Academic Requirements and Testing

Although Oberlin has no specific entrance requirements, candidates for admission generally present a minimum of 15 academic units, including courses in English, foreign language, mathematics, laboratory science, and social science. An academic unit is equivalent to one year of study in a particular subject area.

Candidates must provide evidence of successful completion of diploma requirements at an accredited secondary school or acceptable evidence of the equivalent of a high school education.

It is generally true that candidates who show great promise as musicians have also performed at a high level in academic courses in secondary school. However, on occasion, the demands on a talented musician are so great as to affect performance in the classroom. This should not be of great concern to applicants, since musical talent, as demonstrated in an audition, is more important than academic achievement in determining admission to the conservatory.

Testing Requirements

Domestic and English as a primary language applicants: Oberlin College and Conservatory has moved to a test-optional model starting with the 2020-2021 admissions cycle and continuing as a pilot program through the 2024-2025 application year. SAT and ACT score submissions will still be accepted, but will no longer be required. If desired, you may also submit results from SAT II subject exams. 

SAT Code: 1587

ACT Code: 3304

On the Common Application, you also have the opportunity to provide a self-reported score for the exam taken, or the date on which you expect to take the exam. Official score reports must be sent directly to Oberlin from the testing service. Official score reports will be required upon enrollment for those who self-report scores. Any discrepancy between self-reported test scores used in the evaluation of an application and official test score reports received later may result in the revocation of an offer of admission.

Oberlin superscores both the SAT and ACT. For the SAT, we will consider the highest Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and the highest Mathematics scores submitted, irrespective of SAT test date. Similarly, we will recalculate a new composite ACT score from subsections taken on different dates. This process gives students the highest overall score possible, allowing us to consider their best academic achievement.

Applicants who have previously submitted SAT or ACT scores to Oberlin may still choose to have their applications reviewed without regard to test scores.

International applicants (for which English is not the primary language): We require that applicants whose first language is not English submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)International English Language Testing System (IELTS). If neither exam is available in your location, we also accept results from Duolingo’s English Test (DET). There is no absolute minimum score on any test for Oberlin; however, students scoring lower than 60 on the Internet-based TOEFL (or the equivalent score for the other exams) are less likely to be competitive applicants. Scores between 60 and 80 are considered favorably, though all students with scores below 80 may be asked to complete additional assessment of their English proficiency during the audition process. Official score reports must be sent directly to Oberlin by the testing service. 

TOEFL Code: 1587

If the required language exams are unavailable at an applicant’s location, they may request a waiver by emailing However, they should be aware that applicants who provide one of these test scores will be considered more favorably.

Theory Test Requirements

As part of the application and audition evaluation process, the admissions committee considers your music theory knowledge.  Your Applicant Portal will contain a link to complete the online Music Theory Exam.  This test will also serve as a basic placement test for the Division of Music Theory should you be admitted to Oberlin and choose to enroll.  Students who achieve a high score will be invited to take additional tests in theory during the summer for possible placement in a more advanced class.

Theory Test Deadline: February 1 at midnight

Homeschooled Requirements

Homeschooled applicants to the conservatory should submit an academic portfolio, with a detailed syllabus that lists the subjects studied each year, the dates each subject was studied, a description of each course of study, major texts used or literature read, and evidence of science laboratory experiences.

Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Credit Guide