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

General FAQs

Q: I would like to visit CIM and have a tour of the facility. Do I need an appointment?

A: You are welcome to visit CIM throughout the year. The Admission Office offers tours and information sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 2:00PM and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30AM. Please contact the Admission Office at (216) 795-3107 or to make arrangements, or see our Visiting CIM page for more information.

Q: May I stay in your residence hall when I visit or audition?

A: Since enrolled students fill our residence hall to capacity, you will need to stay at a local hotel. Information on recommended hotels near CIM can be found on our Visiting CIM page.

Q: Do you require on-campus residence for enrolled students?

A: Only freshmen and sophomores are required and permitted to live in the residence hall. Other students may either apply for on-campus accommodations through the CWRU Office of Housing and Residence Life or investigate the many off-campus housing opportunities in the campus area.

Q: What is the area around CIM like?

A: University Circle is a 500 acre, park-like area that includes the campus of Case Western Reserve University, museums, libraries, concert halls, hospitals, gardens, churches, temples, and residence facilities. It is, therefore, an exciting and busy cultural, urban center. Click the following link for more information on local attractions.

Q: Is the area safe?

A: The crime rate in University Circle is low and has been dropping in recent years. More detailed information is available in CIM's online Security Reports.

Q: Do you prefer to admit graduate or undergraduate students?

A: In general, CIM seeks to achieve a balance of approximately 60% undergraduate and 40% graduate students. Talented applicants are sought at all levels.

Q: Is it possible to begin study in the second semester?

A: There are occasional openings in January. If you are interested in mid-year admission, please phone the Admission Office (216-795-3107). Applications are accepted until October 1, and auditions are arranged on an individual basis. There is no published audition schedule for spring admission.

Q: How can I be sure you have openings for the department in which I am interested?

A: Under normal circumstances, each department will graduate students at the end of the academic year. Consequently, you may assume there are openings.

Q: How many applications do you receive annually, and what is your acceptance rate?

A: CIM typically receives 1,200 applications with an acceptance rate of approximately 30%.

Q: I am interested in having an introductory lesson with a member of your faculty. How do I go about making the necessary arrangements?

A: Some members of the CIM faculty give lessons to prospective students, and you will need to schedule your lesson directly with the teacher of your choice. Our faculty page conveniently contains email links for many members of the faculty. If you have difficulty contacting a faculty member, please call the Admission Office at (216) 795-3107 for further assistance.

Q: As an enrolled student, what happens to my lesson if my teacher is out of town?

A: All lessons are made up. This is also true for faculty who are members of The Cleveland Orchestra. Though the orchestra occasionally tours, it primarily resides in Cleveland throughout the academic year performing its weekly subscription concerts.

Q: Can I participate in chamber music at CIM?

A: Chamber music is considered essential for the emerging professional musician. Consequently, there are many chamber music opportunities and requirements.

Q: Do your degree programs have an academic component?

A: Yes. The CIM Catalog clearly details the general education course requirements that are undertaken at CWRU.

Q: Do many of your students get jobs?

A: The significant achievements of CIM's accomplished performing and teaching alumni throughout the world signify its commitment to quality and professionalism. Though the successes are far too numerous to mention, in Cleveland alone CIM is extremely proud that 38 of our alumni are current members of The Cleveland Orchestra.

Q: Do you offer job placement assistance for students when they graduate?

A: Academic advisors, faculty, and staff are prepared to advise students on an individual basis as they complete their programs and prepare to leave CIM.

Q: Are there many gigging opportunities in the Cleveland area?

A: Local and regional orchestras, churches and synagogues, businesses and hospitals, hotels and private clubs provide many performance possibilities for students.

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Application & Audition FAQs

Q: Is it possible to waive my application fee or to have it refunded at a later date?

A: No. An application fee is required and non-refundable.

Q: When is the best time to apply?

A: You will greatly strengthen your position at ALL the schools to which you are applying if you submit your materials at least a month before the deadline.

At CIM, you should consider applying as early as September or October. If you wait and apply near the deadline, you may risk not getting the audition date you prefer because it is full and closed. You may also risk other processing difficulties simply because deadline time in the Admission Office is like rush hour. Avoid being a part of the last minute scramble! It can raise questions about your level of interest or your organizational skills.

Q: Do I really have to write that essay?

A: Yes! Your life challenges will require mastery of many skills, both musical and non-musical. Your essay will be our first opportunity to evaluate your ability to express yourself in a non-musical medium.

Q: Is it helpful to send additional programs, press clippings, writing samples, etc.?

A: No. We ask for the information we need in order to make an admission decision. Just send what we request and avoid the "mass quantity" syndrome.

Q: Will I be required to submit transcripts and letters of recommendation?

A: Yes, and these items must be on file at CIM by December 1. Date of postmark has no validity.

Q: Are graduate applicants required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)?

A: No. CIM administers its own admission examinations in lieu of the GRE.

Q: May I express preference for a teacher or teachers during the application process?

A: Our online application has a teacher preference section in which you may state your preferences. You may indicate specific preferences for teachers or ask our faculty to make an assignment for you based upon your audition. The CIM website contains biographies that will help you learn more about our stellar faculty.

Q: Could I be assigned to a teaching assistant (graduate student)?

A: No. All CIM students study with faculty.

Q: How important to the admission process are grades, College Board scores, and letters of recommendation?

A: While the result of your audition will be the most important part of your application, it is not the sole consideration. If our faculty recommends you for admission as a result of your audition, your grades, standardized test scores, and letters of recommendation will then be reviewed. It is an overall picture of general strength that is important to the admission process. Therefore, you should not be overly concerned if one particular aspect of your application (for example, class rank or standardized test score) is not as strong as you might like it to be.

Q: What GPA should I have to be considered a desirable candidate?

A: A "B" average or higher is preferred. In general, if you are recommended for admission, you may be admitted unconditionally if your GPA is above 3.00 (based on a 4.00 system). If your GPA is below 3.00 and your audition is very strong, you may still be eligible for admission, either with academic caution or (in rare circumstances) academic probation.

Q: Do you want to receive a transcript even if my current semester's grades are not yet posted?

A: Yes. A final transcript that includes all work completed will be requested at a later time.

Q: I am a home-schooled student. What should I do about the transcript requirement?

A: Your home school will need to submit a transcript that details the work you have done, along with course descriptions. It should contain information similar to that found on a traditional high-school transcript; names of courses, terms, and grades should be included.

CIM is pleased to consider for admission 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: I am an international student and none of my official records are in English. Do I need to have English translations of these materials?

A: Yes. All non-English documents must be submitted in their original form and in certified English translation. Translations can come from anyone who is officially licensed to translate into English. Such services can usually be found at a local university, or you may use a service such as World Education Services.

Q: Do I have to perform a live audition in Cleveland? May I audition at a regional site or send a recording?

A: In general, CIM's acceptance rate is higher for live auditions than for recorded auditions. As a result, live auditions in Cleveland are strongly preferred, and are required for all applicants to the Artist Certificate, Artist Diploma, or Doctor of Musical Arts programs.

Q: Am I at a disadvantage if I audition on one of the later dates?

A: No. The faculty will hear all scheduled auditions before making admission recommendations.

Q: As a composition or audio recording applicant, I am required to submit a recording that demonstrates proficiency on an instrument. What should I include?

A: You must submit a recorded audition (video only) demonstrating technical and musical accomplishment on an instrument or voice. Your recording should present two (and only two) contrasting selections of your choice. Accompaniment is required in voice only.

Q: For my audition, may I use different repertoire than that which is required in the CIM catalog?

A: In general, you should follow the audition guidelines as outlined in the CIM Catalog. However, if you have specific questions or concerns, you may contact the appropriate department head.

Q: What will be included on the admission examinations and how might I prepare for them?

A: On 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 course work. 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.

Testing for first-year undergraduate applicants includes:

  1. An evaluation of 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. An evaluation of 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.
  2. An ear training test that covers intervals, triads, and harmonic progressions that may include triad and seventh chord inversions, secondary dominants, secondary diminished seventh chords, borrowed chords, Neapolitan sixth chords, and all types of augmented sixth chords. There is no sight singing testing on audition day. It is deferred until orientation (the week before classes begin) and includes melodies in treble, bass, alto, and tenor clefs.
  3. In addition to the above audition day testing, doctoral applicants will complete DMA Diagnostic Examinations from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm on the day following the scheduled audition. Successful candidates must demonstrate outstanding knowledge and skills and 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 deficiency course work, credit for which is not applicable toward fulfillment of degree requirements. Overall individual program requirements, including those courses that are applicable to the degree and deficiency courses that are not are determined in part by means of audition, admission examinations, and transcript evaluation.

Q: Are your entrance examinations intended for placement or admission?

A: We intend them for both purposes.

Q: I would like to know in advance what time my audition will be. Is that possible?

A: You will be given an audition schedule upon arrival at CIM. It is not possible to reserve specific audition times in advance, to provide assigned times before your arrival, or to alter individual times after you receive your schedule. On your scheduled audition day, you will need to be available from 8:30 am - 5:00 pm (12:00 - 5:00pm on Saturdays). Please plan accordingly. The coordination of audition appointments involves complex scheduling. Consequently, your audition will be arranged by the Admission Office and not by an individual faculty member.

Q: On my audition day, can I catch a flight out of Cleveland at 5:30 pm?

A: With added time required for security screening, we do not recommend scheduling return flights before 7:00 pm. You need to be available at CIM until 5:00 pm on audition days, and it takes approximately 45 minutes to get to the airport.

Q: Is there anything for my family to do on audition days?

A: Yes. Parents are invited to attend the orientation meeting. Afterward, there are complimentary refreshments in our visitor's lounge, where parents are encouraged to chat and ask questions of current students and staff. In addition, we offer tours of CIM and our residence hall, Cutter House. On Sundays, we also offer a complimentary luncheon for applicants and their families, as well as faculty and staff.

Families are also encouraged to visit any of the museums in University Circle, which are within very easy 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: If my teacher of preference is unable to hear my live audition, will I still be considered for the studio of that person?

A: Some explanation is required here, but the short answer is "Yes". While CIM does not guarantee that all faculty members will be present for every live audition, it is first important to realize that applicants are auditioning initially for admission to CIM and not to individual studios. The faculty member in question may ask for additional recordings to be uploaded to your application for his/her review. If this is the case, you will be contacted by a member of the admissions office.

Q: Must I have an accompanist for my audition?

A: If you are a voice applicant, CIM will provide an accompanist. All other auditions are unaccompanied.

Q: What weather should I expect on audition days?

A: Winters in Cleveland are variable. In general, however, the months of January, February, and March are usually cold (20 F) and snowy. Check the national weather service and be prepared to dress warmly, including gloves, boots, and hats. Dressing in layers is recommended.

Q: When will I know the results of my audition?

A: CIM releases admission decisions on a rolling basis during the month of March with a goal of notifying all undergraduate applicants by April 1 and all graduate applicants by March 15.

Q: How many people do you place on your wait list?

A: Admission at CIM is quite competitive; consequently, if you are offered a space on our wait list, it means that you are a candidate under serious consideration. Our wait lists are unranked and short. They are activated on a rolling basis, as the need arises. Hence, there is no way to predict when someone might be admitted from the wait list.

Q: Can I re-apply if wait listed or not admitted? If so, how soon?

A: Applicants may re-apply for the following academic year. You will have to complete the application process again.

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Admitted Students FAQs

Q: As a new student, when do I register for classes?

A: The CIM Registrar will construct a preliminary schedule for you. It will be based upon transcript review and admission examination results. Any necessary changes in your schedule can be made during the "Drop/Add" period that occurs during the first two weeks of classes.

Q: Do I have to take Freshman English?

A: Undergraduate students must complete the three-credit English requirement that consists of either ENGL 150 Basic Expository Writing or an appropriate upper-level English course.

Q: Will I need a car?

A: For freshmen, cars are not necessary. Parking is scarce and public transportation is usually sufficient. An older student may find a car to be helpful, particularly when involved with performance opportunities away from school.

Q: May I choose my own roommate?

A: The process allows for roommate requests and other necessary personal considerations. New students are asked to fill out a Housing/Roommate Preference Form (found in our New Students section) and this form includes roommate preference questions.

Q: Should I bring a computer? What kind do you recommend? Are your residence hall rooms wired for Internet use? How much memory will I need?

A: Each room in CIM's residence hall is linked by super high-speed fiber-optic cable to Case Western Reserve University. In addition, our campus has wireless capability.

Please see the university's list of recommended computer specifications.

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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


John Kilgore

Admissions Counselor

p. 216.791.5000 ext. 207


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

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