Jun 21, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog

Performer’s Certificate

The Performer’s Certificate is not a graduate degree. The purpose of the Performer’s Certificate program is to permit students to attain greater mastery of their chosen fields than they can achieve in formal study through the master’s degree level. This 24-semester-hour program includes private instruction, research related to performance, and performance experience designed to develop fully independent professional musicians.

Check departmental information for any additional requirements.

The student learning outcomes for this degree are located at http://www.niu.edu/assessment/clearinghouse/outcomes/index.shtml.


In addition to the standard requirements for graduate admission to the Graduate School at NIU, the School of Music has additional requirements for graduate admission. The Performer’s Certificate program requires applicants to submit the following materials:

Master’s degree in Music

  • In some cases, students who demonstrate exceptional performing abilities, equivalent to a Master of Music level or beyond, and who have completed a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution or appropriate diploma from a recognized conservatory or music school, may be recommended by the faculty of the School of Music for admission directly into the Performer’s Certificate program. However, persons admitted to the Performer’s Certificate program in this manner must reapply to the Graduate School if they seek entry into a graduate degree program.

Statement of purpose

  • Your statement of purpose should be approximately 250 to 750 words in length. It should outline your preparation for graduate study in your chosen field, as well as your goals for graduate school and beyond. It should also explain why you believe the program at NIU can best help you meet those goals.

Letters of recommendation

  • 2 (two) letters of recommendation from individuals speaking to your ability to be successful in the completion of a graduate-level degree program. Your recommenders should be individuals who have a professional or academic relationship with you as the applicant.

Resume or curriculum vitae (CV)

  • Copy of current resume/CV in a PDF format indicating your professional work and/or volunteer experience in both music and non-music fields.

List of major repertoire studied and performed.


  • Review specific studio audition requirements and register for an audition at https://www.niu.edu/music/admissions/auditions.shtml.
Application deadlines and admit terms:

            Application materials for graduate admission into the Performer’s Certificate program must be received by the Graduate School and audition, portfolio and/or interviews completed by:

Fall admit term: February 24 (priority)

  • Following the priority deadline, applications will be reviewed as there is space in the studio/program or until May 15th. After May 15th, admission consideration may be possible but is not guaranteed.

Spring admit term: December 1 (priority/final)

The School of Music currently does not admit students for the summer term.


Note that the Performer’s Certificate program deadlines are earlier in the application cycle than the general Graduate School deadlines.

Applicants for admission to the P.C. program are notified of an admission decision from the School of Music as soon as administratively feasible following completion of all Graduate School and School of Music entrance requirements. Official admission offers are released from the Graduate School once decisions have been made and processed.

Credit Requirements

The Performer’s Certificate program requires a minimum of 24 semester hours of credit with a GPA of at least 3.00. The minimum GPA of 3.00 must be earned over all courses required in the student’s program of courses as well as over all overall graduate courses taken at NIU.

Limitation of Time

The student must fulfill all of the requirements of the Performer’s Certificate program within the six consecutive years immediately preceding the date of the student’s graduation from that program.

If a course taken to complete the requirements for the Performer’s Certificate does not fall within this time limitation, the School of Music may require the student to retake the course for credit or may allow the student to demonstrate current knowledge of the subject matter. In the latter case, currency must be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the department offering the course through successful completion of an appropriate examination or other assessment if available from the department. Otherwise, the outdated course work must be deleted from, and other course work must be substituted in, the program of courses.

Student-at-Large and Transfer Credit

No student-at-large or transfer credit is accepted as part of the program of courses required for the Performer’s Certificate.

Dual Credit for Course Work

Students pursuing the both the Master of Music degree and the Performer’s Certificate at NIU may have up to 6 semester hours of graduate course work accepted for credit in both programs.


  • Private applied study (8)
  • Ensembles (6)
  • Ensemble requirements will include a combination of large ensembles and chamber music ensembles. Specific ensemble requirements for each student will be determined in consultation with their studio faculty instructor and academic advisor.

  • Electives in music performance (6)

Other requirements:

A series of at least four performances and presentations is required, consisting of at least two full-length recitals and such other presentations or performance experiences as master classes, lecture recitals, professional internships, and concerto performances, as determined by the advisor and program committee. Normally, only one full-length recital may be presented in a single semester. Because the program is highly specialized and concentrated, students are expected to enroll in a full course load during each term they attend. (See “Course Load.”)

Final Recital

Each student must successfully present a final recital and should consult with the School of Music concerning applicable procedures and deadlines for this recital.

A student must be enrolled and must be in good academic standing, both overall and in the Performer’s Certificate program, in the term of the final recital to be eligible for its presentation. A student who fails to perform the final recital successfully may, with the permission of the School of Music, repeat it no sooner than the following academic term. A student who fails a second time, or is not granted approval for a second attempt, will not be permitted to continue work toward the Performer’s Certificate, and admission to that program will be terminated.

Composition of Final Recital Committee

The Performer’s Certificate final recital committee must consist of at least three members. The majority of the committee must be regular faculty members at NIU; a majority must be members of the graduate faculty; and the chair must be a graduate faculty member in the School of Music.

Application for Graduation

When nearing completion of requirements for a graduate degree, a student must submit an application for graduation to the Graduate School. See “Graduation” in the General Regulations section of this catalog.