The MFA in Scenic Design combines diverse opportunities for realized design work and a strong curriculum as the foundation for its training. Taught by working professionals, the program of study offers intensive instruction in both studio and classroom settings coupled with one-on-one tutorials with the students major professor. Students receive instruction in the use of the traditional and contemporary tools of visual communication as it relates to the theatre and allied fields. With a focus on drawing, painting, model building and both hand drafting and CAD; importance is placed on script analysis and research and its interpretation in scenic design.
In an atmosphere of healthy collaboration and effective communication, the student’s course work is equally balanced and enhanced with participation in production work. To ensure a deep understanding of related fields, a student will also earn a minor in Costume Design, Lighting Design, Theatre Technology, Sound Design or successfully complete an approved sequence of courses from at least three of these areas. The goal of the program is to prepare the student for participation in professional theatre and associated disciplines.
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 & Technology Faculty Committee.
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.
MFA Scenic Design candidates are assigned at least four productions to design during their tenure in the program. Furthermore, as part of the studentís assistantship (20 hours/week), students receive hands-on professional training in the scenic studio with the building, painting and prop acquisition of the departmentís shows. Scenic Design candidates also take on positions of leadership with assigned scenic charge artist or property master positions under the guidance of the Properties & Scenic Paint Supervisor. In addition, candidates supervise undergraduate stagecraft students and may assist faculty designers.
One production in the third year will be designated as the MFA thesis project, which will be documented and then evaluated by the Thesis Committee. The MFA is a three-year, sixty credit hour curriculum including scenic design, scenic painting, property courses, allied skills, technology courses, dramatic literature, history and criticism courses.
The successful student will complete the MFA with a diverse portfolio of realized designs, highly developed research, collaborative and communication skills, a mature professional process, production leadership experience and a rich understanding of the breath and depth of scenic design.
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 $15,750) 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.
How many realized, fully-mounted production assignments can I expect in the program?
Students can expect 4-5 main season production assignments in their area of study over the course of their 3-year program.
How many shows do you do each season?
The Department of Theatre & Drama produces 8 fully-mounted stage productions each season in addition to a 3-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, 8-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 programs.
How many students are in the program?
We have graduate students in all design & technology areas. There are 5 Scenic Designers, 5 Costume Designers, 4 Lighting Designers, and 4 Theatre Technology (TD) students. When combined with MFA Acting, Directing, and MA and PhD graduates, the Department of Theatre and Drama has 55 graduate students and approximately 250 undergraduate majors.
What types of financial aid are available?
Financial aid resources are available from IU's Office of Financial Aid.
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 admissions information 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.