Application Instructions

Admissions Timeline for COSEL
Priority application due date

January 15


Audition and Interview dates Rolling through early March; generally held on Mondays

Financial aid application (including 2017 taxes) 
and FAFSA due date

March 1
Admissions decisions Within two weeks of interview
Financial aid award date April 1

Accepted student response due date

April 15

If you would like to discuss the possibility of an extended deadline, please contact Marcia Spellman, recruitment and enrollment coordinator. We are able to make accommodations on an individual basis, though financial-aid awards may be more limited for late applications.

Jewish Engagement and Identity

As a pluralistic school, we do not have prescriptions for how you should live as a Jew. Rather, we support each other in a search for a meaningful and authentic engagement with Jewish tradition. For prospective COSEL students, cantorial school should not be the beginning of your Jewish learning but a continuation. The time before cantorial school is an opportunity to deepen your Jewish knowledge and practice. We expect our students to be in an ever-deepening relationship with Jewish life, and to have spent some time involved in the Jewish community.

Applicants to the COSEL program must be Jewish by birth as recognized by at least one major rabbinic body, or by a conversion process that is recognized by at least one major rabbinic body. Hebrew College admits qualified students without regard to age, sex, disability, race, color or national origin. We do not admit or ordain cantorial students with non-Jewish partners. We warmly welcome applicants whose partners have undertaken a process of conversion and are committed to supporting them through that process. 

Application Checklist   

All applicants must submit the following materials:

  • A completed application form and fee
  • Two essays as described below
  • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate studies from accredited academic institutions. Please have official copies of transcripts forwarded directly from the issuing institution to the Office of Admissions, School of Jewish Music at Hebrew College, 160 Herrick Road, Newton Centre, MA 02459.
  • Three to a maximum of four letters of recommendation; see below for requirements.

Audition and Interview

The interview is an essential and required part of the application process for all Hebrew College graduate degree programs. This is an opportunity for us to get to know you better; for you to visit the campus, sit in on classes and meet students; and to learn more about the College and the COSEL program. During your visit to Hebrew College, you will also participate in a vocal audition, and take a musicianship assessment test. Auditions and interviews are usually scheduled on Mondays, and candidates will be contacted to schedule a date once a completed application is received. For details of audition requirements, please contact the School of Jewish Music at 

Letters of Reference

We strive to consider our applicants as holistically as possible. Recommendations are a crucial part of this process. We want to hear from individuals who know you well and who can offer a view into your academic qualifications, intellectual capacities, personal qualities, Jewish background and/or spiritual journey.

Please include at least one reference from a cantor or other Jewish professional well-acquainted with your musical and Jewish background, and one, preferably, from an academic instructor. To submit a letter of reference electronically, please click here. A printable form may also be downloaded here, and mailed to the Office of Admissions.

Application Essays

Your responses to the application essay questions allow us to get to know you as an individual, a student, a Jew and a future cantor. In addition, these essays give you an opportunity to articulate your views on a variety of topics in a relaxed manner. We want you to be yourself and be honest in your essays.

Please submit two essays, of approximately 1,000-1,500 words each, in response to the following:

  • Why have you chosen to become a cantor? Discuss your intellectual, personal and spiritual development, as well as life experiences, specific events and significant relationships that have led you to make this decision. Please include reflections on:
    • Your conception of and relationship with God     
    • The evolution of your current Jewish practice 
    • Your relationship to the Jewish people and Jewish history, including your relationship with Israel          
  • Read “The Vocation of the Cantor,” Chapter 16 in "The Insecurity of Freedom" by Abraham Joshua Heschel. Respond to Heschel’s views on the cantorate, prayer and Jewish music. In what ways do you agree or disagree with his assessment?

Financial Aid

Information about our financial aid policies may be found here. An application for financial aid does not in any way affect a candidate's application for admission. 

Application Submission

You may fill out the application by clicking here. Please send supporting materials to:

Office of Admissions
Hebrew College
160 Herrick Road
Newton Centre, MA 02459

You are responsible to ensure that all of your application materials are received; we welcome calls or emails from candidates regarding the status of their applications.


Marcia Spellman
Administrator, School of Jewish Music

request more information

apply now