Updated on Friday 1 March 2013
One of the most important decisions international students make when choosing a career in recording arts is to decide which among the top schools for recording arts to apply to. The number one thing to consider when browsing your top schools is where would be the best fit for your own career goals. If you know where you want to go, the appropriate school will get you there.
One of the most important decisions international students make when choosing a career in recording arts is to decide which among the top schools for recording arts to apply to. There are many elements to consider: location, size, faculty, financial aid, and even weather!
Though each of the best schools for recording arts has their own unique qualities, there are some things that are pretty universal. For instance, most recording arts programs offer hands-on learning, professional development, and state-of-the-art technology. This is important to know because most programs will advertise these features as reasons to attend their school. So as you consider where to apply, look deeper into what each program offers to see if it's the best fit for you.
Below are brief sketches of some of the top schools for recording arts. Though there is no official ranking of the best schools for recording arts, these schools have earned a popular reputation for what they offer in the field.
Founded in 1979 for the purpose of teaching the production aspects of the various media arts, Full Sail University enrolls over 12,000 students at its Winter Park, Florida campus and online. Designed as a trade school, Full Sail University is geared directly toward teaching skills for use in many audio-visual careers.
The Bachelor of Science in recording arts program at Full Sail University takes a multifaceted approach to education by pairing up its core recording arts courses with standard academic courses in physical science and music history, just to name a couple. The recording arts program at Full Sail University is tuned in to the entertainment industry in part due to its state-of-the-art facilities, but also due to its location in central Florida, a major American entertainment hub.
People who graduated from the Full Sail recording arts program went on to win multiple Grammy's for music production and mixing, provide Oscar-nominated sound mixing for films like Inception, and collect numerous other accolades in the recording arts industry. As its name and reputation grows, Full Sail University is widely becoming considered among the top schools for recording arts in the US.
American University, named by the Princeton Review as one of the most selective universities, enrolls around 6,000 undergraduates at its Washington D.C. campus. Due to its location in the nation's capital and its high-ranking international relations programs, American University offers great opportunities for international students.
American University grants two degrees in recording arts a Bachelor of Arts in audio production and a bachelor of science in audio technology. The B.A. in audio production focuses on the core of recording arts with electives geared toward a specialization in either communications or music. In addition to the standard recording arts core, the B.S. in audio technology also demands core coursework in the physical sciences, namely physics, acoustics, and electronics. Audio technology students must also specialize in computer science or physics. Both programs place emphasis on a well-rounded understanding of recording arts, the interdisciplinary nature of recording arts projects, and a heavy interaction with other academic departments related to recording arts.
Graduates from the recording arts programs at American University have gone on to mix albums for Justin Timberlake, mix sound for shows on the History Channel, represent sound technology companies, and produce audio-visual work for the Department of Homeland Security.
Located in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, Berklee College of Music is a big name in contemporary music education and has been a major influence in the development and spread of jazz-rock fusion. Berklee is known for its diverse range of music scholars and international students make up 25% of its 4,000 students.
Given its immersion in the contemporary music scene, it's no surprise that Berklee is one of the best schools for recording arts. It offers a Bachelor of Music degree in production and engineering where emphasis is placed on recording projects that mimic the real world of the music business, and also on collaboration, a necessary skill for recording arts careers. In addition to its standard recording arts coursework, Berklee is known for bringing in professionals in the various music fields to speak and sometimes teach full courses.
Alumni from Berklee's music production and engineering program have mixed albums for Kanye West, produced music for Wilco, and won dozens upon dozens of Oscars, Grammys, and Emmys for their technical work.
For students looking for a more traditional college setting, Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana enrolls over 32,000 undergraduates and offers many diverse amenities of a large university. The Jacobs School of Music itself is one of the largest music schools in the US.
Within the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University offers an associate of science and a Bachelor of Science degree in recording arts, which carry a heavy emphasis on music production and postproduction. Within IU's program, students are encouraged to work alongside related fields, such as communication or business, to enhance their opportunities upon graduation. Since Indiana University regularly produces CDs of in-house recordings, students also get frequent opportunities with hands-on learning.
Those with a B.S. in recording arts from IU have gone on to produce music for TV shows and commercials, work with Beyonce in album production and edit audio books by Maya Angelou.
In the late 1800s, William Grant Egbert decided to set up a small house for violin lessons near where he grew up in Ithaca, NY. Over a century later that small music school has blossomed into Ithaca College, a school of 6,000 undergraduates with about 500 in its school of music.
Within the school of music, Ithaca College offers a Bachelor of Music degree in sound recording technology. Similar to Indiana University's program, the B.M. in sound recording technology at Ithaca College focuses on career development via paid work-study for IC's campus recording services.
Situated in Los Angeles, CA, Loyola Marymount University is in close proximity to one of America's foremost entertainment hubs. LMU enrolls around 6,000 undergraduates and, in addition to being one of the best schools for recording arts, was ranked #4 in U.S. News & World Report's listing of the Best Regional Universities in the West.
LMU offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Recording Arts. Given its location, the LMU recording arts program is geared heavily toward film and TV media, but music is still represented in the coursework. The program is also built in to the liberal arts curriculum of the university, encouraging students to not only master the technical aspects of recording arts, but also be able to recognize its cultural impact and ability to tell stories.
Alumni of LMU's recording arts program have gone on to edit film sound for Hollywood blockbusters and produce soundtracks to many popular TV shows, just to name a couple of things.
Most international students will recognize Johns Hopkins University, home to just under 5,000 undergraduates, as a prestigious US school. Indeed it was ranked in the top 15 among national universities in 2012 by U.S. News and World Report. But few people may know that the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, operating continuously for over 150 years, is the second-oldest music conservatory in the US.
The Peabody Institute offers a Bachelor of Music degree in recording arts and sciences. The B.M. degree is coupled with an applied performance degree as a unique 5-year dual-degree program. The recording arts and sciences program aims to train those who are already musicians in the technical aspects of music and music production.
Graduates of the Peabody Institute Recording Arts and Sciences Program have done production and songwriting work with rock artists and international classical artists, composed music and designed sound for Firaxis Games, become a technical director for NPR, and engineered music scores for box-office hit The Departed.
Again, the number one thing to consider when browsing the top schools for recording arts is where would be the best fit for your own career goals. If you know where you want to go, the appropriate school will get you there.