Admissions FAQs

One of our main responsibilities is to make sure that you have all of the information that you need in order to make the decision to want to train at North Bennet Street School.

Below you’ll find answers to frequently asked question about admissions, financial aid, and more. If you have a question that is beyond what is currently available here, please contact Admissions at 617-227-0155 x111 or admissions@nbss.edu.

Student Catalog

2021-2022 Student Catalog
2022-2023 Student Catalog

Admissions

North Bennet Street School’s excellent reputation within the industries that we train for is carried forward by the work and presence of our graduates. The Admissions team has this in mind as we look for new students.

We look for positive markers of character, skills, qualities, and experiences that show your potential for successful training and employment. We gather all of the admissions requirements, including conversations with you, and identify elements that reveal the strengths of your candidacy.

We look for candidates that are self-motivated and self-reliant. Arriving with direct or transferrable experience is helpful. Experience is a broad term and one that we will work with you to help understand regarding your candidacy. For you to know in your heart and in your head that this is the career path for you is helpful to us. Having already repaired some books so that you know that you enjoy the work and want to make it a career. Having worked as a laborer and knowing that investing in formal education will help you get to the next level. Being attracted to the outcome, as well as the process to achieve that outcome. The work is rigorous, and there is a type of person that enjoys the challenge, the process, the time, the success of problem solving, and then doing it all over again that works well in this environment.

All of the work done at NBSS is practical, useful, aesthetically beautiful, and improves our environments in some way. Making or repairing a house is connected to the need for shelter. Making a table creates a space for people to gather. Installing a lock keeps people and property safe. Making or repairing a violin, and tuning and repairing pianos facilitates the quality and beauty of music. Making and repairing jewelry facilitates visual beauty, and making and repairing books preserves knowledge and also facilitates beauty. Strong candidates will have a connection to this type of work.

While there are certainly many obvious pathways and markers for qualification, people who attend the school successfully are also excellent at confounding biases and assumptions. Some people may have very little experience and then demonstrate amazing skill and talent during a skill test. Some people may have a lot of direct experience, yet may be challenged in learning new habits and leaving old ones behind. We are attuned to looking for these markers, and will work with you to be helpful in this process.

We hope that this information is helpful to you!

Research, apply, and visit us. For the Fall start, please complete admissions requirements by February 1 to be included in the first round of decisions in March. We are selective, and work with you up front to understand if you are qualified for admission. We have a limited number of benches, we utilize wait-lists, and we encourage applicants at any time of the year.

Submitting the admissions requirements is your project to manage. The Admissions team is here to help answer all of your questions. Once your file is complete, it will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee and a decision will be shared with you by the email you provided for the enrollment period applied for. The decision will be an offer of acceptance, an offer to be on the wai list, or a denial of acceptance. We reserve the right to rescind offers of admission based on new information.

Once offered acceptance, an official letter and Enrollment Agreement will follow electronically. You will have adequate time to make a commitment to training by returning your signed Enrollment Agreement, Registration Fee, and Tuition Down Payment unless it is waived by scholarship or certified VA funding. Extensions may be granted on a case-by case basis. Failure to commit by the deadline outlined on the Enrollment Agreement may result in forfeiture of the offer of admission.

NBSS is unique, and is best experienced in person if you are considering training here. All applicants are required to visit the School for a tour and an interview. The interview is an opportunity for you to meet with a school representative and discuss whether NBSS is right for you. The visit provides an opportunity for applicants to see the workshops and studios, and to meet students and instructors when available.

*At this time we encourage you to make an appointment for a phone call or video chat by writing to admissions@nbss.edu.

You should apply when you are ready and willing to attend if accepted.

We do have a priority deadline of February 1 for all programs that start the following September. Completing your requirements by February 1, your candidacy will be considered for the first round of decisions each March. Applications received after that are reviewed on a rolling basis.

The Spring starts are usually in February, and are for Cabinet & Furniture Making, Jewelry Making & Repair, Locksmithing & Security Technology, and Violin Making & Repair only. Completed applications for Spring starts are reviewed on a rolling basis. Decisions begin in November.

We work with a broad range of applicants, some who like to, or need to plan ahead by several years. We welcome forward thinking planners. You are welcome to start and complete your application and admissions requirements whenever you like. If you are unable to choose the future enrollment period of your choice, please choose the closest one and contact us at admissions@nbss.edu so that we can update your intentions in our system.

We welcome applications year round. While chances are best for those who apply early, there are countless examples of students who have applied close to the start date and have been able to get started.

There are two main start dates each year, the Spring start in February and the Fall start in September. All Full-Time programs start in September. The Spring starts are a second, yearly opportunity to begin in Cabinet & Furniture making, Jewelry Making & Repair, Locksmithing & Security Technology, and Violin Making & Repair only.

The academic year is September to May for all programs except Violin Making & Repair, which goes through June. This means that students who start in the Spring will go for a semester, have a summer break, and return again in September.

Yes, you can apply to more than one program to be attended consecutively. Due to the full-time format, students are unable to attend more than one program at a time. If you are interested in taking more than one program, please consider applying for your program of choice as if it may be the only program you might attend. Circumstances change with time and experience. You may get a job offer and not want to return for a second program.

Beyond students going from Basic to Advanced Piano Technology, which are two, separately accredited programs, it has become more common for students to take a second program. NBSS programs are designed to give you stand-alone career training towards employability. Some students may seek their maximum amount of complementary training by attending additional programs. It is not necessary, yet individuals may find that they want more skill, confidence, and marketability.

It is helpful but not necessary. The Full-Time programs are designed to bring new students from fundamentals through the curriculum, to graduation and to employment.

NBSS Continuing Education classes can be an excellent, informative experience. We often recommend that students who either need or want more experience first, or simply want to decide if they want to explore a new career path, consider taking a Continuing Education class at NBSS. Be advised that it can work both ways. The majority of students who explore Continuing Education in order to prepare for Full-Time programs have a positive experience and will hit the ground running in Full-Time training. Those who are challenged with punctuality, effort, or attitude toward learning may diminish their prospect of acceptance accordingly. This is not you, though.

Continuing Education classes may be taught or designed by alumni and faculty, and they are a fun experience for many participants. They can be complementary during or after Full-Time training, and they are also helpful for admissions. You are welcome to identify yourself as a Full-Time applicant or as someone who is interested if you are inclined. If you have a positive experience and feel like you did good work, you might consider requesting a recommendation from your instructor.

The Three Month Furniture Making Intensive designed by Cabinet & Furniture Department Head Dan Faia, has grown to be popular in connecting to Full-Time training. Over the last few years, students have also come from or gone to this course from Carpentry, Preservation Carpentry, Cabinet & Furniture Making, and Locksmithing & Security Technology. It can be a good complementary skill set personally and professionally, whether it helps with detailing custom kitchen production, or helps you relax making something for fun or as a gift. This course is the only Continuing Education course at this time where VA education benefits can be used, as the training hours meet the VA threshold of career training based on hours.

VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program participants may be approved for funding to any Continuing Education course or combination of courses at the discretion of the counselor, and according to your plan of action. It is common for VR&E participants to take Continuing Education in order to best prepare for or support success in the Full-Time programs.

We do not accept credits from other schools. Prior experience may strengthen an applicant’s candidacy.

Absolutely! Contact Admissions by writing to admissions@nbss.edu to schedule a phone call or video chat. Faculty interviews are required by all programs except Carpentry, Preservation Carpentry, and Cabinet & Furniture Making.

A visit to the School is highly recommended, and will resume once the pandemic abates. Until then we are only able to host limited visitors in the building.

Our acceptance rates are high because we operate on pre-selection and counsel up front. We believe in operating with efficiency, effectiveness, and with dignity. We are absolutely discerning and selective, however, we are also in the unique position of not having to be concerned with reporting selectivity data in order to appear attractive or competitive.

It takes courage and commitment to consider NBSS as a career training path. We choose to honor the singularity of your intent. It is our experience that encouraging every application to complete so that we can deliver a high percentage of denials does not serve our candidates or our mission.

We utilize waitlists due to limited bench space. We do not accept more candidates than we have space for. Program size is guided in part by employment opportunities in the industries that we train for, many of which may be considered micro-industries. If asked to be on a wait list, patience is required. We may reach back out at any time between then and the start date to offer you a bench. We welcome you to share whatever circumstances that may impact your ability to attend.

We do not rank the waitlist by decision date, it is a pool of candidates that is revisited by the Admissions Committee if and when space becomes available. Being on the waitlist is not a guarantee of acceptance for the following enrollment period if we are unable to get you started. We ask that you let us know of your interest in an upcoming enrollment period so that your candidacy can be considered. Chances are good that you may be offered acceptance by qualifying for the waitlist, however we reserve the right to choose from a new pool of candidates each enrollment period.

If you do need to request a deferral, which is common due to the range of responsibilities and circumstances of our prospective students, please be advised that you are deferring your candidacy, and that you are not guaranteed acceptance. Chances are good that you may be offered acceptance again, however we reserve the right to choose from a new pool of candidates each enrollment period.

We welcome any and all updates to your file as you gain new experiences and complete new projects. Please send new materials here, or email attachments to admissions@nbss.edu.

However you may define “people like you,” yes, they are here. If they are not here, then we ask that you help us change that by completing your admissions requirements, allowing us to identify you as a qualified candidate so that we are in the position to offer you admission.

We get this question regularly, and it is completely understandable. The courage, conviction, and vulnerability it takes to train for a new career that requires a mastery of hand skills and problem solving means that you want to feel comfortable in your environment. That you want to be able to make and learn from mistakes at a pace that is reasonable, and in a place that is supportive. This is a leap for most people, and be assured that nearly every single new student at NBSS has a mixture of excitement, curiosity, fear, and even doubt. It is a process that is both shared, and unique to each of us.

The bond of working with your hands and the satisfaction of finding solutions to problems related to making and repairing is a common thread that can often transcend demographics. At the same time, we realize that demographics and diversity of every kind can also have barriers to access. We are proactively committed to addressing and overcoming access barriers to the best of our ability, for everyone who seeks to, and is qualified to train here.

North Bennet Street School is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. We support our mission to train people in trades requiring hand skills. We recognize and embrace our unique ability to impact the industries that we train for.

A broad range of students attend including parents like you. Everyone is different in the way that they approach attending school and balancing their ability to parent. We encourage you to explore ways to make it work for you, and want you to know that it has—and is—being done successfully.

Thank you for being you and for the support of your candidate.

Please be advised that we are looking for people to train here who are self-motivated and self-reliant. You are most welcome to ask every question within reason surrounding NBSS admissions and outcomes. At the same time, we ask you to consider this process much like a job interview, which it is, and to allow your candidate to advocate for themselves.

Once a candidate applies, the relationship is between the applicant and the School. Applicants may give permission to allow advocates to access information about the admissions process and progress as a student through a completed FERPA form. From the Admissions perspective, we welcome your call to follow up to see if a file is complete while your candidate may be traveling or out of communication. Please refrain from taking on the responsibilities of the candidate, or we will be put in the position of having to recruit you!

Qualified Full-Time NBSS students are eligible for federal, state, and institutional financial aid. FAFSA applicants are automatically enrolled for NBSS Scholarship consideration. The School also regularly assists applicants who pursue alternate funding through public and private organizations such as the Veterans Administration, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission AmeriCorps, and Mike Rowe Works, to name a few. Significant fundraising over the past several years has created a scholarship endowment that funds need-based scholarships.

Additional loan and scholarship opportunities may also be possible. Learn more about financial aid.

We make Financial Aid awards to qualified applicants once they are accepted to a program, and not before. Please use the Net Price Calculator to get a comprehensive, ball park figure of the total cost of attendance and what financial aid you may qualify for.

We have a broad range of mostly need based financial aid, and once we are able to identify you as a qualified candidate for admission, we will work with you to understand how you can afford to attend.

Programs

Our full-time career training programs are accredited, formal, vocational apprenticeships. Admission to the full-time programs is through an application process, and the programs provide a comprehensive education that provide you with the opportunity to gain the skills, confidence, and networking abilities toward employment. Programs are 9, 18, and 30 months long depending on the amount of training necessary for employability. Financial aid is available for qualified applicants.

Continuing Education courses and workshops are for everyone and anyone who is interested in learning and honing their skills. The courses are not accredited programs, they teach specific skills, and may last one day or up to three months. Continuing Education students are serious amateurs and skilled makers who seek to learn a new skill. Continuing Education courses and workshops can be a great way to help you decide on and qualify for career training.

Tuition details are listed on the Tuition & Financial Aid page. Financial aid is available to qualified applicants. We accept educational benefits from military service such as the Post 9-11 GI Bill® and Vocational Rehabilitation. We also accept educational benefits from AmeriCorps.

The School is committed to teaching students employable skills and providing career support to students and alumni. The Director of Student Life & Career Services helps students and graduates with their job search and career planning. Many graduates begin their post-NBSS career working with experienced makers; some continue to work for others and some start businesses. Occasionally, students begin a business directly upon graduation. Additional support includes:

  • The option to participate in a Business Course that provides an overview of small-business practices with an emphasis on self-employed skilled trades.
  • A database of both current jobs and companies who have posted jobs in the past. The database is only available to students and graduates.
  • Announcements of commissions that come through the School from individuals seeking the skills of our students and graduates.
  • Assistance with resumes, cover letters, and other career related skills such as networking and interviewing.
  • The support of instructors who know many people in the field. They are an integral part of the School to career transition and their support and recommendations are invaluable.

For more information, view our Graduate Career Opportunities page or email Student Life & Career Services at studentlife@nbss.edu.

Classes & Grading

While the specifics of each program vary, all full-time programs provide intensive, hands-on training in a structured environment with a focus on practical projects. Each project builds on previous learned skills and requires students to solve increasingly complex problems. This method encourages students to systematically develop their hand skills, understanding of tools, materials, and processes.

Classes in most programs meet Monday-Friday; the specific meeting time depends on the program. Please view the individual program pages for information on class days and hours. Bench rooms and workshops are often open after instruction hours and during some weekend hours for independent work.

Students are graded each month on performance, progress and effort. The performance grade is based on assigned, practical projects and written tests. The progress grade is based on overall effort, speed, and advancement. The effort grade is based on attendance and commitment to gaining the most from the program. Grades are recorded monthly on a permanent record card which is retained in each student’s file. A student may request a copy of their record at anytime.

Students are graded as follows:

E: Excellent (4.0, 90-100)
G: Good (3.0, 80-89)
F: Fair (2.0, 70-79)
P: Poor (1.0, 60-69)
U: Unsatisfactory (below 60)

Students must maintain a GPA of 1.70 or higher in each enrollment period to meet the qualitative measurement of Satisfactory Academic Progress.

Housing & Transportation

Unfortunately, NBSS does not provide housing. However, you can find some housing resources we’ve compiled.

We encourage students and visitors to use public transportation. In fact, while Boston’s North End boasts some of the city’s best historic sites and restaurants, it has very little parking. The School is a short walk from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Haymarket Station (on the Orange and Green Lines) and Aquarium Station (on the Blue Line). Please view our Contact & Visit page for more information about public transportation and local parking lots.

Note: Carpentry and Preservation Carpentry students will work offsite periodically, usually within an hour commute of the School. Faculty and students will work together to figure out ride shares with students who have transportation to and from the job site.