Updated on Friday 1 March 2013
Everyone has their own reasons for pursuing an advanced degree, and obtaining a graduate degree in recording arts is no different. Like most fields, recording arts at the graduate level augments skills learned during an undergraduate program and increases specialization toward certain careers. International students who are interested in pursuing a masters degree in recording arts and eventually a specialized career in recording arts are best served by planning out their goals and matching them up with the available education options.
Congratulations! You've earned a bachelor's degree in recording arts and you've got a ton of great technical skills in your repertoire. What's the next step? For many international students, the obvious choice is to head into their career and start working in the recording arts fields. However, some students may want to further their education by getting a graduate degree in recording arts. Like most fields, recording arts at the graduate level augments skills learned during an undergraduate program and increases specialization toward certain careers. Even people who have worked professionally for many years decide to seek a graduate degree in recording arts so as to bolster their resume for a new job or a possible promotion. Regardless of the reason, international students thinking about a master's degree in recording arts should consider some of the following information when making their decision.
Everyone has their own reasons for pursuing an advanced degree, and obtaining a graduate degree in recording arts is no different. That being said, international students considering an advanced degree in recording arts should have a decent idea of what they want to do with it. There are several options. The biggest reason for pursuing a master's is to enhance undergraduate skills. Most graduate programs in recording arts assume some sort of undergraduate training and therefore offer courses that build on that training in various ways. Another reason is to teach at the college level. Students who are more interested in the pedagogical aspects than the applied aspects of recording arts should obtain a masters in order to teach in undergraduate programs. A third reason has to do with high level specialization. Some positions in the recording arts fields demand a level of mastery in precise technical skills and nothing short of a graduate level training will do. Finally, another reason to seek a master's degree in recording arts is to simply increase your current credentials. If you've been working as an audio technician for a few years and need the extra expertise to get a promotion, then graduate school may help.
Admission for a master's degree in recording arts requires many of the same things as any other graduate degree. Students are often expected to take the GRE and score well, and international students whose native language is not English are expected to take the TOEFL. Students are expected to have a bachelor's degree, but it can be in a variety of fields. While obviously a bachelor's in recording arts is helpful, prospective students can also have an undergraduate degree in computer science, physics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, or any other field relevant to audio technology. Many graduate programs in recording arts also require a portfolio of previous work to get a sense of a prospective student's potential. Graduate programs that lean more toward the artistic and performative sides of the field tend to require some sort of background in music, formal or otherwise, and a proclivity toward creativity.
In a field as varied as the recording arts, you can imagine that different master programs have quite different structures. This is true, but there are some general features students can expect. Master programs generally last from 2 to 3 years and require anywhere from 12 to 60 credit hours, depending on the school and their credit system. The hallmark of a graduate program in the recording arts is active participation in a real-world setting. Beyond just the standard "lab work" found in undergraduate programs, graduate students in recording arts are expected to participate in either an internship or some sort of project in the field. This can be in the form of participating in live recording sessions, being an active member of an archival project, assisting in audio recognition for a law enforcement group, or several other options. Graduate students are already considered professionals and they are thus expected to demonstrate that ability.
Just as there were multiple reasons for seeking a graduate degree in recording arts, there are equally as many opportunities once the degree is obtained. Some graduates may enter a recording arts company at a higher tier than they would have otherwise. Instead of starting as an assistant or a runner, for example, someone with a master's degree in recording arts may begin their career as a senior audio engineer or even a full-fledged music producer. Others may find themselves fully qualified to take on a highly specific job, such as a law enforcement agent with a specialization in audio forensics. Those with a more rigorous training in the physical sciences may find work as an acoustical consultant for an architecture firm. Students with a knack for code might use their graduate level skills to take on a programming job for software design.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you. International students who are interested in pursuing a master's degree in recording arts and eventually a specialized career in recording arts are best served by planning out their goals and matching them up with the available education options.