Stage design is considered to be part of the field of fine arts and entry into a professional career requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Very few degrees specifically in stage design exist. Most schools incorporate stage design as a major component in their Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts in design and technology programs. Ideal programs provide hands-on experience to students with internships, assistantships and apprenticeships and partner with technical unions such as the International Alliance of Technical Stage Employees.
The Northwestern University School of Communication
The Northwestern University School of Communication is one of the few schools in the U.S. that offers a Master of Fine Arts in stage design. The MFA program incorporates hands-on production and design experience with renowned artists in the field and allows for numerous employment opportunities upon completion. Students in this program may be offered full assistantships which include full tuition waivers and an annual stipend. Assistantships allow students to complete production shop assignments supervising production crews, designing main stage productions, and teaching undergraduate design classes. Internships are also available to students to spend up to one year working with a theater production company.
Northern Illinois University
Northern Illinois University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts School of Theater and Dance offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts in design and technology. Students study design such as drawing and painting and complete coursework in theater history, period styles and directing. Specialized classes in theater technology as well as computer-assisted design and computer rendering are also offered. The BFA is designed as pre-professional with direct entry into the MFA program. Students in the MFA program gain hands-on experience in the world of stage design both on and off campus.
University of California, Los Angeles
The University of California - Los Angeles School of Theater, Film and Television offers a Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts in design for theater and entertainment media. This program focuses heavily on all aspects of stage design. and includes courses that provide advanced professional training in scenic design, costume design, lighting design and sound design taught by internationally renowned artists. Theater internships provide real world experience with many students receiving employment upon graduation.
University of Kansas
The University of Kansas School of the Arts offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theater design and a Master of Fine Arts in scenography. The scenography program is based on the idea that theatrical designers in the 21st century must be fluent in all areas of theater design rather than study separate programs in set, costume and lighting design. This ensures the entire stage is taken into account from an artistic point of view. Scholarships are available to students; however, internships and apprenticeships are not offered currently.