• Mix creative talents with mastering technical skills in the MIDI lab, other facilities
  • Students, faculty put on live productions such as Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' cover concert
  • Graduate students get hands-on experience in recording studios on campus
  • 'Pa's Fiddle' special for PBS showcases MTSU's Music City connections

Recording Arts and Technologies, M.F.A.

The Master of Fine Arts in Recording Arts and Technologies offers preparation for advanced work in audio production, recording, and integrated electronic media. Coursework helps students develop a strong foundation in audio production and an understanding of the theoretical concepts of closely related disciplines. The program is designed to foster creativity and features a strong technical component utilizing the latest advancements in software and hardware. A diverse range of technical and artistic projects are produced, culminating in a final project of professional caliber. The degree plan also offers preparation for select graduates to teach at the postsecondary level in the field of audio recording and production. Creativity is one of the primary qualities sought in new students for the six-semester program. This creative background may be in audio engineering or in a field closely related to what might be described as "entertainment technology."

Live outside of Tennessee? You could be eligible for in-state tuition and save thousands of dollars.
Learn more about programs offered in the Academic Common Market.

Alum Rowland works with Nine Inch Nails, co-founds app company

Alum Rowland works with Nine Inch Nails, co-founds app company

Daniel Rowland, M.F.A. grad and recording industry online instructor for MTSU, co-produces now with acclaimed guitarist/producer Adrian Belew including working together on the latest Nine Inch Nails album. Hesitation Marks eventually reached No. 3 in the U.S. and No. 2 in the United Kingdom. Rowland used multiple iPads and his laptop at Trent Reznor's Los Angeles home to process audio of Belew playing guitar. Rowland also utilized a "modular closet" full of effects on the NIN song Everything -- from guitar pedals, iPads, tape machines, and amps to high-end guitar processors. These were connected via patchbays to easily create various signal paths. This inspired him to co-found the app company NOIISE and release an iOS professional multi-effects processor app, FLUX:FX, with Belew and Amsterdam-based companies Mobgen and Elephant Candy. They followed that with another app, FLUX by belew, a re-imagining of the album format that never plays the same way twice, featuring hundreds of tracks recorded, mixed, and co-produced by Rowland.

Professor performs various roles in, out of studio

Professor performs various roles in, out of studio

MTSU audio recording faculty member Bill Crabtree is busy outside the classroom with producing, engineering, performing, and recording. He produced a new album for Nashville artist Sali Hagan of funky, retro, artsy rock. Crabtree also played drums, did some percussion, and programmed a lot of electronic instruments on the recordings. M.F.A. student Grant Greene additionally worked on the album. Next up is co-producing and engineering recordings for Zigo, a St. Louis-based Americana band. Crabtree played drums on a live recreation of Pink Floyd's classic album Dark Side of the Moon that involved faculty, staff, and students at MTSU's Tucker Theater. In spring 2014 he did a three-day recording workshop on studio production and recording at the AES Central Region Summit. Crabtree also collaborated with Michael Fleming on writing the report for the AES 50th conference on audio education held at MTSU, where they were co-chairs. Crabtree is producing instructional videos about audio technology and recording, with the help of master's students.

This M.F.A. helps foster and develop creativity and trains students in technology for advanced work in audio/music engineering or related fields that could be described as "entertainment technology." Graduates can use the degree program to excel in professional pursuits such as

  • Audio post-production engineer
  • Audio studio design and installation
  • Broadcast audio
  • Independent audio contractor
  • Live sound engineer
  • Manufacturer audio product specialist
  • Mastering engineer
  • Media specialist
  • Recording studio engineer
  • Recording studio manager
  • Retail audio sales
  • Sound design for film/video
  • University professor 

Employers of MTSU alumni include

  • Alabama State University
  • Art Institute of Tennessee
  • Asbury University
  • Belmont University
  • Brickhouse Records
  • Butler University
  • Clair Brothers
  • CNN
  • GC Pro
  • Hope College
  • Jeff Slaughter Ministries
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • National Public Radio (NPR)
  • New England School of Communications
  • Old Dominion University
  • Sweetwater
  • Tennessee Digital Video
  • Truphonic Recording Studios
  • Yamaha Corporation of America


The Department of Recording Industry offers the Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Recording Arts and Technologies.

A limited number of students, typically 12-14, are accepted each year for fall admission. The quality of the creative portfolio is usually the determining factor in admission.

A previous degree in audio engineering/music technology isn't required, but some students with little or no audio background may be asked to complete foundation audio courses in the summer before starting the program.

Residents from the following states are eligible to enroll in this program at MTSU at the in-state tuition rate through Academic Common Market agreements: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The M.F.A. program normally has two or three graduate assistantships to award each fall.

For complete curriculum details, click on the REQUIREMENTS tab above.


Students in the Department of  Recording Industry can pursue a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree through two different majors: Audio Production or Recording Industry; majors in the latter can choose between two concentrations: Commercial Songwriting, or Music Business.  

The department also offers undergraduate minors in Entertainment Technology (an interdisciplinary minor) and Recording Industry (for non-majors).

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the MFA for?

The MFA is an unusual degree, in that one of the primary qualities sought in new students is creativity. This creative background may be in audio engineering or in a field closely related to what might be described as "entertainment technology." Though creativity is fostered and developed throughout the program, a strong creative area is expected of all incoming students. An interest in audio production is not enough. This creativity is demonstrated through the portfolio required as part of the admissions process. The MFA is not an appropriate degree for someone who does not have substantial creative output in some related field or a previous degree in audio engineering/music technology. If a student’s strength is audio recording/technology, then the question that should be asked is “What is it about my recordings that sets them apart from those of everyone else who has a similar background?”

What would be an example of a creative area?

This will be different for each student and might consist of songs that you have written, audio recordings you have engineered, videos you have shot and edited, computer games you have authored, music scores of pieces you have composed, websites you have created, etc. Of course, the portfolio will be very different for each applicant depending on his or her background. 

Do I need an undergraduate degree in audio engineering?

Though some MFA students have previous degrees in audio engineering/music technology, the MFA does accept students who may not have a previous degree in audio engineering. Some students with little or no audio background may be asked to complete foundation audio courses during the summer before starting class in the fall.

How soon can I start?

The MFA accepts new students only in the fall term.

When should I apply?

The admissions committee will begin looking at new applications in late March and will continue to review applicants until all places are filled.

How many students will you accept each year?

The MFA accepts a limited number of students. In past years, 12-14 students have been accepted.

Is financial aid available?

The MFA normally has two or three assistantships to award each fall. These may be awarded to incoming students and are sometimes awarded to students currently in the program who have shown the aptitude for teaching an undergraduate course in our department. Assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis. It is recommended that applications for assistantships be submitted early in the application process since the admissions committee may begin awarding assistantships as soon as late March. Consideration for an assistantship requires that the applicant has submitted all the materials required for admission, as those materials comprise the primary means of evaluating the candidate’s suitability for an assistantship, and an applicant must have been admitted unconditionally in order to receive an assistantship. Though an assistantship could possibly be available as late as early July, in past years most assistantships have been awarded by the end of the spring.

Another significant source of financial assistance is the “Academic Common Market.” This is a group of states that have agreements permitting graduate students who are permanent residents of those states to enroll at MTSU at the in-state tuition rate. This provides a savings of approximately $30,000.

What is the admissions process like?

Admissions are competitive and an applicant’s materials are compared with those of all other applicants. The primary factors considered in determining a student’s suitability for admission include the creative portfolio, undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and the letter of intent.

The quality of the creative portfolio is usually the determining factor in admission. 

Review of applications by the MFA Admissions Committee will begin in late March and a limited number of students will be accepted. Admissions are competitive and your materials are being compared with all other applicants. This process may take several weeks, however, places could also be filled in a shorter time. It is to your advantage to have your application submitted by April 1st. Later applications will be considered but there will be the possibility that all the places in the MFA may already have been filled.

You can view more specific requirements for admission to the MFA by clicking the REQUIREMENTS tab above.

What should be included in a creative portfolio?

A portfolio of works should be representative of the candidate’s creative achievements in the areas of audio recording, composition, songwriting, video, film, multimedia, web design, or areas that could generally be described as “entertainment technology”. Most applicants’ portfolio works will come from just one or two of the areas described above, however, some will have done creative work in more than one of these fields. It is extremely important to document your contribution for each item you submit. For example, if you submit an audio recording, state if you were the composer, performer, engineer, producer, or did several of these tasks. The admissions committee will be evaluating what your specific contributions were to each project. The portfolio has no specific guidelines because applicants come from a wide variety of creative backgrounds and each student’s portfolio will reflect their particular expertise, however a professional presentation of materials is expected.

Submit what you think is your best work. This may only be three or four examples but may include as much as you wish. If you have extended examples (a 20 minute video documentary or a dance mix, for example) you may wish to edit them. In addition to your submissions, include a list of ANY other projects on which you have participated and list your job on each project. In your portfolio documentation list the hardware and software with which you are familiar. List related technologies with which you are familiar and describe your competency. This might include: Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, iMovie, etc.

Audio examples should be submitted on an audio CD that is playable on either a Macintosh or PC computer or on a commercial CD or DVD player. MP3s are not acceptable. Video and/or film examples should be submitted on a DVD that is playable on either a Macintosh or PC computer or on a commercial DVD player.

QuickTime Video Requested
Though it is not required applicants are asked to submit a brief QuickTime video of them describing their background and reason for seeking the degree. This is a way for the admissions committee to get to know you beyond your written documentation. A QuickTime data file is adequate or this may also be submitted as a playable DVD if you prefer.



Contact and Student Information

Bill Crabtree

Bill Crabtree

Department of Recording Industry
Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU Box 21
1301 East Main Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

College of Graduate Studies
Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU Box 42
1301 East Main Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

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