Online Recording Arts Degree Program Summaries

Oct 20, 2021

Essential Information

Recording arts bachelor's and master's degree programs give students a foundation in music production and digital audio techniques, with a master's program frequently requiring submission of an audition tape for admission. Though uncommon, several schools do offer recording arts bachelor's and master's degree programs fully online, though a master's program may also require an internship or final project. These programs require their students to have their own music production software and equipment. This may include specific operating systems, digital keyboards, headphones, microphone and other hardware.

Recording Arts Bachelor's Degree

A high school diploma or its equivalent is necessary for entrance to this bachelor's degree program. Curriculum for a bachelor's degree in recording arts includes topics in songwriting, computer science, mathematics and publishing. Graduates often seek positions as sound engineering technicians and can be employed in various industries, including recording studios, television broadcasting and motion picture production houses.

Program Overview and Requirements

As coursework is delivered online, students must have a computer with Internet connection. Communication with the instructor and fellow classmates is accomplished via online message boards, chat rooms and e-mail, often offered as part of the school's distance learning website. Instructors may utilize audio and video files in conjunction with text files to relay ideas or provide examples. Typically, there is a defined course sequence that must be followed. Completing a bachelor's degree program in recording arts takes approximately 2.5 years of full-time study.

This program requires a significant software and hardware investment by the student; if not already owned, students must purchase an appropriate computer capable of handling the technical requirements of the program. Programs may require that a specific operating system is installed. Various software programs, a digital keyboard, headphones and microphone are also necessary tools for such programs.

Examples of Typical Courses

Students learn to approach music production from both a creative and business perspective, and the curriculum reflects both aspects. In addition to expected coursework in digital recording and audio postproduction, there are English composition, behavioral science and communication classes.

Music Copyright and Publishing

This course teaches why and how students need to take steps to protect their music or other creative works. Royalties, contracts, publishing options and a history of the music publishing industry are all discussed.

Digital Audio and Theory

This class explores the use of digital audio in various applications, as well as the technology involved and the theories used. Media formats, digital recording and signal processing are additional course topics.

Music Genres

An introduction to the many genres of music is provided in this course. Students are taught to analyze the differences in genres and understand the benefit of capably producing music in a range of different styles.

Recording Arts Master's Degree

A bachelor's degree or equivalent is a prerequisite for acceptance to this online master's degree program in recording arts. The curriculum includes coursework in electronic orchestration, advanced design applications and multimedia research. Schools often offer specializations, such as electronic performance, digital music pedagogy and music composition. Graduates go on to seek various positions in the music industry or in music education.

Program Overview and Requirements

A computer with Internet connection is required. Students receive and submit assignments via the college's distance learning website. Communication with classmates and the instructor is made possible with online chat rooms, e-mail and message boards. Text, audio and video files are used by instructors to help relay specific ideas or methods. Depending on how many credits are taken per semester, completing this master's degree program normally takes approximately 2-3 years.

There are substantial hardware and software requirements for a degree program of this nature. Students must possess a computer with a specific operating system that is capable of handling the technical demands of the program. Music production software programs and other related peripheral equipment should also be expected investments.

Examples of Typical Courses

Many courses teach advanced concepts in familiar topics, such as digital audio and music theory. Other classes focus primarily on music education.

Multimedia Authoring

This course concentrates on the creation of multimedia for use in teaching music to others in a classroom setting. Students learn to produce multimedia files for inclusion in class activities or lectures. The software used includes a stack-based or time-line authoring program, as well as a presentation program.

Advanced Sequencing

Students are expected to have already completed a more basic sequencing class prior to enrollment. Advanced techniques in arranging, recording and editing music are taught. Creating a balanced stereo image, using effects devices and creating tempo maps are among some of the other topics explored throughout the course.

Advanced Digital Audio

Designed to build upon skills learned in lower-level courses, the curriculum in this course teaches advanced techniques in producing, editing and recording sound, as well as compressing and formatting music for Internet usage. A final project is typically assigned to demonstrate the skills and techniques learned throughout the class.

Career Statistics and Salary Information

Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of sound engineering technology is expected to remain highly competitive. Median annual wages in May 2018 were $52,390 but salaries vary widely depending upon experience, job market, geographic location and educational background (

Graduates often choose to pursue a career in music education; however, additional requirements and licensing are often required in order to become a music teacher. Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage of a postsecondary teacher of music, drama or art was $69,960 as of May 2018. Salaries can vary widely depending upon geographic location, experience, education and demand (

Continuing Education

Students who wish to further their education by obtaining a master's degree in music technology or music production have both online and on-campus options. A master's degree may be considered if the student wishes to explore a career in music education, though other graduate students may simply be seeking more knowledge and expertise in the field.

A bachelors degree in recording arts teaches students the skills needed to become a sound engineering technician, while a master in the field may be used to get a job in music education. Both degree programs may be completed fully online, but some master's programs may include an in-person internship or final project.

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