Costume Design

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Building on a tradition for thoroughly training designers in professional standards and practices, students from the graduate program in Costume Design regularly produces award-winning designs. Enrollment is kept intentionally low so that each student has the highly intensive and individualized attention that is the hallmark of the three-year mentorship program. A distinctive feature of the program is that students see their designs realized not only on the VCU mainstage but at other Richmond theatres as well.

The Costume Design MFA integrates extensive theoretical and practical training. Graduate design courses are structured to address the specific needs of developing the individual student’s skills and talents. This professional design training is grounded in traditional academic studies in theatre history, theory and criticism, and literature.

The MFA in Theatre: Costume Design integrates extensive training in costume design, costume history, and technical skill. Rendering and portfolio building, as well as computer drafting, with practicums and professional internships at local theatres complete the professional skills program. This professional design training is grounded in traditional academic studies in theatre history, theory and criticism, and literature. Second and third year students are expected to divide their time between the campus and other theatres.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the School of the Arts admission requirements, applicants in Costume Design must have completed a minimum of 30 semester credits in theatre at the undergraduate level. Professional experience will be considered.

The applicant is required to present a portfolio of work for consideration as part of the admissions process. This portfolio should include representative work from studio studies as well as realized designs for production. Slides and photographs may be used. Examples of work demonstrating rendering techniques as well as scene painting (for scene designers) should be included.

Any questions regarding the portfolio presentation should be addressed to the Head of Design, Tony Leslie James at tljames@vcu.edu. In addition to the portfolio presentation, the applicant will arrange a personal interview with a committee of the faculty through the Director of Graduate Studies/Theatre.

Core Requirements

All candidates for the degree in Professional Studio: Scene Design must satisfy the following core requirements:
• Theatre History, Literature & Criticism 12 credits
• Topical Seminars 6 credits

Costume Design: Typical Program Pattern

Semester One

Costume Design, Costume History, Technical Skills
Core Requirements
Practicum: Costume Design practicum

Semester Two

Costume Design, Costume History,Technical Skills
Core Requirements
Practicum: Costume Design practicum

Semester Three

Costume Design, Scene Painting, Scene Design
Core Requirements
Practicum: Costume Design practicum/internship
(may be qualifying project)

Semester Three

Costume Design, Scene Painting, Scene Design
Core Requirements
Practicum: Costume Scene Design practicum/internship
(may be qualifying project).

Semester Four

Costume Design, Scene Painting, Scene Design
Core Requirements
Practicum: Costume Scene Design practicum/internship
(may be qualifying project).

Semester Five

Professional Internship (which may include thesis/project)
Costume Design
Core Requirements
Practicum: Costume Design practicum/ internship.

Semester Six

Professional Internship (which may include thesis/project)
Lighting Design
Core Requirements
Practicum: Costume Scene Design practicum/internship

Go to  VCU Graduate School for general information.

For additional information you may contact the Director of Graduate Studies/Theatre, Noreen C. Barnes, PhD at nbarnesm@vcu.edu.

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For course descriptions click here.

For course requirements for Costume Design see the VCU Graduate Bulletin here.