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MFA in Theatre Arts - Option in Design (Lighting)

Admissions will be CLOSED for the MFA in Theatre Arts with an Option in Scenic, Lighting or Costume Design through at least the academic year 2021/2022.

Information on Applying and Portfolios is available.


The MFA Graduate Program in Lighting Design offers the student the opportunity to learn the artistry and techniques of professional lighting design. Mentored by international lighting artist Professor David Martin Jacques, the program stresses the holistic approach to lighting design and theatre art. Students are taught how to think like directors, develop their own points of view, and articulate their ideas through the development of artistic and verbal skills.

As Professor Jacques is an active professional designer, the program focuses primarily on preparing the student for entrance into the profession. Lighting design students learn current professional techniques in the classroom, laboratory, and through professional exposure.

Criteria for Admission

Information on Applying and Portfolios is available.

Design Opportunities & Assistantships

Students of lighting design are exposed to the collaborative process through classroom and practical projects. As only a select few graduate lighting designers are chosen for the program, students enjoy many opportunities to learn through exposure to the profession, and designing, assisting, and programming for the Department of Theatre Arts. Students are assigned lighting and video designs for Cal Rep, the school's professionally-modeled theatre company. As members of Cal Rep, student lighting designers not only work with colleagues, but also enjoy opportunities to collaborate with guest directors and designers. The artistic mission of Cal Rep encourages lighting designers to take risks and express their points of view through light.

As the mastery of skills is essential for preparation for the profession, students are also trained in video content design, moving light programming, and professional assistant techniques. Students practice these skills in laboratory experiences on productions at Cal Rep and on-campus. We believe that students learn theatre by creating it, therefore lighting design students usually design at least one production a semester. This offers our students plenty of opportunities to practice the skills they learn in the classroom.

In addition to the Cal Rep productions, students of lighting design have two other theatres in which to develop their skills: the Studio Theatre (a large flexible venue) and the Players Theatre (a small experimental venue). The Studio Theatre has a state-of-the-art computerized lighting control system including automated lighting utilizing Elation and Vari*Lite automated fixtures, controlled by ETC Ion, Hog, along with WYSIWYG and ESP Vision Virtual lighting control. Through Professor Jacques' professional connections, we usually incorporate new lighting and video technology on many of our productions.

Students of lighting design at Cal Rep experience a challenging and rewarding process throughout their three-year graduate tenure. Designed for only the most committed and passionate students, the lighting design program at California State University, Long Beach is dedicated to the training of the next generation of theatre artists.

Most students will be offered an assistantship in their area of concentration. Lighting students awarded an assistantship will work with undergraduate and graduate student crews to implement the lighting designs for all mainstage shows. Assistantships are approximately $8000 per academic year.

More information about our facilities is available.

Internships & Professional Development Opportunities

Students accompany Professor Jacques on outside engagements to experience first-hand how assistants and designers function in the professional world. This includes exposure to professional theatre, opera, television, and architectural lighting through internships and externships with Central City Opera in Colorado and other professional companies throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Through these opportunities, most of our MFA lighting students graduate with professional experience.

Student Learning Outcome Goals

  1. Learn the skills necessary to enter and thrive in the professional theatre.
  2. Learn to think conceptually and grasp the content of the story in its totality.
  3. Play an active and positive role in the synergetic creative process of professional theatre.
  4. Participate in the creation and presentation of public performances of theatre.
  5. Develop visual and aural perceptions related to theatre performance, as well as a structured approach to the use of language in writing for and about the stage.
  6. Make informed assessments of quality in works of theatre and live entertainment.
  7. Fearlessly express art that reflects the theatre artist’s individual and personal points of view.


Concentration core classes:Take all of the following

  • THEA 517 Repertory Theatre I (2)
  • THEA 518 Repertory Theatre II (2)
  • THEA 519 Repertory Theatre III (2)
  • THEA 523 Theory/Practice of Contemporary Theatre (3)
  • THEA 524 Dramaturgy (3)
  • THEA 541 Portfolio Development (3)
  • THEA 544 Visual Concepts in Theatre Design (3)
  • THEA 550 Computer Graphics for Theatre (3)
  • THEA 552 Collaborative Studies (3)
  • THEA 584 Rendering and Painting for Theatre (2)
  • THEA 699 MFA Thesis/Project (1-6)

Lighting Concentration: Take all of the following

  • THEA 545 Computer Aided Design for the Theatre (2)
  • THEA 548A Advanced Lighting Design I (2)
  • THEA 548B Advanced Lighting Design I (2)
  • THEA 555 Virtual and Automated Lighting Design (2)
  • THEA 648A Advanced Lighting Design II (2)
  • THEA 648B Advanced Lighting Design II (2)
  • THEA 649A Advanced Lighting Design III (2)
  • THEA 649B Advanced Lighting Design III (2)

Take 10 units of electives.

Information on Applying and Portfolios is available.

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