MFA in Lighting Design

Our Master of Fine Arts in Lighting 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 applications 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

The Lighting Design program aims to develop a complete theatre artist by fostering a passion for theatre, storytelling, design, and the collaborative process. Through their required coursework and production assignments, Lighting Design students will:

  • Demonstrate a collaborative design approach that embraces best professional practices for lighting design in the performing arts.
  • Clearly articulate an understanding of the connection between historical periods within theatre, art, culture, and society.
  • Demonstrate the advanced ability to critically analyze a wide variety of texts, music, history, art, and design in order to communicate through light, visual, conceptual, and emotional responses to an audience in support of the actor, the director, and the design team.
  • Demonstrate the advanced skills necessary to be a working lighting designer, including, but not limited to, drafting, familiarity with lighting technology and lighting paperwork, and implementation of a lighting design from the conceptual phase to opening night.
  • Demonstrate through the successful completion of the thesis process a focused, creative, and skillful application of lighting design within the theatrical experience.
  • Successfully complete a website and portfolio that demonstrates proficiency in lighting design sufficient to obtain professional design positions in the performing arts.

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 653 & 654 Master Class 2 2
CFA TH 683 & 684 Lighting Design Studio 1 & 2 3 3
CFA TH 783 & 784 Lighting Design Studio 3 & 4 3 3
Design elective 3 3
Total 14 14
Second Year
CFA TH 099 Matinee 0 0
CFA TH 553 & 554 Colloquium 1 1
CFA TH 797 & 798 Production 2+ 2+
CFA TH 883 & 884 Lighting Design Studio 5 & 6 3 3
Design elective 3 3
Approved elective 4 4
Total 13 13
Third Year
CFA TH 591 Internship 4
CFA TH 099 Matinee 0 0
CFA TH 898 Production 1
CFA TH 950 Grad project 3
Total 4 4