Sound Design Schools and Colleges in the U.S.
Sound designers create, mix, record and produce audio for feature films, radio programs, television programs, live events, music recordings and theater performances. Those interested in this field can earn a postsecondary certificate, bachelor's degree or master's degree.
How to Select a School with a Sound Design Program
Sound design programs are offered at the graduate and undergraduate levels at various colleges, universities and art schools.
- Onsite production opportunities
- Level of award
Because sound design is a hands-on art and skill, onsite facilities for student work are a key consideration in choosing a program. Facilities include professionally equipped recording studios for voice, music and Foley work. Some schools allow students access to workstations with specialized music, mixing or editing software; sound mixing rooms; film mixing studios and sound design facilities.
Onsite Production Opportunities
The opportunity to train for sound design careers through school productions or programs should also be a factor in choosing a sound design school. Students may want to look for schools that have radio, television, theatre and film programs or performances that offer sound design students the chance to practice technical and aesthetic skills.
Level of Award
Sound design programs are offered at a limited number of colleges, and many schools that do offer sound design programs offer credentials at only one or two academic levels. Depending on student career goals and the certificate or degree desired, relocation might be necessary.
Certificate in Sound Design
Postsecondary certificate programs in sound design are intense, focused studies of audio theory and practical application in the studio. Some programs also offer internship opportunities. The goal of the certificate program is to enable students to gain entry-level employment in post-production theater, radio, film, television and advertising sound work. Programs vary widely in their duration and in their course requirements; however, most include classes in:
- Digital audio
- Sound design for multimedia and video
- Sound design for television, radio and film
Bachelor's Degree in Sound Design
A Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program in sound design takes the typical student four years to complete on a full-time basis. Students generally take core liberal arts courses in addition to focusing on theoretical and practical audio and audiovisual production. They may also collaborate in putting on theater productions and music performances to gain essential real-world experience in the art. Coursework covers areas such as:
- Incorporation of Foley
- Voice in film
- Surround sound
Master's Degree in Sound Design
A Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts degree program in sound design can take two years or more to complete. Teaching and fieldwork experiences are often required, along with advanced coursework in sound theory and design. Some programs foster close relationships with related programs like set design or costume design in order to develop sound designers' ability to work in a collaborative environment. Completion of a thesis or production experience may be required to graduate. Students take courses in:
- Digital audio
- Conceptual sound design
- Creating sounds from scratch
- Sound for themed entertainment
- Notation and score reading
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