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What Makes Curtis Unique?

Curtis's disproportionate influence on musical life since its founding in 1924 can be traced to its unique approach to education and training.

Small student body

Curtis limits enrollment to about 175 students, accepting just enough students to maintain a full symphony orchestra and an opera program, plus select programs in piano, guitar, composition, conducting, and organ, as well as a string quartet in residence. By focusing its resources on this small, select group, Curtis ensures that each student receives an education of unparalleled quality.

Unmatched selectivity

With an average acceptance rate around 4%, Curtis is among the most selective schools in the United States. Its high standard of admissions ensures that students will rehearse and perform alongside musical peers whose talents will challenge and inspire them.

Tuition-free education

All Curtis students receive merit-based, full-tuition scholarships. As a result, talent and artistic promise are the only considerations for admission. Generous financial aid likewise ensures that no student accepted to Curtis will be unable to attend because of financial need.

Personalized attention with faculty of performer-practitioners

Curtis's celebrated faculty includes a high proportion of actively performing musicians whose experience provides students with a direct link to life as a professional musician today. With a student body of about 175 and 113 faculty members, all students receive highly personalized attention.

Creating artist-citizens

Today’s musicians must develop the ability to conceive and realize projects rooted in their art and must understand how to engage audiences of all kinds, deeply and fully. Social Entrepreneur, the Community Artist Program, and the Curtis ArtistYear fellowship program are components of a new sequential curriculum launched in 2014 to equip students with these essential skills.

Students "learn by doing"

Curtis students present more than 200 public performances each year, giving them opportunities to hone their craft and shape their artistic point-of-view on stage, in front of enthusiastic live audiences, on an almost weekly basis. These performances take place in Philadelphia and around the world through the Curtis on Tour program.

World-renowned visiting artists

Curtis's reputation for excellence attracts an unparalleled array of visiting artists. Michael Tilson Thomas, Simon Rattle, and Hilary Hahn (’99) are just a few of the master musicians who have worked with our students. Frequent master classes and residencies give students in all disciplines exposure to today's leading musical artists, some of whom also join the students on stage in concerts and recitals.

International reach

Curtis aims to inspire a global music community with a passion for making music, keen insight into its power, and enthusiasm for sharing it. Forty percent of the student body comes to Curtis from outside the United States, and 20 nations are represented by the student body in a typical year. In addition, Curtis’s global touring initiative, Curtis on Tour, has visited over 50 destinations around the world to date.

Historical significance

With esteemed graduates such as Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber, the power of Curtis’s legacy far surpasses its size. The Curtis campus reflects the rich heritage of the institution and the many musicians who have been trained here. The historical integrity of the main building at 1726 Locust Street has been preserved, as have many original school traditions, and students today have much the same experience as they did in 1924, when the doors to Curtis opened.