MFA in Scene Design

Our Master of Fine Arts in Scene 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 Scene 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, Scene Design students will:

  • Demonstrate a high level of technical and interpretive Scene Design skills sufficient to obtain professional positions in the performing arts.
  • Demonstrate spoken and written critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills.
  • Demonstrate an ability to enrich creative storytelling and take artistic risks.
  • Demonstrate an awareness and ability to engage with diverse communities as a theatre artist.

Program of Study

(minimum of 70 credits)

First Year 1st 2nd
CFA TH 599 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 663 & 664 Scene Design Studio 1 & 2 3 3
CFA TH 559 & 560 Scene Design Studio Lab 1 & 2 1 1
CFA TH 665 & 666 Scene Painting 1 & 2 2 2
CFA TH 677 & 678 Figure Drawing 1 1
CFA TH 755 & 756 History of Period Styles 1 & 2 2 2
CFA TH 683 & 684 Lighting Design Studio 1 & 2 3 3
Total credits (minimum) 17 17
Second Year
CFA TH 599 Matinee 0 0
CFA TH 553 & 554 Colloquium 1 1
CFA TH 797 & 798 Production^ 2+ 2+
CFA TH 763 & 764 Scene Design Studio 3 & 4 3 3
CFA TH 765 & 766 Scene Painting 3 & 4 2 2
CFA TH 855 & 856 History of Period Styles 3 & 4 2 2
CFA TH 675 & 676 Costume Design Studio 1 & 2 3 3
CFA TH 545 & 546 Directed Study: Drama Criticism 1 1
Total credits (minimum) 14 14
Third Year
Option 1:
CFA TH 591 Internship

Option 2:
Approved elective(s)

4
CFA TH 599 Matinee 0
CFA TH 898 Production 1
CFA TH 950 Grad project‡ 3
Total credits (minimum) 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.

‡ This program requires completion of a minimum of 70 credits in continuous, sequential semesters, and generally takes three years to complete. Any student who does not complete their Thesis/Graduate Project (CFA TH 950) in the intended semester will need to register for CFA TH 950 in the next sequential semester, paying all appropriate tuition and fees. It is expected that no more than two additional years of registration will be needed to complete the project. All requirements for the MFA must be completed within five years of matriculation.