Oberlin Conservatory of Music – Acceptance Rate, Ranking, and Profile

A part of Oberlin College — an institution for higher education with a history beginning all the way back in 1833 — the Oberlin Conservatory of Music is a world-class music school with a reputation for providing excellent liberal arts education. 

Originally known as the Oberlin Collegiate Institute, Oberlin was created to provide the ideal community for developing and sharing Christian values. Today, the school emphasizes diversity, inclusion, and social justice. 

By making their degree programs flexible and customizable, the Oberlin Conservatory allows students to receive the knowledge and skills they need to achieve successful careers as musicians and music educators — without sacrificing the conventional academic study of other subjects.

Oberlin’s music students round out their education by taking advantage of the well-balanced, diverse curriculum offered by the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Incorporating substantial musical training and academic study, music students at Oberlin work closely with faculty to create a degree program that makes ample space for pursuing their individual career goals, desires, and academic needs.

Located about 30 miles southwest of Cleveland in the city for which it is named, the Oberlin Conservatory is stationed on the college’s 400-acre suburban campus. 

As of the fall of 2020, the college’s total undergraduate is just under 3,000 students, with around 540 of them being music students.

Oberlin Conservatory is an excellent school choice for any students out there who plan to pursue a degree in music. Read on for more information about this excellent music college, including its major program offerings, acceptance rate, notable alumni, and more.

Oberlin Conservatory of Music Acceptance Rate

Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Oberlin Conservatory – Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

The acceptance rate into Oberlin College, as a whole, is 35%. That said, some specific majors at Oberlin Conservatory have significantly lower acceptance rates than other majors.

There are a variety of reasons that specific music programs are more selective than others. 

In some cases, it is simply a matter of space: smaller, less in-demand instrument programs can only accept a limited number of students from each pool of applicants, since these programs will have just a small handful of instructors to teach courses and offer lessons. 

Larger, more popular programs, on the other hand, have a large capacity, which could mean higher acceptance rates. Given that popular programs receive lots of applications, however, it may also mean that there will be more competition within each application cycle.

Oberlin College received 9,243 first-year applications for the College of Arts and Sciences and 1,393 for the Conservatory of Music in the 2021 application cycle. From this pool of applicants, 3,377 and 421 students were offered admission to each college, respectively. 

These figures tell us that the average acceptance rate for music students in that particular year was roughly 30%, while the acceptance rate for other students was about 36.5%.

Oberlin Conservatory of Music GPA

Oberlin’s Conservatory of Music’s average GPA is similar to that of its “academic” school, which is approximately 3.5.

In other words, in order to be in line with the average Oberlin Conservatory student in terms of GPA, prospective students should earn primarily As and Bs in all high school courses. 

Students concerned about having a GPA lower than the school’s average should not completely give up hope of being accepted to the Oberlin Conservatory just yet, however. 

There are many different components of the application process, some of which allow students to showcase their individual strengths.

Oberlin’s undergraduate application process begins with filling out the Common Application, including the Oberlin College-specific short answer responses. Students who want to maximize their likelihood of admission should be sure to answer each and every question on the application and carefully proofread when done.  

The process also includes an audition, which is one of the most critical parts of the application. In this step, students must choose an audition piece wisely, dedicate lots of time to practicing, and play the piece with total mastery in order to wow admissions officials. 

What Is Oberlin Conservatory’s Ranking? Is Oberlin a good college/conservatory?

Oberlin College Campus
Oberlin College Campus – Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

Oberlin is among the country’s best music schools and perhaps the best liberal arts college for music in the nation.

The conservatory was ranked the #22 best music school in the nation by Niche.com. Keep in mind, however, that some music schools have different specialties, and if their list was further refined to rank classical or jazz schools only, the number may end up being higher.

Oberlin is unique among music schools in that it is both an excellent, professional-quality musical conservatory and a premier institution for undergraduate education in the areas of the arts and sciences. 

The above ranking is evidence suggesting that this unique approach to undergraduate music education is, indeed, quite effective. 

Further supporting the efficacy of the Oberlin approach is the school’s employment outcomes. According to data collected by the college, 74% of 2019 graduates were employed shortly after completing their degrees, with an additional 17% pursuing graduate degrees.

Notable Alumni of Oberlin Conservatory of Music

Over the course of its long history, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music has produced many highly successful graduates who have gone on to have prominent careers in the music and entertainment industry. 

Paul Horn, a jazz flutist who is widely acknowledged as one of the founding fathers of new age music as a genre, is also an Oberlin Conservatory alum. Over his several decades-long career, Horn made significant waves with his flute and vocal creations; Horn received 5 Grammy nominations.

Another notable Oberlin alum is Seth Rudetsky, musician, writer, and actor who hosts Seth’s Big Fat Broadway Show and Seth Speaks, a radio show about the history of Broadway. He has been nominated for daytime Emmy awards for his excellence on the air three times.

There is also Jon Theodore, a former Oberlin student and drummer who was a member of The Mars Volta and is now the drummer for both the Queens of the Stone Age and Bright Eyes. 

What Are the Available Music Majors at Oberlin Conservatory of Music?

Music students at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music can choose from among 42 different areas of study across various academic disciplines. 

Further categorized into 11 divisions, Oberlin’s major programs cover everything from woodwinds, brass, and percussion, to keyboard studies, vocal studies, and contemporary music.

The jazz studies division includes both a jazz performance major and a jazz composition major. These two BM programs share a lot of the same curriculum, but the composition program culminates with students writing original pieces for student jazz ensembles to perform for the public. 

Oberlin also offers a composition major within the contemporary music division. The chair of this program is Stephen Hartke, who was awarded the Grammy for best contemporary classical composition in 2013.

Classical music fanatics have no shortage of major programs to choose from at Oberlin. 

The college offers an amazing classical guitar program. 

Students in this program not only receive extensive training in the area of chamber music but also access to supplemental jazz courses and lessons on the many exotic, historical instruments the school owns, from Renaissance lute to vihuela. 

Other major options for classical music students include baroque cello, harpsichord, organ, viola da gamba, historical oboes, and many more.

Should You Apply to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music?

There are many different reasons why students in search of a great music school should at least consider applying to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. 

For one, Oberlin boasts an impressive first-year retention rate of 89%. This means that the vast majority of students who attend this conservatory for their freshman year ultimately opt to return for an additional year of study. 

This statistic suggests that enrolling at the Oberlin Conservatory is an all but surefire way to ensure that you are content with your music education institution of choice. For comparison, the average retention rate for all colleges in the United States is only 69%, and in the state of Ohio, it is even lower at just 66%. 

Another reason to apply to Oberlin is that they have small class sizes, with more than 80% of classes having less than 20 students. With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 9:1, students at Oberlin have the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s foremost music educators and connect with fellow classmates in an intimate classroom environment. 

Oberlin’s state-of-the-art facilities are another reason to apply to the college. The Oberlin Conservatory is home to nearly a dozen performance spaces, more than 240 Steinway pianos, 150 practice rooms, and even a professional recording studio. 

All in all, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music is an outstanding school choice for your undergraduate music education experience.

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