New Student Orientation

Congratulations on your admission to Curtis! Every member of our campus community—the faculty, staff, and a team of student peers—looks forward to welcoming you to the Curtis family. The Office of Student Life helps students make this transition with a week-long Orientation program that introduces students to both academic and non-curricular life at Curtis.

The New Student Orientation begins on August 21, 2023.

Orientation is required for all new students and begins with a kickoff dinner party. Throughout Orientation, you’ll learn about academics, performance opportunities, Curtis history, rules and regulations, musician’s health, injury prevention, financial aid, student employment, student perks, and community life. There are free meals, social events, trips around Philadelphia, and plenty of free time to practice, rest, or relax with friends before the school year begins.

Over the Summer

Choose your health insurance.

All students are automatically enrolled in a health insurance plan through Curtis that provides coverage for a 12-month period. Curtis partners with Wellfleet Insurance out of Springfield, Mass. Visit to learn about the company and our plan. Once there, search for Curtis. At Wellfleet’s Curtis landing page, review the “Discover Your Benefits” section to explore Curtis’s benefits summary. Should a student enroll in Wellfleet, the student will get an account to track claims and print ID cards.

Exemptions are possible for students who have comparable coverage through parental or other private insurance plans. In order to waive out of the Wellfleet plan, students MUST complete a waiver and show proof of alternate coverage.  The waiver period begins in July and ends September 1. Details to follow in your email.

Complete your medical preparation prior to arrival at Curtis.             

  • Know your medical history. Obtain your medical records to bring with you and keep on hand.
  • If you are allergic to a drug, know the name and how the allergy manifests.
  • If you take medication, bring an extra prescription or have one filled to last you until you have established a relationship with a local physician and pharmacy.
  • Write down your vision prescription so you’ll have it if/when you purchase new eyewear.
  • Bring a thermometer and learn how to know if you have a fever.
  • Choose your health insurance—either covered by your parents or enrolled in the Curtis student health plan.
  • Be up-to-date on your vaccines. Two doses of the meningitis vaccine are routinely administered in high school, but anyone who did not should definitely get it before starting college. All students enrolled at Curtis are required to have the meningitis vaccine. The tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis booster, given to adolescents and adults, protects against whooping cough, another relatively common infection among college students. Flu vaccines are administered at no cost to students in the fall semester on Wellness Day.

Getting to Know Philadelphia

Philadelphia is recognized as a city of global distinction and is proud to join a prestigious network of 300 World Heritage Cities around the world. This 28-minute documentary gives a wonderful introduction to the city you will soon call home! Philadelphia: America’s First World Heritage City is written and narrated by University of Pennsylvania Professor of History of Art, David B. Brownlee, Ph.D., FSAH, and produced and directed by filmmaker Sam Katz.

Read more about Philadelphia’s arts and cultural offerings for Curtis students here.

Admitted Student FAQs

  • Yes, all incoming students need to attend and complete New Student Orientation in order to register for classes and be compliant with school policies. Check your email regularly for updates. Some activities will occur virtually over the summer, but the majority of Orientation will be held in-person.

  • Guidelines for your ID photo are below.

    • In color
    • In JPG format, with good resolution
    • Recent to reflect your current appearance
    • Eyes open
    • Full face visible
    • No sunglasses or dark glasses that obscure the eyes
    • Eyeglasses are OK as long as there is no glare or shadow that obscures the eyes
    • Remember to smile!

    Email your photo as a JPG file attached to an email.

  • Whether or not you have taken any college courses for credit or AP courses, SATs, TOEFLs etc., all records, test scores, official transcripts should be sent to:

    Office of the Registrar
    Curtis Institute of Music
    1726 Locust Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19103

  • All incoming students take the Musical Studies placement exam, which will be given virtually. The results of these exams determine which level of Harmony, Counterpoint, and Solfège best suits your needs and abilities.

    The Musical Studies placement exam determines your knowledge of music theory and includes the identification of intervals, scales, chords, and keys, as well as progressively more difficult harmony and counterpoint exercises. There will also be a placement “interview” with members of the Musical Studies faculty to determine your proficiency in solfège, sight-signing, clef reading, interval recognition, and piano skills. If you have studied piano, please be prepared to play an excerpt from a piece you’ve recently learned.

    If you are entering the Bachelor of Music degree program, you may need to take the English Literature placement exam. The results of the exam determine your level of preparedness for Liberal Arts courses.

  • Yes, parents and guardians are always invited to attend an orientation program in order to speak with administrators, tour facilities, ask questions, and assist their student with move-in and adjustment. Given current circumstances with COVID-19, we anticipate hosting virtual Orientation sessions for parents.

  • New incoming students living at Lenfest Hall are encouraged to find local accommodations. Some hotels in the vicinity of Curtis provide special discount rates should you need accommodations during your visit. Please mention the Curtis Institute of Music when making your reservations. If you mention “college campus visit rate” when making your reservation, you may receive a discounted rate.

    Club Quarters Philadelphia, 1628 Chestnut Street, (215) 282-5100

    Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse Square, 1701 Locust Street, (800) 333-3333 (toll-free)

  • All incoming students aged 18 and over (or 17 with a high school diploma) and in their first two years at Curtis are required to live in Lenfest Hall.

    Students who are 17 years of age and under and pursuing a high school diploma are required to live with a parent or guardian off-campus. Younger students who initially live off-campus with a parent or guardian are required to move into Lenfest Hall at the start of the academic year after they turn 18 or complete their high school diploma, whichever comes first.

    All other students are strongly encouraged to consider the cost, safety, and convenience of living in Lenfest Hall.

    Lenfest Hall housing is open to all Curtis enrolled students including upperclassmen, post-bacc, and Master’s students.

    For more information on Residence Life and Lenfest Hall, please visit our Office of Residence Life page.

  • The Academic Calendar provides information including fall and spring semester through graduation. Requests to be released in advance of break, OR after start of classes because of pre-purchased airline tickets will be denied.

  • Visit the Curtis Store to browse everything from t-shirts to totes and more. For a shortcut, scroll down to the website footer and click on “Shop”.

  • Carefully read over the F1 visa document listed above in the Over the Summer section. Visit the Study in the States website for additional information and resources students studying in the U.S. with F1 status. You can choose from among many languages to access the website.

  • Curtis students have the opportunity to perform in chamber groups, opera performances, orchestra and chamber group tours, solo performances, and auditions within the United States and around the world. All students should possess a valid passport at all times.  Every student must submit a copy of their passport on the Student and Parent/Guardian Information Form.

  • There are a few cross-cultural insights you need to know to help with your adjustment to the American grading structures and traditions. We invite you to familiarize yourself with Cross-Cultural Insights on course work, writing papers, paraphrasing, understanding the letter system for grading, study groups, library resources, English as a Second Language and more.