.
  • MM/DMA Applicants: Enclose a completed audition form. Pre-screening materials must be postmarked by December 1, 2013.

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

If you have problems with the online application, please do not call the Music Department. We do not have access to the application system. Please click the “Technical Support” link on the login page. Please keep in mind that if you leave applying to the last possible moment, and then have technical difficulties, you may not be able to get assistance in a timely manner.

Where do I send my supporting materials?

Do not send any documents to the Graduate School.  Please mail everything directly to the Department of Music (regardless of shipping method):

Graduate Coordinator
Department of Music
3304 Staller Center, Stony Brook Unversity
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 6.5, 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 2011 will not be accepted for Fall 2013 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 and Composition, and Ph.D. students in History/Theory 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 2013.  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?

DMA Applicants

Submit two (2) 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). Please send photocopies of your papers (do not send your originals).

History and Theory Program Applicants

Submit 2-3 original essays in music research, analysis or criticism. In addition to these, you may send 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. Please send PHOTOCOPIES of your papers.

Composition Applicants

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

What is an audition form?

If you are applying for a performance degree (MM or DMA), you must submit an audition form.  Audition forms are due December 1, the same date the application is due. It tells the professor your planned audition pieces and lets us know if you think you will need an accompanist. This form is available on our web site. Without this form, you will not be given an audition time slot. You may also email this form to

How do I find out my audition date and time?

Actual audition schedules are set by the studios themselves. 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 programs are sent out in mid-February.

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

If you have not heard anything by April, please send us an email 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 if I’m a composer and want my originals back?

We much prefer if you send us copies, but understand that with scores, this is sometimes not possible. Please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the return and enclose a note to that effect.

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

  • Never send us any original document or recording without having a backup; materials are sometimes misplaced or lost in transit.
  • 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.
  • WHEN SUBMITTING PAPERS OR OTHER MATERIALS, be sure that your NAME, the DEGREE you are seeking, and your AREA OF SPECIALIZATION appear AT LEAST on the front cover. Pages should be numbered, and the bibliography must be included. DO NOT fax or email papers.


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