Best Music Production Bachelor's Degrees

Apr 02, 2021

Music Production Degrees

Music production degrees aim to provide a comprehensive study and practical, hands-on training in sound engineering technologies and music development. Students who are enrolled in these types of programs typically gain expertise in recording, mixing, and mastering tracks; songwriting and composition, music theory, sound design, and more.

Students in music production programs have the potential to gain essential communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills for a career as a music producer or audio engineer.

Other professional opportunities for graduates with this degree may include music promoter, songwriter, multimedia developer, or video game engineer; although, there are many other careers available.

What Kinds of Music Production Degrees Are There?

Music production degrees are offered at every level of study, from an associate degree to a doctorate. Certificates in music production and similar subjects are also available. We will discuss these different degrees below in greater detail.

Associate Degrees in Music Production

An associate degree in music production delivers a broad introduction to various creative aspects of music technology, production, and aesthetics. Students enrolled in these associate-level programs have the potential to gain a greater appreciation for music, art and culture, as well as communication, analytical thinking, reasoning, and technical skills that can be applied to several fields.

Associate degrees are usually made up of 60 credits of general education requirements, such as reading and writing, science, math, and a number of music-related electives. Associate degrees are typically an Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Science (AS), or an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Music Production or related subject area, such as music technology, audio engineering, or recording and production. In general, students with associate degrees in music production further their education in a four-year program or seek entry-level employment.

Bachelor's Degrees in Music Production

Bachelor's degrees in music production are designed for students to gain a comprehensive, hands-on education in various studio techniques that include recording, mixing, mastering, songwriting, composition, live sound production, and music business concepts.

Four-year degrees in music production typically require 120 credits of general education courses, core requirements, and electives. Students may also decide to concentrate on a specific study track.

Bachelor-level music production degrees are usually a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), or a Bachelor of Music (BM) in Music Production, Audio Production, Music Media Production, or Music Producing and Recording.

Master's Degrees in Music Production

A master's degree in music production allows students to pursue an advanced curriculum in which they may further develop their applied experience in music technology, creative aptitude, and research. Students with graduate degrees may seek careers in film scoring, digital audio engineering, or even post-secondary education.

Master's degrees typically consist of about 31 credits or more of major requirements and electives. Similar to undergraduate programs, students in master-level degree programs usually have the option to concentrate on a specialized music study, and course topics may include recording strategies, electronic mixing, music research, and acoustics. Students might also have to complete a thesis or final capstone project.

Master's degree programs usually culminate in a Master of Music (MM) or Master of Science (MS) in Music Technology.

Doctoral Degrees in Music Production

Doctorates in music production are the highest level of scholarship students can achieve to become experts in their field. Doctoral programs are ideal for students who wish to pursue industry research careers or become music professors in academia.

Depending on the program, students can generally expect to take between 36 and 66 credits of rigorous coursework in areas that could include digital audio, engineering, production and composition, and 3D audio along with a doctoral thesis or dissertation. Many doctoral programs encourage students to collaborate with faculty members to design a unique curriculum based on their academic and professional interests, as well as fulfill teaching apprenticeships and research labs in music technology.

Music production doctorates are usually a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Music Technology or Music and Multimedia Composition.

Certificates in Music Production

Certificates in music production are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels and are designed to teach students basic concepts and practical experience in recording, mixing, and mastering audio. Students who pursue certificates in music production and similar topics may gain a more specialized education aligned with their academic and professional interests.

Certificate programs are typically 12-18 credits in music production; however, course requirements may vary from school to school. Certificates are ideal for students who wish to enhance their skill sets and music industry marketability, as well as to better prepare them for entry-level employment, career advancement, or a career change.

Certificates are available in music production, although students may also be interested in similar programs such as audio arts, music entrepreneurship, pop and commercial music theory, multi-track recording, or technology in music education.

Best Music Production Bachelor's Degrees

1. University of Mobile

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$23,860 46% 55% 96% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

2. Bethel University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11,448 90% 32% 99% Yes Yes AP Credits

3. Hampton University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$28,024 36% 60% 96% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

4. University of North Carolina at Asheville

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7,231 84% 59% 94% Yes Yes AP Credits

5. Rowan University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14,000 74% 73% 86% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

6. Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12,250 79% 56% 88% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

7. Western Michigan University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$13,017 80% 57% 82% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

8. Middle Tennessee State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9,070 94% 47% 96% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

9. Keene State College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14,568 88% 63% 97% Yes Yes AP Credits

10. University of Maryland-Baltimore County

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12,028 61% 71% 90% Yes Yes AP Credits

11. Temple University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$16,970 60% 74% 90% Yes Yes AP Credits

12. University of Northern Iowa

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8,938 79% 67% 83% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

13. Columbia College Chicago

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$27,756 90% 50% 93% Yes Yes AP Credits

14. Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9,701 81% 50% 89% Yes Yes AP Credits

15. Mercy College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$19,594 82% 44% 96% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

16. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$16,540 23% 93% 65% Yes Yes AP Credits

17. Greenville University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$27,910 56% 56% 100% Yes Yes AP Credits

18. California University of Pennsylvania

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11,108 97% 50% 97% Yes Yes AP Credits

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit Study.com's ranking methodology page.

Tuition information is based on published tuition and required fees, per data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Music Production Bachelor's Degree Concentrations

Students who enroll in bachelor's degrees in music production are encouraged to concentrate on a specific area of study. Concentrations in music production are usually wide-ranging; however, the following specializations are typically offered in this major:

Recording Arts

A concentration in recording arts is designed to give students applied experience in studio techniques, including high-quality recording, mixing, mastering tracks, multichannel remixing, and practice operating professional recording equipment used in today's sound industries. Other course topics may cover DAW plug-ins and live sound recording.

Production and Composition

This concentration is ideal for songwriters who wish to improve their technical, collaborative, and creative skills in composition, arrangement, and production of contemporary repertoire. With an emphasis on songwriting tools and principles, students in this concentration could also learn how to serve as producers and audio engineers in their individual projects, an applicable skill in the contemporary music production field. Utilizing various recording technologies, students typically generate a portfolio of demos in a wide range of musical genres.

Music Business

Students who wish to couple their music production degrees with a study in entertainment industry practices may consider a concentration in music business. Music business concentrations typically cover several topics, such as copyright and music laws, merchandising, music marketing, contracts, licensing, and publishing, amongst others.

Curriculum for a Bachelor's Degree in Music Production

Music production degrees provide wide-ranging curriculums with several specializations for students to tailor their studies to their professional aspirations. Typically, bachelor's degrees focus the first half of the curriculum on general education requirements, designating the second half to core requirements and electives in music production.

The following titles are examples of courses offered in bachelor-level music production programs:

  • Music Theory
  • Live Sound Recording
  • Music Technology
  • Songwriting
  • Introduction to the Music Industry
  • Aural Skills

Music Theory

Music theory courses usually provide a comprehensive examination of music theory concepts, including scales, harmony, melody, keys, and rhythm from historical music to contemporary and popular music. Many music production degree programs offer a series of music theory courses, further analyzing these concepts. Other course topics may cover the principles of songwriting, aural studies, film scoring, and listening.

Live Sound Recording

Live sound recording courses typically focus on advanced study of recording, mastering, and mixing music and audio for live performances and events, including solo and group ensembles. In addition to gaining practical skills in live sound studio technologies, students are likely to learn about the different systems and equipment operations utilized during live performances, such as amplifiers, cables, wireless radio frequencies, microphones, and assembling and dismantling stages.

Music Technology

Music technology courses tend to examine several elements and concepts of music technology, for example, recording software and equipment, audio editing, MIDI, sequencing, audio synthesis, and sampling. Other course topics may cover microphone systems and various mixing techniques. Music technology courses are usually designed to give students experiential studio training for creative audio projects.

Enrolling in a School for Music Production Bachelor's Degree Program

To enroll in a college or university, students should visit their intended schools' websites to fill out an online application. Most colleges require that students submit their academic records, such as high school transcripts, test scores, and a personal statement if requested by the school. Typically, students must pay an application fee with their submission.

Transfer students from other schools usually follow similar procedures and should submit an online application, test scores, and official transcripts from their previous schools. Some colleges and universities require a minimum grade point average that students must meet to be admitted.

The enrollment process for bachelor's degree programs in music production may require additional admission criteria, such as a digital portfolio of audio works or a live audition.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Bachelor's in Music Production?

Bachelor's degrees in music production typically take about four years to complete, although program lengths may vary. Most bachelor's degrees are comprised of 120 credits of general education requirements, core requirements, and electives. Program durations usually depend on a student's part-time or full-time enrollment, summer class offerings, and any specific program requirements that must be met for graduation, for example, individualized instruction, internships, or seminars.

Accreditation for Bachelor's in Music Production Degrees

Colleges, universities, and programs may receive accreditation when they are able to achieve a high standard of academic excellence in their curriculum and instruction, as well as provide several educational and professional resources to their students. Individuals seeking financial aid, scholarship opportunities, and gainful employment should attend an accredited higher education institution.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), for example, maintains strict criteria for accreditation ensuring schools commit to quality curriculums, academic accountability, flexible learning environments, and the implementation of learning benchmarks.

Music programs may also be given specialized accreditation. The National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) bases its accreditation criteria on the advancement of music education through diversity in music study, professional leadership in musical training, program development, collaboration, and individual musical growth.

Students who wish to learn more about accreditation may visit their school's website or search the U.S. Department of Education's database of accredited colleges and universities.

Music Production Licensure & Certification

While there are no mandatory certifications or licensure for music production careers, professionals working in the field may decide to pursue voluntary credentials to demonstrate their expertise. For example, audio engineers with at least five years of work experience and an accredited education may obtain a Certified Audio Engineer (CEA) credential through the Society of Broadcast Engineers. Candidates must fill out the online application and take a multiple-choice exam covering engineering operations, theory, safety, electronics, and various audio problems.

Additionally, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA) offers three Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) certifications: general CTS, CTS-Design, and CTS-Installation. To obtain one of the CTS credentials, candidates need to pass a comprehensive exam. Certifications are valid for three years.

Professional Organizations in Music Production

Professional organizations provide opportunities for networking and collaboration, special access to job listings, and the ability to stay abreast of industry trends.

There are several professional organization memberships available for individuals in music production and related industries, for example, the Association of Music Producers (AMP) which promotes collaboration, advocacy of royalty rights and industry best practices, seminars, and mixer events for its members. Individuals interested in membership can fill out an online application and pay the dues for their selected membership category.

The National Association of Record Industry Professionals (NARIP) is another professional organization that provides education and training, career advancement prospects, networking opportunities, and marketing resources to its members. By joining the NARIP, music and record industry professionals gain access to seminars, workshops, mock negotiations, webinars, mixers, and specialized pitch sessions.

Music writers and publishers may consider membership with the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), a professional organization focused on performance and creative rights for musical creators. Membership benefits may include music education and workshops, marketing and merchandising, and additional creative tools, as well as a health and wellness package. Individuals can fill out an online application and pay a $50 submission fee.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Music Production?

Graduates with degrees in music production may choose from a number of artistic music professions in which they can apply their technical, creative, and collaborative skill sets. Individuals with these types of degrees often work in recording studios, on tours, in music marketing, and audio engineering.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2019, individuals who worked in music production careers had a median salary of:

  • Music Directors and Composers: $51,670
  • Musicians and Singers: $30.39 per hour
  • Sound Engineering Technicians: $54,740
  • Radio Disc Jockey (DJ): $34,630
  • Agents and Business Managers of Performers: $73,740

How to Become a Music Director or Composer

Students interested in careers as music producers might want to become music directors or composers. Music directors and composers typically work in studios or concert halls. Music directors are responsible for choosing the music that artists or groups will perform, while composers are responsible for writing the music that will be performed. Utilizing critical thinking, active listening, communication, and technical skills, music directors and composers are generally adept at all aspects of song development, from visualization to music theory, instrumentation, recording, mixing, and mastering tracks. Music directors and composers should be able to collaborate creatively and have effective problem-solving skills for settling creative differences.

According to the BLS, job growth for music directors and composers is expected to increase by 2 percent (2019-2029).

How to Become a Sound Engineering Technician

Sound engineering technicians, also known as operators and engineers, are responsible for arranging, operating, and maintaining the equipment used for broadcasting, recording, or filming. Typically, sound engineering technicians work indoors in several settings, such as studios, hotels, schools, or other businesses, although some may conduct their work outdoors at live events and concerts. Sound engineering technicians usually have excellent computer, problem-solving, communication, and hand-eye coordination skills, and more technical duties may include audio conversion and synchronization, equipment installation, and troubleshooting.

According to the BLS, job growth for sound engineering technicians is expected to increase by 6 percent (2019-2029).

Financial Aid & Scholarship Information for Bachelor's in Music Production Degrees

Tuition costs and additional campus expenses for music production degrees tend to vary, and several factors may further determine those costs. For example, students may decide to attend a public or private, in-state or out-of-state, two-year or four-year college. Other students may choose to attend a music conservatory.

Students who demonstrate a need for federal financial assistance to pay for their education can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine how much money they qualify for. Eligibility for FAFSA also entails proof of citizenship and enrollment at an accredited school.

Scholarships and grants are also available and can be found and applied for online. Some scholarships are provided through the schools themselves. Additionally, tuition reimbursement programs may be offered through an employer, and active-duty military members and veterans may receive education benefits, as well.

Students should visit their school's financial aid office for more information regarding tuition and financing, federal financial aid, and scholarship opportunities available to them.

John Lennon Scholarship

Current music majors between 17-24 years old who are enrolled in a U.S. college or university may apply for the annual John Lennon Scholarship through the BMI Foundation. Applicants should submit one original song (with lyrics against an accompaniment) as an MP3 or MP4a file. Submissions should not derive from previous works and must include the lyrics. Students who are not currently enrolled in a college or university are not eligible to apply.

Three winners will be chosen for scholarships that total $20,000 and will be announced via email, press release, or on the BMI Foundation website.

Creative Soul Music School Scholarship

The Creative Soul Music School Scholarship is available to high school seniors and current college-level students who are pursuing a degree in music. Applicants should have a minimum of a 3.0 grade point average and submit an application through the scholarship website.

One winner will be chosen for a $500 award.

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