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Certificate in Byzantine Music

The Certificate in Byzantine Music program equips students with a mastery of the skills required for chanting the sacred hymns of the Orthodox Church. The program provides thorough knowledge of the psaltic notational system, the theoretical framework of the modal system, the ability to sight-read musical scores at all levels of complexity and an extensive familiarity with the contents and usage of liturgical books and the rubrics of the Orthodox Church. Upon completion of its requirements, students will be able to perform all musical parts of the daily liturgical cycle and the sacraments of the Orthodox Church. 

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Application Process

All interested candidates must complete the Certificate in Byzantine Music application. In addition, candidates must submit:

  • A cover letter with a brief autobiographical statement indicating why you are interested in the program
  • An updated resume
  • Your most recent academic transcript
  • Copy of any diplomas/degrees
  • Two letters of reference (at least one should be from a past instructor)
  • A non-refundable application fee of $50

Please return the application and all corresponding documents to Vanessa Constantinidis, Associate Director of Admissions, at vconstantinidis@hchc.edu, or mail to the address below:

Hellenic College Holy Cross, Office of Admissions
50 Goddard Avenue, Brookline, MA 02445


Enrollment in this program is open to candidates for the degree of Master of Divinity as well as other interested students. The core curriculum required for a successful completion of the program consists of the following courses: History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography, Ecclesiastical Chant in English, and Byzantine Music I-X. The curriculum is in accordance with the standards in conservatories and schools of Byzantine Music in Greece. Students enrolled in this program are required, in addition to their formal in-class training, to participate in choral work and apply their chanting skills daily in the Chapel. 

For MDiv candidates who wish to enroll in the Certificate program, Byzantine Music VII-X and History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography must be taken in addition to the elective courses required for the MDiv program. Upon completion of the required coursework, students must also pass a comprehensive final oral examination before a designated committee of specialists. 

Other interested persons not enrolled at Holy Cross may submit an application package with proof of psaltic knowledge and skills and apply for the examination that leads to certification. 

Program Description

Individuals who are not enrolled in one of the theological programs (henceforth referred to as Psaltic Art students) are required to follow a specialized, rigorous two-year course of studies, which consists of 19.5 credits. They are also encouraged, but not required, to take electives in theological courses, New Testament Greek, Modern Greek, service rubrics and liturgics. Psaltic Art students are also required to participate in the Holy Cross Byzantine choral groups and expected to join the cantors’ choirs during liturgical services. Additionally, in their second year they may be asked to lead chant labs and may be considered for a chant group leader position. 

Fall Semester Spring Semester 
Year 1  Year 1 
History of Byzantine Music  3 cr.  Byzantine Music II   1.5 cr. 
Byzantine Music I  1.5 cr. Byzantine Music IV  1.5 cr. 
Byzantine Music V  1.5 cr.       Byzantine Music VI  1.5 cr. 
(Directed Study in Rubrics)*  3 cr. Eccl. Chant in English  1.5 cr. 
Holy Week Seminar   N/A

Fall Semester Spring Semester 
Year 2       Year 2
Byzantine Music III  1.5 cr. Byzantine Music VIII  1.5 cr. 
Byzantine Music VII   1.5 cr.  Byzantine Music X  1.5 cr. 
Byzantine Music IX  1.5 cr. 
(Directed Study in Rubrics)*  3 cr.

*Course offered periodically. Even though it is not required for a successful completion of the Psaltic Art program, students are strongly advised to take it when offered. 

Examination Process 

In order to be awarded a Holy Cross Certificate in Byzantine Music, eligible MDiv candidates and Psaltic Art students must successfully pass a comprehensive oral examination before a designated committee consisting of: 

  • a Holy Cross full-time faculty member specializing in Byzantine Music who also serves as the Committee Chairperson
  • a representative of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
  • three specialists who are appointed by the Committee Chairperson and hold (i) the office of Protopsaltis of one of the Metropolises of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and/or (ii) a doctoral or Master’s degree in Byzantine Musicology and/or (iii) a Diploma in Byzantine Music, and/or (iv) a faculty position in an accredited conservatory with a specialty in Byzantine Music, Ethnomusicology, Classical Ottoman Music or a related field. 

The examination will last approximately one hour and include sections on: 

  • theory and notation
  • service rubrics
  • sight reading
  • performance of prepared repertoire from the following musical collections: Anastasimatarion, Slow Heirmologion, Old Sticherarion, Papadike, Kalophonic Heirmologion

At the end of the examination, the committee will convene privately to decide upon the examination result and grade. A 4-to-1 majority vote is required for a passing examination result. The grade will be determined by the majority vote of those committee members who voted favorably in the initial vote. The four possible grades are (i) Excellent, (ii) Very Good, (iii) Good, and (iv) Satisfactory. The Holy Cross Certificate in Byzantine Music will be signed by the Archbishop of America, the President of Hellenic College, Inc., the Dean of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and the five members of the examining committee. The conferral of the Certificate will take place during the annual Hellenic College Holy Cross commencement ceremonies. 

The examining committee will convene annually on the campus of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology during the Spring semester to administer a separate examination for each candidate. Individuals who have not followed the above referenced course of studies at Holy Cross, but wish to take the examination that leads to certification, must submit an application package no later than February 1 of the year in which they wish to take the examination. The package must include: 

  • an analytical description of their musical background, courses taken and chanting experience (if applicable, copies of transcripts and/or certificates by music instructors must be provided)
  • a recording of themselves performing: (i) a set of slow katavasiai from Petros the Peloponnesian’s Heirmologion (Ερμολόγιον τν Καταβασιν Πέτρου τοΠελοποννησίου, Constantinople 1825) or Ioannis Vyzantios’ Heirmologion (Ερμολόγιον Καταβασιν ωάννου Πρωτοψάλτου, Constantinople 1903)*; (ii) a doxastikon from Petros the Peloponnesian’s Doxastarion (Σύντομον Δοξαστάριον Πέτρου Λαμπαδαρίου, Bucharest 1820)*, (iii) a cherubic hymn from Ioannis Vyzantios and Stephanos Lampadarios’ Musical Pandekte (Πανδέκτη ωάννου Λαμπαδαρίου & Στεφάνου Α΄ Δομεστίκου, Τόμος Δ΄, Constantinople 1851)* 
  • one recommendation letter from a specialist in Byzantine Music
  • a non-refundable qualification fee of $300

Each application package will be reviewed by a Holy Cross faculty member specializing in Byzantine Music who will contact the candidate in writing by February 15, informing him/her: 

  • whether he/she is eligible to take the examination
  • what repertoire he/she must prepare

If the candidate is deemed eligible to take the examination, he/she must mail a check for $1,500 payable to Hellenic College, Inc by March 15. After the check has been received, the candidate will be informed of the date and time on which the examination will be administered. If a candidate cancels his/her plan to take the examination with at least 14-day notice, he/she will receive a full refund. 

*Similar settings found in other 19th-century Greek publications as well as English versions available at www.stanthonysmonastery.org/music/Index.html, www.ematins.org or www.psaltologion.com are also acceptable. 


Tuition: 19.5 credits x $950/credit = $18,525
Final exam fee (individual evaluation by expert panel): $1,500
Qualification fee: $300 charged to chanters trained outside HCHC who plan only to sit for final exam

Certificate program students will be charged the following as applicable:

  • Student fees – same fees as HCHC students, except no graduation fee

  • Housing – same amount for same units as HCHC students, but given lower priority in selection process

  • College discounts – eligible but given lower priority than HCHC students

*HCHC students will not be charged additional tuition to enroll in this program unless they go into overload (>18 credits/semester), in which case they will be charged $950/credit for credits exceeding 18 per semester.


For more information about the Certificate in Byzantine Music, please contact
Dr. Grammenos Karanos at gkaranos@hchc.edu or 617.850.1236.