The College of Arts and Architecture

Undergraduate Recruitment and Admissions

Recruitmentschool logo

Recruitment is the first and most crucial step in the admissions process. Thorough recruitment helps to assure adequate class and ensemble enrollments, as well as quality of student applicants. The names of possible prospective students come from a wide variety of sources:

  • Honors Music Institute - grades 8-12; jazz, piano, band, choir
  • Spend a Summer Day – 5 sessions featuring a presentation by School of Music staff
  • SAT mailing -sent to students in PA and neighboring states who indicate an interest in music
  • PMEA festivals (referrals from our faculty who serve as guest conductors)
  • Fall Visit Day (October)
  • NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling), which sponsors National College Fairs and Performing and Visual Arts College Fairs
  • partnership with Williamsport School District string program
  • referrals from School of Music faculty, from their private studios and other contacts
  • referrals from current students and alumni
  • referrals from high school ensemble directors and private teachers
  • contact cards collected from display/information booths at state/regional/national conferences such as PMEA
  • email, phone, and regular mail inquiries; inquiries through the college website
  • visits to music admissions office and faculty studios

In addition, many of our outreach activities spark an interest in potential music students:

  • graduate, undergraduate, and faculty presentations and ensemble tours at public schools and conferences
  • School of Music student teachers (PMTE) program
  • public concerts presented at the School of Music
  • poster and ensemble CD mailings/distributions to PA high schools and alumni directors
  • School of Music-hosted festivals and conferences
  • professional journals and publications
  • printed brochures
  • School of Music website
  • President’s Concerts (School of Music Ensembles performing in major venues in the northeast)

Contact information for any prospective student that is given to Irene is entered in the prospective student database. If possible, these students are sent an email with general information and are invited to explore our website. Those who visit the music admissions office receive a printed brochure and general information. In the fall, Irene generates a “studio report” for each applied faculty member and continues throughout audition season with updates.  This report contains the names and contact information for seniors who may be prospective music majors/minors in that particular instrument or area. Faculty are encouraged to call or email these students with information about their studios and the School of Music, as well as invite them to visit and audition.

School of Music Website

The Admissions section of the School of Music website contains up-to-date information about the admissions and audition process, as well as links to other important sites.

Prospective students are frequently referred to this site for information about the School of Music, our degree programs, audition requirements, faculty, etc. and to complete the online audition request form. Therefore, it is essential that all faculty review this important resource annually to ensure that the published information represents current policies and practices relative to each studio or area.

Application Process

All students must apply to Penn State first through the admissions website: The application is usually available by the first week of September. Due to the sheer volume of applications to the University, students are urged to apply early. November 30 is the recommended deadline. Students who apply to music are prompted within the online application to set up an audition. All auditionees must be academically qualified before auditioning and will only be notified by the Penn State Admissions Office if they are not qualified. Applicants are encouraged to regularly check their MyPennState account for updates and requests for missing application items.

Irene prepares a weekly admissions report through the data warehouse to check the status of music applicants. (Applicants who are academically qualified are given the designation “Pen AA.”) She contacts Kelly Praskovich, our admissions liaison in the dean’s office, if a student is scheduled to audition soon and may not be qualified. These auditions are canceled when it is confirmed by admissions that they do not qualify. Occasionally, a student’s application may not be complete due to missing SAT scores or high school transcripts. Irene notes this (MI – missing information) in the audition file. Faculty are cautioned not to give any audition feedback in case the student is not academically qualified. Even if it was an outstanding audition, the University will not accept a student who does not meet academic criteria.

Scheduling an Audition

ALL STUDENTS (including minors, change of majors, and transfer students) must go to our website to access the audition request form to set up an audition. This is true even if the faculty member has spoken to the student and has agreed on a tentative date. The audition request form contains information which creates the student’s file. It is crucial that Irene has this information as soon as possible so that she can access the student’s Penn State ID number and monitor the application process and status of each student. Also, because of the large number of applicants (300+), there is a greater chance of having a student “slip through the cracks” if there is no physical record of an audition or a file. No student will be placed on the audition schedule or receive a confirmation if they have not submitted an audition request form. Once received, this audition request form is forwarded by email to the appropriate studio faculty for their own records.

Information Processing

Irene enters all information from the audition request form in the audition database and prospective student database, both of which are on the college server. (These databases are often accessed by the dean’s office staff, particularly if the admissions office has a question about an applicant.) Information from the form is used to access the student’s Penn State ID in the AIS system (name, hometown, date of birth). At this point, an initial status check is done, as the data warehouse is updated only once a week and new applicants may not appear on the admissions report.


The student’s name is placed on the audition schedule, usually in the order that it was processed, unless a specific time request has been made by the family. The student receives an email letter which confirms the date, outlines the general schedule for the day, and provides other information about parking, lodging (sometimes special rates for auditionees and their families), and even attire. A student background form is sent as an attachment, requesting return within ten days. These forms are then forwarded to the faculty, either by email or hard copy placed in their mailbox. Any forms, resumes, or letters are placed in the student’s audition file, which also includes an audition record form. 

Audition Day

Audition Days are typically four designated Saturdays in January and February. (Trombone auditions are on Sundays.) Audition Day activities begin with registration and include an audition with one or more studio instructors, and in the case of the voice studio, ensemble directors. Many faculty use the audition as an opportunity to work with the student in a mini-lesson format, as well as evaluate the student’s performance of prepared repertoire. In addition, high school seniors are asked to take a brief theory quiz; results help to identify students who may need to do remedial studies in theory prior to coming to Penn State. Voice auditionees in whom the faculty are interested are invited to return that afternoon for a mini-lesson with faculty, aural skills assessment, and an interview.

Faculty are strongly urged to be careful about the feedback they give to the student after the audition. While it is desirable to have a student  leave with a positive audition experience, it must be remembered that a student may take the smallest compliment as a sign of a successful audition. (Example: a number of years ago, one student published in her graduation program that she was attending the School of Music and was horribly crushed and confused when she learned that she had not been accepted after all.)

Recorded Auditions

The Undergraduate Application Process section on the School of Music website contains a link which may be accessed by students who want to send a recorded audition. Generally, students should contact the studio instructor for permission to send a recording and check to see if the audition requirements should be adjusted. (The piano area requires a signed statement verifying that the recording has not been altered, and that the student himself/herself is the performer.)  

Ideally, a student should come to Penn State for a “live” audition, but if travel distance is a factor, the faculty may agree to a recording. (The voice area does not accept recordings.)

Students should send recordings to Irene, rather than to the faculty. To assure that recordings have not been misplaced or lost in transit, there is a tracking system in place. Once the recording is received, Irene logs the date of receipt into the database, prepares an audition folder, and lists the date the recording was given to the faculty member for review. She also notifies the student that we have received the recording. Recordings are due no later than the week before the last audition date in order to give faculty time to evaluate them.

Students must submit an audition request form, selecting “recorded audition” instead of an audition date.

Audition Results

Faculty are encouraged to submit audition results to Irene as soon as possible after each audition day. In some cases, it may not be possible to make final decisions until after the last audition day. The deadline for submitting results is usually March 1. All audition folders should be returned to Irene for processing, including “no shows,” positive, and unfavorable results. The latter is important because students must choose an alternate program and possibly, another campus. The audition record form should be completely filled out, noting:

  • recommended degree program
  • audition results (recommend acceptance/do not recommend)
  • rating (1 through 5)
  • comments
  • applied music lesson level (if the student is recommended)
  • scholarship recommendation (yes or no)
  • signature of instructor(s)

Please be aware that there will be a special “applied music” form in the file folder of each student who auditions in composition. Applied faculty will be asked to make recommendations regarding lesson levels and appropriate ensemble participation for these students.

The audition results are entered into the audition database, and Kelly Praskovich (dean’s office) notifies the Undergraduate Admissions Office. Irene monitors the audition list as well as the applicant database to make sure every student has been evaluated and results have been reported. If the student’s audition was successful and he/she is academically qualified, the admissions office will most likely send an offer letter, usually by March 15.


Merit-based scholarships are offered to incoming freshmen and, occasionally, to transfers. Dr. Haug normally assigns a studio allotment, and it is up to the instructor to decide to whom the awards will be given, based on the audition. Faculty often provide reasons supporting their decisions to Dr. Haug via email. Once approved, these emails are forwarded to Irene, who enters the information into a database and prepares a letter to the student. This letter, known as “the Welcome Letter,” affirms the studio to which the student has been accepted, the student’s intended degree program, and the scholarship award and criteria for renewal. (Students who are not chosen to receive a scholarship receive a similar letter, though they are notified that they will not be receiving an award.) There are a limited number of Trustee Scholarships, which are based on need. Students must submit their FAFSA form early in order to be considered for these awards. In addition, a selected number of incoming freshmen may be offered a Provost Award for academic achievement.

Paid Accepts

Students must send their acceptance fee/housing deposit no later than May 1. Irene notifies the studio faculty each week (usually Tuesdays) if one of their prospective students has sent in their acceptance fee. In addition, she emails a piano evaluation form to each non-piano major “paid accept.” Once collected, these forms are given to Tim Shafer for piano class/lesson placement for the fall. The sooner a student sends in his/her acceptance fee, the better chance he/she has for getting an earlier NSO (advising on campus) date. Note: the payment of the acceptance fee no longer has any bearing on housing assignment.  Housing assignment is now based on the date the housing contract is returned. These are two separate actions. The policy was changed because students were paying their acceptance fee early to “hold a spot” until they heard from other schools, but not sending back their housing contracts until the last minute.

Preparing for NSO

Once students become paid accepts, they are given instructions for taking various placement tests (chemistry, math, and English) online at their convenience. The purpose of these tests is to make sure the student will be enrolled in the proper level of general education courses. When the tests have been evaluated, the student is assigned a date to come on campus for New Student Orientation (NSO). In the meantime, the audition folder is checked to verify the intended degree program, the studio to which the student has been accepted, and the lesson level. At this point, all student folders are forwarded to Kim Miller in the main office. The student’s private lesson, freshman seminar, and theory classes are put on his/her schedule. General education classes are chosen by the student with the help of a School of Music adviser at NSO. Usually, ensembles are added later after auditions are held during the first week of class.

Change of Majors

The School of Music typically has a number of students  who audition for a change of major during audition season, though a few audition during the first week of classes or even finals week. It is especially important that these students complete the audition request form so that Irene can check their status. A student must have a 2.0 GPA in order to change majors; without this knowledge in advance, a faculty member may be wasting valuable time auditioning them. If a student meets the criteria and is accepted by the studio instructor, the audition results are processed through Kelly Praskovich. The dean’s office gives the approval for the change of major, and the School of Music notifies the student of acceptance by letter, which includes a change of major form. When the student completes the form and returns it to Irene, Kim Miller enters the change of major in the system. The student is given contact information for the appropriate music adviser.

Students who audition for the change of major while attending a Commonwealth Campus have similar qualifying criteria. However, their notification letter must be taken to the registrar’s office at that campus in order to request a change of major AND change of assignment.

Music Minors

The process has changed slightly now that we have several options for the music minor. There is no audition for the music studies minor or music technology minor. Students who want to pursue the music studies minor must contact one of the theory professors (Eric McKee) for permission to begin the music theory sequence. (Occasionally there may be a student who must do remedial work first by taking Music 8.) The student must make an appointment with Tim Hurtz, the music minor adviser, and an application must be completed. Music Technology minors must contact Mark Ballora or Curtis Craig before beginning this program. Sometimes the Music 8 prerequisite may be waived if it is determined that the student has an adequate background. This program also requires an application.

A performance minor candidate must first complete and submit an audition request form. These students are advised to contact the studio faculty of his/her primary performance area; not all studios can take music minors due to space considerations. Auditions for performance minors are usually scheduled in January and February, and sometimes at the beginning of each semester or during finals week. Voice students may only audition for the minor once they are enrolled at Penn State, and only on the first day of finals week in December or late April/May.

Audition results for music performance minors are noted in the audition database, but not processed by the dean’s office since they are “in-house” decisions. These students are notified by the School of Music of their acceptance (or rejection) and told to contact Tim Hurtz for advising. Irene continues to monitor their status until May 1 to make sure that they are paid accept to University Park.

Transfer Students

To be considered as a transfer, a student must have completed 18 or more credits of post-high school graduation. Both high school and college transcripts are required for the application. In addition, students coming into the School of Music must have at least a 2.5 GPA. An application deadline of February 1 is listed on the Admissions Office website, but students are encouraged to apply much earlier since it takes longer to receive their transcripts. They must also be academically qualified. However, they may have to audition before the Admissions Office can finish evaluating their application materials. Notification of acceptance comes from the Penn State Admissions Office.