The Bachelor of Science degree program in Acoustics offered by the Audio Arts and Acoustics Department aims to provide students with extensive undergraduate level preparation in the fields of Architectural Acoustics (e.g. sound isolation, design of concert halls, studios, etc.), Environmental Acoustics (e.g. noise measurement and control, noise pollution; regulatory standards; etc.), Sound Perception and Cognition (e.g. physical, physiological, and cognitive bases of communication through sound), and audio and vibration studies in markets as diverse as loudspeaker manufacturing, automotive research and development, and musical instrument construction. A number of graduates of the program are represented at major consulting firms throughout the country and at world-renowned manufacturers. The program also aims to prepare students for graduate studies in hearing sciences and architectural acoustics.
The main educational goal of the program is to offer students a holistic understanding of acoustics as a discipline, by presenting all of its components, i.e. theory, practicum, and aesthetics, through a combination of survey and in-depth courses. Theoretical and applied theory elements of acoustics are introduced in courses such as Architectural Acoustics, Environmental Acoustics, Fundamentals of Vibration Analysis, Studies in Hearing, and Psychoacoustics, while courses like Acoustical Testing I, Acoustical Testing II, and Acoustical Modeling give students the opportunity to analyze and solve real-world problems, while developing a professional portfolio. Practical real-world exposure to the discipline is further emphasized in advanced courses such as Acoustics of Performance Spaces, and Engineered Acoustics, while the aesthetic element of the discipline presented in every class is furthered in courses such as Perception & Cognition of Sound, and Studies in Applied Acoustics.
In all, we have developed a curriculum that provides both the fundamental elements that any practitioner in acoustics should be intimately familiar with, as well as a series of courses that the student can choose from in order to match her/his specific educational and career goals. Students are also encouraged to become better practitioners in the field of acoustics by considering elective courses that truly reflect the foundation of an enlightened liberal arts education.
Students advance through the program in a cohort fashion, with a typical class of 12-15 students graduating in the spring semester. The cohort is expected to develop study groups, bring forth to the attention of the faculty common issues of interest to the students, and plan for and schedule research activities suitable for presentation in refereed conferences.
Although the Acoustics program aims at fostering a climate that develops team work, it also emphasizes individual attention to the students during all phases of their academic careers. Registration for most courses requires instructor permission, leading to regular one-on-one advising sessions between student and faculty members. In addition, office hours are held after every class and a wide range of individual tutoring options are available.
As part of the Audio Arts and Acoustics Department, students benefit from both a liberal arts education and a curriculum that emphasizes the science and mathematics behind the sounds we love (and sometimes hate). This 128-credit degree program aims to prepare its students to successfully compete in the workplace and for graduate admission into relevant advanced academic programs.
This program of study has significant support from those already in the industry. Here are some sample comments* from a few of our educational partners:
“When hiring, I look for individuals that have a strong educational background in mathematics and science to perform complex acoustical analysis…. [This curriculum] will increase the marketability of the graduates to potential employers and it [will] further assist in supporting their post-graduation academic goals.” (Michelle A. Jones, President, Entech Consulting Group)
“There are only a handful of Acoustics degrees available and this [makes] yours even more desirable and competitive…. In the eyes of employers like Kinetics Noise Control, college graduates who can analyze and understand acoustic events using math and physics skills are a step ahead.” (Matt Swysgood, Vice President for Architectural and Interiors Markets, Kinetics Noise Control)
*Please note that these statements are not made by Columbia College Chicago and do not offer a guarantee of promise of employment.
As a result of successfully completing program requirements, students should be able to:
- effectively communicate the theory, methods, and outcomes of acoustics project work, in both verbal and written formats suitable for presentation in educational, professional, and conference settings;
- independently test, model, and assess acoustical parameters pertaining to a wide range of problems in the areas of Architectural Acoustics, Environmental Acoustics, and Sound Perception;
- work effectively in teams to conduct acoustics-related testing and analysis, and to report their findings in a structured and efficient fashion;
- identify and promote Best Practices that are associated with the field of acoustics within their chosen career path;
- pursue entry into a graduate program in a field related to acoustics with little or no additional preparation;
- pursue entry-level positions in the field of acoustics, within the private sector of the industry, i.e. at an acoustical consulting firm, or with a manufacturer of sound and vibration control products; and
- pursue entry-level positions in the field of acoustics, within the regulatory and standards sector of the industry, such as at an acoustical testing laboratory, or with an entity charged with developing and/or enforcing relevant noise and measurement standards.