At the Cleveland Institute of Music, we welcome students from many countries. Today, nearly 30 percent of our enrolled students come from outside the United States. Admission requirements are the same for all applicants, regardless of citizenship. Additional procedures, however, result from immigration regulations, different educational backgrounds and financial considerations. Student Advisor Hannah Holbrook offers many resources to support international students and enrich their educational experience. Please do not hesitate to contact Ms. Holbrook with your questions or concerns.


All students are required to submit original transcripts that must include degree earned (if graduated), GPA, dates of attendance/graduation and grading scale. If your school does not provide a notarized English translation with the preceding information, an official credential evaluation must be prepared by a National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) member organization.

All international students who enroll in CIM will be required to have their final transcript submitted through an NACES member organization for evaluation prior to registration for the semester of enrollment.

SpanTran is a NACES member company that has created a custom application for CIM. Their custom application will make sure you get the right kind of evaluation and a discount on the cost of that evaluation. To access their custom application, click here.

English Language Test Scores

If English is not an official language in your home country, you must complete one of the accepted English language proficiency exams. Any exams taken more than two years before the application period will not be accepted. Test scores are due on December 1. No audition will be scheduled without a required English language proficiency exam. 

The minimum scores below must come from one single test. CIM does not accept TOEFL’s MyBest scores. 



TOEFL/IELTS waivers are not guaranteed; however, applicants with three or more consecutive years in an English-speaking institution are eligible to apply. TOEFL/IELTS waivers are not accepted or reviewed for Doctor of Musical Arts applicants. 

Waivers are reviewed on a case-by-case basis after a complete application for admission is submitted. It is advised to turn in the waiver request and application prior to the December 1 deadline. The following materials must be uploaded to the application and received with a completed application. 

  • All required transcripts
  • Most recent English language test score  
  • A recommendation letter from an English teacher or academic professor attesting to your English ability in their class 
    • Your teacher or professor’s information should be submitted on the Recommendations page of the application in addition to your two required recommendation letters 
English Language Training Program

Bachelor and master of music applicants accepted to CIM with a TOEFL score between 61 and 78 or IELTS score of 6 are required to enroll in CIM’s English Language Training Program. This program is held during the summer prior to orientation. You will then continue with English as a second language class in the fall.

Although the program is required for certain students, it is open to any accepted international student that may want to improve English skills before attending CIM.

The program consists of two classroom-based courses and one computer-based lab. If you require TOEFL preparation, you will attend a classroom-based course three days per week, and you will take a two-day instructor-led online preparation course. You will also learn about American (and Cleveland) culture while honing your English skills both within the classroom and during daily outside excursions. 


  • Speaking and Structure: This intensive class gives you ample practice in listening, speaking, vocabulary and grammar skills in meaningful situations. Activities will sharpen your listening skills, expand your spoken language abilities in both formal and informal situations, stimulate thought-provoking discussion and critical thinking, and build vocabulary and academic writing skills.
  • American Culture: This course will cover American customs, holidays, a brief overview of American history, Cleveland history, diversity and traditions. As part of this course, you will visit Yoder's Amish Home to experience Amish culture firsthand. You will also learn the practicalities of living and studying in Cleveland.
  • ESL Lab: You also have access to the online interactive language courseware to work on enhancement practices at your own time and pace. If you're preparing for the TOEFL, you will engage in an instructor-led online program of study.
  • Optional TOEFL Preparation: This course will teach you tips and strategies for maximizing TOEFL scores. The course includes in-class writing and speaking workshops, as well as ample online practice with the integrated course and practice test component.

After-Class Activities and Weekend Excursions

After-class and weekend activities from previous years include Severance Hall and museum tours, RTA (Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority) rides to Cleveland neighborhoods, Yoder’s Amish Home, Blossom Music Center, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and more.

Living accommodations 

All students will live in 1609 Hazel, CIM's student housing complex. Learn more about 1609 Hazel and living accommodations. 

Passport and Visa Requirements

Before leaving your home country, you must obtain a passport from your country of citizenship. The passport expiration date must be at least six months later than your intended date of entry into the United States. International applicants who are already in the U.S. must also be prepared to provide documentation concerning entry into the U.S. (passport, visa, etc.).

During the application process, we will email and confirm audition dates for all students planning to audition live in Cleveland. Once your audition date is confirmed, you may use a copy of the email to obtain a B-2 visa for entry into the U.S. A U.S. Consular Post may, in some cases, additionally require a letter of invitation from CIM for the visa interview. You may request an invitation letter from the CIM Admissions Office at

Financial Aid

Prior to confirming your student status, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security requires you to document the ability to pay for the first year at CIM. You must obtain the I-20 needed to get the F-1 visa. Although this requirement pertains to your ability to pay for only the first year, please plan ahead and consider your ability to fund your remaining time at CIM.

If you have a sponsor or other aid to help pay the first year, and that aid is not available in subsequent years, CIM shall not be expected to make up the difference. Remember, the CIM Scholarship is renewable at the same dollar amount each year for the normal duration of the program (assuming you continue to meet our GPA, academic and artistic progress requirements). Newly admitted international applicants must show documentation of ability to pay prior to being confirmed as a new student, and you should complete this process by the April 15 (graduate) or May 1 (undergraduate) Intent to Enroll deadlines.