How to Apply to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

How to Apply to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music


What was originally known as the Ada Clement Piano School when it was founded in 1917 later became the California Conservatory of Music. Today, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is its name, aptly reflecting the character and community support for this impressive music school. The student body numbers just 400 individuals, and counts among its alumni the late violinist Isaac Stern, who entered the conservatory at the tender age of five. Most graduates go on to have careers in music; much of the school’s faculty are members of the San Francisco Symphony.

Today’s conservatory applicants are typically degree-seeking students, but special student status is conferred upon those that are especially gifted, but perhaps not ready for college. For everyone else, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music offers undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate learning opportunities. We’ll look at the requirements of undergraduates, an appropriate option for the high school student weighing his or her college choices. Please note that the deadline information presented here is subject to change; referencing the conservatory’s website will help you comply with the school’s current requirements.

1. Programs of Study. Before applying to the conservatory, you need to know what programs of study are available. For undergraduates, that would be its Bachelor of Music program, offering typical college basic courses within a multicultural environment. With an emphasis on Western culture, students will learn about composition, guitar, keyboard instruments, orchestral instruments and voice.

2. Online Application. Applying to the conservatory is easy and is handled online. Applicants can apply for the following academic year as early as Sept. 1, but no later than Dec. 1.  Spring semester applicants must apply by Oct. 1. Applicants will use the common Unified Application for Music and Performing Arts Schools when applying to the conservatory.

3. Application Materials. Prospective students must include a non-refundable fee with their application. Two recommendations must be included, with one coming from the applicant’s most recent private music instructor for the instrument that they will use in the audition. The second recommendation comes from a teacher or faculty member, an individual that can address the applicant’s musical or academic preparation or both. High school transcripts must be included. SAT and ACT scores are optional, but are required of homeschool applicants.

4. Academic Requirements. To be eligible for conservatory admittance, students must possess a high school diploma. The conservatory will review high school transcripts and is looking for students that have completed at least three years of English and three years of a global language.

5. Live Auditions. All prospective students residing in California are required to make an in-person audition as the conservatory. Voice students from the United States, Mexico and Canada are required to do the same. Auditions are held in Jan. and Feb. The college has prescreening requirements that must be met for students of chamber music, piano, voice, composition and conducting. Students will be required to send a prescreened recording; the conservatory will then use this to determine whether students are invited to an audition. Recordings are due by Dec. 1. Regional auditions in Chicago, Boston, Houston and New York are also offered.

6. Notification of Acceptance. Prospective conservatory students are notified by April 1 of admission. Accepted students are then required to make their enrollment deposit by May 1. Final high school transcripts may be sent in after graduation. Follow the instructions with your acceptance packet and apply for financial aid, if needed.

Conservatory Considerations

Acceptance into the prestigious San Francisco Conservatory of Music can help your career get off to an auspicious start. Conservatory students can participate in large instrumental ensembles, chamber music, voice ensembles and guitar ensembles with continuo playing, brass choir and percussion ensemble also offered.

Resources Legendary Violinists, Isaac Stern —

San Francisco Conservatory of Music: Programs and Degrees —

Author Information

Justin Miller is a professional blogger that writes on a variety of topics including taking guitar lessons. He writes for, a leading online music educator offering 2,000+ guitar songs to learn in HD.


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Categories: College Planning

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".