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Theatre - Lighting Design

Illinois State's Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Lighting Design program is dedicated to the development of individual students to reach their professional goals within the field of theatrical lighting design.

The three-year Lighting Design program is an intensive blend of theory and practice. Students can expect to design up to six fully produced shows during their MFA studies. They collaborate alongside a team of creative colleagues and foster working relationships which serve as the foundation for future internships and professional designs.

Illinois State provides unique teaching opportunities and training alongside a comprehensive curriculum. It provokes intellectual curiosity and demands articulate communication of intangible design solutions. The program fuses theatrical design theory with a fresh perspective on contemporary psychological and physiological lighting science.

Studying alongside professional designers and directors, students will leave this program with extensive portfolios and introspective comprehension. They will be prepared for a variety of professions within the field of lighting design. Learn more about design opportunities in the Lighting Design program.

Graduates of the program work successfully in regional, commercial and university theatres nationwide.


The plan of study for graduate Lighting Design candidates is tailored to meet the needs of the individual student. Learn more about the Lighting Design curriculum.

Professional Practice

The Illinois Shakespeare Festival offers MFA students the opportunity to assist accomplished professional designers from around the country. Graduate students may also seek out internship opportunities in professional theatres and shops nationwide. Students are encouraged to pursue professional work during the summers to gain new insights and to build networks.

University Admission Requirements

A student applying to a master's program must:

  • have earned a four-year bachelor's degree or its equivalent from a college or university that is accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting association, or do so within one academic year
  • have a minimum 2.8 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) for the last 60 hours of undergraduate work
  • present official transcripts from each college or university other than Illinois State at which graduate, undergraduate, or non-degree credit was earned. Transcripts can be emailed from the university to or mailed in a sealed envelope to: Office of Admissions, 201 Hovey Hall, Campus Box 2200, Normal, IL 61790-2200

International students can learn more about specific application requirements by visiting the Office of Admissions.

Additional Program Admission Requirements

A student applying to this program must:

  • submit a current resume.
  • provide three professional or academic letters of recommendation.
  • interview with a member of the faculty. Interviews are held at U/RTA sites in Chicago and New York or on the Illinois State campus.

Design written materials must be submitted by February 15 to:

School of Theatre and Dance
Campus Box 5700
Normal, IL 61790-5700

For more information regarding MFA in Lighting Design, contact Dan Ozminkowski.

Admission Dates and Deadlines

Term Application Deadline
Fall  February 16 

Graduate Assistantship Information

The University provides graduate assistantships as a means of financial support. They are intended as a way to facilitate a student's progress to degree while providing important professional development.


To be eligible for an assistantship a student must, generally,

  • be admitted unconditionally as a degree-seeking student into a graduate academic program, or have a minimum of 120 undergraduate hours if in an integrated degree program
  • be in good-standing
  • be enrolled full-time (typically at least 9 credit hours during the fall or spring semesters, or at least 6 hours during the summer session).


Graduate assistants receive

  • monthly wages paid in the form of either a stipend or an hourly wage
  • a waiver for 100% of tuition during a semester of appointment
  • a waiver for up to 12 credit hours of tuition for the summer term immediately following a fall or spring appointment

Cost & Funding

See Student Accounts for information on tuition and fees. Funding for graduate students is available from several different sources. Students who have been admitted from continuous states including Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin will receive in-state tuition.

Graduate Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone
Ann Haugo  Centennial West 201C  (309) 438-5871 
2016-08-30T13:46:29.206-05:00 2016