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Apply to the master's programme in Composition and Music Theory

Admissions guide to the 2.5-year programme in Composition and Music Theory.


Application period: between 8 and 22 January 2020 (at 3pm EET)
Entrance examinations: schedule published in January 2020
Admissions results: published 3 June 2020

Who can apply?

All applicants applying for a bachelor’s and master’s degree or only a master’s degree at Sibelius Academy are required to have an educational background relevant to the degree programme in question. You must submit a copy of your existing qualification or degree certificate via the Studyinfo portal to the Sibelius Academy Admissions Office by the given deadline.

If you complete one of the degrees mentioned below only after the application period ends, the decision on your admittance is conditional. In this case, you must submit a copy of your degree certificate to the Sibelius Academy Admissions Office after you graduate (but no later than the deadline set for conditionally admitted applicants’ degree certificate submissions). If you fail to produce a verified copy of your degree certificate by the deadline, you will not be granted a right to study at the Sibelius Academy. Sibelius Academy can also at its discretion accept an official provisory degree certificate issued by a university or other institute of higher education that shows you have completed the course and will receive the official degree certificate or diploma later.

Sibelius Academy will check every applicant’s eligibility before the entrance examination.

Master’s degree (2.5 years)

To be eligible to study for a master’s degree at Sibelius Academy you need to have completed at least one of the following:

  • A lower university degree in music (Bachelor)
  • A university of applied sciences degree in music
  • A foreign degree or qualification in music that makes you eligible for corresponding higher education in the awarding country
  • At least a lower university or university of applied sciences degree in another field and, additionally, university-level music studies, which serve as proof of sufficient skills and knowledge for a master’s degree in music.

You cannot apply for a master’s degree programme if you have not completed at least a lower university degree.

Sibelius Academy may require you to complete remedial studies of an extent requiring a maximum of one year of studies. You must complete the remedial studies in a manner prescribed by the department head during your first year of study. You will be notified about any remedial studies required when you receive your admission results. The remedial studies will not count towards your degree.

Other exceptions to eligibility

You cannot apply to both the 2.5-year and the 5.5-year programme of a single main subject, or main instrument in the same year. If you do, only your application to the 2.5-year programme will be taken into account assuming you are eligible. If you are not eligible for the 2.5-year programme, your application to the 5.5-year programme will be taken into account.

If you have completed a higher education degree at Sibelius Academy, you cannot apply for the same main subject again, or the same main instrument in the case of Classical Music Performance.

If you already have a right to study toward a bachelor’s or master’s degree at Uniarts Helsinki, you need to apply for a change of right to study, or for special permission to pursue two degrees simultaneously. Read more here.

Language requirements

Degree studies at Sibelius Academy require sufficient command of Finnish, Swedish, and/or English. You must demonstrate your language skills with a language proficiency test or prior studies in order to apply to Sibelius Academy. If your chosen programme has several languages of study, you are only required to prove your proficiency in one of the languages.

The languages of tuition in the Composition and Music Theory programme are Finnish, Swedish, and English. You must demonstrate your language proficiency in one of the abovementioned languages by the given deadline. However, the majority of group tuition at the Sibelius Academy is provided in Finnish or English.

>> Demonstrating your language skills in English

>> Demonstrating your language skills in Finnish

>> Demonstrating your language skills in Swedish

You must provide proof of your sufficient language skills usually by the end of the application period. Sibelius Academy recommends all applicants to demonstrate their language skills by submitting the necessary certificates in advance. However, if you are unable to demonstrate your language proficiency by the deadline, the decision on your admittance is conditional. In this case, you must submit an acceptable certificate of your language skills to the Sibelius Academy Admissions Office as soon as possible (but no later than the deadline set for conditionally admitted applicants’ certificate submissions). NOTE! If you do not submit the required proof of your language skills by the given deadline, you will not be granted a right to study at the Sibelius Academy.

How to apply

There are two main subjects: Composition and Music Theory. Applicants apply to these main subjects in two different groups. You can also apply to both of these main subjects.

Submit your electronic application in the Studyinfo portal before the end of the application period. Late applications will not be accepted. Submitting your pre-examination assignments or other supporting documents is not considered initiation of application proceedings if you do not submit the actual application form by the deadline.

Supporting documents

All certificates and other supporting documents must be submitted (as .pdf files) via the Studyinfo portal to arrive at the Sibelius Academy Admissions Office before the given deadline.

All applicants should submit the following documents:

Certificate of your prior education and a transcript of study records
If you have completed your education outside of Finland, we might ask for clarification of the educational system and the level of completed education in the country in question. If you complete your degree after the application period ends, you do not need to submit your degree certificate in the initial application stage. The certificate should be provided once completed (but no later than the deadline set for conditionally admitted applicants’ degree certificate submissions).

Certificate demonstrating your language skills
If you demonstrate sufficient language skills through previously completed studies, the degree certificate or its appendix, the transcript of study records, or some other official document issued by the institution in question must clearly state in which language the studies were completed. In order for your education to be counted as proof of language proficiency, it must be completed by the deadline set for conditionally admitted applicants’ certificate submissions.

Document that proves release from liability for payment of tuition fees
If you are applying to study in English, you will be required to pay tuition fees unless you submit documentation (e.g. a copy of your passport) that shows you are exempt.

Your submitted documents must state your current name and the degree programme they relate to. If the documents are not in Finnish, Swedish, or English, you must submit an authorised translation into one of these languages.

If you are a refugee or in a refugee-like situation, or an asylum seeker and unable to submit documentary evidence of your qualification, you may still be deemed eligible to apply. Read more here.

Pre-examination assignments

Pre-examination assignments must be submitted to the Sibelius Academy Admissions Office online by the given deadline. Pre-examination assignments cannot be submitted by e-mail.

>> GUIDE: Submitting admissions materials via Studyinfo portal (published in December 2019)

If you fail to deliver a required pre-examination assignment to Sibelius Academy by the deadline, you will not be invited to the entrance examination. Assignments must clearly state your name and the main subject or instrument you are applying to study. Do not submit any other files than the ones requested.

Please reserve enough time to upload your pre-examination assignments. It can take up to hours to upload larger files if there is a lot of traffic in the system.

Pre-examination assignments (Composition)

Submit the following pre-examination assignments to the Sibelius Academy Admissions Office via the Studyinfo portal no later than 29 January 2020 (3 pm EET):

1) A written account of your previous studies in music (max. 1 standard A4 page), which must include the following details:

  • Your name
  • Previous training and qualifications in the theory and history of music, and aural skills and/or ear training and analysis. You must also state where and when these subjects were studied. If you have completed recognized courses, information about the course in which you attained the highest level or qualification must be provided.
  • Previous instrumental studies and other musical activity
  • Previous studies in composition (teacher’s name, duration and form of studies, institution, and official attainments, if any)  

2) A selection of samples of your own compositions
The amount of the samples is limited. The selection must include:
EITHER
two complete works (no limitations on the number of pages)
OR
one complete work (no limitations on the number of pages) and not more than altogether five pages of excerpts from other works.

Samples exceeding the limit will not be considered. There must, however, in both cases be at least five pages in the selection. The excerpts may be sections from larger works. In that case the excerpts must be accompanied by an account of the work as a whole.

A sample page must be a copy of the original and in the same size as the original.  The compositions must be written on pages not exceeding the A3 size. Should a sound version already exist, this should also be included.

In the evaluation of the pre-examination assignment, the Examination Board pays attention to the following components:

  • Advanced compositional technique skills
  • Advanced artistic expression
  • Sufficient music theory skills
  • Educability and motivation for composition studies

The Entrance Examination Board will invite a part of the applicants to the entrance examination on the basis of the pre-examination assignments.

Pre-examination assignments (Music Theory)

Submit the following pre-examination assignments to the Sibelius Academy Admissions Office via the Studyinfo portal no later than 29 January 2020 (3 pm EET):

1) A written account of your previous studies in music (max. 1 standard A4 page), which must include the following details:

  • Your name
  • Previous training and qualifications in the theory and history of music, and aural skills and/or ear training and analysis. You must also state where and when these subjects were studied. If you have completed recognized courses, information about the course in which you attained the highest level or qualification must be provided.
  • Previous instrumental studies and other musical activity
  • If you apply also to the main subject of Composition, you must submit an account of your previous studies in composition (teacher’s name, duration and form of studies, institution, and official attainments, if any)

In the evaluation of the pre-examination assignment, the Entrance Examination Board pays attention to the following components:

  • Sufficient music theory skills
  • Sufficient research skills

The Entrance Examination Board will invite a part of the applicants to the entrance examination on the basis of the pre-examination assignment.

Entrance examinations

You can be invited to the entrance examination if:

  1. You have submitted an electronic application form and the required attachments at Studyinfo.fi and
  2. The Dean of the Sibelius Academy deems you eligible based on these documents.

If you fail to deliver the required pre-examination assignments, video auditions, or other supporting documents, certificates, or clarifications to Sibelius Academy by the deadline and in the required format, your application will be rejected.

The preliminary schedule for the entrance examinations will be published in the programme-specific admissions guides in January before the admissions. Entrance examinations for different programmes are sometimes held at the same time. If you are applying for several programmes and your entrance exams are at the same time, you must choose which examination you will take.

The exact dates of your entrance examination will be detailed in your invitation. More detailed instructions for the entrance examinations will be sent to you with the invitation. It is important that you confirm receipt of the invitation by e-mail. If you live outside Finland and need to apply for a visa, Sibelius Academy is willing to send you a preliminary invitation letter on request.  

Be prepared to be present for the entrance examination on the dates and times mentioned in the invitation. A detailed schedule for the entrance examinations will be announced to the applicants on the morning of the examination day at the latest. Individual examination times cannot be changed except in force majeure cases, the Entrance Examination Board’s schedules permitting. Acceptable grounds for changing an examination time are the matriculation examination (or a corresponding event of importance) and an accident or sudden illness (a medical certificate is required). If you do not attend your entrance examination or any of its compulsory components, you will not be offered a place at Sibelius Academy.

When attending your exam, please bring official proof of your identity: either a passport, a European Union identity card, or a Finnish driving license.

The entrance examination is a closed event and can only be attended by you and, with the Entrance Examination Board’s permission, your personal accompanist or other assisting musician. Auditions at the entrance examination cannot be recorded.

You are responsible for all travel expenses and accommodation while attending the entrance examination. In some programmes, video auditions replace entrance examinations, and you do not need to attend the entrance examination at Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. The programme-specific admissions criteria will mention video auditions if they are available.

You must notify the Sibelius Academy Admissions Office as soon as possible if you are unable to attend the entrance examination.

Special arrangements in the entrance examination

If you require special arrangements in the entrance examination because of a sensory or physical disability or other corresponding reason, you’ll find more information here.

Composition entrance examination

The entrance examination will consist of the following parts:

  • A composition assignment and a short text written beforehand
  • Tests in music theory and analysis
  • An interview and an audition in an instrument. 

Together with the invitation letter, applicants invited to the entrance examination will receive a composition assignment. You must bring this completed assignment to the theory and analysis examination organised by the Department of Composition and Music Theory on the first day of the examination. You must also bring the assignment to the interview.

At the interview, applicants who are invited to the entrance examination must also provide a short text (max. 100 words) on their expectations for composition studies, the type of compositional questions they are interested in, and the type of composition projects they would like to execute. 

Tests in music theory and analysis

In the theory and analysis tests, you are required to demonstrate a practical command of the principles of harmony and voice leading in Western Classical music. The test evaluates your skills and knowledge of the different parts of harmony and voice leading, and your ability to systematically analyze Western Classical music from different periods. The test also evaluates your analytical insight, your ability to describe written and heard music in words, and your knowledge and skills of music theory and history.

You should acquaint yourself with Harmony and Voice Leading by Edward Aldwell and Carl Schachter, which is required reading for Bachelor-level studies at Sibelius Academy.

Interview

The interview will assess your abilities to analyze compositional solutions, your motivation for composing and systematic training in composition, knowledge of repertoires, and skills for theory and analysis. The Entrance Examination Board will also assess your suitability for training in composition and music theory.

Instrument auditions

The interview includes an audition in a main instrument. If your main instrument is piano, you should be prepared to play a J. S. Bach Invention or some other comparable composition, a fast movement from a Viennese classical sonata and a composition of your own choice. There is also a sight-reading assignment.

If your main instrument is other than the piano, the requirements are a classical sonata or two other equally demanding compositions. If your main instrument is other than the piano, you should be prepared to play a piece on the piano. 

Free accompaniment, score reading, improvisation or other samples of your practical ability as a musician may also be included in the examination.

Music Theory entrance examination

You will receive an assignment on music writing and analysis together with the invitation. You must bring the completed assignment to the theory and analysis examination organised by the Department of Composition and Music Theory on the first day of the examination.

The entrance examination will consist of the following parts:

  • Tests in music theory and analysis
  • An interview and instrument auditions.

Based on the points given for the tests in music theory and analysis, a part of the applicants will be invited to the interview and instrument auditions.

A list of those selected to the second phase together with the timetable will be sent out by e-mail and posted on the premises of Sibelius Academy’s N-building (Nervanderinkatu 13).

Tests in music theory and analysis

In the theory and analysis tests, you are required to demonstrate a practical command of the principles of harmony and voice leading in Western Classical music. The test evaluates your skills and knowledge of the different parts of harmony and voice leading, and your ability to systematically analyze Western Classical music from different periods. The test also evaluates your analytical insight, your ability to describe written and heard music in words, and your knowledge and skills of music theory and history.

You should acquaint yourself with Harmony and Voice Leading by Edward Aldwell and Carl Schachter, which is required reading for Bachelor-level studies at Sibelius Academy.

Interview

The interview will assess your abilities to analyze compositions, your motivation for working in the field, knowledge of repertoires, and skills for theory and analysis. The Entrance Examination Board will also assess your suitability for training in composition and music theory. If you wish, during the interview you can also present your compositions, arrangements, musical theses and other corresponding merits.

Instrument auditions

The interview includes an audition in a main instrument. If your main instrument is piano, you should be prepared to play a J. S. Bach Invention or some other comparable composition, a fast movement from a Viennese classical sonata and a composition of your own choice. There is also a sight-reading assignment.

If your main instrument is other than the piano, the requirements are a classical sonata or two other equally demanding compositions. If your main instrument is other than the piano, you should be prepared to play a piece on the piano. 

Free accompaniment, score reading, improvisation or other samples of your practical ability as a musician may also be included in the examination.

Admissions grading

Your entrance examination and its components will be graded. If you fail to complete any of the compulsory parts or components of the entrance examination, you will not be granted a right to study at the Sibelius Academy.

In written examinations, your answers will be scored. In other examinations, the Entrance Examination Board will assess your skills, knowledge, and educability based on the programme-specific admissions criteria.

For educability, the Entrance Examination Board will assess your ability to complete your degree studies in the normative duration for the completion of a degree in accordance with the decree on university degrees (bachelor: 3 years, master: 2.5 years).

Assessment (Composition)

Studying requires more advanced qualifications in music and music theory as well as more analytical abilities than in the other educations at the Sibelius Academy.

Applicants for master’s studies in composition and music theory are required to demonstrate bachelor-level abilities. The following components are emphasised in the selection:

  • Advanced compositional technique skills
  • Advanced artistic vision
  • Sufficient music theory skills
  • Sufficient instrumental skills on your main instrument (and piano) (practical musicianship)
  • Sufficient knowledge of Western art music, and especially of contemporary music
  • Educability and motivation for composition studies

The components of the entrance examination are weighted as follows: 

  • Pre-examination assignment (composition samples): 25 %
  • Composition assignments and the short text: 10 %
  • Music theory and analysis tests: 25 %
  • Interview (with instrumental auditions): 40 %

Assessment (Music Theory)

Studying requires more advanced qualifications in music and music theory as well as more analytical abilities than in the other educations at the Sibelius Academy.

Applicants for master’s studies in composition and music theory are required to demonstrate bachelor-level abilities. The following components are emphasised in the selection:

  • Sufficient music theory skills
  • Sufficient research skills
  • Sufficient knowledge of music (especially of Western art music)
  • Sufficient instrumental skills on your main instrument (and piano) (practical musicianship)
  • Motivation for music theory studies
  • Educability

The components of the entrance examination are weighted as follows: 

  • Assignment(s) on music writing and analysis: 20 %
  • Music theory and analysis tests: 40 %
  • Interview (with instrumental auditions): 40 %

Announcement of results

Uniarts Helsinki Board decides the number of new bachelor’s and/or master’s students to be accepted to Sibelius Academy. No more than 170 new students will be admitted to Sibelius Academy in 2020. Uniarts Helsinki does not apply the first-time applicant quotas in their admissions.

The entrance examination results will be available at Sibelius Academy’s Helsinki (Nervanderinkatu 13) and Kuopio premises at 9.00 a.m. on the day of the admissions results. Results will also be published on the Uniarts Helsinki admissions website, including the names of applicants who have given permission to publish their names online.

If you have been accepted to Sibelius Academy or added to the wait list we will send you an email on the day results are published.

The most successful applicant or applicants after the accepted candidates can be placed on a wait list for places that may become vacant at a later date. The wait lists are either programme-specific or alternatively group-specific, if there are several wait lists for different groups in a single programme. If you have been placed on a wait list, you may only be admitted to the programme if someone in the programme in question (or group in question) does not accept the study place, or if someone who has been selected conditionally fails to submit the necessary documents by the end of the deadline.

If the admissions criteria aren’t met, some programmes may choose not to admit new students. If a degree programme does not accept any new students, no applicants can be placed on a wait list for places that might become vacant at a later date.

Feedback

You have the opportunity to receive feedback on your entrance examination performance. A list of people responsible for giving feedback will be announced on the Uniarts Helsinki admissions website when results are published. Feedback is intended to guide you to further improve your performance and help you identify areas for improvement.

How to request for rectification

You can request for rectification of the Dean’s admission decision from Uniarts Helsinki within 14 days of the publication of the admission results. The right of appeal means that you have the possibility to request for rectification if there is a reason to believe that there has been an error in the decision-making process.

The right of appeal is not intended as a means for receiving feedback or asking for further information about the application process.

Read more here.

Accepting the offered study place

You can accept your study place electronically on the Studyinfo system or by submitting the confirmation form attached to your letter of acceptance by e-mail to the Sibelius Academy Admissions Office. You must accept your study place by the given deadline.

If the confirmation arrives late, it will not be considered. The confirmation of acceptance is binding and irrevocable, and it cannot be cancelled. If you want to give up your study place after first accepting it, you are still considered to have accepted the study place for the semester in question (for more information, see ‘one study place per term’ provision).

Tuition fees

>>Tuition fees and scholarships in Uniarts Helsinki

Uniarts Helsinki will charge an annual tuition fee from non-EU and non-EEA students studying for a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in a foreign language. The amount of the fee will stay the same for the duration of a particular student’s studies.

If you are liable for payment due to your nationality, you must use the application form in the Studyinfo portal to notify whether you have a document that would release you from payment. The documents that prove your right to exemption should be submitted to the Sibelius Academy Admissions Office by the end of the application period. If your liability to pay the fee changes after the application deadline, please contact the admissions office immediately.

Scholarships

Uniarts Helsinki has a scholarship programme for students who are liable for payment in the form of tuition fee waivers. The applicants should note that the university does not offer any scholarships for living expenses.

If you are liable for payment, you must state on the Studyinfo application form if your wish to apply for a scholarship from Uniarts Helsinki to cover the annual tuition fee if you get accepted. A separate form is used to apply for the scholarship (link to the tuition fee waiver form can be found on the Studyinfo application form).

The scholarships are granted for one academic year at a time based on applications. The amount of the scholarship is 2,500 or 5,000 euros. If a student is awarded a scholarship, they will be notified of the decision personally at the same time as they receive the admission results.

Starting your studies

The academic year begins and new students are expected to attend from mid-August. If we offer a preliminary course in music theory before mid-August, course participants will be given a detailed schedule in their letter of acceptance.

New students must register at Sibelius Academy before the academic year begins – more information will be sent to you about how to do this along with your acceptance letter. You can apply for the right to be absent for the first year of studies only under certain statutory circumstances. Read more here.

The right to absence must be applied for in writing to Sibelius Academy before the end of the registration period. Submit a certificate that entitles you to absence with your application.

Questions or comments?

You can contact us via e-mail at siba.admissions@uniarts.fi. You’ll also find answers to frequently asked questions here.

Admissions chat

Want to study at Sibelius Academy but don’t know how to get started?

You can watch a video of our live admissions chat which was recorded on 14 November 2019. On the video our staff representatives and students answer your questions about Sibelius Academy. The video is in English.

>> Link to the YouTube video