Artist Diploma

The Academy of Vocal Arts is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music as a non-degree granting music program that is authorized to bestow students, who successfully complete the program requirements, with an Artist Diploma.

Minimum Course Requirements

Vocal Studies
Voice Lessons180 hours
Coaching720 hours
Languages180 hours
Performance Studies
Performance Class150 hours
Movement & Dance60 hours
Stage Combat60 hours
Opera Performance240 hours
Other related Studies
Opera History60 hours
History of Singers30 hours
Oratorio Seminar30 hours
Professional Development60 hours
Voice Science Seminar30 hours

Transfer of Credits Policy

Per regulations and guidelines, the Academy of Vocal Arts evaluates students for completion of their artist diploma based on clock hours of training completed, not credits per course. AVA clock hours are not transferrable to other institutions, nor are course credits from other institutions applicable to the AVA training program and are not transferrable to AVA.

Grading System

FFail Scholastic Standing

Students who do not maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better will receive letters of warning. This letter will encourage them to correct the problem, and alert them to potential disciplinary action. Students not maintaining the required average will be subject to loss of financial assistance and potential dismissal from the program. If a student fails to complete the required number of hours by the end of four years he/she cannot be granted the Artist Diploma. The program allows for the possibility of completing the requirements in three years and receiving the Artist Diploma. It does not preclude completing four years; any student could remain the entire four years regardless of completion of these requirements. Performances of roles with professional opera companies would count toward the completion of required hours towards opera performance.

In addition to the courses which count toward the completion of the required hours, all students will be required to participate in other designated activities, specifically art song recitals, oratorio programs, and any other performance activity required, including opera chorus.

Students may be placed under probation or dismissed for an attitude or deportment which conflicts with the standards of the Academy, for violations of school policies concerning sexual harassment, for violating local ordinances, or if by remaining in the school they endanger their health or the health of others.


FallSeptember through December
SpringJanuary through May

Examinations and Juries

The Academy of Vocal Arts’ entrance assessment tests the artist’s knowledge of piano, solfège, theory and harmony, music history, including the history of opera and the important singers of each epoch. The test results are evaluated by the faculty and the executive director, who then determine the course of action needed to raise any artist’s level of musical proficiency.

Because of AVA’s intimate size and scope, resident artists receive continuous feedback from the music faculty. Student performances and competency are evaluated by the faculty for musical accuracy of pitch and rhythm, linguistic abilities in foreign languages, interpretive freedom, ability to communicate with the audience, as well as proficiency in vocal technique, clarity of tone, and overall vocal progress. Each of these areas is monitored over the period of the student’s study at AVA. Semi-annual reviews are scheduled to discuss all of the above as well as role assignments, career options and any other issues pertaining to their career and performance at the Academy of Vocal Arts.

Comprehensive evaluations, which include performance reviews and course grades, take place at the end of the school year. Students will be required to take examinations in the following courses: all languages, opera history, and history of singers. All performances are reviewed by the faculty. In cases where insufficient progress is being made, the singer will be notified in writing of such, and corrective suggestions will be made to help avoid disciplinary action.

All graduating artists must prepare a full-length recital of representative works from the major historic periods and styles of vocal literature. Excerpts from these recitals will be selected by the music faculty to be presented by the graduates in a final public performance on the occasion of their graduation.

AVA challenged me to push myself daily in the pursuit of achievements I never thought I could realize.  Those years on Rittenhouse Square were some of the best years of my life; and because of AVA, I have been able to share my talents with people far and wide.

Bryan Hymel, AVA alumnus (’08)