Costume Design | Theater | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

Actors on set of Fastest Woman Alive

Costume Design

Photo above: SIU Theater production of The Fastest Woman Alive, costume design by Rebel Mickelson (MFA, Costume Design 2009), currently Costume Shop Manager at Western Illinois University.

Thank you for your interest in our MFA Design and Production (with an Emphasis in Costume Design) program here at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. The MFA in Design is a three-year sequence that includes courses in all areas of design as well as numerous electives with multiple realized design opportunities.

  • Costume design students first assist another designer on a show, then begin designing on their own. Most costume design students get at least one realized production per year.
  • When not designing, the graduate assistantship affords the student the opportunity for other positions on shows, such as draper, crafts artisan or wig or makeup designer, all of which can bring significant experience and resumé credit.
  • Classes are taught focusing on both the artistry of costume design, working closely on rendering and other design skills, as well as the technology of costume design. In the latter category, classes are taught on draping and costume construction, as well as a variety of costume crafts skills, from dyeing to wigs and millinery, and much more. In addition, classes such as Period Styles, which explores the history of costume, architecture and décor, help the student attain the background knowledge essential for the designer.
  • All the design students have regular portfolio reviews, with guidance given as to the presentation of their work. The department facilitates groups of students going to national conferences such as USITT, where students gain skills in networking and other aspects of the business of design.

The goal is that by the end of three years, the costume designer has mastered the artistic, technical, and scholarly aspects of costume design, with significant practical and theoretical experience.

For more information, please contact Head of Costume Design, Wendi Zea,