Master of Fine Arts in Theatre (Design emphasis)


The Master of Fine Arts in Theatre (Design emphasis) is offered as a terminal degree for a graduate student preparing for a professional career as a scenic, costume, or lighting designer in the theatre. In addition to selecting a primary area of design emphasis, a student may select to study another area of design as a secondary emphasis. The rigorous three-year program places equal importance on classroom studies and production program activities. The program of study contains course work in all the areas of theatre and related fields that inform and enrich the area of design selected as an emphasis. Because of the equal importance given to academic and practical experiences within the program, a graduate is well suited for teaching in a college or university in addition to being an articulate and capable theatre artist.

Admission Criteria

The applicant must meet the following requirements for admission to the Graduate School of The Ohio State University: an earned baccalaureate or professional degree from an accredited college or university by the expected date of entry, a minimum of a 3.00 cumulative point-hour ratio in all previous undergraduate work. The candidate may possess either an undergraduate degree in theatre or a related field. All candidates must demonstrate a potential for excellence in design through portfolio presentation and interview. Apply now.

Residency Requirement

A minimum residence of three academic years (excluding summers) at The Ohio State University devoted to graduate work is required.

Portfolio Review and Interview

There are two methods of interviewing for the program. The Design/Technology Faculty regularly attend the URTA auditions to interview students or an on-campus interview may be requested by the potential student when all application materials have been received. Students are encouraged to contact the graduate studies coordinator to arrange for a campus visit and interview.

The interview portfolio may include examples of work from realized theatre productions and class projects. Samples of research material, organizational paperwork, and visual production documentation are recommended for the applicant's area of design emphasis: scenery, costume, or lighting. Depending on a student's area of design emphasis, the portfolio may contain sketches, full colored renderings, floor plans, elevations, drafting, pattern drafts, lighting plots, lighting sections, or design paperwork. Work that demonstrates the designer's process as well as the final product is encouraged. In addition to theatre design work, an applicant is encouraged to include any work that demonstrates creativity and design skills such as drawing, photography, sculpture, painting, and collage.

Design Program Requirements

  • Students are typically involved in a creative project in each semester of their three year residency. Depending on area(s) of interest, a student will design between three and six fully realized productions for the Department.
  • A minimum of 67 graduate credit hours of course work must be completed to receive the degree.
  • A student's adviser is the principal instructor in the student's area of design emphasis.
  • Students holding Graduate Associateships are required by the Department of Theatre and the Graduate School to register for a minimum of eight (8) graduate credit hours per semester, excluding summers when a minimum of four (4) graduate credit hours is required if a fee waiver is utilized.
  • A student's progress in both the classroom and production program is carefully monitored by the design faculty through regular reviews.
  • A comprehensive portfolio review is conducted at the end of the autumn semester in the second year of the program. Following successful completion of this review, students are assigned a thesis project: the design of a major dramatic work, opera, or devised new work developed in consultation with the adviser and approved by the student's thesis committee. The scope of the thesis project will include comprehensive written documentation and evaluation.

Application and Admission Process

Deadlines, application, and admission process details for the graduate program may be found by following this link.

Design Areas


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