Theatre and Dance

MFA Design

Goals and Objectives

The M.F.A. in Design is a professionally oriented, terminal degree, designed to be a transition between collegiate training and the professional theatre and related careers (including education). The program offers rigorous study through an individualized curriculum approach aimed at developing the student’s creative and intellectual growth. The program integrates the theoretical with the practical by combining individualized artistic and technical training and intellectual endeavor with intensive application in design and working on theatre productions throughout the 3-year program.

The objectives of the M.F.A. in Design program are:

  • To foster creative imagination and independent thinking;
  • To foster self-discipline, commitment and professionalism and respect for one another;
  • To develop the student’s knowledge of theatrical literature in its historical, cultural and performative context;
  • To develop abilities to research, analyze and interpret a script from the perspective of the designer;
  • To expand the student’s knowledge and expertise in design skills such as rendering, drafting, color theory and décor;
  • To develop expertise in communicating ideas and concepts to directors, actors, technicians and the audience through formal and informal writing and presentations; and
  • To develop skills in effective collaboration.

Strengths of the Program:

The strength of the program is the extensive curricular foundation in design and construction techniques and the consistent and intensive application in production. Students have ample opportunity to work with actors and directors at all levels – from freshmen to graduates to faculty professionals. Student designers are allowed the opportunity to design productions in multiple configurations. Our studio theatre is a flexible space that changes configuration each semester. Students have the opportunity to work on many genres of performance, including comedy, drama, musicals, dance concerts, and operas.

Another strength is that the M.F.A. in Design program is broad based in its focus. It is structured to provide students an array of career paths – from the professional theatre, to the entertainment industry, to education. Students are mentored for a variety of career options, based on their aspirations and abilities.

Course Topics:

Costume Design

  • Patterning/Draping
  • Rendering
  • Color theory
  • Costume history
  • Advanced construction techniques
  • Specialized techniques (such as tailoring, millinery, jewelry and accessories)
  • Puppet Design and Construction
  • Portfolio preparation

Scenic Design

  • Drafting
  • Rendering
  • Color theory
  • Scene painting techniques
  • Styles of production
  • Puppet Design and Construction
  • Advanced Technical Direction
  • Digital technology
  • Portfolio preparation

Lighting Design

  • Drafting
  • Styles of production
  • Theories of Design
  • Methods and techniques
  • Color theory
  • Computer/digital technology
  • Portfolio preparation

Financial assistance

Financial assistance is available through departmental assistantships. An eight month stipend and a full waiver of tuition is awarded with an assistantship in an academic year. Duties are related to the student's area of concentration, which must be declared at the time of application. Generally, Design students serve as technical assistants in scenic, costume, or lighting studios, working on Mainstage and Studio productions. Students who are interested in teaching have the opportunity to teach entry level production courses.

For more information, contact the Graduate Program Advisors and consult the online graduate catalog.

MFA Student's Handbook

Other information can be found on the School of Graduate Studies webpage.

If you cannot find what you need here, please contact the department office and let us know what information would be helpful on our web pages.

Tammy Killian
Office Location: 101 Browne Hall
Office Phone: (309) 298-1543
Email: ;