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MFA – Costume Design

The Master of Fine Arts in Costume Design program at Florida State University provides students with training in the art and practice of costume design. The program is designed to give students the skills they need to continue their growth as costume designers in the performing arts or in entertainment.

Students will work in one of two concentrations within the MFA: Costume Design or Costume Technology. Design students develop an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of costume design for the stage, costume rendering techniques, and the interdisciplinary work needed to create a design from the script and bring it to the stage. Costume technology students learn advanced technical skills including draping and patterning for various historical periods, couture sewing, tailoring, and costume crafts.

Each MFA Costume Design student will design at least two productions while at FSU. A portfolio of beautifully executed design and technology work is required for graduation. In addition to applying to the program, students must also apply to Florida State University.

Costume Design  & Technology Opportunities

Costume Design & FSU Productions

Students following the Costume Design MFA concentration usually work as design assistants and design student directing projects during their first year. The second-year students design a season subscription show and work as design assistants. The third-year students will continue in this trajectory with an MFA Creative Final Project, or practical thesis, designing for a season subscription show or other design project that suits the student’s abilities and career goals. Most students will graduate with at least two realized productions in their portfolios.

Costume Technology & FSU Productions

Students following the Costume Technology MFA Concentration usually work as first hands during their first year. In their second and third years, students will work as drapers on increasingly complex build projects for the School of Theatre season. The third year, the work of a technology student culminates with an MFA Creative Final Project, or practical thesis, developed in partnership with their faculty mentor.

Other Design Work/Costume Technical Work

With advisor permission, students can work with the FSU Film School, Opera Department, Dance Department, either designing a film/dance/opera project or working as overhire help in their shops. Students may have the opportunity to learn and develop their wig and makeup skills through educational and practical experiences.


While at FSU, students may be given the opportunity to teach undergraduate design and technology classes during their second and third year.

Assistantship (20 hours per week)

Assistantship includes a tuition waiver for 60 hours over three years plus a stipend of approximately $18,000 for the year. Students must acquire in-state resident status by the end of their first year. Assistantship duties include working in the costume shop, supervising wardrobe crew or teaching undergraduate costume classes.


Florida State University’s MFA Costume Program is committed to hands-on mentorship. Faculty and staff work closely with graduate students in classes, during assistantship hours, and in production to ensure students are receiving constant feedback and opportunities for learning. All faculty and staff mentors are active professionals in their respective fields bringing industry best practices back to the costume shop and classrooms at the School of Theatre. MFA students may participate in conferences, industry trips (fabric shopping, rental pulling), and working professionally alongside their mentors as opportunity permits.


Assistantship work includes various tasks on productions. Each student will be assigned to help build costumes in order to develop their costume skills. Duties may include shop organization, alterations, stitching, first hand work, pattern making, crafts, dyeing, millinery, wig styling, and other technical work. Production work is assigned with student success and career goals in mind.

School of Theatre Production Season

Five subscription shows are fully produced each season, including classical and contemporary plays, a children’s show, and two musicals. Previous shows include 9 to 5, Something Rotten, In the Heights, The Importance of Being Earnest, Cat in the Hat, Bulrusher, Men on Boats, and Eurydice. Unsupported work includes MFA Director One-Acts and devised theatre projects.


Costume Design

Design classes engage with a wide range of material, asking students to design costumes for various periods and styles of theatre, dance, opera, and entertainment. Discussions of best practices in design include collaborative thinking, script analysis, research techniques, fabric knowledge, oral and visual communication skills, costume paperwork, fitting protocols, and dress rehearsals.


Rendering classes cover both traditional and digital techniques with the overall goal of strengthening drawing skills, promoting creativity, understanding fabric, and improving designer communication. Traditional and digital rendering techniques include explorations of using or emulating various media, analysis of different rendering styles, and analysis of research. Digital rendering explores various software including Adobe Photoshop and Procreate.

Costume History

The Costume History Seminar is a lecture course exploring the history of human adornment starting in Neolithic periods and moving through influential Western and non-Western cultures to the year 2000 CE. MFA students conduct and collate their own costume research to broaden the reach of the class.

Costume Technology

Classes in costume technology cover a wide range from couture sewing, flat patterning, draping, historic period draping, millinery, crafts, fabric modification, tailoring, corsets and crinolines, wigs, management, etc.

Wigs and Makeup

Techniques taught include wig and facial hair construction focusing on hair texture, types, and color, foundation building, ventilating, historical and conceptual design research, and styling. Moreover, traditional stage makeup application emphasizing color theory, skin types and tones, historical influence, and design-based thinking.


Costume Shop Equipment and Facilities

Sewing / Patterning Room: Industrial and Domestic machines; including a Bernina embroidery machine, several large cutting tables and dress forms in various sized/styles.

Dye and Craft Room: Specialty equipment including textile digital printer, fabric steamer, industrial dye vat, as well as all appropriate safety equipment.

Costume Storage: Over 3250 sq. ft of on-site costume storage.

Laundry Room, Wig Room and Dressing Rooms

Admission Requirements for MFA Programs

    • A Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre from an accredited college or university. Students who do not hold a Theatre degree must show evidence of substantial coursework and/or experience in theatre to indicate probability of achieving success in advanced theatre studies.

    • A grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) during the last two years of study for a bachelor’s degree, or 3.0 on a master’s degree from an accredited institution; OR have acceptable scores on the verbal and quantitative portions of the Graduate Record Examination taken within the last 5 years.

    • All applicants must participate in an interview and a portfolio review session, which may be at USITT Connect, URTA or USITT. An on-campus interview is required for all domestic applicants and strongly encouraged for international applicants.

    • Applicants must submit a completed School of Theatre application, three current letters of recommendation, current resume, and a statement of purpose.

    • Specific approval of the program director within the School of Theatre.

More Information

MFA Costume Design Program Flyer

Graduate Application

Recruitment Handout

Costume Design Typical Plan of Study


Jen Gillette

Assistant Professor of Costume Design

Co-Director, MFA Costume Design Program

325 Fine Arts Building

Tallahassee, FL 32306-1160