Recording Arts Diploma Programs in Chicago, IL with School Info

The Chicago area has six schools that offer recording arts programs. Learn about the programs and admission info for these schools, none more than 30 miles from downtown, to make an informed education decision.

Chicago-Area Schools with Recording Arts Programs

Students interested in pursuing a career in the field of recording arts can gain the necessary training through a certificate or degree program in sound recording, sound design, audio arts, or music production and technology. This article looks at three schools, two very close to downtown and the other about 40 minutes away, and the relevant programs they offer. It also includes a table of pertinent facts about each school, including enrollment, tuition, the percentage of applicants who are accepted and the percentage of students who graduate on schedule.

  • DePaul University offers two relevant bachelor's degree programs, one in sound recording technology and another in sound design. This school is less than a mile from downtown Chicago.
  • Also less than a mile from the city center, Columbia College Chicago offers bachelor's degrees in acoustics, audio design and production, live and installed sound, and music technology.
  • Students at Prairie State College can earn an associate's degree in music production. This school is nearly 40 miles from downtown Chicago.

Comparison of Schools

There are many factors to consider when choosing a college. The following table offers some vital information about each of these schools in a way that allows for easy comparison.

DePaul University Columbia College Chicago Prairie State College
School Type 4-year; private nonprofit 4-year; private nonprofit 2-year; public
Total Enrollment (2017)* 22,769 7,312 4,403
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large suburb
Tuition & Fees (2017-2018)* $39,010 $26,474 $4,104 in-district
$9,162 in-state
$10,848 out-of-state
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017)* 96% 88% 80%
Acceptance Rate (2017)* 72% 92% N/A - Open admissions
Retention Rate (2017)* 84% full-time; 33% part-time 66% full-time; 18% part-time 50% full-time, 38% part-time
Graduation Rate* 71% for full-time students who began in 2011 44% for full-time students who began in 2011 10% for full-time students who began in 2014

Source: *NCES College Navigator

DePaul University

DePaul University offers educational opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels in business, communication, law, music, theatre, health, digital media, and education. The sound recording technology program is offered by the School of Music, while the sound design program is provided by The Theatre School.

Bachelor of Science in Sound Recording Technology

The sound recording technology program focuses on music and electrical engineering. Students take six tiered classes in sound recording technology and three practicum courses. Other course topics include basic electronics, sound and acoustics, digital electronics, and the science of digital audio. The program also ensures that students understand DVD authoring, sound for video, conducting, the business of music, and sound mixing in anticipation of careers as sound engineers. Opportunities are available to gain professional experience at Studio DePaul, which is a digital Pro Tools facility, and Studio Chicago, which is a CD mastering facility.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sound Design

Students who want to take an artistic approach to sound recording can enroll in this recording arts program. The first year is largely aesthetic in scope, introducing students to theatre history and general design concepts. The second year covers sound design and recording methods and surveys theatre arts. The third and fourth year refine these skills, exploring more advanced sound design and digital production work. During all four years, students work in crews for the school's various theatrical productions to gain hands-on experience. The curriculum also includes an internship option.

Columbia College Chicago

Columbia College Chicago is an arts and media school offering programs that reflect contemporary careers and technology. The college has over 60 academic programs in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Fine and Performing Arts, School of Media Arts, and School of Graduate Studies. Among the facilities provided by the Department of Audio Arts and Acoustics is a reverb chamber, a psychoacoustics classroom, and a production suite. Several recording studios and production labs are available as well.

Bachelor of Science in Acoustics

The Bachelor of Science in Acoustics program focuses on the science of sound and ways math can be used to influence acoustics. Students complete coursework in architectural acoustics, environmental acoustics, acoustical testing, acoustical modeling, and fundamentals of vibration.

Bachelor of Arts in Audio Design and Production

Those who pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Audio Design and Production study audio theory, production fundamentals, and live recording. The program also requires that students complete a capstone experience and internship.

Bachelor of Arts in Live and Installed Sound

The live and installed sound program focuses on installing and operating sound for live events, including performances, religious services, and public addresses. Students can get hands-on experience and hone their skills at music venues across the city.

Bachelor of Arts in Music Technology

Students in the music technology program learn how technology can be used in music to design and change the sound of music and sounds. This program also provides students with internship opportunities.

Prairie State College

Prairie State College offers more than 100 certificate and associate's degree programs. The community college employs 84 full-time faculty members, and students can earn Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, Associate in Fine Arts, and Associate in Arts in Teaching degrees. In addition to transfer degrees, students can pursue career programs in fields such as business, automotive, music, photography, graphic communication, and more.

Music Technology Certificate

The music technology certificate program is 33 credits in length. Students pick up basic technical skills necessary to gain entry-level employment in the music industry. Students take courses in the fundamentals of music theory, fundamentals of music production, music in film and television, sound recording techniques, and digital composition.

Associate in Applied Science in Music Production

The music production associate's degree program is 60 credits in length and offers students a chance to pursue an area of emphasis in music, multimedia, or marketing. All students take courses in music production, sound recording techniques, music theory, and digital composition. The music emphasis requires that students complete several musicianship courses, along with an internship and digital sound course. Students enrolled in the multimedia emphasis are required to complete an internship and coursework in digital storytelling, game design, networking, and computer repair. In addition to an internship, music marketing students take courses in bookkeeping, marketing, and modern business.


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