Acoustic science and its technology can be applied to several different areas of science and design. Most programs that teach acoustic science are graduate level; a student interested in the field may want to pursue a master's degree in a related subject, such as music technology, architectural acoustics or mechanical engineering. Program applicants must have earned bachelor's degrees with previous audio engineering education. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores may also be requested.
Programs are 2 years in length and may feature laboratory components as well as research projects or thesis requirements.
Master's Degrees in Music Technology
A master's degree in music technology is a 2-year full-time program that explores acoustic science in relation to music and sound production. Students often take elective courses in related subjects from different departments of the university, including psychology, engineering, physics and computer science. In addition to advanced techniques for capturing sound with digital recording, students may take courses that cover:
- Music timbre analysis
- Sound synthesis and modeling
- Musical acoustics
- Electroacoustic composition
Master's Degrees in Architectural Acoustics
Students interested in a degree that integrates building design and acoustic science can pursue master's degrees in architectural acoustics. Common degree options include a Master of Science in Architectural Acoustics and a Master of Science in Architecture with an option to specialize in acoustics. Degree programs last 1-2 years. They are designed for students with backgrounds in architecture or building engineering interested in focusing on acoustic design. Students interested in the relationship of acoustic science to building design will learn principles of engineering, math, science and design and may take courses on the following subjects:
- Architectural acoustics
- Acoustical instrumentation and acoustic measurement
- Building environment systems
- Theater design
Master's Degrees in Mechanical Engineering
Acoustic science plays a role in the development of machinery, vibration control, mapping and imaging. Students interested in the practical application of sound theory might therefore be interested in a master's degree in mechanical engineering. Students interested in focusing their research on the relationship of acoustic science to mechanical engineering can often sub-specialize in several areas, such as the effects of sound on architecture, industrial mechanics design and electro-mechanical vibration. In addition, students can concentrate on the relationship of acoustics to engineering, through the study of topics such as these:
- Noise and vibration control
- Underwater acoustics
- Acoustic transducers
- Sound propagation
- Atmospheric acoustics
Possible Career Options
Graduates of these degree programs are prepared for creative professional careers using principles of acoustic science, as well as for doctoral-level study. Graduates with professional experience in engineering can apply architectural acoustic science to building design and architectural engineering. Those previously licensed as architects who have studied acoustic science can specialize in design of performing arts spaces, such as theaters, music halls or arenas. With these professional backgrounds, some possible career options include:
- Sound engineering and design
- Digital music hardware design
- Acoustic design consulting
- Architectural acoustician
- Theater designer
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment growth was expected to increase by five percent for mechanical engineers during 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Graduates who concentrated their studies on acoustics can find opportunities in several fields of research or development, including structural acoustics or acoustic imaging. The BLS also reported that, as of May 2015, the median annual wage of a mechanical engineer was $83,590.
Two-year master's degree programs in acoustic science teach students the necessary knowledge and skills to prepare them for professional careers in the field.