Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association

Submitted: Joe Pino Position: Date: April 3, 2019

If you represent this school, and the information below is incorrect, please email If you want to know who TSDCA is a graduate of this program, you can search the member directory.

School Location:

Pittsburgh, PA

Description of the program:

Conservatory style program focusing equally on conceptual sound design, music composition, and system design. 22 productions per academic year.

What makes this program unique:

Carnegie Mellon is both a strong research institution and an arts conservatory. It values both equally. There are opportunities for graduate students to avail themselves to the resources on campus, such electronic and time-based art, programming, robotics, gaming and VR, and other cross-disciplinary courses which the University actively supports. CMU has a strong graduate directing program focusing in devised and mediated performance provide opportunities for experimenting with design and technology. Faculty are in residence in Pittsburgh but work professionally nationally and internationally. All work at CMU is student made – the faculty do not design, construct or manage school productions.

Current Faculty Names & links to Websites

Joe Pino (contact info)

Sarah Pickett, Associate Professor

Type of degree conferred

MFA Sound Design

Number of years of study


Typical Class Size


Description of the venues and facilities the students have access to in the program:

The Philip Chosky Theatre is a 450-seat proscenium theater with the ability to install a thrust. The Helen Wayne Rauh Theatre is a 120-seat flexible space. The John Wells Video Studio is a 100-seat flexible space. Studio 201 is a warehouse space off-campus. There is a sound lab and a composition studio in the drama building and a multitrack studio in the School of Music.

Description of the production and design opportunities a typical student can expect:

Shows are produced at three basic levels. Students work in all venues and on productions in all scales. The smallest shows with design support (i.e. not stage readings) are generally in one of the flexible spaces. The mid-scale productions work in all four venues. The large-scale productions work primarily in the proscenium venue. Graduate Students design an average of 2-3 productions a year and engineer an average of 1-2 productions a year.

Skills and characteristics looked for when admitting a student to the program:

Curiosity about the world, openness to experimentation and exploration, and demonstrated artistry. On a more practical level, we look for students whom we believe will benefit from our program and resources.

Skills and characteristics of a successful graduate:

The ability to self-learn, strong collaborative skills, confidence in their artistry.