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Preparing students to work in the specialized and growing fields of architectural acoustic design and consulting, acoustical product design, and audio systems design and integration.

The Master of Arts, Acoustical Studies major at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University is a two-year graduate program which provides a thorough grounding in acoustics fundamentals, design practices, and advanced analysis applications, to enable graduates to pursue careers in these specialized fields.

The program considers all aspects of the behavior of sound in space and its impact on the human condition, from the classroom, to the concert hall, to the workplace, to the city. As the only graduate program in acoustics situated within a music conservatory, the program has a specific focus on the design and analysis of spaces for performance.

Acoustical Studies is a concentration of the Master of Arts in Audio Sciences.

Entrance Requirements

Students come to the Acoustical Studies program with varied backgrounds, including undergraduate degrees in architecture, audio technology, electrical or mechanical engineering, physics, computer science, recording sciences, or music. Undergraduate level coursework should include one year of college physics, one year of calculus, one year of audio fundamentals and basic audio engineering, or equivalent. A background in music is expected, although a Bachelor of Music is not required.

For more information please see the Application Instructions. Note: An interview will be set up as part of the application process

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Ian Bryan Hoffman

Ian Bryan Hoffman is an architect, acoustic designer, and educator. He has spent his career committed to examining and understanding the curious interactions of sound and space, specifically as they affect the human experience.

Program & Curriculum Highlights

The Master of Arts, Acoustical Studies concentration, is taught by faculty from across the disciplines of architecture, engineering, music, recording and acoustic design, each deeply engaged in the field of acoustics.  The major offers courses in architectural acoustics, noise control, psychoacoustics, musical acoustics, acoustic and audio measurements, computer modeling, electroacoustics, audiovisual systems design, and professional practices.  The program culminates with an acoustic design practicum, whereby each student develops, executes, and defends an individualized research and application project.

  • Small classes, from academics and professionals with varied perspectives on acoustics, offering direct faculty-student engagement.
  • Students visit, engage, and analyze performance spaces in Baltimore-Washington region.
  • Opportunities to travel with faculty to listen, assess and compare performance spaces, both domestically and abroad.
  • Visiting lectures from industry leaders in acoustics, audio systems design, recording, and new media.
  • Situated within a premiere conservatory of music, offering countless listening, recording, and analysis opportunities.
  • Access to specific courses and/or research in the broader Johns Hopkins University community, including physics, signal processing, psychology, drawing, and medicine (with qualification and specific interest).
  • Assistantship opportunities in the second year of study.


Some examples of employment and graduate schools that past graduates from the department have gained are:

Acoustics and Audiovisual Design

  • Threshold Acoustics
  • Shen Milsom & Wilke LLC
  • Pershing Technologies LLC
  • Convergent Systems Design Group
  • Acoustical Design Collaborative
  • Veneklasen Associates
  • Cerami Associates
  • Stantec

Broadcast, Recording and Production

  • National Public Radio
  • Tanglewood Music Festival
  • Aspen Music Festival
  • Brevard Summer Music Festival

Product Design and Application

  • Apple Inc. (Beats)
  • Google
  • Bose
  • RPG Diffusor Systems
  • Polk Audio / Sound United
  • Definitive Technologies

Further Graduate Study

  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • New England Conservatory

Industry Affiliations

The program is geared toward professionals working with the following professional societies:

Course Descriptions

Architectural Acoustics I and II (3, 3 credits)
Prerequisite: (Physical Acoustics and Psychoacoustics)
The behavior of sound in enclosed spaces is explored.  Topics include sound absorption, sound reflection, refraction and diffusion, large and small room acoustics, room modes, reverberation, energy ratios, acoustical materials, psychoacoustic aspects, and design of rooms for speech, music and recording.

Noise Control (2 credits) – spring
Prerequisite: (Architectural Acoustics I and II)
A continuation of Architectural Acoustics with an emphasis on noise control for buildings and equipment.  Topics include noise reduction, transmission loss theory, impact insulation, noise barriers, equipment enclosures and noise control materials, and HVAC equipment noise prediction and control.

Audiovisual System Design (3 credits) – fall
Prerequisite: (Electroacoustics, Architectural Acoustics I, and Psychoacoustics)
The objective of this class is to provide students with an overview of commercial audiovisual systems design.  This will include both the considerations required to design audiovisual systems and all of the ancillary considerations required to properly integrate these systems with architecture, electrical, mechanical, structural, and IT systems.

Audio and Acoustical Measurements (3 credits) – fall
Prerequisite: (Psychoacoustics and Audio Science and Technology)
The theory and application of objective acoustical and audio measurements are studied.  Measurement techniques used in the evaluation of both physical spaces and electronic equipment are presented.  Topics include measurement microphones, sound level meters, noise sources, spectrum and FFT analysis, frequency analysis, reverberation, speech intelligibility, transfer function, swept sine techniques, audio power measurements, ADC and DAC linearity, harmonic distortion  and mixed signal testing.

Computer Modeling (2 credits) – spring
Prerequisite: (Architectural Acoustics I and Audiovisual System Design)
Basics of computer modeling for room acoustics and sound system design.  Topics include general theory and assumptions underlying computer modeling, different types of acoustical models, auralization, small room acoustics, large room acoustics, and sound system computer models.  Introduction to popular computer models including Room Sizer, Room Optimizer, EASE, ULYSSES, and ODEON.

Professional Practices (2 credits) – spring
Prerequisite: (none)
This course examines professional practices common in industry.  Topics include interaction with clients, design professionals, and contractors, professional ethics and liability, insurance, contracts, and fee setting, specifications, reports, and project documentation.

Acoustics Design Practicum (3 credits) – spring
Prerequisite: (final semester)
In this course, students will act as acoustical consultants to design or analyze an existing room or sound system using the knowledge gained through prior classes.  The students will be responsible for complete analysis, measurements, modeling, design documentation, and presentation of the final design in class.