Pre-College 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 (the only difference being that the younger students may receive extra lessons).

Elementary and Secondary School Student Overview

Until they earn a high-school diploma or equivalent and take the SAT I and, if necessary, the TOEFL, students younger than college age are considered candidates for the Diploma. 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.

Financial Aid and Academic Information

Costs for tuition, fees, books, school uniforms, and other expenditures are the responsibility of the student and family. Students must apply for all outside scholarships and grants BEFORE requesting financial assistance from Curtis.

  • Contact the school of choice to request information about financial assistance available at that school. Most schools have payment plan options. When meeting with the school of choice, students and family should bring the Curtis financial aid award letter. For information about schools near Curtis contact Richard McGovern, manager of student life and international student affairs.

    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.

    High school students wishing to take an accelerated course load at their school of choice should submit requests to Richard McGovern no later than August 1. 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 Richard McGovern.

    Please be advised that Curtis has limited funding for high school, middle school, and elementary school tuition. Curtis will cover only a portion of the tuition. All other high school tuition and expenses are the responsibility of the student and family. For additional questions, contact Veronica McAuley, director of student financial assistance.

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

    * Non-native speakers of English are required to take the TOEFL. The TOEFL scores for students entering the Diploma program will be used for placement purposes only.

Activities Required of Pre-College Students


  • Major Lesson
  • Chamber Music (required for pianists and orchestral instrument majors age 14 and older)
  • Orchestra (required for orchestral instrument majors age sixteen and older)
  • Supplementary Piano (not required for piano majors)

Musical Studies

  • Preparatory Musical Studies

Outside Academic Schooling

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.)

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.

The Young Artist Inititative: Support Services for Pre-College Students

Curtis has a long tradition of encouraging artists of every age to pursue their musical talents. In an effort to support our pre-college students as effectively as possible, we developed the Young Artists Initiative. It was designed to provide a coordinated and holistic approach to support students of pre-college age across every facet of their educational experience.

The Young Artists Initiative provides support to the young artist by providing: 

  • 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
  • Social interaction with local families through the Curtis Host Program
  • 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

The Young Artists Initiative monitors the young artist’s progress:

  • All audition finalists and their parents are interviewed by associate dean of student services and international affairs 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.)