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

Deadline: December 1


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

Apply to Oberlin Conservatory
Application link active by August 1

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.

Fee Waiver

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

Deadline: December 4


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 the following forms:

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

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

Applicant Portal

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 submission of the Audition/Interview Request Form, you will be granted access to the Audition and Screening Dropbox and may have additional supplemental forms appear for your area of study. 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 Materials

(if applicable)

Deadline: December 4


Applicants to the Piano, Voice, Flute, Harp, Jazz Studies, Composition, and TIMARA Programs require submission of screening materials for on-campus auditions, regional auditions, and interviews (if Composition or TIMARA). There is some important information about this and details on how to submit these materials on the Auditions & Interviews webpage.

Next step Audition Audition

Audition

The audition (or interview if composition or TIMARA) is the most important component. You can find all the available audition dates and requirements on our Auditions & Interviews webpage. We offer many on-campus, regional, and alternative options, but if you’ve never visited campus or met with our faculty, we encourage you to use the audition as your opportunity to do so. We look forward to meeting you.

Other Requirements

The items below are required of all applicants to be considered for admission to the Conservatory of Music. Select any item for more information.

Music Teacher Recommendations

Music teacher recommendations will be submitted electronically through the Applicant Portal. 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. Use the Music Teacher Recommendation Request Form on your Applicant Portal to assign these recommenders. An e-mail with detailed instructions for completing the recommendation will be sent to the music teacher as soon as the form is submitted. Recommenders will then have until December 1 or two weeks after the student’s submission of the application, whichever comes later, to submit the recommendations.

Academic Transcripts

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 mailed to Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Office of Admissions, 39 W College St., Oberlin, OH 44074, United States.

Secondary School Report

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.

Standardized Test Results

SAT or ACT

Domestic and English as a primary language applicants: We require either the SAT or ACT. SAT II subject tests are not required, however, if you have completed these tests, please include your scores.

SAT Code: 1587

ACT Code: 3304

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.

Note: If it is not possible to take one or more of the required 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 or IELTS

International applicants (in which English is not the primary language of instruction): Applicants whose first language is not English must submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). There is no absolute minimum score on any test for Oberlin; students scoring lower than 60 on the Internet-based TOEFL, however, are less likely to be competitive applicants. Please visit the Academic Requirements and Testing webpage for complete score requirements. Scores must be sent directly to Oberlin by the testing service. See more information about the TOEFL at www.ets.org/toefl/. See more information about the IELTS at www.ielts.org.

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.

Digital Photo

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

Passport Photo Page

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.

Confidential Transfer Report

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.

Certification of Finances

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

Financial Aid Documents

Domestic applicants

If you are requesting need-based financial aid, then you must complete the College Board Financial Aid Profile (CSS Profile) by February 15 and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with the federal processor by March 1. 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: 

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.

Music Theory Exam

As part of the application and audition evaluation process, the admissions committee considers your music theory knowledge. You will receive a link to complete our online Music Theory Exam in the confirmation e-mail we send after your Common Application is received.

The theory test deadline is February 15 at midnight. The test is timed and you are only allowed to take it one time.  Once you complete the last portion of the theory test, you MUST click the submit button or your score will not be recorded.  If you are a composition or TIMARA applicant, please enter composition or technology as your instrument on the online 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.  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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Audition

Is there an advantage to performing a campus audition? It is advantageous to come to campus for your audition so you have the opportunity to meet with the faculty, current students, and to get a sense of whether or not Oberlin College is a good fit for you. If you are not able to come to campus for your audition, a regional audition is another option. The director of admissions will administer the regional audition and gather information to reveal your musicianship skills. Regional auditions are video and audio recorded for faculty review. Additionally, our faculty takes great care to consider everyone equally whether they come to campus to audition, audition regionally, or submit a recorded audition.

Do I need to provide an accompanist for my instrumental audition? No, the only applicants who need an accompanist are voice applicants. Voice applicants auditioning on campus will have a professional accompanist provided for them on the day of the audition. However, if a voice applicant is auditioning regionally, they will need to provide their own accompanist.

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.

A. Jazz applicants requesting live auditions (on campus or regional) must submit a screening recording. The screening recording should be submitted using the same guidelines as a recorded audition. Additionally, on-campus auditions will be performed with live accompaniment.

B. Applicants who perform regional auditions should practice with the background recording. Regional auditions will be performed with the background recording provided by the Oberlin Conservatory admissions staff. Please note: regional auditions are not offered in jazz percussion.

C. Recorded auditions 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.

I performed my regional audition in Asia in October. Do I need to complete the Audition/Interview Request Form on my Applicant Portal? Yes, you must still complete the required Audition/Interview Request Form on your Applicant Portal. You will provide additional information relevant to the review of your audition. We will not review your audition in Asia without receipt of this form.

Application

How do my teachers submit their recommendations to Oberlin Conservatory? Music teacher recommendations will be submitted electronically through the Applicant Portal. 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. Use the Music Teacher Recommendation Request Form on your Applicant Portal to assign these recommenders. An e-mail with detailed instructions for completing the recommendation will be sent to the music teacher as soon as the form is submitted. Recommenders will then have until December 1 or two weeks after the student’s submission of the application, whichever comes later, to submit the recommendations.

Are there minimums or maximums for the essay questions? The answer is, no. Just take the space you need to say something interesting and revealing.

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 are only allowed to take it 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 15 at midnight.

Visiting Campus

How can I set up a campus visit and tour? Does the campus tour include the conservatory? The Conservatory of Music offers an information session and tour at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. 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 Visit for more information and to register for your visit.

Can I stay with a current student of my area of study and attend classes? Overnight stays will only be offered for students participating in an Oberlin-sponsored event or by arranging your own host. Find specific details on the Campus Visits page.

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: During breaks, regular classes are not in session and many professors may be off campus.

Where can I find a schedule of conservatory events to see while visiting? Visit our Events Calendar page. There are approximately 500 concerts on campus each year, including performances by the more than 25 student ensembles, plus performances and master classes by guest artists. Faculty members perform on campus and throughout the world. Oberlin’s Artist Recital Series includes performances by premier national orchestras and internationally acclaimed soloists. Check for a list of concerts, recitals, and campus events. This will help you plan your visit and activities when you arrive.

Oberlin Student/Campus Life

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 reidence 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 32 liberal Arts credits (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.

Financial Aid

How is need-based financial aid assessed at Oberlin? We meet 100 percent 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 will meet 100 percent with financial aid. Typically 70 percent to 80 percent of an aid award is comprised of grants or scholarships, with loans and work-study funds making up the remainder.

How many students receive scholarships within the conservatory? Typically about 90 percent of conservatory students receive some form of talent-based or merit-based scholarship, though in some years we have awarded 100 percent of admitted students a merit scholarship. These gifts range anywhere from $4,000-$24,000 a year.

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.