Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

MFA Lighting Design Concentration

“The mixing up of young actors and designers with first class professionals
is manifestly the only right method of training future theatre artists.”   
– Clarence Brown

We believe that the most effective teaching tool is hands on experience. The more experiential the learning, the deeper and more connected the educational impact will be on the student. Beginning their second semester, our students are encouraged to design at least three realized productions each semester and work professionally in the field during summer break. This aggressive practical experience must be balanced with an equally rigorous academic component. The student must develop a thorough understanding of Dramaturgy, Literature, History, Art, Theatre and Concept Development. The first year of study focuses primarily on the intellectual and emotional connection to the source material and the artistic self-expression of that connection.

A specific strength of this program is the diversity of experiences available. The study of Lighting Design at UT, will not only include Theatre but the students can also explore design for other disciplines such as, Dance, Music, Opera, Industrials, Ice Shows, and large-scale Arena Projects. We also put and emphasis on Digital Media/Projection Design and Technology and its integration with light. The integration of these fields will substantially enhance the student’s education and prepare them for a broader field of employment. The curriculum is flexible enough to be adapted to individual student strengths, weaknesses and personal interests. We encourage students with diverse backgrounds to join us, as our students not only learn from our faculty but from each other as well.

The opportunity to study abroad with some of Europe and Asia’s top designers and to collaborate with the professional directors and designers at the Clarence Brown Theatre, make this one of the most unique training programs in the country. Top designers in the field are brought in to work with the design students in both a workshop format and as guest designers at the LORT theatre. Students will also have the opportunity to travel with the faculty designers as they continue to freelance professionally. In the first semester, students take a five-day trip to NYC to introduce them to New York designers, their studios, and the current running productions. Students will gain the understanding that there are many different ways to design with light. The broader their learning experience, the more complex and rich their own design voices can become.

This competitive 3-year program will accept 2 new students every other year. Two first year students will be on campus with two third year students. This allows for both creative exchange and an informal mentoring environment. In the second year of study there are only two graduate students. This allows a one to one student to faculty ratio, giving the personal attention necessary during a design intensive year. In the third year, they become the mentors and will have (if interested) teaching responsibilities.

This is an exciting and rigorous program specifically designed to place students directly into the profession or prepare them for a teaching career.

Kenton Yeager
Head of Graduate Lighting Design