By Dan Tashlykov
Passionate about music and sound design? If the thought of creating and editing audio recordings in a production environment intrigues you, then a master’s degree in audio engineering could be the right path forward.
Audio engineering master’s programs cover a wide range of skills and techniques, from the basics of acoustics and audio production to advanced vocal-processing techniques and digital audio services. You’ll learn how to use specialized software and technology while gaining an in-depth understanding of the industry.
Use this guide to explore audio engineering degree programs that can help you take the next step in your professional journey.
Master’s in Audio Engineering Online Program Overview
Master’s programs in audio engineering are designed to give you specialized training and real-world practice in sound recording and related technologies. A standard curriculum will include topics such as an introduction to digital audio, exploration of recording and mixing techniques, digital signal processing for music, and much more.
The coursework for any graduate audio engineering program is designed to help students develop a more profound and in-depth understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of audio engineering. If they can grasp these concepts, it’ll give them the skills and knowledge they need to create professional-level recordings in the industry post-graduation.
Even though traditional in-person learning is the normal path forward, pursuing a degree online gives students the flexibility to study at their own pace while still maintaining outside commitments simultaneously. Online programs give students access to academic resources such as lectures, readings, multimedia materials, books, and similar resources, enabling students to stay engaged even when they’re not in class.
With real-time interactive learning elements such as group discussions and video conferencing, students can further connect with their peers and professors and get meaningful feedback on their work, even in an online learning environment.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re interested in professional studio production or just exploring new sounds and focusing on your love of music, pursuing an engineering master’s degree online can help you get into your dream career.
Available Concentrations in Master’s Audio Engineering Programs
- Studio Production: Focuses on producing audio content in a studio setting. It covers topics such as recording and mixing techniques, advanced signal processing, mastering, and sound design.
- Music Technology: Explores the applications of technology to music creation and performance. You’ll learn how to use digital instruments and computer software to create original musical works and collaborate with other artists on your creations.
- Live Sound Engineering: Prepares you for a career in live sound engineering, and includes topics such as working with musical instruments, microphone placement and signal routing, and audio system design and installation.
- Video Game Audio: If you’re interested in developing innovative, interactive audio for video games, this concentration might be precisely what you’re looking for. You’ll learn about sound design for games, interactive audio programming and the world of immersive sound production.
- Sonic Arts: Looks at the use of sound as a medium for artistic expression – or creating “musical art.” You’ll learn about soundscapes, field recording, sound synthesis, composition, and much more.
Why Earn an Online Master’s Degree in Audio Engineering?
Earning an online master’s in audio engineering is a great way for anyone interested in audio production and engineering to obtain the advanced knowledge and skills required to work as an audio engineering professional in the industry. With courses taught by experienced industry professionals and a focus on digital recording and sound engineering techniques, you’ll be able to develop your theoretical knowledge rapidly. This degree program will equip you with real, hands-on experience with the latest software tools, technologies, and other gadgets audio engineers use day-to-day.
Even better, studying online by enrolling in an online audio engineering program offers tremendous flexibility, letting you keep your working commitments while you learn.
After you graduate with an audio engineering graduate degree, you’ll not only be able to advance your career and start working in the field, but you’ll instantly be able to pursue higher paying roles in the industry. Whether we’re talking about live sound engineering at festivals or producing soundtracks for major television shows, the range of opportunities available to graduates is vast.
Ultimately, there’s no limit to what you can achieve with the right education and experience behind your back. Learning audio production and engineering concepts and developing your knowledge of modern tools through programs like these will be the stepping stone required to succeed in the audio engineering industry today.
Benefits of Pursuing an Online Master’s in Audio Engineering
- Time Flexibility: Allows you to study at your own pace and on your own time. You can continue working while you absorb knowledge about the latest techniques and concepts in the industry.
- Reduced Costs: It’s less expensive than traditional schooling, since there’s no need to travel frequently or move to a campus.
- Opportunities: Getting your master’s in audio engineering will give you access to a vast swath of desirable career opportunities in both the music production and broadcast industries.
- Career Advancement: It provides a competitive edge in the job market and gives employers confidence that you’re well-versed in audio engineering.
- Access to Experienced Instructors: Through online courses, you can connect with knowledgeable instructors from all around the world. No matter where you are, you’ll be able to learn from the best minds in the industry.
Master’s in Audio Engineering Curriculum and Common Courses
If you’re considering pursuing a master’s in audio engineering, you’ll be happy to know that there are what seem to be an endless amount of courses offered from different universities and colleges from all over the world.
Each educational institution has its own approach to teaching audio engineering, but there are common courses you’ll be required to take no matter where you go. In this section, we’ll take a look at some of these common courses and dig into what the curriculum for a master’s in audio engineering looks like.
As a brief preview, we’ll cover courses such as acoustics, signal processing, and digital audio production, and others. Let’s jump in.
Audio Engineering Curriculum
- Digital Signal Processing: The study of how digital signals are manipulated to increase signal quality and reduce audio noise.
- Audio Synthesis: An in-depth exploration of the techniques used to synthesize sounds, including FM synthesis, subtractive synthesis, and wavetable synthesis.
- Acoustics: A study of the physical properties of sound and how those properties affect audio processing and production.
- Studio Production: An in-depth look at the fundamentals of studio production including microphone selection, recording techniques, mixing & mastering, and troubleshooting.
- Sound Design & Electronic Music Production: Creating music through the combination of sounds and music. This includes synthesis & sampling, MIDI sequencing, and access to tools to create custom sounds.
- Audio Encoding: An in-depth look at various audio encoding techniques such as MP3 encoding, AAC encoding, DSP Coding, surround sound coding, and perceptual coding.
- Audio for Visuals: The study of sound design for moving images including dialogue, sound effects, miking techniques, foley, and music production.
- Digital Audio Editing: Advanced techniques in developing and editing an audio recording, including editing audio with computer software programs and various hardware.
- Audio Validation: Practical methods to validate audio recordings and sound systems for both performance and quality.
- Live Sound Engineering: Understanding the complexities of sound for live shows and events. This includes microphone placement & mixing, sound reinforcement, acoustics, soundscapes & multitrack recording.
Audio Engineering Common Courses
- Digital Audio Recording and Editing: Covers the fundamentals of digital audio recording, mixing and editing using a range of software and hardware tools. Topics include compression, reverb, EQ, and mastering.
- Music Technology: Examines the role of technology in musical creation and performance from both a theoretical and practical perspective. Topics include MIDI sequencing, sampling, virtual instruments, sound design and production software.
- Audio for Video Production: Introduces students to the essentials of audio for video, exploring the basics of production sound in both studio and location environments. Covers topics such as microphone selection and usage, recording techniques and sound design.
- Digital Audio Post-Production: Examines the theories, techniques, and technologies of modern digital audio post-production. Topics include sound design, mixing, automation and surround sound production.
- Sound Synthesis: Introduces students to the principles of digital sound synthesis and creative applications of this technology. Topics include additive, subtractive, and FM synthesis as well as sampling and digital signal processing.
- Acoustics and Psychoacoustics: Provides an in-depth exploration of acoustics and psychoacoustics and how they apply to the production and design of audio recordings. Students are expected to obtain a broad understanding of acoustic fundamentals such as frequency, pitch, amplitude, loudness level and equalization.
- Mixing Techniques: Looks at the art, craft, and technology involved in mixing audio for professional applications. This includes learning about topics such as signal flow, mixing console setup and operation, dynamic processing, equalization and spatial effects.
Accreditation for Master’s in Audio Engineering Degree Programs
If you’re considering a master’s in audio engineering, here’s a step you won’t want to miss – accreditation! You’ll want to look into the specific accreditations that the colleges and universities you’re enrolling in have.
Accreditation is important because it ensures your degree meets industry standards and that you receive quality instruction from experienced professionals. Joining an accredited program means your degree will be recognized by employers as legitimate and valid.
In this section, we’ll discuss accreditations in general as they apply to master’s in audio engineering degree programs and what they should mean to you.
ABET Accreditation is considered to be the gold standard when it comes to engineering degrees. Engineering programs that have achieved ABET-accredited status have proven their commitment to providing the best educational experience possible, often achieving the highest standards of academic excellence.
Even though audio engineering degrees may not directly have ABET-accreditation, you should look into the specific accreditations and certifications your chosen university or college possesses. If you’re interested in pursuing an ABET-accredited program related to audio engineering, an Electronics or Electrical Engineering degree can give you the tools and knowledge you need to build up your own audio-equipment and electronics from scratch.
What Can I Do with a Master’s Degree in Audio Engineering?
Having a master’s degree in audio engineering is going to give you a plethora of career options and opportunities.
Whether it’s working with cutting-edge technology in the music studio or creating sound design for films and video games, you can use your creativity to express yourself and develop unique audio experiences wherever you go.
With the right audio engineering technical skills, expertise in the industry, and a versatile portfolio, you’re almost certain to find a job that uses your talents and fits your career goals.
There’s no shortage of positions open to graduates of master’s programs in audio engineering, ranging from music producers, sound designers and recording engineers to broadcast engineers, acoustic consultants, and education professionals.
Recording and Production Engineer
Recording and Production Engineers are responsible for working with artists, producers and other engineers to create the audio files of a project.
Average salary: $73,630 (BLS, May 2021, Average for Sound Recording Industries)
Music Producers are responsible for managing a production’s budget, time, personnel, and resources.
Average salary: $55,158 (Payscale)
Broadcast Engineers work with radio, television, and other broadcasting technologies to ensure the smooth transmission of audio, video and general media.
Average salary: $65,403 (Payscale)
Audio Post Production Engineer
Audio Post Production Engineers are the ones who create (and mix/master) soundtracks for films, TV shows and video games.
Average salary: $73,630 (BLS, May 2021, Average for Sound Recording Industries)
Sound Designers & Sound Engineering Technicians
Sound Designers and Sound Engineering Technicians create original soundscapes and modify or create sound effects for films, TV shows, video games, and other media.
Average salary: $67,360 (BLS, May 2021)
Live Music Engineer
Live Music Engineers are responsible for setting up soundboards, speakers and other equipment at concerts, tours, and other live music events.
Average salary: $63,330 (Salary.com)
How Much Do Audio Engineering Graduates Make?
Audio engineering graduates definitely have something to look forward to post-graduation, with many career opportunities ahead of them.
With the increasing popularity of digital music platforms and growing consumer demand for higher quality audio recordings, there’s a pressing need for talented sound engineers in the job market.
Whether they’re choosing to work at recording studios, live performance venues, post-production houses, or film production studios, audio engineering graduates can expect to make a great living as a part of the audio engineering industry.
Starting Salary for Audio Engineering
Audio engineering is a great career path if you’re looking for a job that lets you blend creativity with technical know-how. Let’s answer an increasingly common question – what kind of salary can you really expect in this field?
At the entry-level, the average salary for an audio engineer ranges from $42,100 to $60,500 per year (BLS, May 2021, 25% to 50% percentiles). It’s important to note that these figures can be higher or lower depending on your experience level, the employer, and whether you’re working as a freelancer.
Even though these starting salaries might not be as high as some other careers, audio engineers have the unique ability to truly create something unique every day. The more experience and expertise you gain, the more money you’ll likely make.
Average Salary for a Master’s in Audio Engineering
According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data, audio engineers with a master’s degree can expect to make an average salary ranging from $60,500 to $79,730 after receiving a master’s (50% to 75% percentile upon hire).
This figure is slightly higher than the average salaries of those without a graduate degree, giving holders of a master’s in audio engineering a slight competitive edge on the job market.
As you build up your experience and expertise in audio engineering, your earning potential will only increase.
What’s the Most an Audio Engineering Graduate Makes?
For audio engineers, the rewards of a successful career can be substantial and pay off handsomely in the long run. Audio Engineers who have attained the highest levels of experience and expertise are typically rewarded with salaries that exceed $124,690 and up (BLS, May 2021, 90%+ earnings percentile).
Remember, though, that such success does not come overnight. Years of dedication and committed improvement are required to reach this level of professional accomplishment.
Tips for Increasing Salary Potential
A few simple tips and tricks can help you make the most out of your career. From expanding your skill set to efficiently navigating the job market, these strategies will put you on track to get lucrative job offers.
You can Increase your audio engineering salary potential with these steps:
- Taking Additional Classes: Taking additional classes and certifications related to audio engineering can help increase your qualifications and salary potential.
- Networking: Networking with industry professionals and attending events related to audio engineering can help you learn more about the field and can increase your chances of earning more.
- Researching Trends: Researching current trends in audio engineering and technology can help you stay up to date on the latest innovations and techniques and can help you increase your salary potential.
- Expanding Your Skill Set: Taking on extra projects and increasing your skill set can demonstrate to employers your capability and proficiency, as well as bring higher compensation for your work.
- Negotiating Your Salary: Do your research and ensure you’re negotiating for the salary that you deserve. Employers may be open to offering higher salaries if you can provide evidence, such as your skills and qualifications, to back up your case.
Continuing Education After a Master’s in Audio Engineering
Some audio engineers choose to continue their education after earning a master’s degree. Options for building on a master’s degree in audio engineering include advanced certificates and doctoral programs. A more detailed examination of each option can help you make the best decision for your career.
Continuing your education through advanced certificates can be a great way to get even more in-depth knowledge and develop new, specialized skills.
A Certificate of Music Technology can provide a comprehensive overview of digital audio workflows and emerging technologies, including virtual reality, motion capture, and AI in music. This certificate would typically cover software applications for music production, distribution, and performance.
Another option for certification is a Digital Music Production Certificate, which focuses on developing creative and technical abilities in the recording arts, live sound production, and acoustics.
Even though your graduate degree shows how dedicated you truly are, getting additional certifications in your field can open up even more career opportunities and advanced roles.
Doctorate in Audio Engineering
If you want to really take your expertise in audio engineering to the next level, obtaining a doctorate (Ph.D.) in audio engineering is the perfect way to do so. Pursuing a doctorate could open up new opportunities from teaching at higher education institutions to doing more advanced research work.
With an advanced degree, you’ll have access to research facilities and networks that can help you build on your existing knowledge and skills.
Scholarship and Financial Aid Information
Looking to pursue a master’s in audio engineering but need some financial help?
Fortunately, there are many types of scholarships and grants available for furthering your education. In the following sections, we’ll show you what resources are out there to help you make your dream of an audio engineering master’s degree more accessible.
Pursuing a master’s in audio engineering can be expensive, but the good news is that there are many financial aid options available that can help make it more affordable.
Federal grants and the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) are some of the most popular sources of funding. Grants don’t need to be paid back and are awarded based on your financial need, and many audio engineering programs also offer their own scholarships and other aid.
Depending on where you work, your employer might also offer tuition reimbursement, which can help cover the cost of your degree. This is usually offered as a benefit when you’re already employed, so be sure to check with your employer before pursuing this option.
If you need additional funding for your degree, there’s good news – scholarships are available for both undergraduate and graduate students.
To find scholarships, check with your school or local organizations that award grants for audio engineering studies, since scholarships can also be obtained through industry-specific programs and competitions.
Scholarship awards usually range from a few hundred dollars to cover books and supplies, up to full tuition grants. On top of that, some institutions also offer fellowships that include research and teaching assignments as part of their tuition.
Apart from free money, scholarships can provide connections to relevant internships, jobs, mentors and even more opportunities further down the line.
Internships can be another great option for getting additional experience with audio engineering as you’re pursuing your studies.
As an intern, you’ll work directly inside a company in the industry and be mentored by experienced professionals in the process. If you want to get a step ahead of your peers in a competitive job market, internships can be a great path forward.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
How Much Does a Master’s in Audio Engineering Cost?
A master’s in audio engineering typically costs anywhere from $17,000 to $50,000, depending on the school and program. Costs can vary based on whether it’s a traditional or online degree, or if it’s at a public or private institution.
Is a Master’s in Audio Engineering Degree Worth It?
Having a master’s in audio engineering degree is valued in many different areas, ranging from recording, music production, broadcast television, audio engineering for gaming and media content, and more. The degree can give you a competitive edge in the job market and the possibility of higher wages as you grow your expertise.
How Long Does it Take to Earn an Online Master’s Degree in Audio Engineering?
Completing an online master’s in audio engineering Degree typically takes two to three years of full-time study. Some students can finish more quickly if they choose to take accelerated courses.
Is a Master’s Degree Required to Advance in Audio Engineering?
While it isn’t always necessary to hold a master’s degree to progress one’s career in audio engineering, having one may open up more opportunities as well as higher positions within the field. A master’s degree in this specific field can provide you with a more in-depth understanding of sound engineering techniques and help you stay up to date with advancements in the technology.
Are Audio Engineering Jobs in Demand?
Yes, audio engineering jobs are in demand. With the emergence of streaming music services and digital audio technology, audio engineers are widely sought after to create, mix, process, and master audio for a variety of commercial and personal projects.
What Industries Are Hiring Audio Engineering Graduates that have a Master’s Degree?
Industries that typically hire audio engineering graduates with master’s degrees include movie and television production studios, radio and music studios, music labels, audio equipment manufacturers, recording software companies and gaming companies. Audio engineers with a master’s degree may also find employment in audio post-production, sound design, audio scheduling and Audio-Visual (A/V) Management.
Is an Online Master’s in Audio Engineering the same as an On-Campus Degree?
An online master’s in audio engineering is not necessarily the same as an on-campus degree. Some differences between online and on-campus degrees include curriculum type and course delivery, class size and availability of lab work. Online courses may include project-based learning, while on-campus courses may involve hands-on activities in laboratories.