MFA in Sound Design

Our Master of Fine Arts in Sound 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Sound 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, Sound Design students will:

  • Demonstrate a high level of technical and interpretive Sound 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 60 credits)

First Year 1st 2nd
CFA TH 599 Matinee 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 687 & 688 Sound Design Studio 1 & 2 3 3
CFA TH 689 & 690 Production Audio 1 & 2 3 3
CFA TH 662 Vectorworks 1 1
Approved elective* 2 2
Total credits (minimum) 13 14
Second Year
CFA TH 599 Matinee 0 0
CFA TH 553 & 554 Colloquium 1 1
CFA TH 797 & 798 Production 2 2
CFA TH 787 & 788 Sound Design Studio 3 & 4 3 3
CFA TH 789 & 780 Systems Design 1 & 2 3 3
Music elective* 4 3
Total credits (minimum) 13 12
Third Year
Option 1:
CFA TH 591 Internship
Option 2:
Approved elective(s)
CFA TH 099 Matinee 0
CFA TH 898 Production 1
CFA TH 950 Grad project 3
Total credits (minimum) 4 4

*Students select Music and Approved electives in consultation with the student’s faculty mentor. Courses from which a student may select include but are not limited to:

Music Elective

  • CFA FA 530 Collaborative Arts Incubator
  • CFA ME 543 Special Topics in Music Education Technology: Notation with Sibelius
  • CFA ME 661 Jazz History and Performance Techniques 1
  • CFA MH 561 Special Topics in Musicology
  • CFA MH 563 Special Topics in Musicology
  • CFA MH 628 History & Literature of Chamber Music
  • CFA MH 722 Music in the Renaissance
  • CFA MH 724 Music of the Classic Era
  • CFA MH 725 Music in the Romantic Period
  • CFA MH 835 American Music
  • CFA MH 841 History of Music Theory 1
  • CFA MT 635 Composing with Electronic Sounds & Computers 1
  • CFA MT 636 Composing with Electronic Sounds & Computers 2
  • CFA MU 666 West African Drumming

Approved Elective

Students select graduate-level courses (500+) totaling 4 credits (typically two courses) offered by the College of Fine Arts in consultation with their faculty mentor.

‡ This program requires completion of a minimum of 60 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.