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MFA – Costume Design

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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 American theatre.

Students graduate with an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of costume design for the stage. Design work in opera, dance, and film is also explored. Costume technology is stressed as well, including skills in millinery, fabric modification, costume crafts, and patterning.

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

Costume Design Opportunities

FSU Productions

Graduate costume designers will have opportunities to assist and design smaller productions during their first year. They will then be given assignments designing larger productions during their second and third year. Students assist on two productions and design a minimum of three productions for the School of Theatre.

Other Design Work

Outside design opportunities with Opera Florida State, FSU Film School and the FSU Dance Department are available with instructor permission.


While at FSU, students may be given the opportunity to teach undergraduate classes during their second and third year. Classes that have been taught by costume design graduate students include introductory costuming classes, Introduction to Theatrical Design and Stage Makeup.

Assistantship (20 hours per week)

Assistantship includes a tuition waiver for nine hours for each semester plus a stipend of approximately $15,600 for the year. Students must acquire in-state resident status by the end of their first year.

Productions and Practicum Work

One feature of the study at FSU is the practicum program. Practicum acknowledges the legitimacy of unique artistic production-oriented work not normally equated with classroom course work. The practicum program allows students and their advisers to plan and execute an individualized track to meet the students’ particular needs, interests and career goals.

The practicum for Costume Design students may include: Costume Designer; Assistant to the Costume Designer; Dyer/Painter; Milliner; Wigs/Make Up Designer; Pattern Maker.

School of Theatre Production Season

Six shows are fully produced per season including two musicals. Previous seasons have included: Shakespeare in Love, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Tartuffe, Twelfth Night, Cat in the Hat, In the Heights, Eurydice, The Addams Family, Cloud 9, Ragtime, Almost Maine, Romeo and Juliet, Pinkalious, and many more.


Advanced Costume Design

Explores various periods of costume history through theatrical design projects. Special sections of the class are devoted to: Costume research techniques – traditional and Internet; Textiles – fibers and fabric identification and knowledge of weaves; Production process – from script to dress rehearsals; Communication process – director and the design team; Professional costume designers – current and past; Resume and portfolio development; Job search, interviewing, contracts, career opportunities.

Dance Costume Design and Film and TV Costume Design

Explores other areas of costume design including: film, dance, commercials, musical reviews, etc., through projects, research and discussion of venues. Special sections of the class are devoted to production and costume photography techniques.

Costume Technology Classes

Patterning – Flat Pattern and Draping; Couture Sewing; Millinery (buckram construction, felt and straw blocking, wire frame); Fabric Modification (dyeing techniques, hand painting and printing) Costume Crafts (masks, crowns, armor, jewelry, etc.), Wig and Makeup Design.

Other Required Classes

Costume History Seminar, which includes research techniques from actual historical period garments; Graduate Dramaturgy or Play Analysis; Advanced Costume Rendering; Computer Costume Rendering and Costume Rendering Workshop


Costume Shop Equipment and Facilities

Sewing / Patterning Room: Industrial sewing machines; Industrial hemmer; Overlock machines; Industrial steam iron and table; Domestic sewing machines including Bernina; Several large cutting tables; Industrial dress forms in various sizes/styles; Extensive period pattern files

Dye and Craft Room: Digital Textile Printing Machine; Industrial dye vat; Industrial hood vent; Industrial dryer; Safety station – eyewash and emergency shower; Workbench and work tables; Fabric steamer; Patch machine for leather; Hat steamer and other millinery equipment such as hat blocks; Flammables cabinet and other cabinets for craft and dye supplies

Costume Storage: Large hanging stock with costumes organized by period, type, gender, and size; Large folded stock in labeled boxes organized by period, type, gender, and size; Hat and shoe room organized by period, type, gender, and size

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 course work 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 of 3.0 on a Masters degree from an accredited university; OR an acceptable score on the combined verbal and quantitative portions of the Graduate Record Examination taken within the last 5 years
    • Interview with Costume Faculty: URTA, LiNK, USITT, SETC or on campus
    • Portfolio or Website with renderings, production photos, art work, technical costume work, etc.
    • Specific approval of the faculty and program director within the School of Theatre
    • Applicants must submit a completed School of Theatre graduate application and supporting materials.


MFA Costume Design Program Flyer

Graduate Application PDF

Graduate Application Word Doc

Recruitment Handout

Costume Design Typical Plan of Study

More Information


Jacki Armit
Associate Professor of Costume Technology
239 Fine Arts Building
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1160