MFA in Theatre: Costume Design
The graduate program in costume design at Illinois State University is a three-year program dedicated to the development of designers, costume artisans, and teachers in the field of theatrical costume design. Graduates of the program work successfully in regional, commercial and university theaters nationwide, as well as in the television and film industries.
The opportunity to study with two full-time faculty members provides graduate students the benefit of two diverse methodologies and aesthetic sensibilities. It also allows the program to offer a broad range of specialized courses.
Graduate students take courses in theatrical costume design, history and styles of stage costuming, and special topic seminars in rendering, costume construction and costume crafts. Additional courses are designed to enhance research methodologies and theoretical foundations.
Study outside the School of Theatre and Dance may include art courses in textiles, watercolor, jewelry making and figure drawing, as well as professional practice, internship, and study-abroad possibilities.
More detailed information on program requirements and course descriptions can be found in the Graduate Catalog.
Graduate costume design students are assigned shows in the School of Theatre and Dance production program each semester, working in a variety of styles and periods with both faculty and graduate student directors. The opportunity to create fully realized designs and to develop a professional design portfolio is at the heart of the Costume Design program.
Graduate students often collaborate as design assistants with faculty designers working professionally in the field, and the School of Theatreand Dance tries to provide additional opportunities for work locally. Students may spend one semester interning with a regional theater during their final year of study.
Costume Design faculty members work closely with their graduate students to secure appropriate placements in the field for summer work. During the summer months graduate students also have the opportunity to assist guest professionals at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, a nationally recognized repertory company.
Recently, M.F.A. Costume Design students have interned at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Students also are supported in the appropriate pursuit of other professional design opportunities while studying at Illinois State.
The Master of Fine Arts is a terminal degree and is a requirement for most university teaching positions. Therefore, M.F.A. Costume Design students receive training and gain experience in teaching at the college level as part of their program.
The School of Theatre and Dance admits a limited number of graduate students to the Costume Design program every year. The School seeks talented candidates with strong aesthetic sensibilities and a disciplined desire to succeed as artists and teachers.
To apply to the MFA program, first fill out the Graduate Admission Application. Also, at the Graduate School Web site, you will find information about required transcripts and fees that should accompany your application. Please review program-specific admission requirements and the application process on our graduate program pages or in the Graduate Catalog.
Prospective students must meet with head of the Graduate Design program or another designated representative for an interview before entrance will be granted. Interviews are regularly held at U/RTA sites in Chicago and New York or on the Illinois State University campus.
Specific questions may be directed to Lauren Lowell, Head of the Graduate Costume Design Program.
Success for Recent Graduates
M.F.A. graduates from the Costume Design program at Illinois State University work in a wide variety of professions throughout the industry. Positions held by recent graduates include:
- wardrobe supervisor at Drury Lane Theatre
- cutter/draper at the Long Wharf Theatre
- clothing product developer for Kohl's Corporation
- freelance designer in various markets, including Chicago and New York.
M.F.A. Costume Design alumni have accepted teaching positions at such institutions of higher learning as SUNY-Fredonia, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Ball State University, Frostburg State University and Michigan State University. For more information about School of Theatre and Dance alumni, please visit our alumni page.