Show Production Degrees

Table of Contents

A degree in show production takes broad strokes in terms of how it can be applied to the working world. Upon graduation, students can work in live sound production, stage lighting, set building and as corporate & independent audio visual technicians. This specialization is yet another degree that pairs tech and art, preparing students for the rigors of running live productions with ease. Below, we’ll dive into some of the main schools in the US offering degrees in this discipline and others like live sound and entertainment design, that closely parallel and can be used in the same way as a show production degree. Let’s get to it!

Degrees Awarded

  • Diploma
  • Certificate
  • Associates
  • Bachelors

Classes and Prerequisites

Here’s a (by no means, ultimate) list of classes/prereqs you’ll typically come across:

  • Show Production Management
  • Live Sound and Mixing
  • Sound Reinforcement
  • Stage Lighting
  • Video Production
  • Web Development
  • Two and Four year schools typically make students fulfill general coursework in humanities, science, foreign language, English and mathematics

Salary Info

The salary breakdown for this job field is a bit tricky since a graduate can enter several areas of focus: Live Sound Engineers; Audio Visual Technicians; Lighting Technician. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, Live Sound Engineers pile up the cash like hay with pitchforks…hold it right there…not quite. It is however a modest, but livable, median, $41,780 per year. Payscale.com listed the median income of Lighting Technicians at $15 an hour ($31,200/year) and Audio Visual Techs median income at $17 an hour ($35,360).

*Note: The sound engineer salary has been discussed in our Sound Design Degrees and Audio Production Degrees articles. Included in the median wage for a live sound engineer are sound designers and studio engineers.

Possible Careers

  • Audio Visual Technician
  • Lighting Technician
  • Live Production Manager
  • Stage Manager
  • Live Sound Engineer
  • Tour Manager

Schools

To preface, below, you’re going to find some of the most prominent schools in the US offering degrees in Show Production specifically and/or programs of the same gene pool who can be used in a similar way when the day arrives where you have to become a productive, working member of society like the rest of us. Deal wit it!

Full Sail University

The little school that could. Founded in 1979, Full Sail has been crushing pedagogy of the arts before all you hipsters made it acceptable

Curriculum:
  1. Full Sail offers one Bachelor of Science in Show Production, completed on campus:
    • Bachelor of Science in Show Production requirements:
      • 20 months of on campus instruction to complete the degree
      • Courses in recording technology and audio workstations
      • Show Production systems classes
      • Fundamentals Of Music
      • Principles of Electronics
      • Mixing techniques
      • Lighting concepts and designs
      • Live production management and leadership and organizational behavior coursework
      • English Composition, Professional Writing, Science, Psychology and other core courses
Tuition & Fees:

Full Sail, being the private, for-profit institution it is, won’t alarm you with the sticker price of this degree. Start to finish, the BS in Show Production comes in at a grand total of $72,000.


McNally Smith College of Music

Is a school offering degrees in all-things music, was established in 1985 and happens to be located in Saint Paul, what some might call, Minneapolis’ better twin–but what I know?

Curriculum:
  1. McNally Smith fast tracks it’s students of this program into the live sound industry with a 12 month long Diploma in Live Sound:
    • Diploma: Recording Engineer Course (Live Sound) requirements:
      • Recording Theory, Recording Lab, Location Recording
      • Consoles, Microphones
      • Sound Reinforcement, Mixing, Musical Acoustics, Production Techniques, Room Acoustics
      • Sound Design for Music Production
      • Studio Maintenance, Basic Rigging, Systems and Operations
      • Tour Management
      • Introduction to Stage Lighting
      • Systems and Operations Lab
      • Systems Maintenance I
      • Recording Theory II
      • Mix Theory I
      • Recording Lab II
      • Mix Theory I
      • Recording Lab II
Tuition & Fees:

They didn’t lay the cost of any program in an easy to find format, only stated cost per credit. This is estimate is calculated at $1,040 per credit, multiplied by 45 credits (the amount needed to graduate this course)–Total cost of the diploma came out to $46,800.


Institution of Production and Recording College of Creative Arts

IPR for short, a neighboring school to Mcnally Smith, this school is located in Minneapolis, and also offers a plethora of music and production programs, making it close enough for a perfect rivalry.

Curriculum:
  1. IPR offers one Associate in Applied Science degree in Live Sound & Show Production, nicely coupling the the two studies into one convenient package.
    • AAS in Live Sound & Show Production requirements:
      • Studio Audio Engineering
      • Desktop Production
      • Computer and Web Literacy
      • The Media Industry Landscape
      • Business Management for Media Professionals
      • Principles of Design
      • Career Planning for the Creative Professional
      • Event Production
      • Principles of Lighting Systems
      • Advanced Lighting and Visual Display
      • Sound Reinforcement series
      • System Maintenance and Advanced Wiring
      • English Composition, Algebra, Science, Humanities and other core courses
Tuition & Fees:

Full-time students taking 15 credits or more can calculate their tuition at $390 per credit, which is surprisingly affordable for a school of this type. Pair that figure with the 98 minimum credits needed to graduate and you’re looking at somewhere around $38,220 for this Associate degree; Not too bad for a private school.


Valencia College

Valencia College is our show closer for this list, ladies and gents. The school is located in Orlando, Florida.

Curriculum:
  1. Valencia has an Associate of Science in Entertainment Design and Technology with two specializations: Live Show Production and Production Design. Considering the purpose of this article, we’re really only going to cover the Live Production specialization–we’re not knocking the Production Design specialty, which mostly covers theatre set design; a degree in that field seemed to workout just fine for Maynard James Keenan, winemaker and frontman of the bands Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer. OK, woo, let me catch my breath… Onward!
    • Associate in Science in Entertainment Design and Technology: Live Show Production Specialization requirements:
      • Studio Audio Engineering
      • Desktop Production
      • Computer and Web Literacy
      • The Media Industry Landscape
      • Business Management for Media Professionals
      • Principles of Design
      • Career Planning for the Creative Professional
      • Event Production
      • Principles of Lighting Systems
      • Advanced Lighting and Visual Display
      • Sound Reinforcement series
      • System Maintenance and Advanced Wiring
      • English Composition, Algebra, Science, Humanities and other core courses
Tuition & Fees:

CHEAP! In-state tuition for Florida residents is $103 per credit and around $390 for non-residents with a minimum 60 credits required for graduation; totals are $6,180 and $23,400 respectively.

Outro

If you’ve read any of the other overviews we’ve done on colleges and universities offering degrees in the arts, then you know these lists aren’t a complete listing of what is available to you, the future student. We intend for these outlines to help steer you in the right direction when finding the school that best suits your needs, so, go easy!