Graduate Music Application Information

Application Deadlines

The priority deadline for receipt of all application materials is January 15 for fall admission. Late applications are accepted on a space available basis after this date until July 15.

The priority application deadline for spring is October 15

Additional details about the admission and application process can be found in the Graduate Catalog.

Required Materials

All applicants are required to submit the following:

  • Graduate Application with $50 application fee.

  • Statement of purposeSee further details below.

  • Portfolio. See further details below.

  • Audition (Performance & Literature applicants only). See further details below.

  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. See further details below.

  • Two letters of recommendation. See further details below.

  • English proficiency requirement. (for non-native English speakers) See further details below.
  • Additional requirements for international students. See further details below.

Statement of Purpose

A general framework for your statement of purpose should include a brief intellectual autobiography describing the formation of your academic or artistic interests and present concerns; your reasons for wanting to study at Mills College; and a description of tentative plans for the use of your degree and the special areas of interest upon which your study would focus.


All applicants must submit a portfolio of their work as part of the online application. Materials may also be sent via postal mail to the Music department. Do not send originals. Portfolio requirements are as follows:

  • MA in Composition: Submit three scores and, if possible, high quality audio recordings of your most recent compositions, program notes for the works submitted, and an annotated representative list of your works. MIDI versions of scores are permitted but not encouraged.
  • MFA in Electronic Music & Recording Media: Submit a minimum of three recordings of recent compositions, of which one may be a film or video, program notes describing the aesthetic framework and technical tools/techniques used in the creation of the works submitted, and an annotated representative list of your works, including both electronic and non-electronic works. List and describe your work in other media (i.e. film, video, theater, dance, multi-media, etc.)
  • MFA in Performance & Literature—Improvisation Specialization: Submit a writing sample on a historical, aesthetic, or analytic topic relating to improvisation. This may examine a specific style of improvisation or the work of an important improviser or ensemble, for example. 
  • MFA in Performance & Literature—Solo and Chamber Music Specialization: Submit a scholarly writing sample on a historical, aesthetic, or analytical topic (this may be an essay that you have written for an upper-division course in music).


An audition is required for all Performance and Literature applicants. Live auditions are preferred, but recordings may be submitted if necessary. Please contact the Music Department at 510.430.2171 to arrange an audition time. Recorded auditions should be submitted online via your admissions status page. The guidelines for the audition are as follows:

  • Improvisation Specialization: At least one solo improvisation and two small group (duo or trio) improvisations. For live auditions, we will want to hear at least one solo, plus two or three improvisations with parameters to be given at the audition. Those who are present for their audition may also submit recordings of small group improvisation if they wish.

  • Solo and Chamber Music Specialization: 
    • Voice: A German lied, an early Italian song, a song in contemporary idiom, and an operatic aria.
    • Instruments (piano, strings, winds): One significant work (or movement) representing each of the following categories: Baroque or Renaissance, Classical, 19th century, and 20th or 21st century.
    • Other instruments: Students wishing to apply on an instrument not included in the above categories, including those from traditions outside of the West, such as sitar, 'ud, kayagum, harpsichord, guitar, harp, percussion, etc, or who wish to modify these requirements because of their performance specialization, should make inquiries directly to the head of the Music Department at 510.430.2171.


Transcripts with grades from each post-secondary institution attended toward receipt of bachelor's degree must be submitted as part of the application review process. One (1) official transcript from a students’ bachelor’s degree receiving institution is required, and official OR unofficial transcripts for all credited course work toward receipt of bachelor's degree, including courses taken at community college, must be submitted. Students should also submit transcripts from any relevant graduate level work they have completed.

If you obtained your bachelor’s degree outside the US, you are required to have your transcript evaluated by a NACES member organization. If the transcript is written in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a certified English translation.

Please Note:
Admission to graduate or post-baccalaureate study at Mills College is contingent upon the successful completion of a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. If you are still completing your degree at the time of application, send official transcripts showing work completed and in progress. Immediately upon completion of the baccalaureate degree requirements, it is your responsibility to send a final transcript with the degree posted to our office.

Hard-copy transcripts should be sent to:

Office of Graduate Admissions
Mills College
5000 MacArthur Blvd.
MB #45
Oakland, CA 94613

Digital transcripts can be sent through a verified service to

Two Letters of Recommendation 

Recommendation forms are part of the online application or can be sent directly by the recommender to the Office of Graduate Admissions via postal mail or email.

English Proficiency Requirement

All non-native speakers of English are required to show proof of English language proficiency unless they hold a bachelor’s degree from an English speaking, regionally accredited university or college located in the US, Canada, Australia, or Great Britain. Mills College accepts the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the English Language School (ELS) Certificate.

The music graduate program requires a minimum of 550 on the paper-based TOEFL, 80 for the internet-based TOEFL, IELTS overall band-score of 6.5 or higher, or the ELS Level 112 Certificate.

More information about these exams is available online at,, and

Additional Requirements for International Students

Prior to enrollment, applicants who require a visa for studying at Mills are required to submit a Certification of Finances form and bank statement. These documents do not need to be submitted with the application materials. An I-20 cannot be issued without these documents.

Additional information about these forms and all other requirements for international students can be found here.

If you have any questions about admission requirements, deadlines, or applying to Mills, please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions at 510.430.3309 or

Living on Campus

Commuting to Campus

Student Handbook

Graduate Catalog

Online Application

Check Your Application Status

Contact Information
P: 510.430.3309

If you have a specific question for a faculty member, please contact or call 510.430.2171.

Last Updated: 10/25/16