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.

Sound design encompasses how professionals find, manipulate or generate audio. Sound design programs are offered at the graduate and undergraduate levels at various community colleges, universities and art schools.

Schools with Sound Design Programs

The following schools have certificate, undergraduate and/or graduate degree programs in sound design:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
University of California Irvine Irvine, CA 4-year, Public Master's (Graduate) $13,010 in-state, $28,112 out-of-state
Michigan Tech Houghton, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's (Undergraduate) $14,286 in-state, $30,250 out-of-state
Savannah College of Art and Design Savannah, GA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's (Undergraduate) $34,970, (Graduate) $35,825
City College of San Francisco San Francisco, CA 2-year, Public Certificate (Undergraduate) $1,598 in-state, $7,554 out-of-state
Scottsdale Community College Scottsdale, AZ 2-year, Public Certificate (Undergraduate) $2,046 in-state, $7,830 out-of-state
Yale School of Drama New Haven, CT 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's (Graduate) $38,700
University of North Carolina School of the Arts Winston-Salem, NC 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's (Undergraduate) $8,983 in-state, $24,403 out-of-state, (Graduate) $10,559 in-state, $23,666 out-of-state
Boston University Boston, MA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's (Undergraduate) $48,436
University of California San Diego La Jolla, CA 4-year, Public Master's (Graduate) $13,021 in-state, $28,123 out-of-state

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics, School Websites

College Selection Criteria

Potential students should ensure that the school's facilities are up-to-date and the program fits their needs. Consider the following when looking for sound design schools:

  • Because sound design is a hands-on art and skill, onsite facilities for student work are a key consideration in choosing a program.
  • The opportunity to train for sound design careers through school productions or programs should also be a factor in choosing a sound design school.
  • 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.
  • Public universities and community colleges offer cheaper tuition cost than private schools.

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.

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.

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.

Sound design programs work closely with film, video and theatre arts programs and require a lot of hands on work. There are a variety of certificate and degree programs at colleges across the nation, all of which have different tuition costs.

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