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MFA Scene Design Sample Curriculum

The following is a typical 3-year study program. It can and should be adapted to suit the interests and experience of each individual student.


  • Theatre 501 Intro to Graduate Studies (3)
    • Through projects in dramaturgy, students learn research tools and methods for the theatre artist.
  • Theatre 464 CAD for Theater (3)
    • Introduction to entertainment drafting, graphical standards, drafting techniques, drafting layout, and presentation
  • Theatre 503 Elements of Design for the Theatre (3)
    • Analysis of the principals of design including visual, structural and emotional relationships.
  • Theatre 580 Design Seminar (3)
    • In this intensive 3-semester design course, students learn to analyze research, interpret and design productions in a cross- disciplinary environment. Through a series of fast paced projects, semester one is designed to dramaturgically connect the designer to the source material and develop a visual expression of that understanding.


  • Theatre 510 Theatre History (3)
    • Intensive study of selected topics in theatre history.
  • Theatre 550 Model Making (3)
    • Exploration of the techniques and skills needed for successful theatrical scale model making.
  • Theatre 550 Advanced CAD Drafting (3)
    • Further exploration of CAD drafting techniques and drafting layout.
  • Theatre 580 Design Seminar (3)
    • In the second semester we will return to the text and embark on a series of projects designed to stimulate creative concept creation and the initial aural and visual images that support your ideas. Each week, through written, oral and visual presentation you will share your bold, innovative concepts with the class. You will be expected to step out of your comfort zone during this semester and present your conceptual ideas clearly and concisely explain how your research and visual aids support the text.
  • Theatre 492 Off-Campus Study (1)
    • Intensive study NYC trip.


  • Theatre 584 Photography for the Theatre (3)
    • Photographic techniques for shooting live theatrical events under challenging lighting environments and the incorporation of these into a professional portfolio.
  • Theatre 587 Computer Aided Rendering for the Theatre (3)
    • Computer rendering programs and their use by theatrical designers.
  • Theatre 550 Paint Elevations and Stage Properties (3)
    • Exploration of the techniques needed for successful communication of Scenic Paint and Properties information.
  • Theatre 580 Design Seminar (3)
    • In the third semester, design students explore advanced projects in design including those outside of the traditional theatre setting. Diverse productions, large-scale projects and complex design situations are the primary focus this semester.


  • Theatre 475 Projection and Media Design (3)
    • The creation and execution of digital media for theatrical projection and multimedia/performance integration.
  • Theatre 550 Hand Drafting (3)
    • Exploration of hand drafting techniques and drafting layout
  • Theatre 588 Digital Portfolio (3)
    • Creating a digital theatrical design portfolio and supporting materials and the exploration of presentation options and standards.
  • Theatre 580 Design Seminar (3)
    • In semesters 3 and 4, design students explore advanced projects in design including those outside of the traditional theatre setting. Diverse productions, large-scale projects and complex design situations are the primary focus this year.
  • Theatre 491 Foreign Study (1)
    • Intensive study abroad trip.


  • Theatre 550 Scenic Art (3)
    • An exploration into the techniques and practices of Scenic Painting
  • Theatre 550 Period Styles (3)
    • Advanced applications of theatrical sound design practice, principles, and technology.
  • Theatre 599 Project in Lieu of Thesis (6)
    • Culminating project proposed by student. Includes produced production/performance/exhibit and written thesis, or In-depth research in a topic of specific interest to the student, culminating in a paper or project.


  • Theatre 593 Independent Study (3)
    • Independent work with instructor on topics either of special interest to the student or on faculty identified deficiencies in the student’s overall education to date.
  • Theatre 599 Project in Lieu of Thesis (3)
    • Preparation of marketing materials, portfolio, and catalog of individual work produced while in the program, culminating in a formal presentation and oral defense.
  • Elective (3)
  • Elective (3)


  • History of Art, History of Opera, Music Theory/ Technology, Music Composition, Music History, Dramatic Literature and Criticism, Renaissance Drama, Modern Drama, Contemporary Drama, Shakespeare, Drama of the Restoration and 18 th Century, Photography, Costume Design, Lighting Design, Sound Design, Media Design, Advanced Theatre Technology.