Acoustics (BS)

Turn your passion for sound into a career with an Acoustics degree from Columbia College Chicago. Learn the science of sound through foundational courses in the art and science of audio while you complete a sequence of math and science courses. Analyze how we hear and perceive sounds by studying physiology, neurobiology, and psychology. And learn how acoustical design creates spaces, environments, and products that are safe, useful, and engaging.

With the help of our faculty of innovative researchers and our program’s strong network in the acoustics community, you’ll poise yourself for a career in architectural acoustics, environmental noise control, sound perception and cognition, and audio signal and vibration analysis. You can also pursue graduate studies in engineering, architecture, or hearing sciences.

Acoustics student working on sound measurements with a guitar


Bachelor of Arts vs. Bachelor of Science

A Bachelor of Science (BS) requires more substantial STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) coursework than a traditional Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. Our Bachelor of Science in Acoustics has STEM requirements built into the curriculum so that students can master the mathematics required for acoustical analysis. The Audio Arts and Acoustics Department also offers several BA programs for students interested in audio.


In the Classroom

What to expect your first year

You’ll begin with core courses in electronics, audio systems, and the science of acoustics. You’ll also be introduced to the two key subfields of acoustics: architectural and environmental. Along the way, you’ll take classes with small student-to-teacher ratios and work in our dedicated test labs with a close cohort of peers. We’ll encourage you to kick-start your career by joining the Acoustical Society of America, shadowing senior-level students, and attending professional conferences.

What to expect your last year

By your senior year, you’ll have a robust background in math and science and extensive training in acoustical design, modeling, and testing. You’ll focus on developing a portfolio of work that will demonstrate your skills to prospective employers. In the fall, you’ll collaborate in small groups on a series of required assignments and experiments, such as a “black box” challenge that requires you to identify the contents of a locked box based solely on testing protocols and methods that you will select and implement. In the spring, you’ll complete a solo capstone project of your choosing.


Outside the Classroom

Acoustical Society of America student chapter

We have a thriving student chapter of the Acoustical Society of America, the main professional organization for the study of acoustics. Students in our chapter, one of only 14 such chapters in the country, advance their expertise outside the classroom with additional networking opportunities, attend conferences, and host guest speakers and industry leaders on campus.


Internships

Acoustics majors have secured internships with local consulting, manufacturing, and architectural firms. Several students have worked on noise abatement projects at O’Hare and Midway airports and at Riverbank Laboratories in Batavia, Illinois, the oldest acoustical testing facility in the U.S.


Careers

With a bachelor’s degree in Acoustics, you can work with world-renowned architects, consultants, and manufacturers in a number of jobs. Our alumni also go on to obtain advanced degrees in fields like audiology, mechanical engineering, and architectural engineering. Because we’re one of a handful of institutions that offer a bachelor’s degree in Acoustics, industry leaders look for our graduates, and our alumni become industry leaders.


Alumni

You’ll find Columbia College Chicago Acoustics alumni working for major audio consulting companies, architectural firms, and engineering firms.

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Carter Howard ’17

As an acoustics and vibration consultant, Acoustics alum Carter Howard figures out which spaces create the best sounds.

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Creative Spaces and Facilities

Picture of acoustics measurement equipment

We have a number of creative spaces equipped with industry-standard software and technology:

  • Advanced digital audio production lab
  • Anechoic chamber for acoustic measurements
  • Audio editing suites
  • Live and installed sound spaces
  • Recording studios
  • Reverberation chamber

View the full list of facilities.



Faculty

Acoustics faculty members hail from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds in physics, engineering, music, cinema, and fine art, and have expertise in data sonification, psychoacoustics, and digital modeling. They’re award-winning, industry-leading practitioners who publish their research widely and bring that knowledge into the classroom as passionate teachers.

See all Department faculty.

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Peter Zhang

Peter Zhang creates unique work with the perception of sound.

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