Applying to the MFA Design Program

Picasso costume sketch
Costume design sketch for Picasso at the Lapin Agile, costume design by Anastasia Armes
Picasso costume photo
Production photo from Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Photo: Frank Rosenstein)

Questions? Please take a look around our web site, then:

  • For questions about the program, please contact the head of the program - Professor Deborah Trout at (206)616-1785 or via email at
  • If you have any questions about the application procedure, please contact the School of Drama's graduate program advisor at (206)543-0714 or email

General application procedures

Applicants to the Design program must submit a portfolio representative of their work and interview with Design faculty. They may mail the portfolio to the School of Drama and interview with a faculty member on the phone. It is expected that applicants bring it with them when they visit Seattle to interview with Design Faculty and sit in on graduate design classes. Other required application materials and fees are detailed below. The GRE is not required for any applicant.

The program generally accepts two students in each area (costume, lighting and scenic design) every year. While there is always room for the exceptional applicant, it is extremely difficult to gain admission directly out of a BA/BFA program with no other credentials.


A personal interview is highly recommended, preferably in Seattle. Interviews are held in Seattle from mid-January through February, with a limited number scheduled each week. Interviews are held when possible in the afternoon on Tuesdays (for lighting applicants) or Thursdays (for scenic and costume applicants) and applicants are invited to visit classes in the morning before the interview. We sometimes also hold limited interviews in Los Angeles at a date to be determined in February. Please contact us by e-mail if you are interested in interviewing in Los Angeles. Please fill out the MFA Design interview form completely, and indicate how and when you plan to both submit your portfolio and interview with faculty. It's recommended to have your in-person interview by February 8, 2018.


Portfolio materials need not be matted nor in a presentation case. The portfolio may include hand and computer-aided drafting, sketches, renderings, photographs of realized work or of models, and other graphic work. High quality photocopies, blue lines, duplicate slides or CDs are acceptable.; Work should be presented in chronological order and should demonstrate strong graphic skills (including accurate rendering of the human figure) and the ability to devise effective design solutions to the problems posed by a script. It is particularly desirable for the portfolio to include examples of drawing, painting or lighting not intended as theatre design projects: figure drawing, landscape, architectural sketching or lighting, lighting installations, photography etc. Again, high quality photocopies are acceptable.

For lighting design applicants, the portfolio should include examples of hand or computer drafting, two or more complete projects including a one-page statement of conceptual approach, hook-up, plot and cue ideas. It could also include samples of set sketches and life drawing.

Application Deadline

The deadline if you are scheduling a private interview with faculty in the Design program is January 29, 2018. Application materials received after that date may be reviewed but will not receive priority consideration. Applicants wishing to interview in person should make sure materials are received by the School of Drama in time to allow an interview to be scheduled.

Application Procedures

Applicants submit material to both the Office of Graduate Admissions and the School of Drama. If you have any questions about the application procedure, please contact the School of Drama's graduate program advisor at (206)543-0714 or email .

The GRE is not required for any applicant. International applicants must meet minimum TOEFL and TSE scores and other Graduate School requirements .

Application Materials

Please mail the following to: Graduate Programs, School of Drama, Box 353950, Seattle WA 98195-3950:

  1. Your portfolio (you can bring this with you if you are interviewing in person).
  2. Design interview form (PDF) and $60 interview fee.  You may pay with check or money order, payable to UW School of Drama, or with credit card. Your interview can't be scheduled until the $60 fee is received. This fee is separate from the fee charged by the Graduate School..
  3. A current résumé of training and experience in your field.
  4. Three letters of recommendation. Each recommendation must state whether the letter is or is not available for review by the applicant. These letters may be sent directly to the School or be included in your application.Cover sheet for recommendation letters.
  5. A statement of purpose including educational and professional goals.
  6. One set of unofficial transcripts.
    We will schedule your interview after we receive your MFA in Design interview form and fee.

Applicants for graduate study at the UW also apply to the Office of Graduate Admissions. You may apply on-line at: Admissions charges a separate application fee of $85.