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Sound Studies

The sound studies major teaches audio technology, music recording, and critical theory.

Why Choose Sound Studies?

Photograph of electronic keyboardCombined with a larger liberal arts curriculum, the sound studies major redefines traditional music study (i.e., historical musicology, music theory and composition, music performance studies) by integrating it with the science of sound (i.e., music technology, music recording and editing, and acoustic research).

By redefining the study of music as the study of sound, the major examines the entire listening experience and the various societal forces that inform it, including technology, physiology, religion, politics, history, and the environment.

Career Preparation

The major provides digital tools and critical knowledge for career opportunities in a number of fields, including:

  • acoustics
  • sound design for an internal or external environment
  • film
  • gaming
  • music performance
  • sound engineering
  • music instrument building
  • audio recording
  • technical theater management


In the past, our students have interned at:

  • Atlantic Records
  • The David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
  • MTV
  • The New Victory Theater
  • Q104.3 - New York’s classic rock station
  • Rolling Stone magazine
  • Sony BMG Music Entertainment
  • SPIN magazine
  • Universal Music Group
  • VH1

What Will You Learn?

As a sound studies major, you will:

  • Study the historic soundscape of past and present performance spaces
  • Explore music from around the world
  • Study popular music and engage in music technology
  • Learn music theory and study ear training and dictation
  • Perform original and creative work
  • Develop a critical awareness of the history of music and music recording technology
  • Create, capture, and edit sound data in order to cultivate and apply new approaches to music performance, research, and education
  • Support collaborations between music, science, and technology
  • Intern at a performing arts organization in New York City
  • Attend performances by world-class musicians


As a sound studies major (total 30 credits), here are some courses you should expect to take: 

  • Piano Skills I / Guitar Skills I (MUSC 208/209)
  • Advanced Music Theory (MUSC 320)
  • Acoustics and Sound Control (MUSC 393)
  • Digital Audio Recording and Editing (MUSC 390)
  • History of Sound Recording and Audio Technology (MUSC 380)
See the Degree Requirements

What Will You Do?

While performing musicians tend to take the spotlight, there are many careers that require music knowledge and skill. The sound studies major opens areas of job growth for students in several areas within the recording industry as well as graduate study in musicology, ethnomusicology, and media studies.

The sound of music has the ability to create worlds that redefine space and time, thus allowing an individual to transcend or to engage the known environment.

Mark A. Pottinger, Ph.D., Professor of Music and Theater