Oberlin College

Elite, Engaged Liberal Arts Education at Oberlin

Oberlin College appears in our ranking of the 30 Best Colleges for Young Democrats.

Logo of Oberlin for our profile of the school

Crowned America’s 21st most innovative by the U.S. News & World Report, Oberlin College is a small private, nonprofit GLCA member southwest of Cleveland that confers 77 bachelor’s and eight master’s majors at a 9:1 student-faculty ratio with 91 percent retention. For example, the BA in Physics builds a 128-credit, four-year curriculum headed by Dr. Dan Styer where undergrads can conduct Wright Laboratory research, attend the Margaret Hays Lecture, access the Taylor Planetarium, and pursue the 3+2 Engineering Master’s. Chaired by Dr. Steve Crowley, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, the 128-credit BA in Politics encourages students to intern with the Ohio Supreme Court, become Cole Scholars, engage in the El Centro Volunteer Initiative, and join the College Democrats.

At Rice Hall, the College of Arts & Sciences delivers a 128-credit BA in History overseen by Dr. Leonard Smith with opportunities to conduct History Design Lab projects, intern at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, utilize the Frederick Artz Grant, and add the Danenberg Oberlin-in-London Semester. Directed by Dr. William Quillen, the MM in Contemporary Chamber Music launched its 44-credit, tuition-free option in Fall 2013 with Kulas Recital Hall performances, ensembles like the Gospel Choir, and Cooper International Competition auditions.

Featured Programs

Other Oberlin degrees include the BA in East Asian Studies, BA in Geology, BA in Neuroscience, BA in Comparative Literature, BA in Biochemistry, BA in Cinema Studies, BA in Mathematics, MM in Music Teaching, and MM in Conducting.

About Oberlin College

Oberlin College originated on September 2, 1833, when Presbyterian Rev. John Jay Shipherd and Rev. Philo Stewart started the first coed liberal arts school in Jean-Frederic Oberlin’s honor. In 1835, Oberlin became the earliest U.S. institution to admit African Americans. In 1839, Rev. John Keep traveled to England to fund its new Theological Department. In 1862, Mary Jane Patterson was Oberlin’s first Black female B.A. graduate. Until the Civil War, President Charles Grandison Finney made Oberlin College a key Underground Railroad stop. In 1881, Oberlin began sending Christian missionaries to China’s Shanxi province. One decade later, John William Heisman debuted Oberlin’s intercollegiate football team. In 1917, Oberlin created the prestigious Allen Memorial Art Museum. In the 1920s, Oberlin College ran the Anti-Saloon League for prohibition. By 1966, Memorial Arch was erected for Oberlin’s civil rights activists.

Endowed for $879.5 million, Oberlin College now employs 327 faculty teaching 2,853 Yeomen and Yeowomen from 44 states plus 35 countries on a 440-acre Northeast Ohio campus in Lorain County with 175+ clubs like the Advocates for Reproductive Justice. In 2019, Oberlin had the AICUO Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts recipient. In 2018, Oberlin College accepted a CASE District V Circle of Excellence Award. Oberlin was bestowed the 2002 ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award too. Forbes placed Oberlin 66th nationally with the 26th best liberal arts schooling. On Niche, Oberlin boasts America’s 14th best music, 32nd best filmmaking, and 46th top environmental science programs. The Princeton Review named Oberlin College 45th for sustainability. Kiplinger’s declared Oberlin the 97th best value. The New York Times ranked Oberlin 132nd for social mobility.

Oberlin College Accreditation Details

On January 18, 2019, Oberlin College received a new Institutional Status Report from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (HLC-NCA) that continued its Level III accreditation through 2028-29 under the 15th president, Dr. Carmen Twillie Ambar, who earn the AAUW Allentown Branch’s Gateway to Equity Award. Located 315 miles west via Interstate 90 in Chicago, this huge 19-state Heartland Region accreditor is recognized by the U.S. Education Department and Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE). Please note the Conservatory of Music withdrew its National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) accreditation on March 14, 2015.

Oberlin College Application Requirements

Enrolling at Oberlin College is classified “very difficult” by Peterson’s because only 2,617 of the 7,762 Fall 2018 applicants were chosen for competitive 34 percent acceptance. First-year Yeomen and Yeowomen must exhibit academic proficiency in 17 college-prep courses. Ninety-one percent of the Class of 2022 ranked in their high school’s top quartile. Freshmen presented an average unweighted GPA of 3.70. The middle 50th percentile had SAT scores of 670-750 for English and 650-770 for math. Mid-range admitted ACT composite scores were 30-34. Degree-seeking transfers must hold 30-64 semester credits graded C or better from accredited colleges. International students typically need a minimum 100 TOEFL iBT English score and proof of financial support for $79,000. The Conservatory of Music seeks master’s cohorts with a four-year baccalaureate GPA of 3.0 or greater. Eighteen credits of music course prerequisites, including Ethnomusicology, are listed. MM in Music Teaching entrants must also pass the Praxis II Content Examination.

Oberlin College has final admission dates of November 15th for Early Decision I, January 2nd for Early Decision II, and January 15th for Regular Decision freshmen. Transfers can apply on a space-available basis until November 15th for Spring or March 15th for Fall. Remember the priority financial aid deadline is February 15th. The Conservatory in Bibbins Hall only considers Master of Music entrants until December 1st. Auditions run from February 1st through February 29th. Accordingly, complete the Oberlin, Coalition, or Common Application online for free ($100 if Conservatory). Forward official transcripts to 38 East College Street in Oberlin, OH 44074. Send testing results through SAT/TOEFL code 1587 or ACT code 3304. Fulfill checklist items, such as the secondary school report, essay questions, two teacher evaluations, research abstract, and arts supplement. Contact (800) 622-6243 or college.admissions@oberlin.edu with questions.

Tuition and Financial Aid

For 2019-20, Oberlin College is charging full-time undergrads $27,898 each semester or $55,976 annually. Mandatory student fees, including the $50 green fee, cost $892 every year. Residing at the Lorain County campus’ dorms like Fairchild House adds $8,350 for yearly room rates. GoYeo meal plans for Stevenson Dining Hall are $8,476 extra. Oberlin budgets $930 for books and $978 for personal expenses. Optional health insurance premiums are $1,694 each Fall. Annual Bachelor of Arts attendance equals about $75,602 on-site and $58,776 if commuting. Studying part-time incurs $2,334 per credit. Graduate programs in the Conservatory of Music have average yearly tuition of $29,790 with $250 fees. The MM in Contemporary Chamber Music is uniquely free.

According to the NCES College Navigator, the Office of Financial Aid in Carnegie Building Room 123 links 85 percent of full-time Oberlin Yeomen and Yeowomen to tuition assistance averaging $28,899 for $69.71 million combined. Institutional funds include the National Merit Scholarship, Conservatory Dean’s Award, John F. Oberlin Scholarship, Employee Children’s Scholarship, Oberlin High School Alumni Scholarship, Robinson Scholarship, Gregory Levine Scholarship, Dr. Jame Newton Prize, Eduardo Chivambo Mondlane Scholarship, Edwin Reischauer Scholarship, and Yakubu Saaka Memorial Scholarship. Federal resources, such as the Pell Grant and Work-Study Program, require FAFSA applications coded 003086. Buckeyes could earn the Choose Ohio First STEM Scholarship, Ohio Safety Officers Memorial Scholarship, Opportunity Grant, Geological Survey Grant, Horatio Alger Scholarship, and more. The Community Foundation of Lorain County also has a March 2nd deadline for students with minimum 2.0 GPAs to collect local scholarships.

Explore the College of Arts & Sciences and Conservatory of Music for 85+ value-added degrees ranked 79th overall by Times Higher Education at the Oberlin College website.