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Many of the top music makers on the planet don’t have a music production degree, but this shouldn’t stop anyone who wishes to make their living by creating and recording music (on their own or with others) from considering going to school to learn everything they can about production.

Instead, they should work hard to craft tunes and learn new programs while studying at a proper institution, because nothing can set a young person up better for success as a Music Producer than years of experience actually putting together beats and finishing off songs paired with a diploma with a well-known logo on it.

Getting a college degree might not always be necessary, but it’s rarely a bad idea.

Here are the four best schools at which to earn a music production degree in the United States:

  • Berklee College of Music
  • New York University & Steinhardt School
  • University of Michigan at Ann Arbor & School of Music, Theatre & Dance
  • Indiana University & Jacobs School of Music

Berklee College of Music

Location: Boston, MA

When it comes to Berklee College of Music, there are so many production degrees and certificates available, it’s tough to keep track of them all. In fact, there’s an entire section of the school’s website dedicated to this subject, which is a great sign for prospective students who know they want to produce music, but who might not be sure about exactly where they will fit into the music industry.

For those who want to actually attend classes on campus and get the full college experience (which is suggested, especially at a location like Berklee, where the networking and performances can be almost as excellent as the education itself), the Bachelor of Music in Music Production and Engineering is the best bet.

Some students don’t choose to travel to Boston to live and study, and that’s fine! Berklee has plenty of degrees for potential Producers who are comfortable learning from the comfort of their own home. The renowned college offers a very similar degree to the one listed just above, but solely on the internet.

There is also a much more specialized version that focuses on EDM, a growing field that should interest many young people. Those who love dance tunes may want to investigate the Bachelor of Professional Studies in Electronic Music Production and Sound Design degree.

If a full online degree isn’t what you need, Berklee Online also supplies opportunities for people to take one-off music production courses (perhaps to see if learning completely online is a proper fit) and an incredible 18 certificates that require more than one class, but not nearly enough to secure a full degree.

Those certificates come in three fields: Professional, Advanced Professional and now, Graduate. Within those verticals, there are offerings like Sampling and Sound Design for Electronic Music, Mixing, Mastering, and Production for Visual Media, General Music Studies, Game Audio Design and Production and Creative Recording and Music Production Techniques, to name just a few.

On the graduate front, Berklee College of Music only features one degree, and while it sounds like a rigorous and excellent program, it’s one that might be tough for some to sign up for. The institution has a Masters of Music in Music Production, Technology, and Innovation available, but at the moment, it appears to only be for those willing to travel to Valencia, Spain, where there’s a campus.

On top of all the classes and degrees stated above, Berklee also developed a Music Production and Engineering summer workshop, which could fit perfectly into the schedules of students who are studying something else during the regular year, but who are interested in producing music and learning more.

The sheer number of certificates, degrees, and so forth offered via Berklee does separate the Boston favorite from every other name on this list. The college is known the world over for turning out superstars, including some of the most talented Songwriters, musicians, and yes, Producers. There is so much going on, it’s impossible not to list it first on this ranking.

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New York University – Steinhardt School

Location: New York, NY

Like Berklee College of Music before it, New York University’s Steinhardt School also offers a surprisingly robust buffet of music production degrees, though they all touch on other subjects in the industry. There may not be one specific degree to be earned with that title, but there are a handful where production is taught, and it’s up to the students to pick which field they believe will interest them the most.

Perhaps the best option for those who have decided to pursue “music production” is Music Technology. Students will “receive a solid foundation in music technology and the liberal arts for a career in fields like sound engineering, post-production, electronic music, and more,” which sounds like the ideal all-encompassing program for many just getting started down this road. Young people can sign up for a bachelor’s, master’s, a joint bachelor’s/master’s or even a Ph.D.

Within that field, students can also select an advanced certificate in Tonmeister Studies, which prepares learners to essentially become Sound Masterers and work in production environments. NYU also offers a joint degree for those who want a master’s in Music Technology and that advanced certificate in Tonmeister Studies.

The Songwriting vertical allows those who want to make music for a living to “study the craft of writing, producing, and recording songs, and the music industry,” and they can select either a Bachelor’s in Music Theory and Composition: Contemporary Production and Songwriting or a Master’s in Music Theory and Composition: Songwriting…or perhaps even both.

There are a handful of other degrees that dabble in music production, but they might not attract those who are focused solely on this art form.

People investigating going to school for this future job may want to take a quick look at the degrees offered in Concert Composition (a Bachelor’s in Music Theory and Composition: Concert Music, a Master’s in Music Theory and Composition: Concert Music, and a Ph.D. in Music Performance and Composition: Composers) or Screen Scoring (either a Bachelor’s or Master’s in Music Theory and Composition: Screen Scoring or a Ph.D. in Music Performance and Composition: Composers).

While Berklee may have more options, how many does one institution really need in order to be considered one of the best in the world for music production degrees? New York University has plenty for prospective students to think about, and it also has the benefit of being based in the greatest city in the country for those who want to work in music.

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University of Michigan at Ann Arbor – School of Music, Theatre & Dance

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Beloved the world over and known for crafting some of the most talented musicians and visionaries in the music business, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance offers plenty of music-related degrees, though only a few will truly entice those who want to become Producers one day (or who already are and who want to further their education).

The Performing Arts Technology group of degrees is the best place to start doing some research on whether the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is the best choice for any future attendees. Under this umbrella, all three bachelor’s degrees (Performing Arts Technology, Music & Technology, and Sound Engineering) feature production heavily.

Other options that allow students to learn production, at least in some capacity, include focuses in Music in Composition and Music Theory, though they don’t seem to center around the art or production.

For those who already have their first college degree and who are looking to secure another one that touches the production world, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor has a Master’s in Media Arts which looks to be a fantastic course of study.

There are other degrees in Composition (such as a Master of Music in Composition or a Doctor of Philosophy in Composition & Music Theory) and Music Theory (like the Doctor of Philosophy in Music Theory or Certificate in Music Theory Pedagogy), and while those aren’t specifically music production degrees, they may be worth a quick scan.

Indiana University – Jacobs School of Music

Location: Bloomington, IN

Unlike the three colleges listed above, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music keeps things simple, which can be better for those who may be overwhelmed by too many choices that seem too much like one another. It may not be quite as well known as Berklee College of Music or New York University, but Indiana University is no less worth looking at during any search for the best fit when it comes to music production degrees.

The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music claims just one full-time degree that makes it fit on this list, the Bachelor of Science in Recording Arts, which “is intended for the student who wishes to pursue a career in music recording and audio post-production for CD, DVD, television and film, and live sound.” It’s a safe bet and one worthy of real consideration, even if it’s not in as sexy a locale as New York City or the college town Ann Arbor.

This university does have something the others don’t: an associate’s degree. Those pieces of paper aren’t often as highly regarded as a bachelors or masters, but they may be exactly what a young person should pursue if they aren’t 100% certain they want to sign up for a full four-year program.

This Associate of Science in Recording Arts is designed to be completed alongside another (such as a bachelor’s or perhaps a master’s), but depending on the situation, the school may be willing to work on something with a would-be student. This additional degree may also be a great fit for someone who already has, or is in the middle of a degree track in another field, but who wants to earn at least some kind of music production degree.

Which degree is best for music production?

Hugh McIntyre

If you want to make a career out of music production, the best college degree to work toward is…Music Production! That’s a no-brainer. Depending on the school you want to go to, it may go by a different name, or it could be called something else if the institution offers a number of similar options.

For example, Berklee College of Music, one of the best music schools in the world, has a Bachelor of Music in Music Production and Engineering, as is stated below. That’s a fantastic option, but maybe it’s not quite what you’re looking for. If you are interested in classical music, you may want to inquire about the Bachelor of Music in Composition instead. There’s also a Bachelor of Music in Contemporary Writing and Production, Bachelor of Music in Electronic Production and Design, Bachelor of Music in Film Scoring, Bachelor of Music in Independent Recording and Production, and a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Composition, which all involve some producing.

Do music producers have degrees?

Hugh McIntyre

The answer to this question will differ from producer to producer. There are many working music producers who have gone to college and earned degrees in something connected to production, but there are likely just as many others who have made a living creating art who didn’t go that route.

These days, the doors are open for artists and talents who either have or have not secured a music production degree. With music production software and the internet making things easier than ever (in some ways), a degree might not be necessary. Having said that, there’s no education like one from an accredited college or university, and attending one for several years will also help you meet people, land internships or jobs, and a degree is never a bad thing.

A college diploma is always worth having, even if you’re planning on going into a field that doesn’t necessarily require one.

What is the salary of a music producer?

Hugh McIntyre

According to Payscale, the average annual income of a music producer is just over $51,000. It’s important to remember that’s the average, so there are many people who earn much less, but also quite a few who earn much more. ZipRecruiter, a company that helps companies find new employees, places the average significantly higher, suggesting that it’s closer to $90,000 a year.

Some of the most in-demand music producers can make tens of thousands of dollars per song, or much more for an album, while there are countless producers making beats, helping upstart artists, and even running their own studios who take home barely enough to get by.

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