Admissions & Costs:
Become a Cantor


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, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/orientation, genetic information, military or veteran status. 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.


Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and a competitive GPA. We do not require applicants to have taken the GRE.


Candidates for cantorial ordination must have previous music training. All applicants will be required to take a musicianship test which will assess proficiency in reading music, sight-singing and music theory.


At Hebrew College, we seek the wisdom that emerges when we deeply engage sacred Jewish sources in the original text. Your authentic interaction with the text demands significant study of the Hebrew language to enable you to discover the layers of wisdom within. Generally, applicants must have completed at least two years of college-level Hebrew to start the COSEL program. This does not apply for admission to certificate programs.

Application Instructions

Cantorial Ordination for Spiritual and Educational Leadership (COSEL)


  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university
  • Application and fee
  • Official transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation (electronic or printable)
  • Written personal statement and essay
  • Personal interview
  • Vocal audition


Priority application due dateJanuary 15
Audition and Interview datesRolling through early March; generally held on Mondays
Financial aid application (including 2017 taxes) and FAFSA due dateMarch 1
Admissions decisionsWithin two weeks of interview
Financial aid award dateApril 1
Accepted student response due dateApril 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.


All applicants must submit the following materials:

  • A completed application form
  • 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. Electronic copies should be sent to and hard copies to the School of Jewish Music Office of Admissions, Hebrew College, 160 Herrick Road, Newton Centre, MA 02459.
  • Three or four letters of recommendation; see below for requirements (electronic or printable).
  • A non-refundable application fee of $60 paid by credit card as part of the online application.

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. 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. Use the links above for the electronic or printable versions of the form.

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?

Application Submission

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

School of Music 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.

Currently not accepting applications. New program launch in fall 2020.

Admissions Timeline for Rav-Hazzan Ordination Program

Application PieceDate
Priority application due date January 15
Interview datesMid-January to late March
Financial aid application (including 2015 taxes) and FAFSA due dateFeb. 15
Admissions decisions Within two weeks of interview
Financial aid award date Mid April
Accepted student response due dateMay 2


Hebrew College’s first-of-its-kind accelerated cantorial program helps you become a cantor in only three years. As a result of restructuring the program and adding our intensive Prayer Leader Summer Institute (PLSI), you can enter the cantorate two years sooner than your peers at other cantorial programs without sacrificing the quality of Hebrew College and the School of Jewish Music’s well-known educational experience.

The benefits of this accelerated program are:

  • You receive the benefits of a rigorous Hebrew College cantorial ordination program which can be completed in 3 years
  • Earlier completion allows you be to financially self-sufficient sooner while accruing less debt
  • You are in a position to take advantage of clergy cost-of-living benefits sooner

Additionally, our program tuition includes individualized voice lessons and cantorial coaching in every semester of attendance. You also receive one year of post-ordination professional support for no additional cost.

Tuition Expenses

YearStandard Five-Year ProgramHebrew College COSEL
One$30,000$30,000 + $9,000 for PLSI
Two$30,000$30,000 + $9,000 for PLSI

Financial Aid

Hebrew College is committed to helping you finance your cantorial education through the awarding of merit scholarships, donor-funded fellowships and need-based grants. The vast majority of students receive some form of financial aid covering a significant percentage of their costs.

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. Read a description of Hebrew College’s financial aid process.

Application Deadlines

  • Cantorial Ordination for Spiritual and Educational Leadership (COSEL) : January 15
  • Jewish Music Certificate Application: Currently not accepting applications. New program launch in fall 2020.

Contact Info

For information on Jewish Sacred Music Programs:
Cantor Elana Rozenfeld
Interim Program Director

Marcia Spellman

For information on applying to our cantorial ordination program:
Rabbi Daniel Klein
Associate Dean of Admissions & Student Life