Frequently Asked Questions

For your convenience, the Cleveland Institute of Music Admission Office has assembled this list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Jump to: Application & Audition FAQs | Admitted Student FAQs


Q: When are tours of CIM offered? Are appointments required?

A: Tours of CIM are available throughout the year. Monday, Wednesday and Friday tours begin at 2:00 PM. Tuesday and Thursday tours begin at 10:30 AM. During summer months, Friday tours occur at 10:30 AM. Please contact the Admission Office at 216.975.3107, or email to make arrangements. Further information is available on the Visiting CIM page. Additionally, self-guided tour packets are available at the security desks. Visitors are welcome throughout the year during regular business hours from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Q: Can non-CIM students, who visit or audition, stay in the residence hall?

A: The residence hall is only accessed by enrolled students who reside there, as well as authorized staff members. Students who visit and audition are encouraged to make off-campus accommodations. On audition days only, the residence hall is viewable during tours. Information on recommended hotels near CIM can be found on the Visiting CIM page.

Q: Are all CIM students required to live on-campus?

A: Only freshmen and sophomores are required to live on-campus. Upperclassmen and graduate students can apply for on-campus accommodations through the Case Western Reserve Office of Housing and Residence Life, or pursue off-campus housing options.

Q: Where is CIM located in Cleveland?

A: Located on the East-side of Cleveland, CIM is in the heart of the University Circle area. The 500 acre, park-like setting includes the Case Western Reserve University campus, Severance Hall, world-class museums, historic mansions, libraries, gardens, churches, temples, and medical facilities. CIM students are fully immersed in the thriving arts and cultural district of Cleveland. For more information about University Circle, please follow the link on local attractions.

Q: Is the University Circle area safe?

A: University Circle is patrolled by the Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University, and University Circle police departments. In addition, CIM employs a full-time security staff. The crime rate in the area is low, and has been dropping in recent years. Local security information is available at CIM Security Reports and CWRU Security Reports. Additionally, CIM students have access to the CWRU Safe-Ride program, which provides rides to students who do not wish to walk at night.

Q: What is the ratio of undergraduate to graduate students?

A: The student body is approximately 60% undergraduate and 40% graduate.

Q: Does CIM accept applications to begin studies in the second semester?

A: Applications and auditions for the second semester are handled on a case-by-case basis. If you are interested in a mid-year application, please contact the Admission Office at 216.795.3107, or by email at

Q: How many applications does CIM receive?

A: The 8-year average of applications received is slightly over 1000 annually.

Q: How are prospective lessons arranged with CIM faculty?

A: Depending on availability, some members of the CIM faculty provide lessons to prospective students. Lessons are scheduled directly with the faculty. If you would like to contact a faculty member, please use their email address listed on the Faculty section of the CIM website. If you have trouble reaching a member of our faculty, please contact the Admission Office at 216.795.3107, or by email at

Q: Is chamber music offered at CIM?

A: Both degree and diploma programs have a chamber music requirement. Along with solo and orchestral studies, chamber music is an essential part of the CIM curriculum. Students are encouraged to form their own chamber music groups.

Q: Do degree programs (BM, MM, DMA) have an academic component?

A: Music theory, history, eurhythmics (undergraduate), and electives are taken by all students in a degree program. Additionally, CIM students fulfill non-music class requirements at neighboring Case Western Reserve University.

Q: Is job placement, consultation and assistance available to students?

A: Academic Advisors, Faculty and Staff are prepared to advise students on an individual basis as they complete their program and prepare to leave CIM.

Q: Do students have an opportunity to work professionally in the Cleveland area?

A: Local and regional orchestras, churches and synagogues, businesses and hospitals, hotels and private clubs provide numerous performance opportunities for CIM students.

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Q: Is it possible to have the application fee waived?

A: The application fee is required and non-refundable. In special circumstances, a fee waiver may be issued after the Admission Office receives and reviews a qualifying College Board Fee Waiver. Please contact the Admission Office at 216.795.3107, or by email at for more information.

Q: When is the best time to apply?

A: The application for the 2015 school year will be available in early September. The application deadline is December 1st; however, we may still accept applications after the deadline has passed, depending on available space for certain instruments.

Q: Is an essay required as part of the application?

A: Yes, an essay is required and is considered a vital component of the application. The essay provides a medium for applicants to express themselves in a non-musical context.

Q: Are transcripts and letters or recommendation required?

A: Yes, both are required for an application to be considered complete. Before the application is submitted, applicants can upload unofficial copies of transcripts. Or, an applicant's institution(s) can mail official copies to the CIM Admission Office. Specific transcript requirements are listed under the Supporting Application Documents page. Two letters of recommendation are required, and are sent electronically to the recommender’s email address, as provided by the applicant, when the application is submitted.

Q: Does CIM require the GRE exam?

A: No, CIM does not require a GRE exam as part of the application.

Q: Is there a place to list CIM teacher preferences on the application?

A: The application allows up to 3 teacher preferences to be listed. Audition dates may be assigned depending on teacher preference availability.

Q: Are students assigned to a teaching assistant?

A: All CIM students study with faculty for both lessons and classes.

Q: Are grades taken into consideration with the admission decision?

A: The Admissions Committee reviews the entire application, including transcripts (GPA), recommendations, essay, examination scores, etc. The audition, however, is the largest and most important component used to determine acceptance.

Q: What is the GPA requirement for applicants?

A: A "B" average (3.00) or higher is preferred for unconditional admission. A cumulative GPA, lower than a 3.0, may warrant a conditional admission. Students who have a very strong audition with lower academic standing will not be automatically denied admission. A full review by the Admissions Committee determines what the best fit is for all applicants.

Q: How do home schooled students complete the transcript requirement?

A: Home schooled students are required to submit a transcript that details completed coursework, along with course descriptions. It should contain information similar to what is found on a traditional high-school transcript; names of courses, terms, grades, and grading scale should be included.

CIM is pleased to consider admission for applicants who have completed secondary education through the General Education Development Program (GED). Additionally, CIM will consider home-schooled applicants without a GED providing that they complete either the ACT Test or the standard SAT Test plus the SAT II Test (Math Level 1).

Q: Do international students need to provide translated copies of official records?

A: All documents must be translated into English. Additionally, the original non-English documents must be included with the translated copies. A student's academic institution should be able to provide an English translation, or a certified translation service, such as World Education Services, may be used to provide a translated copy.

Q: Where does the Cleveland Institute of Music hold auditions?

A: There are live auditions at CIM throughout February and early March. Additionally, there is one regional audition in New York City that occurs in early March. Auditions may also be held in China in the fall, check the Auditions page for exact dates and locations. Many instrument/vocal areas allow for recorded auditions; please check the audition requirements on the Application Instructions page. Applicants that apply for the DMA program can only audition live in Cleveland. Specific audition information is listed on the Admission page of the CIM website.

Q: Are applicants, who apply and audition for the Composition or Audio Recording programs, required to demonstrate proficiency on an instrument?

A: Musical proficiency for Composition and Audio Recording applicants is assessed as part of the prescreening requirement. The live audition is an interview with the respective faculty.

Q: Can an applicant use different repertoire for the audition, instead of the repertoire performed on the prescreening?

A: In general, applicants should follow the audition guidelines outlined for their specific program and instrument area. Students may change a specific piece, as long as it still meets the audition requirements (e.g. a cello applicant may play a movement of the Elgar concerto on the prescreening video and then perform a movement of the Dvorak concerto at the live audition).

Q: What material is covered on the audition day examinations?

A: On the audition day, applicants are scheduled to complete the following admission examinations, as appropriate to the level of entrance. Admitted students who do not meet expected entrance requirements must register for appropriate remedial coursework. Sample tests are not available. Secondary piano placement testing is deferred until the first week of classes (except for conducting applicants). Undergraduate applicants, who are interested in advanced placement, please note: though CIM does accept AP test results in many subject areas, it does not do so in the area of music theory. Instead, the results of CIM's admission examinations are used to determine advanced placement, as warranted.
Testing for first-year undergraduate applicants includes:

  1. Written knowledge of key signatures, intervals, triads, scales, and part writing. The part writing example is brief and graduated in difficulty. Each applicant is expected to complete as much of the exercise as knowledge and ability permit.
  2. An ear training test that covers intervals, triads, and harmonic progressions.
Testing for transfer undergraduate applicants includes:
  1. Written knowledge of key signatures, intervals, triads, scales, and part writing. The part writing example is brief and graduated in difficulty. Each applicant is expected to complete as much of the exercise as knowledge and ability permit. The examination also includes sections pertaining to form and analysis and counterpoint.
  2. An ear training test that covers intervals, triads, and harmonic progressions.
Testing for graduate and doctoral applicants will include the following:
  1. A written examination that includes part writing, form and analysis, and counterpoint. All examples may contain, or require the identification of chord inversions, secondary dominant, diminished, seventh, Neapolitan 6th, and augmented chords.
  2. An ear training test that covers intervals, triads, and harmonic progressions.
  3. In addition to the above audition day testing, doctoral applicants will complete DMA Diagnostic Examinations (music history and music theory, including listening examples/identification, counterpoint and part-writing) from 8:30 AM until 2:00 PM on the day following the scheduled audition. DMA candidates must demonstrate outstanding knowledge and skills, which are evaluated both by CIM and CWRU Music Department faculty.
Audition and examination results help to shape the overall construction of an individual's program of study. The program may include the completing deficiency coursework, prior to the start of degree curriculum.

Q: Are the audition day schedules provided before the audition?

A: All applicants receive their audition day schedule during registration on the morning of the audition.

Q: After the audition, when is the earliest recommended time to book a flight?

A: Audition day events begin at 8:30 AM, and can last past 5:30 PM. We do not recommend scheduling a return flight before 7:00 PM. It can take up to 45 minutes to drive from CIM to the airport.

Q: Are events available for families to attend during the audition day?

A: Complimentary refreshments are provided in the lobby, where parents are encouraged to ask questions of current students and staff. In addition, tours of CIM and the residence hall, Cutter House, are offered. A complimentary luncheon is provided, free of charge, for applicants and their families/guests.

All visitors are encouraged to visit the museums in University Circle, which are within walking distance. Self-guided tours of the adjacent campus of Case Western Reserve University are also available. To help plan your time, visit the Cleveland Visitor's Bureau website.

Q: Do auditions require accompaniment?

A: Vocal and collaborative piano auditions are the only areas that require accompaniment. CIM provides accompanists, and rehearsal time, for those who audition in Cleveland. For the regional audition in New York City, vocalists must provide their own accompanist. Recorded vocal auditions must be accompanied as well. All other instrumental auditions are unaccompanied.

Q: When will applicants be notified of audition results?

A: Audition results will be emailed by the end of March for graduate applicants and by April 1st for undergraduate applicants.

Q: When will wait-listed applicants be notified of an admission decision?

A: The wait-list is short and unranked. The Admission Office will notify wait-listed applicants of acceptance at the faculty's discretion.

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Q: When do newly admitted students register for class?

A: The Registrar's Office will construct a preliminary schedule for all incoming students. It will be based on the transcript review and audition day examination results. Schedule adjustments are made during the "add/drop" period that occurs during the first two weeks of class.

Q: Is a freshman English class required?

A: A 3-credit freshman English course is required, and taken at neighboring Case Western Reserve University. Student’s who completed English for college credit in high school can petition to have that class requirement waived. Students who wish to do this must provide a course description, and it must align with the course offered at CWRU.

Q: Can students who live in the dorm choose a roommate?

A: Roommate requests and other personal considerations are taken into consideration. New students are asked to fill out a Housing/Roommate Preference Form (found in our New Students section). This form includes roommate preference questions.

Q: When a faculty member is out of town and misses a student's lesson, what is the protocol for CIM students and faculty?

A: All lessons missed are made-up. Occasionally, The Cleveland Orchestra will be on tour, which requires lessons to be arranged on future dates; however, the orchestra resides in Cleveland for the majority of the school year.

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In addition, international students with general questions about study in the US may find much helpful information on the web at


Lynn M. Johnson

Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management

p. 216.795.3107


Stefani Rose

Assistant Director of Admissions

p. 216.791.5000 ext. 243


Office hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.

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