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Master degree in Sound Design. School recommendations are needed.
Old 13th February 2018
  #1
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Thread Starter
Master degree in Sound Design. School recommendations are needed.

Hello!

I'm a sound for film student at VGIK, a film school in Moscow, Russia. I have 1.5 year left of my 5 year program and I've been thinking about continuing the education with a master degree program. The problem is that in Russia you can only get a research master course and I want a taught one. It may not happen right after my graduation, indeed, but I think I can start considering it at least. As I'm from outside of Europe some courses can be more costly for me as for a foreign student and I need a bunch of variants so I could compare prices and courses. Some may offer proper scholarships which would be awesome, of course. So, it would be great to hear suggestions of schools around the Globe which have MA taught in English in sound design or sound post production. Thank you!
Old 14th February 2018
  #2
Gear Head
 

Don't want to sound negative but if you're trying to work in a studio a masters degree will not help you at all. You'll actually be at a disadvantage because the kids who chose not to continue their education will have 1-2 years more experience then you once you complete your masters.

Experience/Who you know > Degree
Old 14th February 2018
  #3
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iluvcapra's Avatar
Zdravstvuite!

A masters degree credential probably won't be very useful in the US unless you want to pursue a career as an academic.

Film schools in the US aren't always excited about accepting students who have already had an intensive film course at another university. I know at USC, for instance, the track is only supposed to be taken once and they generally won't accept someone into their graduate production program if they studied film production in an undergrad program, unless you were to pursue a writing MFA or a critical studies MA.

I'm not sure any accredited university in the US offers a masters in film sound specifically, there are several for-profit schools that offer credential programs in recording and perhaps film sound, like the LA Film School or Full Sail, but I'd think this would be a significant step down from VGIK/Gerasimov Institute, which I understand is probably the most reputable film school in Russia.

You might be a candidate for an AFI MFA (this is probably the only sort of masters program I would ever consider), though I know they usually like to select people with at least some work experience. It's a very reputable and highly-selective program, grads of the program are usually pretty successful and well-connected by the end of it, but usually they're more about writing and directing.
Old 14th February 2018
  #4
I'm not going to recommend whether you should study further or not, but the NFTS in the UK is a very highly regarded place.

Rob Walker AMPS
Old 15th February 2018
  #5
Lives for gear
Two things might help.

This article, about different ways to learn our craft. It's a few years old, but most still applies.

CAS website. Check the current Quarterly Journal, and find the listing of who's a finalist for the CAS scholarship/award. Note what US schools they went to. I was on the committee, and can tell you there were a lot of strong entrants from a bunch of schools. Many of them had done undergrad outside of the US, and then went to schools here... not particularly in California. The fine finalists are seriously well trained.
(I've also got a tech article in that issue, but that's not the point...)
Old 15th February 2018
  #6
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
I have to agree. A master's degree, unless you want to teach, is tossing money down the drain IMHO.
Old 15th February 2018
  #7
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Thread Starter
Thank you all for your replies!
Old 17th February 2018
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

We just started our new Sound Design MA program at the Zurich University of the Arts.

MA Sound Design | ZHdK.ch

It’s not about the “masters degree” as it’s true studios don’t care about it. But it’s definitely not “money down the drain”. Apply if you want to

- work under the guidance of industry professionals on real life film, game and interaction projects

- get connected with national and international studios and sound pros and with up-and-coming directors and game designers

- work in a safe environment where you can learn, experiment and fail without the fear of being out of business

- study in a highly creative environment together with 2800 arts students (interaction design, dance, music, film ...)

- learn about entrepreneurship - like how to found your own company or to set up contracts

- have access to industry standard software and hardware (like learning to mix in ‘Dolby Atmos’ on a S6)

Most of our students make a successful break into the industry.

It’s all about gaining as much experience as you can and work as much and hard as you can, not about a piece of paper - be it an internship or a MA program.
Old 17th February 2018
  #9
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ManuG View Post
We just started our new Sound Design MA program at the Zurich University of the Arts.

MA Sound Design | ZHdK.ch

It’s not about the “masters degree” as it’s true studios don’t care about it. But it’s definitely not “money down the drain”. Apply if you want to

- work under the guidance of industry professionals on real life film, game and interaction projects

- get connected with national and international studios and sound pros and with up-and-coming directors and game designers

- work in a safe environment where you can learn, experiment and fail without the fear of being out of business

- study in a highly creative environment together with 2800 arts students (interaction design, dance, music, film ...)

- learn about entrepreneurship - like how to found your own company or to set up contracts

- have access to industry standard software and hardware (like learning to mix in ‘Dolby Atmos’ on a S6)

Most of our students make a successful break into the industry.

It’s all about gaining as much experience as you can and work as much and hard as you can, not about a piece of paper - be it an internship or a MA program.
No disrespect meant but I have seen the same things posted about places like Full Sail and it is pretty much a fact of life that most of their graduates don't get jobs in the "industry". I maintain that it would be better for the OP to find an entry level job in post and work his way up from there. MTCW
Old 17th February 2018
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

I don’t know about your “facts of life” and if you have any numbers or statistics to prove your point. I also don’t know if you know anything about the sound industry here in Europe. All I can tell you is that ALL of our students that were talented, dedicated and hard-working now earn a living doing what they love. They co-own large dubbing stages, mix films, reality TV and commercials, record and mix film music, develop audio software or create multi-channel sound installations for museums. Is a MA program a free pass to get a job? Of course not. It’s all about the connections you make and the experience you gain while you study - and here, a school can actually help to open some doors - but the student has to step into the door him/herself and has to work very, VERY hard.
Same goes for internships - serving coffee for 2 years and cleaning the tape desks isn’t just a free pass to eventually sit in the mixer’s chair. You have to be persistent to succeed and to create opportunities for yourself.
Old 17th February 2018
  #11
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ManuG View Post
I don’t know about your “facts of life” and if you have any numbers or statistics to prove your point. I also don’t know if you know anything about the sound industry here in Europe. All I can tell you is that ALL of our students that were talented, dedicated and hard-working now earn a living doing what they love. They co-own large dubbing stages, mix films, reality TV and commercials, record and mix film music, develop audio software or create multi-channel sound installations for museums. Is a MA program a free pass to get a job? Of course not. It’s all about the connections you make and the experience you gain while you study - and here, a school can actually help to open some doors - but the student has to step into the door him/herself and has to work very, VERY hard.
Same goes for internships - serving coffee for 2 years and cleaning the tape desks isn’t just a free pass to eventually sit in the mixer’s chair. You have to be persistent to succeed and to create opportunities for yourself.
I agree 100% with what you are saying above BUT getting a master's degree in post production is not a going to do anything, IMHO, to facilitate them finding a job in post. What is IMPORTANT is the person and what they can offer a potential employer.

As to the "facts of life" see Is Full Sail University A Scam, The Usless Degree Just one of many "facts of life".

I know nothing about the sound industry in Europe except what I have read on line. I have no personal experience.

I graduated from one of the top US schools in Broadcasting with a four year degree and upon graduation had five offers of a job. Unfortunately the US was in the middle of the Vietnam War and I got drafted. When I got out of the military I was able to find a very good job in less than two months. A master's degree in Broadcasting would NOT, IMHO, have increased my employment opportunities.

Lots of colleges in the US offer degree programs in media and some offer masters degrees. The local college here is currently charging $65,000 a year for tuition, room and board. The students who graduate are going to have problems finding a job that pays them anywhere near that figure per year.

When I went to college a college degree meant something. Today it is more like a high school degree so people assume that if they get a Master's degree they will be more desirable to an employer. Unfortunately that is not the case in a vast majority of the cases. What IS important is the person and the skill set they bring to the job.

I agree with what you are saying in your second post I do not agree that having a master's degree is going to make anyone that more valuable to a potential employer.

FWIW
Old 17th February 2018
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
I agree with what you are saying in your second post I do not agree that having a master's degree is going to make anyone that more valuable to a potential employer.
You're right, and if you re-read my first post that is exactly what I said -
"it’s not about getting a “masters degree” as it’s true studios don’t care about it."

The difference between schools like "Full Sail" and the Zurich University of the Arts is that our school is a "non-profit" school. We are a state university. We receive public funding, in addition to which we raise private, third-party funding, in order to successfully fulfil our mission and performance contract. The tuition fees are about $1400/ semester for international students. It is not our purpose to scam as many people as possible into spending a lot of money on worthless degrees.

I don't claim to know what's best for the OP or not as I don't know him, his exact situation and his goals. Since he was asking, I was offering information about a MA Sound Design program that I'm involved with and am very excited about.
Maybe you're right and in his case, an internship is the way to go - then again, I have tons of stories of interns getting into abusive situations, so I guess there are scams everywhere.
Old 17th February 2018
  #13
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ManuG View Post
You're right, and if you re-read my first post that is exactly what I said -
"it’s not about getting a “masters degree” as it’s true studios don’t care about it."

The difference between schools like "Full Sail" and the Zurich University of the Arts is that our school is a "non-profit" school. We are a state university. We receive public funding, in addition to which we raise private, third-party funding, in order to successfully fulfil our mission and performance contract. The tuition fees are about $1400/ semester for international students. It is not our purpose to scam as many people as possible into spending a lot of money on worthless degrees.

I don't claim to know what's best for the OP or not as I don't know him, his exact situation and his goals. Since he was asking, I was offering information about a MA Sound Design program that I'm involved with and am very excited about.
Maybe you're right and in his case, an internship is the way to go - then again, I have tons of stories of interns getting into abusive situations, so I guess there are scams everywhere.
I understand you. I am glad that there are schools, like yours, that still value their student's education more than $$$. Full Sail is always more interested in the $$$. I know three students who graduated from FS. One of them is selling cell phones even though he graduated 1st in his class at FS. One is working for Guitar Center and one is living with his parents trying to find a job. All of them spent a lot of their parent's money going to FS. None of them is working in audio.

My last full time intern is an amazing young man who graduated from my Alma Mater with a degree in audio. He is very good at audio but since leaving college he has only had this job in the audio profession. Most of his other jobs have been in low paying minimum wage jobs. He is now working for a large on line retailer on their shipping dock and making good money. He still wants to be in audio but the market here in the US is over saturated with students who have degrees in audio. I believe that there are well over 5000 new graduates every year with degrees in audio from all the colleges and universities and trade schools and probably less than 50 new good well paying audio jobs. The competition is intense. I have the ultimate faith that my intern will get a good job in audio because he is very good and has a great CAN DO attitude and work ethic.

Have a GREAT weekend!
Old 17th February 2018
  #14
Lives for gear
Another thought: look for a school that offers a Tonmeister-type program, rather than one that teaches "sound design". Some serious acoustics, electronics, music theory and ear training may be a lot more useful long-term than just learning how to use the equipment and working on student films.

When my son wanted "an easy job like his dad", we went looking for schools. I had been teaching at Berklee and had a lot of friends in the faculty at Emerson, so those were definitely considered (you can google those schools). What we went with was an experimental bachelors program at a state university, where the kids had two years of serious background before they were even allowed to play with the multitrack console.

They've since stopped the program, but a lot of students that went through with my son found jobs and have kept them even as the industry changed. He found an excellent gig maintaining a very large broadcast facility, thanks to the electronics and theory the school had taught him, and was making enough money to do his music nights and weekends. And now he's parlayed that into being a senior counsel at a multinational patent firm, specializing in high tech and games. Neither of those would have happened if he'd just studied how to be "a sound designer" like his dad...
Old 17th February 2018
  #15
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iluvcapra's Avatar
I seem to keep running into mix techs who went to Full Sail.

Did you consider an MBA?
Old 18th February 2018
  #16
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dr.sound's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ManuG View Post
We just started our new Sound Design MA program at the Zurich University of the Arts.

MA Sound Design | ZHdK.ch

It’s not about the “masters degree” as it’s true studios don’t care about it. But it’s definitely not “money down the drain”. Apply if you want to

- work under the guidance of industry professionals on real life film, game and interaction projects

- get connected with national and international studios and sound pros and with up-and-coming directors and game designers

- work in a safe environment where you can learn, experiment and fail without the fear of being out of business

- study in a highly creative environment together with 2800 arts students (interaction design, dance, music, film ...)

- learn about entrepreneurship - like how to found your own company or to set up contracts

- have access to industry standard software and hardware (like learning to mix in ‘Dolby Atmos’ on a S6)

Most of our students make a successful break into the industry.

It’s all about gaining as much experience as you can and work as much and hard as you can, not about a piece of paper - be it an internship or a MA program.
I have Mixed with Manu and heard his work and he is very,very good!
Old 19th February 2018
  #17
Gear Head
 

I have a MMus degree from a Tonmeister program. It was a deciding factor for one of my first jobs after graduating. It was in a post sound studio and it was not an entry level position. The degree has at least helped me in other job applications. Regardless of whether a degree will land you a job or not, I can tell you that what I learned helps me do my work to this day, still in post sound, doing all right. I don't feel I wasted my time.

I doubt if the majority of Master's degree graduates are either in academics or not working in sound at all.

I know Full Sail graduates that are doing extremely well in post sound, some are in a position to hire and they visit this forum.

Serge
Old 21st February 2018
  #18
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Serge Perron View Post
I have a MMus degree from a Tonmeister program. It was a deciding factor for one of my first jobs after graduating. It was in a post sound studio and it was not an entry level position. The degree has at least helped me in other job applications. Regardless of whether a degree will land you a job or not, I can tell you that what I learned helps me do my work to this day, still in post sound, doing all right. I don't feel I wasted my time.

I doubt if the majority of Master's degree graduates are either in academics or not working in sound at all.

I know Full Sail graduates that are doing extremely well in post sound, some are in a position to hire and they visit this forum.

Serge
There are always exceptions.

Could you possibly list some of the graduates of Full Sail who are doing "extremely well in post sound"?

In your particular case everything went well. Congratulations!

There are however many people who graduated from good audio schools who are NOT working in audio. I know of three who graduated from Full Sail who are not working in audio. I have had interns who went on to graduate school in audio related fields and are gainfully employed in audio and some who are not. Again I think it is more about what the person brings to the job and less about the degrees they have or don't have. I would much prefer someone who is knowledgeable, who has a "can do" attitude, who brings other skills to the job and who is committed to doing a GREAT job than someone who just has a graduate degree in audio and is a dud. (No offense meant)

FWIW
Old 23rd February 2018
  #19
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iluvcapra's Avatar
I can probably list a lot of graduates of my alma mater, USC, and of NYU Tisch, of UCLA, LMU, SCAD, Cal Arts, RISD, NCSA, Berklee, Oberlin, NEC, and others that are not doing "extremely well in post sound" or entertainment in general, this is more a problem with the entertainment and commercial art industry than education.

I agree it's particularly objectionable for a for-profit school to be putting people in a lot of debt for an education that's essentially useless outside of entertainment, which is something the legit universities (even private ones) I would not fault for. And then the old-line conservatories are a whole other thing too.
Old 9th March 2018
  #20
Gear Head
 

If you searching for a Tonmeister program, try the Filmuniversität Konrad-Wolf in Potsdam-Babelsberg, Germany. They on the other side of the film studios, you can work with the film orchestra as a Tonmeister or a Composer as well. You have a lot freedom, a great mixing theatre and also two music studios. Freedom means also sitting alone at night at a Harrison and figure out how this monster works. But that's kind of what you have to do your whole life: getting new complicate machines and use them to create excellent music or sound.
It's a public school, that means no interest for profit. In Germany there are no fees to study at all, for foreigners I don't know how much it is, but Berlin is quite cheap. Don't know how many courses are in English. You must work with the other students from director to animation to actors together each year for short movie, long movie, animation movie. And then do music stuff.
But be aware, to apply for an invitation for a test is very hard. As you will be in a group of appr. 5-12 students, they test you a lot before. Compared to the more musical and less movie Tonmeister at the University of Arts of Berlin not so hard, but still take you time to learn not only about music theory as well acoustics, mathematic/physics, electronics, practice your instrument and rhythm feeling and listen a lot to movies and music.

side note: it's located 30min with MRT from Berlin, so you have access to that creative city as well to all the creative people for projects.

Hope this helps.

BTW about the discussion yes: to study. no: don't waste your money. In Europe it's different about payment than in US. And yes, you may find a better job if not studying then directly work in a studio. This course I described gives you so much knowledge, ideas, hands-on and freedom for creating your own personality, that it's worth studying. (and personality means = you have your own signature. I don't want to sound arrogant, but I guess this is very very important now. Or what do you think?)
Old 9th March 2018
  #21
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Mundox's Avatar
I would seek a Masters in another field, like business management etc.
This way your options will be wider.
Old 10th March 2018
  #22
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iluvcapra's Avatar
I thought it was nice of Gary Rizzo to give a shout-out to Full Sail grads at the Oscars...
Old 11th March 2018
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregDSmith View Post
Hello!

I'm a sound for film student at VGIK, a film school in Moscow, Russia. I have 1.5 year left of my 5 year program and I've been thinking about continuing the education with a master degree program. The problem is that in Russia you can only get a research master course and I want a taught one. It may not happen right after my graduation, indeed, but I think I can start considering it at least. As I'm from outside of Europe some courses can be more costly for me as for a foreign student and I need a bunch of variants so I could compare prices and courses. Some may offer proper scholarships which would be awesome, of course. So, it would be great to hear suggestions of schools around the Globe which have MA taught in English in sound design or sound post production. Thank you!
I would recomend this one :

Education | Sonic Arts Research Centre | Queen's University Belfast

It will give you access to one of the worlds premiere multichannel 3D audio facilities giving you an advantage the competition . It will give you the opportunity to specialise in an area of audio that not many other people can do giving you a USP. As well as giving you hands on some of the latest audio technologies such as Dolby Atmos, ambisonics etc (48 channel 5 million pound facility) you will get to use hi end gear sucg as NEve and studer desks, Soundfield /Neumann microphones etc etc. You could also look at Stanford and a couple of the German universities. Its certainly given me an advantage in the commercial world - but you have to choose a school that isnt too academic and where the skills you learn are translatable to the outside world. Unless you want to be an academic make sure you choose a practical course with industry connections. Remember by its very nature a research course will require you to explore something new - not just what is already known.
Lastly - dont trust anything you read online - check it out for yourself - for all peoples good intentions, including mine, things change.
Best of luck !!
Old 13th March 2018
  #24
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Jer1cho's Avatar
Double edged sword this one. I am desperately trying to find a job in another country, and most of the job postings I see require degrees. Here in South Africa there was no degree offered when I was studying, So I subsequently have 12 years of experience at 31 years of age. I kinda wish I could have studied at a proper institute way back when.

At the end of the day there are only so many seats, and they all have bums on them. Gotta know the right people, and work experience can give you that.
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