Music is more than a profession. It is a calling. Many dream of success, but few possess the determination needed to achieve it. To be a musician is to devote yourself to constant improvement of technical skills. But technical mastery is no longer enough. The demands on today’s professional includes a range of skills that would never have been considered necessary in the past, such as computer literacy, knowledge of repertoires beyond the classical Western idiom, and entrepreneurial savvy.

Common Application

Complete the Common Application and add Oberlin Conservatory of Music to your college list using the link below:

Apply to Oberlin Conservatory

Make sure to answer our school-specific questions as well in order to submit the application. Oberlin Conservatory has an application fee of $100 (application fees are non-refundable, fee waivers accepted).

If you want to be considered for the Double Degree Program (Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts) with the College of Arts and Sciences, be sure to select both Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Oberlin College of Arts and Sciences. You must submit an application to each school to be considered for the Double Degree Program. If you do not want to be considered for the Double Degree Program, you need only apply to Oberlin Conservatory.

Students will be able to indicate their need for a fee waiver through the Common Application. Doing so will allow the student to submit the application without being asked to pay the $100 application fee. Indicating a fee waiver is needed on the Common Application triggers an email to the student's counselor to confirm validity. That confirmation is sent directly to the schools at which the student is applying. Should we not receive confirmation from the counselor of a student who has submitted an application indicating a fee waiver is required, the student will be charged the application fee.

Applicant Portal and Screening Materials

Within 24 hours of submitting the Common Application, you will receive an e-mail inviting you to log into your online Applicant Portal, which contains required application forms and the Audition and Screening Dropbox. After your Applicant Portal is established, you may use the below link to log in at any time:

Log in to Applicant Portal

The Common Application tells us a lot about you, but it doesn’t tell us music-related information like your audition information and  music background. That’s what the required forms on your Applicant Portal will do, so we cannot grant an audition (or interview if Composition or TIMARA) until we receive the required forms. Think of them as the application part two.

Please note, students who submit the Common Application prior to September 15 may not receive the invitation to view their portal until that date. After that date, the 24 hour turnaround resumes.

The following required forms are on the Applicant Portal:

  • Audition/Interview Request
  • Musical Background and Selection Information
  • Composition, TIMARA, and Jazz Studies Supplement (if applicable)
  • Music Teacher Recommendation Request

In addition to the required forms listed above, the Applicant Portal contains a complete checklist of required application materials and the status of those materials (received, waived, etc.). After an admission decision has been made, we will release the decision letter on the portal and students will be able to submit the Intent to Enroll form and pay the enrollment deposit using the portal. When there is an update available to the portal that requires some action, we will notify students via e-mail.

Tip: Bookmark your portal page after logging in, as you will return to this page many times throughout the admission process.

Screening is a first round review prior to being granted a final audition review. Applicants in all areas are required to submit screening materials. There are additional details on the Auditions & Interviews webpage, and screening requirements for each area are listed with that area's final audition requirements.

Screening materials should be submitted using the Audition and Screening Dropbox on your Applicant Portal.

Next step Audition Audition

Audition

The audition (or interview if applying for Composition or TIMARA) is the most important component. You can find all the available audition dates and requirements on our Auditions & Interviews webpage. This year we will only be asking for recorded auditions and interviews.

Other Requirements

Please select any of the items below for more information on what is required of applicants for admission to the Conservatory of Music. Some items may be optional. 

Music teacher recommendations will be requested through the Applicant Portal, due December 4. Recommendations are not requested through the Common Application and cannot be submitted using Naviance.

We require two recommendations from persons who can write about the applicant's musical abilities and experiences. We prefer at least one recommendation come from your current or most recent private studio teacher, with the second being a chamber music coach, conductor, school or orchestra band director, etc. An e-mail with detailed instructions for completing the recommendation will be sent to the music teacher as soon as the request is submitted. Recommenders will then have until December 18 to submit the recommendation.

Academic transcripts are required from all secondary schools attended. Home-schooled applicants should submit an academic portfolio. The secondary school counselor (guidance counselor or academic advisor) will be asked to upload an official transcript from the school currently attended (or academic portfolio if home-schooled) when completing the online Secondary School Report. Students who have attended more than one secondary school must provide transcripts from all schools, unless they are certain that their prior academic record appears on their current school’s academic transcript. Transcripts should be received no later than December 1 or two weeks after the student’s submission of the application, whichever comes later.

Transfer applicants also should include transcripts from their current and any previously attended postsecondary school.

International applicants are required to submit all transcripts in English. Transcripts may be emailed to conservatory.admissions@oberlin.edu or mailed to Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Office of Admissions, 39 W College St., Oberlin, OH 44074, United States.

The Secondary School Report will be submitted electronically through the Common Application. The applicant is required to provide the name and e-mail address of his or her secondary school counselor when completing the application.  An e-mail with detailed instructions for completing the Secondary School Report will be sent to the counselor as soon as the application is submitted. That individual will have until December 1 or two weeks after the student's submission of the application, whichever comes later, to submit the report.

SAT or ACT

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 2022-2023 application year. SAT and ACT score submissions will still be accepted, but will no longer be required. If desired, you may 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. 

Note: If you would like to submit one of the exams and it is not possible to take one or more of the exams where you live, you may contact us for a waiver. Be aware, however, that applicants who provide a standardized test score may be considered more favorably.

TOEFL, IELTS, or DET

International applicants (in which English is not the primary language of instruction): It is preferred that applicants whose first language is not English submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). If neither exam is available in your location, we also accept 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 its equivalent for the other exams) are less likely to be competitive applicants. Applicants with scores lower than 80 may be asked to complete additional assessment during their audition process. Please visit the Academic Requirements and Testing webpage for complete score requirements. Scores must be sent directly to Oberlin by the testing service. 

TOEFL Code: 1587

On the Common Application, you will have the opportunity to provide a self-reported score for the exam taken, or the date on which you expect to take the exam. In addition, we require either an official score report from the testing agency or the inclusion of your test scores on your high school transcript.

In addition to receiving the TOEFL, IELTS, or DET, we may require a video interview with Oberlin ESOL staff to further assess English proficiency.

On the Applicant Portal, students will find a material upload section. Use this to upload a photo of you with your instrument.

International applicants: Digital photo of front page of passport showing name, birth date, birth city and country, and citizenship information. Must be uploaded on the Applicant Portal.

Transfer applicants: Download the form. Must be completed by a music executive at the school in which the applicant is currently enrolled and mailed to Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Office of Admissions, 39 W. College St., Oberlin, OH 44074, United States.

International applicants: All international applicants, regardless of aid status, must submit the International Student Certification of Finances Form by January 15. On the Applicant Portal, students will find a material upload section. Use this to submit the completed Certification of Finances form.

Domestic applicants

If you are requesting need-based financial aid, then you must complete the College Board Financial Aid Profile (CSS Profile) and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with the federal processor. Both must be completed by January 15. All applicants will be reviewed for merit-based financial aid. Completing the FAFSA is not required for consideration, however it is strongly recommended that you complete the College Board Financial Aid Profile (CSS Profile).

For more information about applying for financial aid, visit Oberlin’s Office of Financial Aid website.

International applicants

In addition to the International Student Certification of Finances Form (to be submitted on the Applicant Portal), any international applicants wishing to apply for need-based financial assistance must submit the College Board Financial Aid Profile (CSS Profile)

It is important to note that because Oberlin’s international financial aid budget is not unlimited, students who do not apply for financial aid at the time of admission are not eligible for aid in future years. If a student is not applying for financial aid, the expected amount of support per year required for Oberlin is: 

Expected Support Requirement in Future Years

Year

Amount

2017-18

$71,900

2018-19

$74,000

2019-20

$76,100

2020-21

$78,100

For more information, visit Oberlin’s international student website.

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 our online Music Theory Exam.

The theory test deadline is February 1 at midnight.

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.  Graduate-level applicants (Artist Diploma, Master of Music in Historical Performance, and  Master of Music in Contemporary Chamber Music) do not need to take this test.

Application Deadlines

Step Deadline
Common Application December 1
Audition/Interview Request Form December 4
Music Background Form December 4
Music Teacher Recommendation Requests December 4
Screening Materials December 4
Supporting Application Materials* up to 2 weeks after submission of Common Application
Financial Aid Materials January 15
Final Audition Recordings February 1
Music Theory Exam February 1
Notification April 1
Reply/Deposit Due** May 1

*Supporting application materials include academic transcripts, standardized test scores, music teacher recommendations, etc. See the "Other Requirements" section for a complete list and more details about these items.

**A $300 matriculation deposit is required to secure your place in the incoming class. This deposit must be submitted via check or online payment along with your intent-to-enroll card. Failure to submit your deposit by the reply deadline may prevent you from enrolling at Oberlin. Payment plans are available for those experiencing financial hardship.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to audition for two different instruments or areas of concentration? The conservatory offers a double major program that allows students to study two primary instruments and, in some cases, complete both major requirements in four years. Students also have the option of majoring in a primary instrument and in another concentration such as composition, TIMARA, music history, or music theory. Aside from that, there is a secondary lesson program that allows students to study an instrument outside of their primary degree curriculum.

I am interested in composition and or TIMARA (Technology in Music and Related Arts), but I don't have much (or any) experience in this area ... just an interest in exploring this realm if I come to Oberlin. Should I select composition and or TIMARA in addition to indicating my interest in auditioning on an instrument or voice for performance admission? Do not select composition and or TIMARA unless you wish to be considered for possible admission in these areas and can submit scores and a portfolio of works as outlined on our website. If you are accepted in an instrument or voice, you will have the opportunity to explore these areas and others as “music electives.”

How do I submit my recorded materials for audition, either as a screening, final, or supplemental recording? Applicants wishing or required to submit recorded materials (either screening, final or supplemental, audio and or video) should use the Audition and Screening Dropbox on your Applicant Portal. This Dropbox will become available to you after submission of the required Audition/Interview Request Form, and it is very easy to upload your audio and or video files directly from any computer to the site. It is more efficient for applicants and for us in the review process, and the sound and video quality is excellent. In other words, we don't want you to send physical media (CDs or DVDs) in the mail, if it can be avoided. Please refer to our Auditions & Interviews page for more details. If students end up sending us the physical discs, we will upload them ourselves in our office and never touch the disc again, once the audition is on the server. Doing this insures that our applied faculty have access to the auditions from wherever they happen to be.

How do I download the jazz audition MP3 files? Jazz Audition MP3 files can be found on the jazz studies audition information page.

Screening (and final recorded auditions, if playing the same tunes) must include a recording of the applicant playing with the background recording. The applicant should check that the background recording is played at an appropriate volume.

How do my teachers submit their recommendations to Oberlin Conservatory? Music teacher recommendations will be requested through the Applicant Portal, due December 4. Recommendations are not requested through the Common Application and cannot be submitted using Naviance.

We require two recommendations from persons who can write about the applicant's musical abilities and experiences. We prefer at least one recommendation come from your current or most recent private studio teacher, with the second being a chamber music coach, conductor, school or orchestra band director, etc. An e-mail with detailed instructions for completing the recommendation will be sent to the music teacher as soon as the request is submitted. Recommenders will then have until December 18 to submit the recommendation.

Are there any essays required for Oberlin? On the Common Application, applicants must submit a personal essay of no more than 650 words for Oberlin, choosing from one of the six prompts offered. Additionally in the Applicant Portal, there are essay responses required as part of the supplements for Composition and TIMARA applicants. Each has a 1,000-word limit, though most are no longer than one page with double spacing.

Composition Supplement essay questions: 

Tell us about your development as a composer so far. Include in your response a discussion of composers, specific works of music, and musical styles and genres that have inspired and influenced you.

Tell us about your aspirations for your creative, academic and professional trajectories. Address such questions as: Why are you pursuing a degree in composition and what do you hope to achieve at Oberlin and beyond?

TIMARA Supplement Essay question:

What are your artistic and academic goals for the next four years?

Is there a theory test? Does it affect my admittance to the school? As part of the application and audition evaluation process, the admissions committee considers your music theory knowledge. Once you have submitted the Oberlin Conservatory Application for Admission, you will receive an e-mail with a link to take the theory test online. The test will run approximately 60 minutes and you can re-take the test more than once. 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.

How can I set up a campus visit and tour? Does the campus tour include the conservatory? The Conservatory of Music currently offers an in-person information session each day of the week . The tour will cover the four main conservatory buildings. The College of Arts and Sciences runs general campus tours through their office at various times Monday through Friday, and on most Saturday mornings throughout the academic year. To learn more about these campus tours, please visit the campus visit calendar for the most up to date information. See Campus Visits for more information and to register for your visit.

How can I set up lessons with a studio faculty member? We encourage you to contact a professor or faculty member in your field of interest. You can find biographies and contact information on the conservatory faculty listing page. To schedule a lesson or a meeting with a professor, it is recommended that you send e-mail to them directly. Please note: All faculty lessons are being offered virtually during 2020-2021 school year.

Where would I, as a conservatory student, live? Is there a music-only dorm? Conservatory and college student life is fully integrated. There are no specific music residence or dining halls. Students have a wide array of housing and dining options ranging from traditional residence halls to Program Houses to our co-op system. All of these are available to students whether they are first-years or seniors.

Are there any first-year dorms on campus? Yes. Oberlin has three First Year Experience residence halls on campus. Each of these halls has resident assistants who are specially trained in helping first-year students become acclimated to the college environment and establish a welcoming sense of community.

What kind of courses would I be taking as an Oberlin Conservatory student? Refer to the course information for each major:

See course requirements

As a conservatory student, can I take college courses? As a conservatory student you are required to take college courses. As part of the degree requirements you must take a certain number of liberal arts electives (roughly 6-8 classes). There is no distribution requirement or core curriculum for these courses. Students will be able to choose from the wide variety of classes offered and never take a course in which they aren’t interested. You can also use these electives to pursue a minor in an academic area in the College of Arts and Sciences.

How many students receive scholarships within the conservatory? In 2019-2020, Oberlin awarded nearly 100% of our admitted conservatory and double-degree students merit scholarships, totaling more than $11.7 million. We also meet 100% of demonstrated financial need and awarded an additional $2.1 million in grants for need-based aid.

How is need-based financial aid assessed at Oberlin? We meet 100% of demonstrated need. You fill out the FAFSA and the CSS Profile, and our financial aid office calculates your estimated family contribution. Any difference between that amount and the total cost of attendance we meet with financial aid. Typically 70% to 80% of an aid award is comprised of grants or scholarships, with loans and work-study funds making up the remainder.

What is Work-Study? The Federal Work-Study Program allows a qualified student to hold a job on campus and the money they earn can go toward their cost of student living or tuition. 

How can I be considered for Oberlin grants? By applying for financial aid (selecting "yes" on the application) and completing the FAFSA and CSS Profile you are automatically considered for all forms of financial assistance at Oberlin.

How does financial aid work for an international student? As an international student there are different forms to submit. Refer to our Finances for International Students web page.