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Applying to the MFA Design Program

Applications for 2020 admissions are now closed. We will next be admitting for fall of 2022, info on our web site in October 2021.

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

  • For questions about the program, please contact the head of the program - Andy Smith 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 schedule an interview with the Design faculty. Portfolios may be delivered as hard copy via post, or emailed as a pdf or a link to a website.  Interviews with the Design faculty may be via phone, skype, or in person. If the applicant chooses to interview in Seattle, it is expected that applicants bring the portfolio with them 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 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 January through mid-February, with a limited number scheduled each week. Interviews are held when possible in the afternoon on Tuesdays (for scenic and costume applicants) or Thursdays (for lighting applicants) and applicants are invited to visit classes in the morning before the interview. 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 Seattle in-person interview by February 20, 2020.


Work should demonstrate strong graphic skills and the ability to devise effective design solutions to the problems posed by a script. The portfolio may include sketches, paintings, photographs of realized work or of models, and other graphic work.  It may include hand and/or computer-aided drafting.  It is particularly desirable for the portfolio to include examples of drawing, painting or lighting not intended as theatre design projects, but that relate to the applicant’s aesthetic eye or interests: figure drawing, landscape or architectural sketching, sculpture, wearable art, lighting installations, photography etc.

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 in Seattle with faculty in the Design program is January 31, 2020 - we need to have the design interview form, interview fee and portfolio (PDF, link to web site, or hard copy all acceptable) by this date. 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 scores and other Graduate School requirements .

Application Materials

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

  1. Your portfolio:  hard copy, pdf, or website acceptable, or bring this with you if you are interviewing in person.
  2. Design interview form for 2020 (PDF) and $60 interview fee.  You may pay with check or money order, payable to UW School of Drama, or online with a 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. The recommender may also email their letter directly to or submit the letter through the Graduate Admissions web site (below).
  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.