How to Apply

Thank you for your interest in applying to the Curtis Institute of Music.

Admission is a two-step process: applying and auditioning. Please check the requirements below needed to complete the online application. It is understood and agreed that the submission of an application does not obligate the Curtis Institute of Music to provide an audition.

We encourage you to check the Curtis website regularly for application and audition requirement updates. All audition dates, deadlines, and studio openings will be posted on the Curtis website when they are available. We will be updating information about applications and auditions for the next academic year, 2023-24, in the coming months.

Applications will open in the fall.

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Key Dates

  • Audition dates vary by department and are scheduled based on the availability of the faculty. Please check the Audition page for specific information on audition procedures.

    Below you will find a general timeline for our application process. Exact dates will be available closer to the fall.

    Application timing is as follows: 

    • Early fall: Applications available
    • December: Applications due for consideration for the 2023–24 academic year. Applications submitted after this date may be considered on a case-by-case basis and will incur an additional $75 late fee. 
    • January: Students selected for live auditions will be notified during this month.
    • February and March: Live auditions (If in-person rounds are not possible, the admissions team will coordinate safe and equitable live virtual auditions. A final decision on the audition format will be made closer to the application deadline in early December.).
    • April: Notification of admission and financial aid status provided 
    • May: Applicant decision due 
    • June: Standardized test results due. Accepted candidates are automatically placed into non-degree programs until all official test scores are received in the Registrar’s Office.
      • Registrar’s Office
        1726 Locust Street
        Philadelphia, PA 19103 USA

Application Requirements

In addition to fulfilling the specific requirements below, applicants should possess physical aptitude for the chosen instrument, a good ear, a sense of rhythm, and the ability to read at sight.

  • Prospective students apply to Curtis through the Acceptd platform.

    You will be asked to create a username and password, which will allow you to save your application before submission. After completing and submitting your application, you will be able to download and view it. The application, all required documents, and fees must be submitted within the Acceptd platform.

  • As you complete the application in the Acceptd platform you will see it is the responsibility of the applicant to make sure the required documents are submitted in English. The official seal and signature of the translator must appear on any translated document.

    • Applicants should upload an unofficial copy of their transcript to Acceptd. Official transcripts should be mailed after admissions decisions are made.
    • Addresses for your parents or guardians and their employers.
    • Addresses and dates of study with private teachers.
    • Addresses and dates of study at high school and/or previous college.
    • A list of scholarships, awards, etc., received and their amounts.
    • A response to four short essay questions.
    • A list of composers and works, including technical studies, that you have studied intensively and consider a part of your repertoire.
    • At least one uploadable copy of a concert or recital program in which you have participated (featuring your name).
    • Three recommendations: One from your current private teacher, and two from musicians or mentors who are qualified to judge your personal and musical talents (excluding relatives). Be sure to include your recommenders’ email addresses as they will receive a link to complete the recommendation on your behalf.
    • For voice and opera applicants: A description of professional experience, if any, including roles and dates performed, names of performing organizations, non-operatic musical activities, and dramatic training and experience.
    • Bachelor of Music applicants: Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT I) scores (optional).
    • Non-native speakers of English
      • Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, Professional Studies Certificate, and Diploma in Opera applicants who are not native speakers of English: TOEFL, or Cambridge, or IELTS, and Optional SAT I scores.
  • In the process of completing your application you will be presented with a section in which to respond to the questions below.

    1. Why do you want to study at Curtis? (150 words)

    2. What inspires you as an artist? (250 words)

    3. Please tell us how you managed a challenging experience. What did you learn, and how might your experience inform your participation in the Curtis community? (300 words)

     4. Your application details your accomplishments as a musician. In this space, please tell us about a special interest outside of music that gives you joy. (250 words)

  • All applicants (with the exception of applicants in guitar, organ, and timpani and percussion) are required to submit screening materials online in order to be considered for an invitation to audition in person. Applicants will be notified of decisions regarding live auditions by mid-January.

    Please see Audition page for prescreening and live audition requirements

    • Online application fee: $150
    • Screening fee: $100 (required for all applicants except guitar, organ, timpani and percussion). If the applicant is invited for a live audition, the screening fee will apply as credit towards the $150 audition fee due by the department’s audition date.
    • Audition fee: $150
    • Materials submitted after deadlines incur an additional $75 late fee.

    All fees are payable via the Acceptd platform. This fee must be paid before the applicant is permitted to audition. Fees are payable in U.S. dollars.

    Students and parents may find it useful to review the following resources: Student FeesEstimated Student Budget, and Net Price Calculator.

Program Entrance Requirements

Undergraduate students at Curtis are enrolled in either the Diploma or Bachelor of Music programs. Upon acceptance to Curtis, all undergraduate students are automatically placed into the non-degree undergraduate Diploma program. Students who wish to enter the Bachelor of Music program must meet the program’s entrance requirements by submitting the most current official transcript of high school and (if applicable) college academic work, as well as optional SAT test scores and standardized English proficiency exam results.

Learn more about the curriculum at Curtis.

  • All accepted undergraduate students are automatically placed into the non-degree undergraduate diploma program. Entrance to the Bachelor of Music program at Curtis is determined on an individual basis.

    The Bachelor of Music is open to all departments.

    The Committee on Academic Standing reviews each student’s entire application and does not offer admission based solely on test scores.

    The following documents are required in order to apply for admission to the Bachelor’s degree program.

    • A complete official high school or, if applicable, college transcript in English, with grades and graduation date
    • Official scores for the SAT (optional)
    • For non-native English speakers: Official scores on English-language tests (please see below)

    Note: Curtis’s College Board Code is 2100

    These documents will be reviewed as the Committee considers individual applicants. Strong academic performance in high school is highly valued. For students transferring into Curtis from another academic institution, evidence of strong academic performance will also be required.

    Additional Information

    Application for the Bachelor of Music degree requires a recognized high school diploma. Homeschooled students should be prepared to submit a transcript of coursework and evidence of completion of high school. All students are placed in the diploma program until they provide evidence of academic achievement in their first year of coursework at Curtis. If applicants submit an SAT score with their application materials, they can be accepted into the Bachelor’s program upon entrance.

    Optional SAT Scores

    If you’re submitting SAT scores, you must achieve a minimum of 500 in the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section.

    Note: Math scores or other SAT advanced tests are not required.

    Requirements for Non-native English Speakers

    For non-native English speakers, Curtis requires one of the following test scores.

    • TOEFL ITP written, score minimum of 550
    • Computer-based TOEFL test, score minimum of 213
    • Internet TOEFL iBT, score minimum of 79-80
    • IELTS, score minimum of 6.5-7.0
    • Cambridge B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency: 169
  • The Master of Music is open to all departments with the exception of flute, bass trombone, and piano.

    • Prerequisite: Bachelor of Music degree or equivalent

    For native speakers of English, standardized tests are not required.

    For non-native English speakers, Curtis requires one of the following test scores.

    • TOEFL ITP written, score minimum of 550
    • Computer-based TOEFL test, score minimum of 213
    • Internet TOEFL iBT, score minimum of 79-80
    • IELTS, score minimum of 6.5-7.0
    • Cambridge B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency: 169
  • For native speakers of English, standardized tests are not required.

    For non-native speakers of English, the following tests are not required for admission but will be used for placement purposes.

    • TOEFL ITP written, score minimum of 550
    • Computer-based TOEFL test, score minimum of 213
    • Internet TOEFL iBT, score minimum of 79-80
    • IELTS, score minimum of 6.5-7.0
    • Cambridge B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency: 169
  • The post-baccalaureate program is open to all departments with the exception of flute.

    • Prerequisite: Bachelor of Music degree or equivalent

    For native speakers of English, standardized tests are not required.

    For non-native English speakers, Curtis requires one of the following test scores.

    • TOEFL ITP written, score minimum of 550
    • Computer-based TOEFL test, score minimum of 213
    • Internet TOEFL iBT, score minimum of 79-80
    • IELTS, score minimum of 6.5-7.0
    • Cambridge B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency: 169
  • For native speakers of English, standardized tests are not required.

    For non-native English speakers, Curtis requires one of the following test scores.

    • TOEFL ITP written, score minimum of 550
    • Computer-based TOEFL test, score minimum of 213
    • Internet TOEFL iBT, score minimum of 79-80
    • IELTS, score minimum of 6.5-7.0
    • Cambridge B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency: 169
  • For non-native speakers of English, standardized test may be requested for placement purposes.

International Students

Each year musicians come to the Curtis Institute of Music from over 20 countries worldwide to study with its acclaimed faculty. Today nearly 40 percent of the students enrolled at Curtis are from abroad. After international students are admitted to Curtis they will work with the International Student Affairs Office to obtain a student visa and any other important documents needed to study in the United States. All application and audition materials are the same for all students applying to Curtis.

Younger Students

The Curtis Institute of Music does not offer a preparatory music or academic program, in the belief that gifted young musicians should study with leading teachers from the beginning of their conservatory days.

Accordingly Curtis sets no minimum age for the admission of exceptional students to most of its programs. Even the youngest, elementary school-aged students receive musical training from the same teachers at the same intensive levels as do their older colleagues. Younger students may receive extra lessons.

For Elementary and Secondary School Students

  • Until they earn a high-school diploma or equivalent and take the SAT and, if necessary, the TOEFL, students younger than college age are considered candidates for the Diploma. (Non-native speakers of English are required to take the TOEFL; TOEFL scores for students entering the Diploma program will be used for placement purposes only.) These students pursue their musical studies at Curtis and their college-preparatory academic studies at an accredited public or private school of their own choosing. Several such schools are within walking distance of Curtis.

  • Pre-college-aged students must be enrolled in an accredited elementary- or secondary-school program or other approved program. (The registrar must be informed of student enrollment in non-Curtis academic programs.) It is the student and family’s responsibility to make an appointment with the appropriate person at the school of choice to discuss school schedules, classes, financial obligations, and deadlines. Students must maintain satisfactory grades (which Curtis defines as 2.0 or better) in their school programs, and they must provide Curtis with evidence of satisfactory progress each marking period or semester.

    For information about schools near Curtis, contact Meredith Tarditi, associate dean of student life and international student affairs.

  • Costs for tuition, fees, books, school uniforms, and other expenditures are the responsibility of the student and family. Contact the school of choice to request information about financial assistance available at that school. Most schools have payment plan options. Students must apply for all outside scholarships and grants before requesting financial assistance from Curtis. When meeting with the school of choice, students and family should bring the Curtis financial aid award letter. Please be advised that Curtis has limited funding for high school, middle school, and elementary school tuition. For additional questions, contact Veronica McAuley, director of student financial assistance.

  • High school students wishing to take an accelerated course load at their school of choice should submit requests to  Meredith Tarditi, associate dean of student life and international student affairs. Curtis and the student’s school of choice will consider all requests based on transcripts, English language proficiency, and placement tests. These will be weighed carefully to ensure that the student will be able to make normal progress academically and musically. Additionally, enrolling in online course work for high school credit will be considered at the discretion of Curtis. International students who are non-native English speakers are not eligible to take online courses for a high school diploma. For details and more information, contact Meredith Tarditi, associate dean of student life and international student affairs.

  • Performance

    • Major Lesson
    • Chamber Music (required for pianists and orchestral instrument majors age fourteen and older)
    • Orchestra (required for orchestral instrument majors age sixteen and older)
    • Supplementary Piano (not required for piano majors)

    Musical Studies

    • Preparatory Musical Studies

    In consultation with the dean and the faculty, academically advanced younger students may on occasion be permitted to enroll in academic courses for which they demonstrate superior aptitude.

  • Students under sixteen years of age are required to live with a parent or adult guardian.

The Young Artists Initiative

Curtis has a long tradition of encouraging artists of every age to pursue their musical talents. In an effort to support our precollege-age students as effectively as possible, we developed the Young Artists Initiative.

    • Assignment of a faculty or staff mentor
    • Musical Studies instruction tailored to younger students, including structured courses in music theory and solfège and specialized tutorials
    • Academic support programming designed by our Student Services Office, offered during the academic year.
    • Peer advice through new student orientation leaders
    • Courses and tutoring in English as a Second Language (ESL)
    • Guidance on enrollment in high school or middle school
    • Access to age-appropriate counseling services with our mental health team, for individuals or in groups
    • All audition finalists and their parents are interviewed by associate dean of student services and international affairs, Meredith Tarditi, to help the family understand the unique demands of studying at Curtis. The interview has no bearing on the admissions decision.
    • Members of faculty and staff members are available as a resource to help identify special needs regarding language, educational progress, adjustment issues, etc.
    • Regular reviews of student progress are conducted by the Committee on Academic Standing and the Student Services Office.
    • Regular meetings with faculty and staff may take place throughout the year, as warranted.
    • The associate dean of student services and international affairs stays in close touch with the student’s elementary, middle, or high school to ensure satisfactory completion of coursework. (Completing work toward the high school diploma is considered essential to a young student’s success at Curtis.)
    • For more information, contact associate dean Meredith Tarditi.

FAQ

  • Applications will be open in the early fall. All audition dates, deadlines, and studio openings will be posted on the Curtis website when available.

  • Yes, the audition process and repertoire are the same for all ages.

  • As students enroll, we want to support them in their chosen program of study. Each program has guidelines to assess a student’s preparedness for that program. Colleges and universities require a high school diploma or the equivalent for a student to be considered for admission to a bachelor’s degree program; a solid record of achievement is the most vital foundation for success in college. For non-native English speakers, we now accept IELTS, TOEFL, or Cambridge tests for placement purposes.

  • The Curtis Institute of Music is a tuition-free school, providing merit-based, full-tuition scholarships to all undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of their financial situation. No application for financial assistance is required for the full-tuition scholarship. Students can be considered for financial aid for living expenses.

    Find more about financial assistance at Curtis.

  • Applicants can upload unofficial transcripts along with application materials in the Acceptd portal.

  • There is a $150 nonrefundable application fee for all applicants. For major departments that require prescreening, there is an additional $100 screening fee

    Applicants invited to a live audition will pay an additional $150 audition fee (the screening fee will apply as credit towards this audition fee).

    All told, applicants who complete a live audition should be prepared to pay $300 in fees.

    All fees are payable via the Acceptd platform. Please review the Curtis website to learn more about which major departments require prescreening.  

  • Yes. Students who want to double-major must audition and gain admission separately for each major instrument department.  

  • Curtis sets no minimum or maximum age for the admission of exceptional students to most of its programs. Students younger than college age are considered candidates for the Curtis Diploma. These students pursue their musical studies at Curtis and their college-preparatory academic studies at an accredited public or private middle or high school of their choosing. They may opt to transition to the Bachelor of Music program when they reach college age.

    Students who already have a bachelor’s degree when they enter Curtis may pursue graduate-level work toward a post-baccalaureate Diploma, or, if accepted into the program, a Master of Music degree or a Master of Music in Opera.

  • The acceptance rate at Curtis varies from year to year and across programs. Overall, it has remained steady at about 4 percent. Do not let this discourage you. Many current students  didn’t believe they could be accepted but auditioned anyway.

    They are now thriving at Curtis.

  • The most important factor is artistic promise. Though showing technical proficiency in the audition is a requirement, the strongest candidates for admission demonstrate the potential to develop into exceptional artists.

  • Curtis offers a warm welcome to musicians who arrive from other continents, from across North America, and from Philadelphia.

    We have found that students who have the most success in their growth as musicians, artist-citizens, and human beings are those who are curious; have a desire to learn and apply their learning; are able to manage their time and well-being within an intense schedule of classes, lessons, chamber music coachings, rehearsals, and performances; and have a deep and abiding love of music and music-making. Rigorous study, self-discipline, and an openness to new musical ideas and experiences will serve students well in an exciting environment where amazing colleagues share musical discoveries with one another in classes, practice rooms, and on stage.

  • Curtis is currently restricting the number of guests allowed on campus. Visits must be requested in advance and not all requests will be approved. Please submit an email request for consideration.

    Please also check the website regularly as details for these opportunities develop.

  • In some cases, applicants to Curtis can take lessons with Curtis faculty (i.e., trial lessons) for instructional purposes or to get a sense for a teacher’s style. The availability of informational lessons varies by faculty and major department. Such lessons will have no bearing on an applicant’s chances for admission and are not required to be seriously considered for admission.

    Candidates are encouraged to learn more about Curtis through all avenues, including tours, conversations with current students, the Curtis website, Curtis YouTube channel, and Instagram page. In some cases candidates may be able to take an informational lesson with a Curtis alumnus. Please email admissions@curtis.edu for more information.

  • Yes, transfer students’ applications and audition process are the same as first-year students. You can apply on Acceptd and submit your application materials. Please refer to the Audition page for specific program and repertoire requirements.

  • The graduation scroll will reflect the successful completion of whichever specific accredited program the student completes. Students earn one of the following: a Diploma; a Bachelor of Music degree; a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma; a Master of Music degree; or a Professional Studies Certificate in Opera.

    Learn more about degrees and diplomas available at Curtis.

  • Preparation for outstanding achievement in the highly competitive world of classical music begins with focused internal growth that leads to extraordinary external expression.

    The process of learning, whether in a practice room or a library, or in interactions with performance teachers, coaches, classroom teachers, peers, alumni, or guest artists, does not end when the semester ends. At Curtis, students have the opportunity to apply their learning immediately when they create programs and perform in varied venues and engage with new audiences across Philadelphia and the world. But Curtis also provides students with a learning and growth mind-set, so that they have the resilience, contextual understanding, and practical knowledge to design and build a future that reflects their values and allows them to explore their fullest potential as performing artists.

Policies and Reports

  • Curtis Institute of Music is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all in every aspect of its operations, including admission, employment, service, and educational programs. Curtis complies with all laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, race, age, religion, ethnicity, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, veteran status, or gender identity. Curtis is an equal-opportunity employer.

  • 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 2018, 2019, and 2020.