Choosing a school to teach you the basics of the profession can be challenging.
There is no one guaranteed path to take you to a successful career in audio engineering.
Whatever your career path, we present a list of high quality audio engineering colleges that can help you get to where you want to be. The schools have been chosen based on their reputation, national ranking, practical experience offered and graduate opportunities.
Remember that your school should provide hands-on experience and music industry connections alongside quality teaching. Here are 15 of our favorite American schools to start.
The Top Audio Production Programs of 2014
School Name: Full Sail University
About: Full Sail University offers a comprehensive program in audio engineering, packed with hands-on experience both in recording and post-production. The school allows students to practice in professional studios and offers networking opportunities essential for a career in the music industry, as well as plenty of extra-curricular activities and student organizations.
The school is based in Orlando, Florida and is accredited by the ACCSC. They also offer audio engineering classes online. In 2012, Full Sail reported a 72% industry employment rate for its graduates.
School Name: SAE Institute
About: Named the best recording school in the country by Vibe magazine, SAE has a long-standing reputation for quality education in audio engineering. The institute boasts a well-rounded curriculum comprising plenty of practical experience alongside the lectures, as well as a widely recognized qualification to help graduates in their career.
SAE allows every student to practice individually in a studio in order to gain strong technical competence. With branches at over 50 locations around the world, SAE is an attractive choice for prospective audio engineers.
School Name: Institute of Production and Recording
About: The Institute of Production and Recording boasts a top-quality, flexible program with degrees in Audio Production and Engineering and related fields. The Audio Engineering curriculum offers advanced technical competence alongside a broader education in music, business, law and media.
Students can get involved in student organizations and enhance their employability. Internship opportunities allow students to gain on-the-job experience and make valuable contacts in the music industry, while an excellent careers service assists graduates in their long-term careers.
School Name: John Hopkins Peabody Institute
About: The John Hopkins Peabody Institute offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Recording Arts and Sciences that allows students to pursue a broad-based curriculum in music and recording. Postgraduate students can opt for a Master of Arts in Audio Science in order to gain advanced expertise for a career in audio engineering.
Students at the Peabody Institute benefit from opportunities for practical experience through laboratory sessions, events and the Audio Recording College Work Study program (work in recording studios). Final year students are expected to complete an internship with local recording companies.
School Name: American University
About: With a comprehensive undergraduate and graduate program in Audio Technology, American University prepares students for any challenge in the field of audio engineering.
Courses cover in-depth topics such as sound synthesis, studio techniques or advanced recording, as well as business and management in the music industry. Moreover, a wide range of workshops and relevant audio engineering internship opportunities provide students with essential hands-on experience. American University boasts state-of-the-art facilities to help students gain the technical competence needed to succeed in an audio career.
School Name: Middle Tennessee State University
- Master’s of Fine Arts
About: Students at Middle Tennessee State University have access to amazing facilities including well-equipped laboratories and recording studios.
Apart from a Bachelor’s Degree in Audio Production, prospective audio engineers can also pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Recording Arts and Technologies that stands out through its focus on creativity. Guided by a panel of award-winning instructors, students can find the unique quality that makes their recordings stand out – and that will help them enter the music industry as graduates.
School Name: University of Michigan School of Music
About: For a broad education that can take you anywhere you want, the Bachelor of Science in Sound Engineering offered by the University of Michigan is an attractive option. Students are introduced to music technology, electrical engineering, audio equipment and sound recording through a wide range of courses at the intersection of music and technology.
With four types of curriculum available, there is plenty of room for students to tailor their education to their career goals. Located in Ann Arbor, the school ranks consistently high among arts colleges.
School Name: Ex’pression College
About: Ex’pression College boasts state-of-the-art facilities including advanced audio mixing and recording systems, recording suites and digital recording studios. This California-based college offers a broad-based curriculum taught by award-winning instructors with extensive experience in the music industry.
The Sound Arts program at Ex’pression College combines teaching with practical training and general education to put graduates at an advantage on the job market. The college reports an industry graduate placement rate of approximately 70%.
School Name: The Recording Connection
About: The Recording Connection proposes an innovative program in audio engineering. Students learn on the job at local professional studios with recording engineers who become their mentors. The structured curriculum is delivered throughout the apprenticeship.
The school values practical experience and music industry connections; its instructors are successful audio engineers and networking opportunities abound for students and graduates. The Recording Connection has branches in 250 cities all over the country and offers affordable tuition fees.
School Name: Ohio University
About: The program in Music Production and Recording Industry at Ohio University offers a top-quality foundation for an audio engineering career. The undergraduate and graduate programs at the School of Media Arts & Studies blend teaching and practical experience.
Students can gain experience within the school’s student production unit, as well as the university’s Center for Public Media. Students are encouraged to complete audio production internships in order to sample a professional life in the music industry.
School Name: Belmont University
- Bachelor of Arts
- Bachelor of Sciences
About: The Nashville-based Belmont University places prospective audio engineers in the heart of a thriving music recording community. Students pursuing the Audio Engineering Technology program at this school will find themselves surrounded by opportunities and well-equipped to seize them.
The curriculum provides advanced expertise in audio engineering, including courses in electronics, auditory perception and physics, alongside a broader background in media and business. The university offers three world-class recording facilities where students can get acquainted with the latest audio equipment.
School Name: New York University
- Master’s Doctorate
About: State-of the art facilities and a leading academic program: these are the key features of New York University’s Steinhardt Music Technology program. This comprehensive program provided at undergraduate and postgraduate levels prepares students for careers in sound engineering and related fields.
Students benefit from an experienced faculty, an extensive internship program and a vibrant community where opportunities for networking abound. Moreover, this prestigious school offers one of the most advanced facilities in the country, with the brand-new James L. Dolan studio recently added to the 10 existing recording studios.
School Name: Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences
About: The Arizona-based Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences boasts a one-year hands-on program to prepare students for entry-level jobs in sound engineering and post-production. The program offers technical certification across a range of audio products.
The Master Recording program equips students with expertise in music recording and production, surround sound, live sound, broadcast and game audio, post production and music industry business. Students also have the opportunity to complete an internship as part of their training.
School Name: Carnegie Mellon University
About: Bringing together music, engineering and computer science, the undergraduate and graduate programs in Music and Technology at the Carnegie Mellon University create an innovative approach to sound engineering and related fields. Students are able to choose their specialization depending on their career goals and they have to complete a hands-on capstone project at the end of the program.
With plenty of practical training to complement an in-depth curriculum in electrical engineering and music, Carnegie Mellon graduates will be well equipped for a career in audio engineering.
School Name: Berklee College of Music
- Post-bachelor’s certificate
- Master’s Doctorate
- Professional practice
- Doctorate – research/scholarship
About: The prestigious Berklee College of Music offers a major in Music Production and Engineering alongside other related choices. The program emphasizes practical training and requires students to complete professional recording projects as part of the curriculum.
Through interacting and working with professionals in the field, students will be well prepared to enter the music industry. The Berklee College offers internship opportunities through its Office of Experiential Learning, thus providing graduates with an advantage on the job market.
School Name: Pyramind Training
About: Our training programs include the essential 8-month Core and 12-month Digital Sound Producer Curriculum. Both programs emphasize the three key themes for success in today’s music and audio industry: creativity, technology and entrepreneurship.
School Name: Minneapolis Media Institute
About: The Minneapolis Media Institute’s Audio and Recording Arts program boasts a robust year long music production school that will have you ready for the audio industry upon completion.
You’ll learn all aspects of sound engineering; from recording, mixing, mastering, post production editing, live event production, and dj’ing.
School Name: The Art Institute
About: Working with advanced computer-based audio recording and editing programs like ProTools and Sold State Logic, you’ll be guided by instructors with industry experience as you begin with acoustic, musical, and electronic audio basics.
School Name: Dubspot
About: Dubspot is one of the world’s first Certified Ableton Training Centers, and continues to grow into one of the top audio engineering schools for those looking to specialize in audio production. You’ll learn the latest recording technology from industry professionals.
School Name: Dark Horse Institute
About: If you don’t have the patience or money to study at a 4 year audio recording program, Dark Horse Institute may be ideal for you. Their curriculum is designed for those just out of high school looking to jump in the deep end of audio training.
Our age range is 18-50 with a ratio of 2 women to 8 men per class.
Is Your School Missing?
I know there are many fine sound engineering schools that didn’t make this list. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t good schools or they can’t help you. These are just my current favorite.
In the end, what matters is the effort you put into it.
So go and get after it!