Admission to either division of Oberlin College – the College of Arts and Sciences or the Conservatory of Music – is competitive and selective, and based on a student’s prior achievement as well as future promise. Students may apply to both divisions. Separate applications, fees, transcripts and recommendation forms are required for each division. Students admitted to both divisions can choose to enroll in either the College of Arts and Sciences or the Conservatory of Music or in the Double-Degree Program (leading to both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Music degree in five years or fewer). Decisions on the two applications are reached independently.
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College of Arts and Sciences
Conservatory of Music
Application for Admission
Students interested in Oberlin should file an inquiry online with the appropriate Admissions Office indicating the date they plan to graduate from high school. Both the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music use the Common Application. Students must submit these applications electronically; typically the applications are available after July 1.
Oberlin enrolls first-year students in the fall and transfer students in the fall or spring semester.
Applications for fall semester must be submitted by:
- November 15 (College of Arts and Sciences, Early Decision I and spring semester transfer applicants);
- December 1 (All Conservatory Applicants);
- January 2 (College of Arts and Sciences, Early Decision II);
- January 15 (College of Arts and Sciences, Regular Decision); and
- March 15 (College of Arts and Sciences fall semester transfer applicants).
Students wishing to enter Oberlin before completing the traditional four years of high school should submit a letter outlining their educational goals and provide evidence that they are socially and emotionally ready for the challenge of college. In some cases, the Admissions Office may request an interview.
Students admitted to the Arts and Sciences division of Oberlin College can request deferred enrollment for up to one year. While the Conservatory of Music does not ordinarily consider admitted students for deferred enrollment, in exceptional circumstances approval to defer enrollment may be granted for up to one year.
A written request for deferred enrollment must be submitted to the Vice President and Dean of Admissions of the College of Arts and Sciences specifically outlining the student’s plans for the interim by June 1. Approved deferral requires the student’s commitment to enroll and a $300 deposit to secure a place in the class. In return, the Admissions Office will hold a place in the entering class of the subsequent September (or February for transfer students only), as requested. A letter reconfirming admission and a new intent-to-enroll card will be mailed to all deferred students in December or March, prior to their anticipated enrollment at Oberlin. During deferment, students may take up to two full courses/8 credits per semester for a maximum of four full courses/16 credits at another accredited institution, within the overall pre-matriculation credit limit of five full courses/20 credits. Full time enrollment at another college or university is not permitted.
Though requests for deferred enrollment ordinarily will be honored, the Admissions Office may ask for additional information and can deny the request. If attending Oberlin College is one of several options a student is considering after a period of time off, deferred enrollment will not be granted. Rather, the student will be invited to reapply for admission at a later date.
Additional questions about Oberlin’s deferred admission policy should be directed to the Vice President and Dean of Admissions of the College of Arts and Sciences or the Director of Conservatory of Music Admissions.
Oberlin welcomes applications from students currently attending colleges and universities in the United States and other countries who wish to study at the college for a limited period. Entrance standards are the same as for regular transfer candidates. Normally, students are accepted for one semester only; in rare cases, visiting students may be accepted for an entire year. Institutional based financial aid is very limited for visiting students. For more details, contact the Office of Admissions.
College of Arts and Sciences
Students applying to Oberlin should present a program of studies combining breadth and depth, and are encouraged to include enriched or Advanced Placement courses when available.
The best-prepared candidates usually present the following:
- four years of English (with an emphasis on writing);
- three years of one foreign language;
- four years of mathematics;
- three years of natural science, with laboratory; and
- three years of social studies, including history.
Applicants whose interests in college may require calculus should take as much mathematics as possible. Trigonometry and pre-calculus are especially recommended.
For students intending to major in the natural sciences, courses in biology, chemistry and physics are all highly desirable. Foreign language study beyond the third year is also encouraged.
Students from secondary schools that do not offer all of these courses should not feel discouraged from applying to Oberlin, especially if they have strong records of achievement within their schools and are looking for an academic challenge at the college level. Oberlin seeks students who exhibit traits of leadership and involvement in their schools and communities, but the focus is on quality, not quantity. Individual attention is given to each application. Both ethical engagement - especially concern for others and the common good - and intellectual engagement are highly important. Entry-level foundation and introductory courses are offered to help entering students of special circumstance. For example, Effective Reading Strategies is a course designed to improve critical reading skills.
Students who have been enrolled in ungraded or innovative systems should present evidence of serious academic and intellectual effort, including detailed recommendations from a variety of academic teachers and counselors. Home-schooled students should contact the appropriate Admissions Office for information about Oberlin’s Home School policy.
Admissions Testing Program
Candidates for admission to the College of Arts and Sciences must submit the results of either the SAT or the ACT. Students whose native language is not English must submit the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). SAT Subject Tests are not required. Although the Admissions Committee prefers that applicants take the tests early in the senior year, the results of tests taken on other dates are accepted. Details concerning application for the examination may be obtained from a high-school guidance counselor.
Admission with Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate
Incoming students may receive credit toward graduation for:
- successful completion of college-level coursework in secondary school, as measured by performance on the College Board Advanced Placement Program (AP) examination;
- work completed in International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, and/or
- successful completion of approved liberal arts courses taken at a college while enrolled in high school; credit for such courses must appear on a transcript from an accredited college or university.
AP/IB credit is granted on the assumption that the student does not enroll in an equivalent course at Oberlin.
Oberlin does not recognize the results of CLEP (College Level Examination Program) and other programs of credit by examination not tied to the completion of specific courses leading up to the tests. Academic credit is not granted to incoming students for experiential learning programs.
Individual departments in which AP/IB credit is being requested decide standards and grant credit, within the overall Oberlin limit of five full courses/20 credits. Information on those guidelines is included in each department’s description of course offerings.
The following departments grant AP and/or IB credit: art (art history only), biology, chemistry, classics (Latin), computer science, English, environmental studies, French, German, Hispanic studies, history, mathematics, music (theory only), physics, politics, and psychology. For full details visit http://new.oberlin.edu/office/registrar/ap-ib-credit/chart.dot.
Admission of Transfer Students
The method of selecting transfer students is essentially the same as for first-year students. In addition to the record of preparatory work, personal recommendations and SAT, ACT, TOEFL, or IELTS scores, an applicant must submit an official transcript of college work completed, a list of courses being carried during the current term/semester and evidence of good academic standing. Final decisions concerning the amount of credit to be assigned are deferred until the completion of work at the previous college. Where grades are available, the strongest candidates usually have a B average or better and have provided the Admissions Committee with valid reasons for transfer. Conservatory of Music applicants should refer to that division’s catalog section for information about audition requirements.
Students who are currently in their first year of study at another college may only apply for fall admission.
All students, including transfers, are required to have no fewer than four semesters of residence and complete at Oberlin College no fewer than 16 courses/64 credits (for students in the College of Arts and Sciences), 84 credits (for students in the Conservatory of Music), and 107 credits (for double-degree students).
A College of Arts and Sciences transfer student must satisfy the requirements for a major; complete the courses/credits listed below with no fewer than 16 courses/64 credits earned at Oberlin or on Oberlin-sponsored programs; complete the residency requirements listed below; and maintain good academic standing.
College of Arts and Sciences transfer students are required to complete the following semesters at Oberlin College:
- A transfer student to the College of Arts and Sciences who enters as a second semester, first-year must complete a minimum of six semesters in residence at Oberlin.
- A transfer student to the College of Arts and Sciences who enters as a first-semester, second-year must complete a minimum six semesters in residence at Oberlin.
- A transfer student to the College of Arts and Sciences who enters as a second-semester, second-year must complete a minimum of five semesters in residence at Oberlin.
- A transfer student to the College of Arts and Sciences who enters as a first-semester, third-year must complete a minimum of four semesters in residence at Oberlin.
Work completed on an approved academic leave of absence counts towards the residency requirement, so long as the minimum 16 full courses/64 credits are earned over four semesters in residence at Oberlin College.
Conservatory of Music
The single most important criterion for admission to the Conservatory of Music is the performance audition or, in the case of composers, the compositions submitted. The audition standards are the same for all candidates regardless of intended majors. Prospective non-performance majors are scheduled for conferences with faculty members at the time of their on-campus auditions.
Conservatory of Music applicants audition in their principal performing medium (instrument or voice) unless applying for admission as a composition or electronic and computer music major. Under normal circumstances an applicant will be limited to an audition in one performing area.
Candidates are encouraged to audition in person at Oberlin. Regional auditions are also held throughout the United States and in Asia. All applicants in piano, violin, voice, and jazz studies are required to submit a screening recording prior to being invited for an audition. For students interested in Composition and TIMARA, an interview is required. Application to these areas requires the submission of a screening portfolio prior to an interview being confirmed. Please contact the Conservatory of Music Admissions Office for details.
Applicants may submit pre-recorded auditions only if travel to Oberlin or to a regional audition is cost-prohibitive. Transfers to Oberlin should try to audition in person. Composers are asked to submit scores of at least three recent works that demonstrate aptitude for this major.
Details on auditions are furnished with application materials. The Conservatory of Music notifies applicants of the outcome of their applications by April 1.
Aptitude and Achievement Tests
Candidates for admission to the Conservatory of Music must submit results of either the SAT or the ACT. Although the Admissions Committee prefers that applicants take the test late in the junior year or early in the senior year, it accepts results from other testing dates. Details concerning application for the examination may be obtained from a high-school guidance counselor. SAT Subject Tests are not required. Applicants whose first language is not English must submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS); see “Conservatory English Language Proficiency (ESL) Requirement” in the Academic Policies section of this catalog.