Audio Engineering Degrees

Table of Contents

In this day and age, more and more audio schools are springing up left and right, and go by many names, so it can be a bit confusing when trying to narrow in on a college that’s right for you. Audio Engineering, Sound Engineering, Music Technology, Audio Production, Music Production, Recording Technology are, more or less, synonymous titles for degrees that focus on the craft of engineering, recording, mixing and mastering.

Audio engineers work on everything from recording bands, solo artists and rappers, to producing original compositions and scores for film, TV, podcasts, webisodes and more. They work in state of the art recording facilities and/or home studios and venues, where they capture audio in the best way possible and mix and master those recordings to come across as sonically correct as possible. With the advent and rise of affordable recording equipment, home studios have made audio production much easier to compete against the larger A-list studios, because of this, the vast majority of modern-day recording engineers work freelance and aren’t typically offered jobs upon graduation in music studios anymore…so this profession isn’t for the faint of heart…something to keep in mind. That being said, we’ll dive into the types of schools and credentials you’ll receive should you decide to venture into this artistic and fulfilling vacation…I mean, vocation–yer gonna work, bruh!

Degrees Awarded

  • Certificate
  • Associates
  • Bachelors
  • Masters

Classes and Prerequisites

The demands for each degree, certification and school varies, but most require similar recommended courses or prerequisites. Core classes will differ in name from school-to-school, however, they generally cover a similar spectrum of principles and practices. Below are a list of classes you will commonly need to take:

  • Business
  • Aural Training
  • DAW (digital audio workstation) classes
  • Studio engineering concepts
  • Mixing and Mastering techniques
  • Four year schools typically make students fulfill general coursework in humanities, science, foreign language, English and mathematics

Salary Info

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average salary per year for this occupation is $41,780.

Possible Careers

  • Mix Engineer
  • Mastering Engineer
  • Recording Engineer
  • Producer
  • Studio Owner
  • Musician
  • Film Scorer

Schools

You could spend hours and hours researching the best audio schools to attend, or you could do yourself a solid and let us handle the heavy lifting…C’mon, don’t stress yourself out, that’s what the rest of life is for, so TREAT. YO. SELF to our top selections:

Full Sail University

Located in warm and sunny, Winter Park, Florida, Full Sail offers four degrees in the recording disciplines, three BS (Bachelor of Science) and one Certificate

Curriculum:
  1. The degree in Audio Production is offered in two formats, a Bachelor’s and Certificate, and are both completed entirely online:
    • Bachelor of Science requirements:
      • 32 months of online instruction
      • English Composition, Professional Writing, Science, Psychology, Math and other core courses
      • Recording principles, mixing, game audio techniques, vocal techniques, portfolio development and courses in arrangement, sequencing and music theory
    • Master of Science in Entertainment Business requirements:
      • 5 months of online instruction
      • Audio Arts in the Entertainment and Media Industries
      • Recording Principles
      • Fundamentals of Music
      • Sequencing Technology (MIDI)
      • Audio Workstations
  2. Their BS in Music Production runs in the same vein as the Audio Production degree, but places more emphasis on musicianship. You have two choices in the way you want to go about obtaining this degree…If you’re living in, let’s say, North Dakota, and are ready to escape the tundra, then moving to Florida to attend Full Sail’s 20 month-on-campus option might help thwart the frostbite and get your degree done faster. The 32 month online rendition is great for all y’all that can’t or don’t want to move. Here’s a candid view of each:
    • On Campus
      • 20 months of classroom and hands on instruction
      • Music History, Musicianship, Game Audio, Recording History, Recording Techniques
      • Project and Portfolio: I-VII
      • English Composition, Professional Writing, Science, Psychology, Math and other core courses
    • Online
      • 32 months of online instruction
      • Music History, Musicianship, Game Audio, Recording History, Recording Techniques
      • Project and Portfolio: Audio Production I-VII
      • English Composition, Professional Writing, Science, Psychology, Math and other core courses
  3. Their BS in Music Production runs in the same vein as the Audio Production degree, but places more emphasis on musicianship. You have two choices in the way you want to go about obtaining this degree…If you’re living in, let’s say, North Dakota, and are ready to escape the tundra, then moving to Florida to attend Full Sail’s 20 month-on-campus option might help thwart the frostbite and get your degree done faster. The 32 month online rendition is great for all y’all that can’t or don’t want to move. Here’s a candid view of each:
    • 20 months of on campus instruction, including hands on training and classroom lectures
    • Recording Principles, beginner through advanced
    • Mixing Techniques, Audio Post-Production, Vocal Techniques, Beginning through Advanced Session Recording
    • Project and Portfolio: Recording Arts I-VII
    • English Composition, Professional Writing, Science, Psychology, Math and other core courses
Tuition & Fees:

Since Full Sail is a private school, you can expect to pay premium prices. However, as the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for”… They do offer something called the Momentum Scholarship, which allows “qualified online students to receive up to $20,000.” For the BS degrees, students can expect to cough up $56,000 by the time it’s all said and done, whereas Master’s degrees come out to $35,280.


Montana State University

A sometimes frigid contrast from the previously mentioned school, MSU is a very affordable way to receive a Bachelor’s degree in Music Technology, and its location in Bozeman is an added bonus for outdoor enthusiasts. This program has received acclaim from industry professionals, like guest composer George S. Clinton, film composer and winner of the BMI Richard Kirk Award for Outstanding Career Achievement, who said,”I don’t know of any other program like it in the country. . . . right on target as to what will be required of composers and other music/visual creative artists as they enter today’s digital world workplace.”

Curriculum:
  1. Montana State offers one Bachelor of Arts in Music Technology
    • Bachelor of Arts requirements:
      • A series for each: Aural Perception, Music Theory, Keyboard skills, and Applied Music
      • Courses on Recording, MIDI, Sound Design, Acoustics, Film Scoring and Music History
      • A minimum of 120 credits are required for graduation, including general studies requirements
Tuition & Fees:

Considering this is a state run school, prospectives of the program who are Montana residents will find tuition to be significantly less than private institutions–go figure.. Anyway, in-state students are looking at $6,890 and non-residents will pay $23,190 per year (yep, multiply them there numbers by 4). These figures exclude cost of living expenses…


University of Washington

Located just a stone’s throw north of downtown Seattle, UW offers a Certificate in Audio Production. This program is pretty darn excellent because it’s basically an accelerated way to learn the nuts and bolts of professional recording, is taught by Grammy award winning instructors (yea, you read that right), students can specialize in either studio recording (the musical side) or film/video post-production (scoring, foley, etc). And just for the sake of bragging, one could argue Macklemore’s success may be directly attributed to this program since Ryan Lewis, his producer, is in fact a former student.

Curriculum:
  1. The Certificate in Audio Production is a three quarter program that includes 8 months of classroom and hands on instruction, taught on evenings and weekends:
    • Certificate requirements:
      • Quarter 1 covers the principles of audio production through courses on acoustics, microphones, analog and digital recording, signal processing, MIDI and synchronization
      • Quarter 2 encompasses audio production in the studio, hitting on topics like film production recording, multi-track recording and overdubs, signal processing, editing, and mixing and mastering technique
      • Quarter 3 focuses on the student’s audio production project. This section is broken into two options: Music Production– “Students work with professional musicians to do pre-production, microphone selection and placement, recording/editing/mixing, mastering and archiving”; Film/Video Post-Production: “Students create a film or video soundtrack by developing foley cue sheets, adding sound effects, selecting music and transferring the final mix to video.”

Outro

This list isn’t definitive, duh, obvi, but we sincerely hope it will guide you toward finding a school in your budget, region, or at the very least, sheds light on the type of material that should be covered if you decide to go to a college not in our picks.