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Director’s Welcome

The Northwestern master’s degree in Sound Arts and Industries creates a new kind of sound professional, one with a wide range of knowledge and skills that can be applied to any number of growing sound-based industries and forms of artistic expression.

The sound professionals who emerge from our program have an understanding of the sonic world that encompasses cutting-edge approaches to sound art, the neurophysiology of hearing, and the social and cultural history of the sonic world. They have hands-on experience with the latest audio production technologies, and an up-to-date awareness of multiple sound industries. They are conversant in Sound Studies – a vital area of academic study at the crossroads of the humanities and sciences – and they are ready to add their voice to a new wave of sound art that is echoing across media industry sectors from podcasting to Hollywood sound design to major museum exhibits.

The MA in Sound Arts and Industries offers a unique opportunity to become that kind of well-rounded sound professional through an innovative approach to interdisciplinary teaching, learning, research and development. The program draws upon Northwestern’s world-class faculty and stimulating creative environment. Students take courses in sound creation and design, sound studies, the science of sound and other many other topics with faculty in departments such as Radio-TV-Film, Performance Studies, Music Theory and Cognition, Communication Sciences and Disorders, African-American Studies, Linguistics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Our students thus sit in a sonic sweet spot that integrates the arts, humanities and sciences. They become members of an intimate community of sound storytellers, scholars, designers and innovators.

No matter what your specific interests or background, Northwestern has the tools you need to become a sound professional in the arts and the academy, programming and the sciences, media and entertainment. Students take advantage of Northwestern’s state-of-the-art sound facilities, which include a newly renovated sound production lab, multiple sound editing stations, cutting-edge audiology facilities, and one of the best student radio stations in the country. Our students take advantage of a vibrant artistic and academic culture that is sustained through yearly conferences on emerging topics related to sound, as well as regular visits from world-famous professionals in sound science, sound studies, sound art, aural health and a range of sound industries.

The creative environment at Northwestern gives our sound professionals the opportunity to develop as innovators and collaborators. The MA in Sound Arts and Industries is part of a suite of professional programs at Northwestern, and our students interact and collaborate with writers, filmmakers, artists, and performers in the MFA in Documentary Media, the MFA in Writing for Screen and Stage and the MS in Creative Enterprises. The booming culture of sound extends to nearby Chicago, a historical hub of radio production and home of major podcast producers as well as the Third Coast International Audio Festival, a vibrant theater and comedy scene, students and practitioners of acoustic ecology, and a world-renowned music scene.

Our students take their unique set of knowledge and skills out into the world through the program’s robust internship program. Our staff work closely with students throughout the year and draw upon a cohort of alumni and industry advisors that include executives at major Hollywood film studios and Academy Award-winning sound designers, as well as academics, researchers and entrepreneurs.

Be part of a new generation of sound professionals; change how we hear the world.

Prof. Jacob Smith