The Master of Fine Arts in Lighting Design program at Florida State University provides students with training in the art and practice of lighting design. The program is designed to give students the skills they need to continue their growth as lighting designers in the performing arts or live entertainment. Design students will develop an in-depth knowledge of the interdisciplinary work needed to bring a lighting design from the script to the stage and the technical skills to manage modern lighting systems effectively.
Each MFA Lighting Design student will design at least three productions while at FSU. A portfolio of professionally documented and creatively executed design work is required for graduation. In addition to applying to the program, students must also apply to Florida State University.
First-year Lighting Design MFA students serve as production assistant designers and electricians. Opportunities exist for students to design student-directed projects. The second-year students design season subscription shows. The third-year students will continue this trajectory with an MFA Creative Final Project or practical thesis, designing for a season subscription show, or other design projects that suit the student’s abilities and career goals. Most students will graduate with at least four realized productions in their portfolio.
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, Imogen Says Nothing, In the Heights, The Importance of Being Earnest, Last Stop on Market Street, Bulrusher, Men on Boats, and Eurydice. Unsupported work includes MFA Director One-Acts and devised theatre projects.
With advisor permission, students can work with the FSU Film School, Opera Department, Dance Department, and FSU Flying High Circus either designing a project or as an assistant designer, or working as overhire in their production department. Students can learn and develop their technical skills through these practical experiences.
Florida State University’s MFA Lighting Design 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 receive constant feedback and learning opportunities. All faculty and staff mentors are active professionals in their respective fields, bringing industry best practices back to production and classroom experiences. MFA students may participate in conferences and industry trips and work professionally alongside their mentors as opportunity permits.
Assistantship includes a tuition waiver for 60 hours over three years plus a yearly stipend of $18,000. Students must acquire in-state resident status by the end of their first year. Assistantship work includes various production tasks, including hang and focus, programming, shop organization, fixture maintenance, and other technical work. Production work is assigned with student success and career goals in mind. Third-year students have the opportunity to teach undergraduate design and technology courses.
Design classes engage with various production styles, asking students to design lighting for theatre, live entertainment, and themed attractions. Discussions of best practices in design include collaborative interaction, script analysis, research techniques, oral and visual communication skills, and critical thinking.
Classes in lighting technology emphasize problem-solving, efficiency in programming lighting consoles, modeling 3D spaces, and previsualizing designs with Augmented3D, Grand MA3, and Capture applications. Courses in automated lighting, resource management, and safety encourage the effective integration of technology to maximize design potential.
Integrated design immerses students in a world of diverse design disciplines and production environments where innovation thrives through collaboration. Upending traditional design roles gives students a well-rounded perspective to find creative solutions for the next generation of productions, events, and attractions. With electives ranging from opera to interior design, film to dance, students tailor their educational experience to achieve their unique career goals.
Venues: The Fallon Theatre is a 490-seat proscenium fly house with 200 lighting fixtures, including LEDs and Moving Lights. The Lab Theatre is a 150-seat black box with 90 lighting fixtures, including LEDs. The Conradi Theatre is a 150-seat proscenium fly house with 70 fixtures.
Lighting and Show Control Lab: 950 sq. ft design and technology studio with EOS and Grand MA3 consoles, 30 conventional fixtures, 40 color-changing LEDs, and 20 moving lights. The Show Control Lab has two QLab Studios and three scenery automation systems.
Lighting Shop: Over 1900 sq. ft of on-site storage and lighting workspace.
CAB Studio and Electronics Lab
Todd Wren (he/him)
Associate Professor of Lighting Design and Lighting Technology
Director, MFA Lighting Design Program
325 Fine Arts Building
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1160