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Indiana University Bloomington
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Master of Fine Arts, Costume Design

Linda Pisano Linda Pisano
Head of Theatre Technology
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The MFA in Costume Design at IU combines diverse opportunities for realized design work and a strong curriculum as the foundation for its training. Curriculum and practice focus on collaboration, analysis, drawing, painting, aesthetics, craft technology and costume history with a social history component. Taught by working professionals, the sixty-hour costume design curriculum offers intensive training in both studio and classroom settings coupled with one-on-one tutorials with the students major professor. There is also the option of a study-abroad course in London as part of the curriculum. This course is offered at graduate level credit. The goal of the program is to prepare the student for participation in professional theatre and associated disciplines.

Admission

Students are admitted into the program after proving competency as shown by their portfolio, statement of goals, and required onsite interview. Judgments of portfolio, writing quality, and professional potential are made by members of the Design and Technology Faculty Committee.

Retention

Each year students are invited to continue in the program after the faculty has assessed a student’s academic success, artistic growth and professional development. A 3.2 GPA or higher typically indicates academic success. The student’s faculty advisor provides an interim evaluation at the end of each Fall semester, and at the end of the first and the second year, students are required to present their portfolio with an oral interview to the Design and Technology Faculty Committee. At this time the committee will determine whether a student shall be advanced in the program. Weaknesses in the areas of academic success, artistic growth and professional development will be identified and may result in a probationary semester or dismissal from the program.

Program Specifics

Costume design students are assigned at least four productions during their tenure in the program. One production in the third year will be designated as the MFA thesis project which will include written documentation. The MFA is a sixty-hour curriculum including costume design, fine arts and technology courses, dramatic literature, history and criticism courses. To ensure a deep understanding of related fields, a student will also earn a minor in Scenic Design, Lighting Design or Theatre Technology or successfully complete an approved sequence of courses from at least three of these areas.

Success

The successful student will complete the three year MFA degree program with an extensive and diverse portfolio of realized designs as well as project work in all genres of theatre including opera and ballet. Additionally students will demonstrate a comprehensive portfolio of skills in millinery, masks, tailoring and rendering. The graduate from Indiana University will be well prepared for a career in the professional or academic environment. Emphasized skills include; productive methods of research, effective collaborative and communication, a mature professional process, and a rich understanding of the breadth and depth of costume design, both historical and current.

Graduates of the Costume Design MFA program are employed in major companies across the country, including Washington Opera, Utah Opera, Indiana Repertory Theatre, San Francisco Opera, Illinois Shakespeare, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Santa Fe Opera. Graduates at academic institutions include school such as State University of New York Fredonia, Kutztown University, and the University of Florida.

Financial Aid

Graduate students in the Design and Technology MFA programs are typically awarded an assistantship which includes a tuition waiver covering most fees, in addition to a stipend (currently a minimum of $13,400) for working 20 hours a week in their area of expertise. Academic merit fellowships and research/creative activity travel grant opportunities are also available on a competitive basis.

Student Academic Appointees and Fellowship Recipients are automatically enrolled in the student insurance plan and the cost of the student premium is paid by the university. The plan also includes dental, mental health and prescription drug benefits. Eligible students may also insure their dependents. Eligible dependents are the spouse/same-sex domestic partner (residing with the Insured student) and unmarried children under the age of 24.

Learn more about the Student Academic Appointee Health Insurance Plan

Additional benefits include a "green conscious" campus with free buses, free Adobe and Microsoft products, and a ubiquitous wireless internet.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many realized, fully-mounted production assignments can I expect in the program?
Students can expect at least five main season production assignments in their area of study over the course of their three-year program.

How many shows do you do each season?
The Department of Theatre and Drama produces eight fully-mounted stage productions each season in addition to a four-show summer season, a modern dance concert, a new musical, and special events.

Will I work on the "Main Stage" or on the "student season"
We offer one season that we cosider a main stage, eight-production season, where graduate students serve as the primary designers (lighting, costumes, scenery), technical directors, scenic artists, and properties masters for all shows. See details about the season here.

Is the GRE required for admittance?
No, the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is not required for the MFA program.

How many students are in the program?
We have graduate students in all design and technology areas. There are five Scenic Designers, five Costume Designers, four Lighting Designers, and four Theatre Technology (TD) students. When combined with MFA Acting, Directing, and MA and PhD students, the Department of Theatre and Drama has roughly 55 graduate students and approximately 250 undergraduate majors.

What types of financial aid are available?
To supplement departmental financial aid, various scholarships, fellowships, and loans may be available through the University Graduate School or the Office of Student Financial Assistance.

Does the program offer assistantships?
Yes, all MFA students accepted into the program are offered graduate assistantships which provide a full tuition waiver, plus a competitive stipend, for each of their three years of study. Some fees cannot be waived.

Are teaching opportunities available?
If teaching coincides with the students professional goals, opportunities exist to gain college-level teaching experience through both laboratory instruction and classroom lectures.

What styles of shows do you do?
The department takes pride in offering a wide range of theatrical genres to students and audiences. Two musicals are produced each season in combination with six plays which are presented in diverse styles.

How do I apply to the program?
You can find information on the admissions process here.

What types of job placement services are offered?
Students are mentored into their respective professions by the major professor in their area (Lighting, Costumes, Scenery, or Technical Direction) with the purpose of meeting each individual student’s professional goals.

Where do the faculty instructors work professionally?
All Design and Technology faculty maintain active professional careers. Please see individual faculty profiles for more details.

What jobs do recent graduates have?
Recent graduates of our programs are employed all across the country. Please see specific program web pages for further information.