MFA in Production Design trestle

Production Design

MFA in Production Design

HAIR

Scenic design for 'HAIR' by Paula Wang, MFA '11

Inspire audiences with innovative productions

Production design is the creation of a story's environment — conveying tone and era while transporting the audience into another world. Every movie, TV show, play and event requires a carefully crafted and thought-out aesthetic to actualize the vision of the work. The production designer operates as a guide to the setting of the narrative, and influences many aspects of creative direction — from make-up to lighting and special effects.  

For artists looking to establish a career in this inventive field, our three-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Production Design provides opportunities in the areas of costume, lighting and scenery design.

Program Highlights

Our students gain the hands-on experience needed to develop a repertoire of skills across the many aspects of production. This program also connects students directly to the vibrant professional arts community of Washington, D.C. Some of the unique advantages include:

  • Individual instruction with faculty artists who are actively working in professional theatre, dance, television and special events
  • Intensive full-time apprenticeships with critically-acclaimed artists at nationally recognized theaters, including Arena Stage, the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Olney Theatre Center
  • Inspiring opportunities to see and work in the rich artistic community of the greater Washington, D.C. area, considered the second largest theatre market in the country, the largest video market in the world and the location of many of this nation’s grandest special events
  • A strong record of successful professional placement of graduates throughout the theater community and related industries

Academics

Each candidate will work with the design faculty to develop a customized three-year MFA program of study. Our training emphasizes production design for theater and dance as well as the related arts of film, television, exhibit design and special events.

All programs include 9-18 credits of full-time apprenticeship at a local professional theater, studies in secondary design areas and cross-discipline training in the allied arts. Courses of study are tailored to specific concentrations in costume, scenery or lighting design. These tracks also include general studies in art and design.

 

1st Year

 

Fall

Spring

  • Period & Styles

  • Costume Design

  • Design Elective*

  • Pattern Making

  • Scenic Design

  • Design Elective*

2nd Year

 

Fall

Spring

  • Advanced Costume Design

  • Ind. Study (Mainstage Design)

  • Design Elective*

Professional Apprenticeship

3rd year

 

Fall

Spring

  • Thesis Research I (Mainstage Design)

  • Lighting Design

  • Design Elective*

  • Thesis Research II (Written Thesis)

  • Ind. Study (Mainstage Design)

  • Design Elective*

* Design electives can include theater special topics classes or appropriate classes in art, event management, interior design or museum studies.

 

1st Year

 

Fall

Spring

  • Period & Styles

  • Scenic Design

  • Design Elective*

  • Production Drafting

  • Lighting Design

  • Design Elective*

2nd Year

 

Fall

Spring

  • Advanced Lighting Design

  • Ind. Study (Mainstage Design)

  • Design Elective*

Professional Apprenticeship

3rd Year

 

Fall

Spring

  • Thesis Research I (Mainstage Design)

  • Costume Design

  • Design Elective*

  • Thesis Research II (Written Thesis)

  • Ind. Study (Mainstage Design)

  • Design Elective*

* Design electives can include theater special topics classes or appropriate classes in art, event management, interior design or museum studies.

 

1st Year

 

Fall

Spring

  • Period & Styles

  • Lighting Design

  • Design Elective*

  • Production Drafting

  • Scenic Design

  • Design Elective*

2nd Year

 

Fall

Spring

  • Professional Apprenticeship

  • Advanced Lighting Design

  • Ind. Study (Mainstage Design)

  • Design Elective*

3rd Year

 

Fall

Spring

  • Thesis Research I (Mainstage Design)

  • Lighting Design

  • Design Elective*

  • Thesis Research II (Written Thesis)

  • Ind. Study (Mainstage Design)

  • Design Elective*

* Design electives can include theater special topics classes or appropriate classes in art, event management, interior design or museum studies.

Outcomes

When they complete our program, graduates are prepared to lead in their field. They have gone on to serve as designers and directors at various prominent locations in relevant industries including:

  • CNN D.C. Bureau
  • Smithsonian Air & Space Museum
  • HGTV
  • Veritas Scenic
  • Shenandoah University
  • Greenberg Theater, American University
  • Folger Shakespeare Theater

 


"GW enables a student to travel down the path toward success. Finding work was never a problem. At GW, I never worried about my future."

David Robinson

Lighting Director
CNN D.C. Bureau


Application Process

Applicants must complete the online application and submit all required materials.

Apply to MFA in Production Design

Financial Aid

Opportunities on how you can help fund your graduate education are available through our Office of Financial Aid. The Office of Graduate Student Assistantships and Fellowships has specific information on funding opportunities at this level of your education.

Partnerships

We’ve  developed strategic relationships with local professional companies to provide an intensive apprenticeship program as part of our Production Design MFA. Many additional professional opportunities with local companies are available to meet each individual students' goals.

Olney Theater Center
A professional, award-winning regional theater, Olney operates under an Actors' Equity Association Council of Stock Theaters (COST) contract.

Arena Stage
Arena Stage today stands as a flagship American theater. It is one of the first not-for-profit theaters in the US as well as a pioneer of the regional theater movement.

Folger Shakespeare Theatre
Folger Theatre annually performs a season of innovative productions designed to forge strong connections with modern audiences.

 


Program Contacts

Building XX
814 20th Street NW, 3rd Floor
Washington, DC 20052
Phone: 202-994-8072 | Fax: 202-994-9403 
[email protected]

 

Full Time Faculty

Carl Gudenius
Professor of Production Design
Special Assistant for Productions & Performances

[email protected]

Sigridur Johannesdottir
Associate Professor of Costume Design & Technology
[email protected]

John Traub
Assistant Professor of Production Management & Technology
[email protected]

For a full list of Theatre Faculty, including adjunct professors, see the Faculty page.