About the Conservatory of Music

About the Conservatory of Music


  • The oldest continuously operating Conservatory of Music in the United States.
  • Eight undergraduate majors, including private study in 20 areas.
  • A collection of more than 1,500 musical instruments of the highest quality - all available for student use.
  • Exceptional facilities that include five concert halls and 150-plus practice rooms with windows.
  • Oberlin owns 234 Steinway pianos, and the conservatory's concert and recital halls, classrooms, teaching studios, and most practice rooms are equipped with Steinway grands.


The Oberlin College campus is located on 440 acres in Oberlin, Ohio, 35 miles southwest of Cleveland.


The conservatory has an enrollment of approximately 600 students - primarily undergraduate - from 45 U.S. states and 22 countries. Nearly 175 of those students are enrolled in the Double Degree Program. With 88 faculty members, the conservatory boasts a student/faculty ratio of 6:1.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition 2015-16 $49,928
Required Fees $708
Room $7,080
Board $6,550
Total $64,266

View Profile and Test Scores: Profile Class of 2019

Academic Year

Two semesters with January designated as winter term, when students select one topic of concentration to pursue with an emphasis on self-education, creativity, and intellectual independence.


There are nearly 500 concerts on campus each year, including performances by the more than 25 student ensembles, and performances and master classes by guest artists. Faculty members perform on campus and throughout the world. Oberlin's Artist Recital Series includes campus-based performances by premier, national orchestras and internationally acclaimed soloists.

Degree and Diploma Programs

The Conservatory of Music offers majors in performance, composition, music education, music theory, electronic and computer music, jazz studies, music history, and a double major in piano performance and vocal accompanying. Degree programs include:

  • Bachelor of Music (BM)
  • Performance Diploma
  • Double Degree Program (jointly offered with the College of Arts and Sciences BM/BA)
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Combined Bachelors/Masters Programs in Conducting and Historical Performance
  • Minors
  • Masters Program in Historical Performance (MM)
  • Masters Program in Music Teaching (MMT)
  • Master of Contemporary Chamber Music (MCCM)
  • Artist Diploma


The conservatory is housed in a complex of soundproof and air-conditioned buildings designed by Minoru Yamasaki.

  • Bibbins Hall, the teaching unit, has 40 studios, 10 classrooms, 16 offices, and seven studios of Technology in Music and the Related Arts (TIMARA).
  • The Central Unit houses Warner Concert Hall, which seats 696 and features a three-manual Flentrop organ of 43 stops. Central also houses Kulas Hall, which seats 144; two complete audio recording rooms; and rehearsal rooms for orchestra, band, wind ensemble, opera theater, and chorus.
  • Robertson Hall contains 150 practice rooms, including the Kulas Organ Center, with 14 practice organs by representative builders.
  • The library holds a collection of more than 121,000 books and scores, 47,000 sound recordings, 43 listening stations, and six audiovisual listening rooms.
  • The Bertram and Judith Kohl Building houses our jazz studies department, and the academic departments of music theory and music history. The building has earned a gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating, as developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. This certification makes the Kohl Building one of the few, or perhaps, only, music conservatories to receive the distinction.


Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, founded in 1865, is the nation's oldest continuously operating conservatory, and the only major music school in the country associated with a preeminent liberal arts college. Since its founding, the conservatory has continued its proud tradition of "firsts."

  • 1892 - America's first full-time chair in music history and appreciation
  • 1921 - Establishes America's first four-year college degree program in music education
  • 1958 - Introduces the Suzuki method of string pedagogy to the United States
  • 1969 - Pioneers a program in electronic music
  • 1988 - Creates the American Soviet Youth Orchestra, an ensemble of 100 young musicians from the United States and the former Soviet Union that was the first arts exchange produced jointly by the two countries
  • 1989 - The Otto B. Schoepfle Vocal Arts Laboratory is the first of its kind to be incorporated into a program of vocal instruction in the United States
  • 2007 - Launches Oberlin Music label with a pair of releases: The Oberlin Orchestra in China and Beauty Surrounds Us
  • 2009 - President Barack Obama presents the conservatory with the National Medal of Arts
  • 2010 - Opens world's first LEED gold certified building for the study of jazz music
  • 2014 - Hosts first Symposium for Voice and Performance Pedagogy, considered a pivotal event in the study of vocal health

Did You Know

A tradition since the 1990s, Oberlin Conservatory of Music's Jazz Forums encourage jazz studies students to take center stage at the college-owned Cat in the Cream Coffeehouse as part of a small group ensemble. A feedback session that follows each set yields instant praise or critique. This type of studio class offers valuable learning experiences while building confidence among young musicians.

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