Starting to entertain the idea of getting my Master's Degree in Sound Recording. Any advice?

It seems like the "to school" or "not to school" pops up every once in a while on this sub. Being a somewhat recent grad of the program I feel like I should weigh in. In my opinion, these threads boil down to 3 things:

1) Money 2) Experience (actually getting what you feel you need out of the school) 3) Industry prospects

1) McGill's tuition structure, like many other Canadian Universities, is closely regulated. This means that fees do not fluctuate and are kept in a reasonable bracket. In fact, many Americans come up to Montreal for their degree because the tuition is much cheaper than their own state schools. When I checked recently , and international student is around 12-15k a year (CDN) , a Canadian resident is about 7k, and a Quebec resident is about 2.5k. This applies for every Masters program across the school. In my opinion, you get a pretty fair shake. I am a Canadian (not from quebec) and between some scholarships, as well as (mandatory) recording gigs at the school, I was able to leave with a $9000 debt.

2) Experience - KaneDeth is correct to some extent, but being in the qualifying year doesn't really give you the full picture of the program. There are 8 people that are accepted each year. That makes a total of 16 people (plus about 4 PhD folks). You do get bookings each week (1 6 hour session for 1st year, 2 6 hour sessions for 2nd year) to focus on projects of your choice. I found these to be like my "workshop" time. The projects that impacted me the most however were the large format concerts that we did during the year. This included many orchestra and chamber recording, opera, big band and visiting artist recordings. Many of these were run by students and overseen by faculty. Leaving the school you really feel like there is no session format that is over your head.

McGill is a Sound Recording Master's degree, and does really focus on all aspects of sound recording. People accepted into the school generally have a strong acoustics / electronics background, as well as music. This is where the research element comes in. While it is mostly the PhD students that take on the brunt of research work, I personally enjoyed becoming involved with the projects happening around the school. You are part of the next wave of equipment / procedure / technique that will be standard practice down the road, and I feel there is some value in that. McGill is heavily involved with the AES and has a very active student chapter. Some amazing guys have come through recently. Simon Ashby (creator of Wwise), audio directors for Ubisoft, Sean Olive (McGill grad and Vice President of Harmon International).

Many people are also saying that interning in your local area is the best course of action. I do agree to some extent, with a big * beside it. Interning is not cheap. Unless you are one of the lucky onesyour internship can be very tough. Also, the extent of knowledge that is passed on can be sometimes questionable. I'm not saying that this has not worked for many in the past....I've just heard too many horror stories to not mention. In my opinion McGill was the opposite of that. You were there only to learn (not make coffee), and that was the expectation of the profs. And these are the top level. The chair of the dept is Richard King, who on last count has earned 13 Grammys and the nod for 2 more this year. There is also George Massenburg, who if you don't know you probably shouldn't be heading into audio :) These guys are the best of the best, and truly care about your education and success in the field.

If you want to be a house engineer (one of the few remaining), true a degree, much less a masters doesn't hold much water. If you want to expand your horizons a little, this degree certainly has some merit among certain professionals in the industry.

3) Industry prospects - As mentioned above, the people that you rub shoulders with while at the school are some of the best in the business. For many people a "sound degree" did little for them, but for me it was started as a fantastic jumping off point for my career. Graduates from the SR program at McGill are all over the world and generally are interested in helping out others when looking for work. In this regard I feel like the school is quite a bit different than the larger audio schools such as Full Sail. Here is an article that just came out about the program that does a pretty decent job of portraying what goes on.

My experience I wanted to share with folks. School is certainly not for some and McGill would probably be similar. For some it works, and there are prospects for you after.

Happy Holidays!

/r/audioengineering Thread