MFA in Design and Technology

The Master of Fine Arts Program in Design and Technology in the School of Theatre, Television, and Film at San Diego State University accepts students who are seriously interested in achieving the artistry and skills necessary to become practicing professionals in the fields of theatre, television, and/or film. A balance of theoretical coursework, studio work, and production is achieved through the curriculum and close consultation with faculty advisors. While the learning environment is protective enough to enable our students to succeed, direct exposure to the diverse and richly active theatre life in San Diego and its environs is an important element of the program. Students work with theatre professionals both within and outside the academic environment.

Our three-year degree program has emphases in scenic, costume, lighting, projection, and sound design and technology, as well as technical direction. Under normal circumstances no more than two students are admitted into each emphasis per year. This allows ample opportunity for design and individual guidance from the faculty. MFA students are allowed to design as much as their individual capabilities permit, as well as participate in an intensive internship – often working as an assistant to a professional designer or in a television or film studio.

The MFA in Design and Technology at San Diego State University provides the essential education, technical training, and creative experience necessary for professional careers or college-level teaching. The three years our students spend with us should be among the most rewarding and fulfilling of their lives.

Review the Graduate Degree Learning Outcomes

Design and Technology faculty and Staff

Sample Program Outlines

The sample program outlines below are simply examples of how a student could structure his or her program. While these will give prospective students an idea of when to take certain classes during a course of study, they are not mandates. Students should discuss their educational and professional goals with an advisor to create tailored programs suiting their individual needs.

Sample Roadmaps can be viewed and downloaded here:

For a complete listing of all graduate courses and official course descriptions, please visit the SDSU Graduate Bulletin

How to Apply

The Fall 2020 application deadlines are

Cal State Apply Application-March 2, 2020

Submit Documents to Graduate Admissions-April 1, 2020

Submit Supplemental Documents to Department-April 1, 2020

Application to the MFA program at San Diego State University is a two-fold process.

  1. First, you must make formal application to the University. Graduate admission forms are available on-line at GRE General Test scores are required, but may be waived based on GPA after application to the university. For information regarding international students, please refer to the International Student Center for Prospective Students.

  2. Second, you must request a portfolio review and interview. Please contact:
    • Professor Anne E. McMills

      Head of Lighting Design
      School of Theatre, Television, and Film
      San Diego State University
      San Diego, CA 92182-0219

  3. Third, you must submit a resume and three letters of recommendation to the contact above.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate Assistantships

Most of our students in the MFA program receive some sort of financial assistance. Many of them are awarded Graduate Assistantships in the department. The G.A. stipends range from $1,100 – $4,400 per semester and requires that the student devote 5 – 20 hours per week working in some area of production. Most often, students work in an area related to their design emphasis. Out-of-state tuition waivers are available to those students who qualify. For those students particularly interested in teaching, laboratory and classroom experience is available. When making application to the program, speak to your area advisor for information concerning Graduate Assistantships.


The 60-63 unit MFA program consists of the course work listed below:

I. A Foundation of 27 Units of Core Theatre Courses:

- THEA 559 - Scene Design II , 3 units
- THEA 547 - Lighting Design II, 3 units
- THEA 552 - Costume Design II, 3 units
- THEA 530 A/B - Period Dress and Décor, 3 units
- THEA 539 - Theatre Rendering, 2 units
- THEA 600 - Writing for the Theatre , 3 units
- TFM 610 - Seminar in Design Aesthetics for Theatre, Television, and Film, 3 units
- THEA 621 - Seminar in Theories of the Theatre , 3 units
- THEA 643 - Collaborative Studies In Design, 9 (3x) units
- THEA 644 - Contemporary Designers, 3 units
- TFM 605 - Seminar: Production for Television and Film, 3 units

II. 16 Units of Production-Related Courses:

About the Practicums:
Practicums provide credit for specialized production work. A student may assist a more advanced student, or design a fully-mounted departmental production supervised by his or her advisor. The first of these realized designs is considered a qualifying project that must be successfully completed before the student can be advanced to candidacy. A subsequent practicum is the student’s thesis production.

- THEA 640 - Business Of Design For Theatre, TV, & Film, 2 units
- THEA 642 - Theatre Practicum Skills, 4 (4x) units
- THEA 746 - Theatre Practicum Internship, 3 units
- THEA 799A - Thesis , 3 units
- THEA 790 - Directed Readings in Theatre Arts, 3 units

**NOTE: Students can take Theatre 790 or 799A.

Theatre Internship:
Professional field experience in design or technical production. The MFA design student often assists a professional designer on a regional theatre project. This internship is normally completed during the second summer of the program.

III: 7-11 Elective Units:

In consultation with their area advisor, most MFA students use their elective units for skills coursework offered by the Theatre Department or design-related coursework in the Art, English, Engineering, Business, History, or Television and Film Areas.

The following represents a sampling of other courses offered in the program; classes are not exclusive to students focusing on a given emphasis. In addition, students are encouraged to look outside the School of Theatre, Television and Film for additional enrichment. Classes in the Art, History, Dance, Music, Literature, Business and Physics programs at SDSU are all available for interested students on a case-by-case basis.

For additional curriculum details, please consult the following:
Undergraduate Catalog
Graduate Bulletin

Learn More about the program: