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Applying to the MFA Design Program

Our next admissions deadline for the MFA Design Program will be January 22, 2024 for Autumn 2024 admittance. This program accepts candidates every other year.

Questions? Please take a look around our website, then:

  • For questions about the program, please contact the head of the program - Andy Smith at  ads7@uw.edu.
  • 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 uwdrama@uw.edu.

General application procedures

The deadline to submit the below application materials to the School of Drama is January 22.

Applicants to the Design program must submit a portfolio representative of their work, a personal artist statement, three recommendation letters, a set of unofficial transcripts, and the applicant must schedule an interview with the Design faculty. Portfolios may be submitted as a digital file or a link to a website. Interviews with the Design faculty may be via zoom, phone, or in person (preferred). If the applicant chooses to interview in Seattle, it is expected that applicant brings the portfolio with them to interview with the Design faculty and sits in on graduate design classes. The Graduate School application fee of $85 is not required until AFTER an applicant has been accepted into the program. Other required application materials and fees are detailed below. The GRE is not required for any applicant. International applicants must meet minimum TOEFL or IELTS scores and other Graduate School requirements

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


The portfolio is an opportunity to show us who you are as an artist and a theater maker. The portfolio may include previous set, costume, and/or lighting designs. It may also incorporate other forms of storytelling such as installation design, performance, directing, or multimedia work.  

In addition to finished work and past projects, the portfolio should have progress work such as sketches, models, storyboards, drafting, etc. It is particularly desirable to see examples of drawing, painting or lighting not intended as theatre design projects, but that relate to your aesthetic eye or interests: figure drawing, landscape or architectural sketching, sculpture, wearable art, lighting installations, photography etc. 

Work should demonstrate strong graphic skills and the ability to engage with storytelling through design and performance.


A personal interview is required after the applicant submits their materials. We highly recommend that you interview in Seattle, although zoom and phone interviews are also possible. Interviews are held in Seattle from mid-November through February 2, with a limited number scheduled each week.   

Applicants are invited to visit classes in the morning before the interview. It's recommended to have your Seattle in-person interview by February 2. If this timeframe doesn't work for your travel plans, please reach out to us directly to make other arrangements.

Application Materials and Process

  • PLEASE NOTE: Applicants will first apply to the School of Drama directly. Please email the following to uwdrama@uw.edu with the subject heading: Design MFA Application [Name of Applicant].  Application materials received after January 22 cannot be guaranteed consideration for admission.
  • Accepted applicants will be required to apply online to the Office of Graduate Admissions upon acceptance. Graduate Admissions charges an application fee of $85. A waiver is available in cases of academic hardship.

Submit the following directly to uwdrama@uw.edu: 

  1. Design Interview Form
  2. Portfolio (digital file or website acceptable) 
  3. A current résumé of training and experience in your field. 
  4. A personal artist statement including educational and professional goals. 
  5. Three letters of recommendation. Each recommendation must state whether the letter is or is not available for review by the applicant by completing the Letter of Recommendation Form here. You can include these forms with your other application materials, or have your recommenders include the form with their letters. Please have your recommender email letters of recommendation directly to the School of Drama, uwdrama@uw.eduRecommendations should come from individuals (for example, professors, mentors, directors, designers, and collaborators) familiar with the applicant’s creative and professional work. 
  6. One set of unofficial transcripts.