Policies and Procedures

The Curtis Institute of Music is committed to musical and academic integrity. Curtis pledges to create an atmosphere conducive to creativity, learning, and achievement, in keeping with the mission of the school. Guidelines and policies detail students' and teachers' rights and obligations as members of Curtis's community and are provided to foster excellence on stage and in the classroom. Read the full academic honesty policy here.

The safety, security and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors at the Curtis Institute of Music are of paramount importance. Read our Annual Security and Fire Safety Report to see safety statistics from 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Curtis is a community in which musical and intellectual growth, learning by doing, mutual tolerance, and respect for freedom of thought and expression are principles of great importance.  The Curtis Code of Conduct ensures that Curtis provides an environment that promotes the free interchange of ideas, cultural diversity, and space for artistic, intellectual, and social growth.

Students may meet requirements in musical studies and supplementary performance subjects by examination. Credit for Advanced Placement examinations may be given in certain liberal arts subjects.

Curtis will give credit for liberal arts and music history courses taken at an accredited college, university, or music school earned either before admission or while enrolled. However, Curtis reserves the privilege of examining all candidates and applicable transcripts before granting the transfer of credits. Any transfer courses taken at another institution while a student is enrolled at Curtis must have a grade of C or better, as well as the prior approval of the dean of faculty and students.

Transfer students may receive credit for up to 27 semester hours in liberal arts subjects. Students with a previous undergraduate degree must take a minimum of 15 semester hours in liberal arts subjects at Curtis to receive a Bachelor of Music degree from Curtis. Final assignments of transfer credit are made by the registrar in consultation with the dean of faculty and students.

Courses may be added only during the first two weeks of each semester.

Courses may be dropped during the first four weeks of the semester without appearing on the student’s transcript. Students who drop a course after the second week of classes may not add one in its place.

Students who drop a course between the fifth and eighth week of classes receive a W/F (Withdraw/Fail). After eight weeks the mark is F. If there are extenuating circumstances, a student may submit to the registrar a written petition to have the grade changed. The petition is reviewed by the appropriate staff members, and, if approved, a W/P (Withdraw/Pass) for the course appears on the student’s transcript.




4.0 Excellent






3.0 Good






2.0 Average






1.0 Passing


Conditional: First semester only


0.0 Failure






Pass (indicates that no grades were given in the course but that the student has received credit for attendance)





Courses accepted as transfer credits and through exemption exams count toward the total number of credits for graduation but are not included in GPA calculations.

In both musical studies and liberal arts courses, D– is a temporary first-semester grade. The D– will be changed to an F if the student fails second semester; D– will be changed to a D should the student receive a passing grade for second semester.

The Curtis Institute of Music uses the semester hour as the basis for awarding academic credit. In lecture-based courses offered through the liberal arts and music studies curricula, a semester hour is defined as one 50-minute period of recitation plus two hours of preparation each week over a 15-week term. In performance-based and ensemble courses, one semester hour is given for a minimum of two clock hours of participation plus necessary preparation each week of a semester.

Credit and scheduling assignments for courses are made by the registrar in consultation with the dean of faculty and students and academic department chairs as part of the curriculum development process each year.

Each semester, syllabi for all liberal arts and musical studies courses are collected and kept on file. The department chairs, in conjunction with the registrar, monitor course requirements and expectations to ensure that credit assignments accurately reflect class requisites and obligations.

No grade of Incomplete is given unless approved by both the registrar and the instructor of the course. The student must make the request in writing to the registrar and associate dean of academic affairs before the end of the semester in which the course is being taken.

For courses in which a grade of Incomplete is received, course work must be completed within four weeks of the end of the semester and a grade submitted to the registrar. Otherwise, a permanent grade of F for that course is recorded on the student’s transcript.

Students must make all requests for transcripts in writing to the registrar. Official transcripts will be released directly to outside agencies only after the registrar receives a written request from the student.

Current students are entitled to three official transcripts each year without charge. Additional transcripts are sent for $5 each.

Curtis supplies transcripts for alumni at a cost of $5 per transcript. Transcripts are mailed within one week of payment, made by check or credit card.  Transcripts may be requested online or in writing. Written requests must include a check made payable to the Curtis Institute of Music

The Curtis Institute of Music adheres to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.

Curtis is committed to the health and well-being of its students and offers:

  • Primary medical care through the University of Pennsylvania Student Health Service (Penn SHS) including other health services for acupuncture, allergies, immunizations, nutrition, men's health, massage, sexual health, podiatry, stress reduction, sports medicine, smoking cessation, women's health, travel services, and transgender health. Penn SHS is located at 3535 Market Street (on the northeast corner of 36th and Market; entrance to the building is on 36th Street). Call (215) 746-3535 to make an appointment or to speak with the on-call clinician. Students should bring insurance card and Curtis ID.
  • Partial gym reimbursement at local fitness centers, yoga studios, dance studios, and more
  • Mental health consultations/services and short-term counseling
    Dr. Ellen Wright. Ph.D.: (215) 732-3720
    Dr. Jesse Suh, Psy.D.: (215) 207-9373
    Dr. Robin Risler, Psy.D.: (610) 246-5459 
    Dr. Allan Goldberg, Ph.D. : (215) 592-4060
    Dr. Cheryll Rothery, Psy.D.: (215) 990-0159
  • Health and wellness workshops and musician injury prevention presentations
  • Membership at a world-class local fitness and rehab center for a limited number of students
  • Annual wellness day health fair highlighting health and fitness activities, education, resources, and more
  • Annual wellness survey conducted with entire student body
  • Annual flu vaccines administered on campus - free to all Curtis students
  • Alexander Technique instruction
  • Publication and distribution of the Curtis Student Wellness Guide
  • Health support guidance to access specialists and alternative therapies (see Laurel Grady, associate dean of student life and international student affairs)
  • Support for localized health needs such as high-fidelity ear plugs for orchestra rehearsals, and instant ice packs for comforting noninvasive pain-relief therapies for musician muscle and joint pain
  • Dedicated space for mind-body awareness, guided and/or self-guided meditation, private consults with alternative therapies professionals, interfaith discussion, and private reflection

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community 

Curtis supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, staff, alumni, and faculty to increase understanding and acceptance of sexual and gender minority members in the Curtis community.

You are welcome at Curtis, no exceptions. We accept you as an individual whether queer, heterosexual, questioning, or something else; 'in' or 'out'; of any race or ethnicity; young or old; and so on--as we value and appreciate everyone.

There are many ways to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or allied and celebrate our community's diversity. Creating a sense of community is vital for LGBTQ persons on campus to engender pride, a safe space, and learning and leadership opportunities. This community also extends to the broader LGBTQ community in Philadelphia.

LGBTQ Resources

EDGE Philadelphia
Phone: (215) 609-4378
EDGE is a group of writers, artists and promoters dedicated to the goal of presenting news and information to the LGBT community in a fair, entertaining, non-conglomerate format.

Leeway Foundation
Phone: (215) 545-4078
The Leeway Foundation supports women and trans artists and cultural producers working in communities at the intersection of art, culture, and social change. Through grant-making and other programs they promote artistic expression that amplifies the voices of those on the margins, promote sustainable and healthy communities, and work in the service of movements for economic and social justice.

Philadelphia Gay News
Phone: (215) 625-8501
505 S. Fourth St.
Philadelphia Gay News (PGN) is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender newspaper in the Philadelphia area. PGN is a member of the National Gay Newspaper Guild.

The Attic Youth Center
Phone: (215) 545-4331
255 S. 16th St.
The Attic creates opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth to develop into healthy, independent, civic-minded adults within a safe and supportive community; and promotes the acceptance of LGBTQ youth in society. 

Giovanni's Room
Phone: (215) 923-2960
345 South 12th St.
With more than 7,000 titles on the shelves, a database of more than 42,000 titles, and 2.4 million titles available online, Giovanni's Room stocks thousands more lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual books and films than the biggest superstore. They also have more LGBT magazines, greeting cards, bumper stickers, jewelry, dog leashes, and more than you've ever seen before, plus over 50 readings a year.

HIV Testing: Penn Student Health Service
Phone: (215) 746-3535
3535 Market St., First Floor
Free, confidential rapid HIV Testing is available at Student Health Service.

Evolutions - Trans Support Group – Mazzoni Center
Phone: (215) 563-0652 x509
21 S. 12th St., 
A drop-in support group for anyone identifying along the transgender spectrum providing support and psycho-education surrounding issues of gender, such as gender identity, gender presentation, and coming out to friends and family. This group provides a positive and supportive environment for people to explore their own evolution, as well as offer their support to others. Evolutions meets every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Mazzoni Center.

Preferred Names - Statement of Commitment to Inclusion

In support of the Curtis commitment to provide an equitable and safe experience for students whose birth/legal name and/or gender does not reflect their gender identity and/or gender expression, Curtis accepts requests from such students to use a preferred first and/or middle name or gender identification in Curtis records. A student's preferred name can and will be used where feasible unless the student's birth name and/or legal name use is required by law or the student's preferred name use is for intent of misrepresentation.

Process: Transgender, gender nonconforming, gender-variant, and non-cisgender students who wish to designate a preferred name should or change a birth name and/or legal name to a preferred name should meet with SafeZone trained staff member Laurel Grady to discuss the scope and limitations of the request.

Limitations: Although Curtis is committed to supporting students in the trans community, it is important to understand that designating a preferred name for use at Curtis DOES NOT constitute a legal name change. A student's birth name and/or legal name will continue to be used on certain Curtis documents. Preferred first and/or middle names may be designated. Curtis is unable to designate a preferred surname without documents showing that the surname has been changed legally by a court or government entity.

Legal Names: Legal names should be updated through the registrar, Darin Kelly. Students interested in changing their name legally can find resources through local government or the Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia.

The Preferred Name Change process is available to transgender, gender-nonconforming, gender-variant, and non-cisgender individuals; and only for first and/or middle names.

Mental Health

College students often face mental health challenges. Left untreated, these issues can become debilitating. Talk to someone and get help if you have an issue or are concerned about something you, a friend, or a peer might be facing. Research conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness on mental health on college campuses shows that:

  • One in four students have a diagnosable illness
  • 40% do not seek help
  • 80% feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities
  • 50% have been so anxious they struggled in school

Curtis provides short-term psychological services and support through a mental health team comprised of four licensed psychologists in walking distance to campus. If you find it difficult to talk with a friend about a situation, make an appointment with one of the psychologists. Some students might feel uncomfortable opening up to a mental health professional at first, but find that a private consult or two with the psychologist can be the first step to support. All sessions are confidential. All of our psychologists have years of experience counseling college-age students and students studying in the performing arts. Students are advised and encouraged to refer to the Student Wellness Guide for more information and details about symptoms, recognizing the signs, and accessing resources for depression, anxiety, suicide, eating disorders, and addictions.

Take your mental health seriously and seek help if you think you or a friend is at risk. If a family member has suffered from a mental illness, make an appointment with a member of the mental health team for help and support. Heredity and genetic make-up can sometimes play a role, and consulting with one of our psychologists could provide you support and ways to take charge of your life.

Curtis is dedicated to fostering a positive mental health community and ensure a safe and healthy atmosphere for all students. Students are encouraged to learn more about student rights via the Curtis Student Code of Conduct and the following governmental resources:

Finding a Psychiatrist

At times students benefit from medical support with a psychiatrist: a medical professional who specializes in mental health disorders, diagnosis, treatment, learning disabilities assessment, and medication management. To access psychiatric services with a licensed psychiatrist, students are encouraged to consider a number of options.

  • Check with your health insurance provider to locate and schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist nearby and in-network. 
  • Seek a referral through one of the mental health consultants available to Curtis students. Curtis provides a wellness benefit to have five free counseling sessions per academic year with one of the following psychologists:

Dr. Ellen Wright. Ph.D. - (215) 732-3720
Dr. Jesse Suh, Psy.D. - (215) 207-9373
Dr. Robin Risler, Psy.D. - (610) 246-5459                
Dr. Allan Goldberg, Ph.D. - (215) 592-4060

  • Contact the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University to request an appointment with a psychiatrist. Call (215) 955-8420 during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Whenever possible, appointments will be scheduled within two weeks after the initial telephone contact. Note: Jefferson psychiatric professionals participate in Devon Health. Students participating in Devon are billed for services in accordance with Devon Health. Students participating in other health plans are billed directly or in accordance with their plans. All mental health providers are required by the rules of their profession to keep your presence at their office and the content of your conversations strictly confidential. If there is a need to talk or disclose medical records with another person involved, such as a physician, information will be released with your specific consent and as required by law.
  • Make an appointment at Penn Student Health Service to meet with a health clinician and request a referral to a licensed psychiatrist.

Mental Health Emergency

If you feel that you are in a mental health emergency situation, or if you are unsure of how to approach your friend who is in an emergency situation, it may be best to call 911. Students can also call the Philadelphia Suicide and Crisis Intervention Line at (215) 686-4420 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, toll-free, 24/7 at (800)-273-TALK (8255)

Drug Safety - Prescriptions and Over-the-Counter Drugs

Many prescription and over-the-counter medications have the potential to cause serious side effects. Visit RX Dangers for the latest news on drug recalls, serious side effects, complications, and interactions of commonly prescribed drugs. The RX Dangers website is continually being updated with FDA recalls and its mission is to spread awareness, creating a safer environment for all consumers. For more information you can contact RX Dangers directly at info@rxdangers.com

Financial Responsibility

Curtis does not provide financial assistance for psychiatric services or medication. Students are responsible for payment and submitting insurance claims to their health insurance provider.


All mental health providers are required by the rules of their profession to keep your presence at their office and the content of your conversations strictly confidential. If there is a need to talk or disclose medical records with another person involved, such as a physician, information will be released only with your specific consent. 

For more information and referrals to members of the mental health team speak with Laurel Grady, associate dean of student life and international students affairs.

Curtis encourages students to take an active approach toward their health with up-to-date information. In addition to the resources in this section, students and their parents are encouraged to become familiar with Curtis’s Emergency Evaluation Procedure.

What to do if you are raped

If you decide to report the assault, CALL 9-1-1 or Special Victims Unit at (215) 685-3251 and they will take you to the Philadelphia Sexual Assault Response Center for an examination.

The Philadelphia Sexual Assault Response Center (PSARC) was established in 2011 to meet the forensic and medical needs of sexual assault victims who are 16 years of age and older. PSARC is a private, not-for-profit center whose mission is to provide expertise in the assessment and evaluation of sexual assault victims in Philadelphia. All services are provided in private, medical office setting located adjacent to the Special Victims Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department. This unique setting allows for private, confidential, victim-centered care.

The center is staffed 24/7, by on-call, specially trained and experienced Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) who provide forensic rape examinations and evidence collection to both females and males. The SANE staff are all highly trained, compassionate nurses with years of experience in the care of sexually assaulted patients.

PSARC works closely with the Philadelphia Police Department's Special Victims Unit, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR), and the Philadelphia Sexual Assault Advisory Committee to provide a survivor-centered approach to sexual assault.

PSARC cares for victims regardless of their cooperation with law enforcement. Accompaniment services, if desired, are provided by Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR), Philadelphia's rape crisis center.

Services provided at PSARC include:

  • Forensic medical evaluation
  • Injury documentation
  • Forensic photography
  • Pregnancy prevention
  • Sexually transmitted infection prevention
  • HIV prevention
  • Follow-up care
  • Court testimony
  • Victim advocacy linkage 

Additional Wellness Resources

Curtis seeks to foster a safe and healthy environment for all members of the Curtis community. In addition to the health services provided by University of Pennsylvania Student Health Service and the Curtis mental health counselors the following links are useful resources.

Counseling and Behavioral Health FAQ

How do I make an appointment?

Make an initial appointment with a member of our mental health team -- Ellen Wright. Ph.D. (215) 732-3720; Dr. Jesse Suh, Psy.D. (215) 207-9373; Dr. Robin Risler, Psy.D. (610) 246-5459; or Dr. Allan Goldberg, Ph.D. (215) 592-4060. If you have questions about a particular counselor speak with Laurel Grady, associate dean of student life and international student affairs.

Is counseling free or is there a fee?

Curtis provides free service to Curtis students for five (5) sessions. If, after your fifth visit, you and your counselor agree it would be beneficial to continue, speak with Laurel Grady.

Are the services completely confidential?

Curtis and the counselors with whom we partner strictly protect the confidentiality of information shared during sessions. We are ethically committed to confidentiality and federal/state laws require it. This means that even your attendance in counseling is kept private and confidential. State and Federal law states that there are four exceptions to this general rule:

  1. If you request (by means of a signed release) that your counselor reveal information to other individuals or agencies of your choice
  2. In instances where there is imminent danger of serious harm to yourself or others
  3. In cases involving physical and/or sexual abuse of children or endangered adults
  4. Where otherwise requested by subpoena or mandated by court order or state/federal law

What do I do in a crisis?

If you are in an urgent situation or cannot wait until the first available appointment during business hours, please call a member of the staff, the resident assistant on duty, a member of the mental health counseling team, or 911.

If you need to refill your prescription, please call your therapist or pharmacist during normal working hours.

If it is after office hours, including weekends, please call a member of the counseling team or go directly to the emergency room at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), or Jefferson University Hospital, or call 911.

How do I cancel/reschedule an appointment?

In order to cancel or reschedule an appointment you already have set up with your counselor, please call your therapist. If s/he is not available, you can leave a message and s/he will return your call.

Can faculty or staff use the services of our counseling team?

Curtis faculty and staff are not eligible for services.

How long can I get therapy?

Most students who decide to get counseling go for short-term therapy. The length of counseling is determined by the student and the therapist in order to meet the student's needs.

Can I just get a refill, or see a psychiatrist on my first visit?

Curtis understands that you may need a refill of a prescription from your home doctor, or you just want to see a psychiatrist when you get here. Students are advised to contact their insurance provider to seek a psychological clinician who is “in-network” and set up an appointment to discuss those needs. Students can also contact the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University to request an appointment with a psychiatrist. Call (215) 955-8420 during normal business hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Can I walk in and be seen immediately?

Counselors try to make themselves available as much as possible. Students are encouraged to make an appointment by phone. Counselors will do what they can to help those students whose needs are so pressing that they need to meet with a clinician urgently. Often a student is seen on the same day.

Do you offer ADHD testing?

Curtis welcomes students with disabilities and provides reasonable accommodations to those who self-identify in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Academic accommodations, auxiliary services, and technology are made available to students who meet established documentation guidelines. To find out more about learning disabilities visit Teens Health – Learning Disabilities.

How do I return from medical leave?

The request to return from a leave of absence begins with the school. Curtis will provide you an agreement which outlines requirements for a return. If we feel your return requires that your therapist/health professional be involved in the process of a return request, a number of forms must be completed and returned to Laurel Grady. The confidential forms will be reviewed and we may call you or your therapist/health professional about your readiness to return to Curtis. The final decision about your return is made by the school.