MFA in Costume Design

Our Master of Fine Arts in Costume Design program provides developing theatre professionals with the opportunity to cultivate their artistic identities while refining and enhancing their craft.

Our program seeks to:

  • Enhance artistic expression and communication skills through hands-on, mentored design experience within a wide range of production opportunities and classroom instruction.
  • Explore creative collaborations with directors, actors, technicians, and playwrights.
  • Develop a thorough understanding of professional working methods and standards.
  • Create new forms of theatrical expression for the next generation.

MFA Design students are being prepared for substantive careers as theatre artists. Training includes a rigorous curriculum, production design opportunities, and collaboration with professionals through our Professional Theatre Initiative. Students are mentored by working professional faculty and advisors.

Financial aid is available to some students in the form of scholarships, living stipends, or teaching assistantships. Admission is highly selective, with the School of Theatre admitting one to three students each year into each of the Scene Design, Costume Design, Lighting Design, and Sound Design MFA programs.

Curriculum Highlights

  • In-depth classroom instruction in artistic, practical, and skills application of design to the art of theatre.
  • Production opportunities to design in multiple venues and multiple genres.
  • Preparation and execution of a thesis that represents the culmination of three years of study.
  • Opportunity to work on productions with companies through our Professional Theatre Initiative (PTI).

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  1. Demonstrate in-depth understanding of how costume design contributes to the creation of theater through coursework and participation in productions.
  2. Collaborate and participate effectively in teams, in both leading and supporting roles.
  3. Solve problems creatively.
  4. Demonstrate historical knowledge of clothing and society to show understanding of the link between art and clothing as it applies to theater.
  5. Critically analyze a wide range of information, texts, history, art, and design in order to design clothing that will communicate visually, conceptually, and emotionally to an audience.
  6. Apply costume design skills in a professional theater setting through internships at outside producing groups.
  7. Demonstrate proficiency in the skills necessary to be a professional costume designer, including, but not limited to, drawing, painting, draping, millinery, dyeing, and proper use of fabric.

Program of Study

(minimum of 60 credits)

First Year 1st 2nd
CFA TH 099 Matinee 0 0
CFA TH 553 & 554 Colloquium 1 1
CFA TH 697 & 698 Production 2 2
CFA TH 675 & 676 Costume Design Studio 1 & 2 3 3
CFA TH 679 & 680 Costume Production Studio 1 & 2 3 3
CFA TH 877 & 878 Costume Rendering 1 & 2 1 1
CFA TH 653 & 654 Master Class 2 2
CFA TH 881 & 882 Millinery 1 & 2 1 1
Approved elective* 2 2
15±  15± 
Second Year
CFA TH 099 Matinee 0 0
CFA TH 553 & 554 Colloquium 1 1
CFA TH 797 & 798 Production^ 2+ 2+
CFA TH 775 & 776 Costume Design Studio 3 & 4 3 3
CFA TH 879 & 880 Costume Production Studio 5 & 6 3 3
CFA TH 877 & 878 Costume Rendering 1 1
CFA TH 781 & 782 Fabric Dyeing 1 & 2# 1 1
11± 11±
Third Year
CFA TH 591 Internship 4
CFA TH 099 Matinee 0 0
CFA TH 898 Production 1
CFA TH 950 Grad project 3
4 4

^ Production classes are variable credit, depending on the artistic assignment. Production assignments are made by the faculty based on individual student assessment and can be viewed in three stages of the production process:

  • Pre-production: The preparatory work before the rehearsal and build process begins.
  • Production: The rehearsal and build process through opening performance.
  • Performance: The run of the production in front of an audience.

Typically, credits will be awarded as follows:

  • Participation in one stage of the production process = 1 credit
  • Participation in two stages of the production process = 2 credits
  • Participation in three stages of the production process = 3 credits

Credits listed are the fewest a student can earn in a given semester.

* Approved elective: Students select graduate-level courses (500+) totaling 4 credits (typically two courses) offered by the School of Theatre (CFA TH) in consultation with their faculty advisor.

# Fabric Dyeing 1 & 2 (TH 781, TH 782) is offered in rotation with Millinery 1 & 2 (TH 881, TH 882). Fabric Dyeing is offered in even academic years (i.e., AY 20, 22). Millinery is offered in odd academic years (i.e., AY 19, 21).

± Total credits per semester vary according to the courses selected. Credits listed are the fewest a student could earn. All MFA Costume Design students must earn at least 60 credits to graduate.