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MFA in Theatre Arts - Option in Design

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.

For detailed information on specific concentrations of the Option in Design, please see:


The MFA Graduate Stage Design program at California State University, Long Beach is dedicated to intensive training in all aspects of stage design. The program is specifically designed so the curriculum may be tailored to the individual student's artistic interests. The student has the option to concentrate in scenic design, costume design, or lighting design - or the program may be tailored to the student’s explorations in multiple design areas. This could include areas such as architectural lighting design, dance, digital media, installation art, programming, and site-specific design.

Criteria for Admission

The program admits into each class only a select few graduate students who demonstrate exceptional artistic potential. This allows for more individualized attention and greater practical design opportunities. It is important to realize that we welcome students with various and non-traditional artistic backgrounds. We believe that theatre artists evolve from many places, with vastly different points of view about art and how it can transform society. As we welcome this diversity of artistic thought, we encourage students who may have limited experience in traditional theatre to join our artistic company.

Information on Applying and Portfolios is available.


Our stage design faculty consists of David Jacques (lighting), Danila Korogodsky (set), and Nancy Jo Smith (costume). In addition, guest faculty from the Los Angeles area periodically supplements the teaching of our resident Master Teachers. Members of the design faculty are current working professionals with extensive experience in theatre, opera, dance, television, industrial, media, and special event design. They are in touch with current theatrical methods and new technology, and routinely expose students to the profession as design assistants and associates on national and international productions. Our students have traveled with our professors and worked on productions in the United States, Rome, Venice, London, Russia, Tokyo, Toronto, Vancouver, and the Canary Islands.

Design Opportunities & Assistantships

Students of Stage Design are trained in a combination of skills development in the classroom and studios, practical design experiences in the theaters, and actual on-site training in the profession through internships at national and international venues.

Students are given priority in design opportunities so they may see their work realized in full production. We believe that you learn theatre by creating theatre, and therefore offer our students extensive laboratory and professional opportunities. It is not unusual for most stage design students to design one main stage production per semester. In many cases, professional directors are engaged to direct Cal Rep and University Players productions. This offers our students invaluable opportunities creating theatre with exciting professional artists, as well as offering connections to the profession. Many of our present and former stage design students are working for directors who they first met and collaborated with at CSULB.

As you cannot fully recreate the profession in a university laboratory, our students learn professional techniques and processes by working in the profession. Several of our professors take their students with them to professional engagements in the United States and abroad. The department offers most graduate design students financial assistantship in exchange for their work helping to produce the company’s designs. Compared to most universities, CSULB has very reasonable fees for graduate study. Our graduate assistantships usually total approximately $8000 per academic year.


The MFA degree in Theatre Arts is the terminal degree offering the professional training deemed necessary by the major theatre arts schools in the United States for university and college teaching positions as well as professional positions in design, theatre, television, film, stage, dance, opera, and theme parks.

The MFA curriculum emphasizes full-time professionally oriented study of specific theatre practice. It requires three years of full-time graduate study and the completion of sixty semester credit hours. In addition to academic and professional studies, internships under professional conditions are an integral part of the program.

The curriculum consists of 60 units in the area(s) of specialization, comprising both practical and theoretical work.

For more information on the MFA in Design, see the following program pages:

Information on Applying and Portfolios is available.

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