If you dream of working behind the scenes in theatre, the action starts here.
The Costume Design Emphasis of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design and Production program is crafted for talented designers in preparation for a professional career in theatre and related fields. The program gives students the opportunity to explore and expand their artistic and visual expression while learning practical experience. We provide hands-on, intensive training in a variety of costume design and technology classes, such as Costume Rendering, Pattern Drafting, and Fashion History. Our students have the opportunity to design costumes for both our main stage and second stage seasons.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design and Production degree prepares you to work professionally in both design and technical positions in professional and educational theatre, cruise ships, theme parks, sales and production companies, creative display design, historical renovation, museum installation, mural and faux finishers, and industrial design and production.
The degree allows students to specialize in one of five emphases:
Through practical and theoretical course work and hands-on involvement in multiple realized productions, you will discover what it means to be a proficient, working member of a production team. Upon completion of the program, you will have gained the tools necessary to engage successfully in the entertainment industry.
Minor in This Program
Shenandoah Conservatory offers minors in Music, Theatre, and Dance for all Shenandoah University students. Acceptance into conservatory minors must be approved by the Division/Department Chair, and some minors require an audition.
Declaring a Minor
Shenandoah students work with their Academic Advisor to declare a minor. Academic Advisors will continue to work with students to ensure that they fulfill all of the requirements to complete the minor.
Incoming students should not indicate their intended minor on their Shenandoah application. Applications are for intended majors only.
Costume design students are often employed by us for our professional summer theatre company, Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre, which produces four large musicals every season.
The Career Services office helps place Shenandoah students in internships related to their major and career goals. Internships differentiate you as an applicant in your future job searches, gives you hands on experience in your field, allows you to sample different career paths for your major, and helps your find a specific position that fits your passion before graduation.
Career Possibilities and Preparation
Shenandoah’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design and Production is a pre-professional training program that prepares you for entry into the industry or to pursue a graduate degree. The degree prepares you to work professionally in both design and technical positions in professional and educational theatre, cruise ships, theme parks, sales and production companies, creative display design, historical renovation, museum installation, mural and faux finishers, and industrial design and production.
Resume and portfolio preparation taught every semester, including professional websites. The program enables students to graduate with an impressive portfolio of renderings and photographs of realized work..
Hands-on preparation for participation in professional theatre conferences, connecting students with professional career opportunities in the summer and after graduation.
Opportunities to work in the Costume Shop through work study and class time, which both trains students in professional costume construction standards and provides opportunities to create portfolio material.
The Career Services Office provides a comprehensive range of services and resources to assist Shenandoah students in their career search. Services offered include resume and cover letter building, mock interviews, and professional dining etiquette workshops.
Opportunities to design for a variety of repertoire, both onstage and in class. Costuming classes include two costume design classes and one rendering class, which hone students’ design and rendering skills.
Independent studies often available in advanced topics such as dyework and costume crafts.
Opportunities as undergraduates to design costumes for at least two productions, and often more.
Freshmen costume design majors take classes in Stage Costuming and Makeup, introductory classes in the discipline, as well as Stage Craft or Stage Lighting. Theatre Drawing and Graphic Arts for Design are intensive graphics class for designers, and prepare students for more advanced design courses.
Sophomores complete the introductory design/technical theatre sequence with either Stage Craft or Stage Lighting. Costume Construction is an advanced sewing class that covers many techniques and includes the building of a period corset. History of Fashion I and II are essential components of the degree, looking at how history is reflected in clothing. Advanced Stage Makeup explores wigs and facial hair, masks, special effects, and advanced techniques such as slush casting. Students also now attend Technical Theatre Practicum, a weekly meeting of all design/technology upperclassmen to discuss current productions and to develop resumes and website portfolios. As sophomores, students assist faculty members with costume designs for season productions.
Juniors take Costume Rendering, a course devoted to developing rendering skills (both paper and digital), as well as Pattern Drafting, an advanced course in making theatrical patterns. Juniors also take classes in Scenic Design, Lighting Design, and Directing, to ensure that they are well-rounded theatre professionals. Students usually have their first realized design as juniors; either on the 2nd Stage season or the Theatre for Youth touring production.
Students will have the opportunity through their Technical Theatre Theses to realize two designed shows; often, students will also design pieces for the Faculty Dance Concerts. History of Theatre 1 and 2 introduce students to the history of our field. Juniors and seniors also take their choice of six technical production electives.
Our small class sizes allow for one-on-one, hands-on mentoring. Over the course of your four years in the program, you will gain actual experience in every type of major production responsibility within your emphasis, including multiple chances to work with professional artists in seeing productions through from start to finish.
Shenandoah’s pre-professional training program allows you to choose from five emphases, but you’ll learn about each, which will make you both versatile and specialized as you pursue a professional career in theatre design and production.
Learning support services are available to all students in every course at Shenandoah. Free peer tutoring with a student who has previously succeeded in the course is available for any course across the university. The Writing Center is available for every stage of the writing process from thesis development to proofreading and bibliography assistance. The Math Enrichment Center is available for math and science assistance. Professors and Academic Advisors across the university also have office hours and open door policies to ensure Shenandoah students succeed academically.
Performance Opportunities and Ensembles
Shenandoah Conservatory produces more than 400 performances each year. Enroll in a dynamic curriculum and start preparing for a meaningful career in the arts. You will practice your craft in front of audiences and develop a plan for your professional launch into the industry that focuses on your personal desires and aspirations.
Embrace extensive performance opportunities with top-tier facilities from theatres, concert halls and dance studios. Unite with fellow artists and join an alumni family that takes center stage from Broadway to the concert halls of Europe.
Shenandoah Conservatory is home to more than 20 instrumental, vocal, and dance ensembles that present numerous performances every year. These performances take place throughout Shenandoah University’s vibrant campus on its various stages, including a concert hall, recital hall, proscenium stage, black box studio, outdoor amphitheater and more, to venues and performance spaces in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and around the world. Ensembles constantly engage with Shenandoah’s dynamic faculty and an array of distinguished guest artists through residencies, workshops and unique performance opportunities.
Experience the world-renowned Shenandoah Conservatory. Study with master teachers – more than 100 professionals in music, theatre, dance and arts management.
Shenandoah Conservatory’s prestigious faculty is dynamic, creative, and passionately committed to the highest levels of artistic excellence. A deeply caring community, they mentor students with a wealth of professional expertise, balancing rigorous expectations with compassion and wisdom. At Shenandoah, you will study with, and perform for, award-winning composers, Metropolitan Opera singers, Grammy Award winning conductors and international competition winners. You will learn from leading scholars in music and premiere works created by accomplished dance artists and cutting-edge directors. Shenandoah Conservatory’s faculty embodies the highest levels of professional accomplishment and the deepest commitment to furthering the artistic growth and creative aspirations of students in every discipline.
Costume Designer; Associate Professor, TheatreFull Biography
Jennifer Flitton Adams
Costume Designer; Associate Professor, Costume DesignFull Biography
Students interested in this program should also look into these other majors, graduate degrees, minors, and certificates.
These minors complement this program well:
Most students in this program choose to continue their education by earning a graduate degree:
Application and Audition Information
Admission to Shenandoah Conservatory is highly competitive. Not only must students be academically admissible, they must also complete and pass the mandatory audition/portfolio review and interview process. Audition dates are limited and may fill and close well in advance of the audition date.
Undergraduate Applicant Materials
- Complete the Undergraduate Application
- Submit official high school transcripts from each institution attended
- Submit official SAT or ACT test scores
- Register for an Audition and Interview
Learn more about Shenandoah Conservatory Audition Requirements
All applicants will be interviewed by a member of the Theatre Design & Production faculty during their on campus audition visit. During the interview, the candidate will submit a resume and present a portfolio designed to appropriately represent their work and experience. Suggested portfolio contents are listed below for each area of emphasis, however applicants are encouraged to include any additional materials that represent their individualized artistic range, skills and interests including, but not limited to, theatre.
Costume Design applicants should include photographs of your work, drafting or design sketches, artwork, and programs. Letters of recommendation in support of the applicant are recommended
Make studying abroad the highlight of your college experience! Whether you go for a year, a semester, or just a few weeks, you will never forget learning in another culture! The Center for International Programs is here to help you plan your study abroad experience. Start your planning early to ensure the courses you complete abroad count toward your degree and you graduate on time.
Global Experiential Learning (GEL) Program
The Global Experiential Learning (GEL) Program offers Shenandoah students a short-term, faculty-led, study-abroad experience for academic credit. These short-term, credit-bearing, faculty-led programs are offered winter break, spring break, and during the summer. If a course is not within your major, it might be used as an elective.
Shenandoah University is a member of the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), a global network of 300 universities. This partnership allows students to study for a full semester or year at other member campuses abroad. By working closely with their academic advisors and the study abroad advisor, students can take classes taught in English abroad while receiving Shenandoah credit.
Shenandoah University also maintains direct partnerships with several universities around the world. These relationships allow students from SU to study abroad as exchange students and students from these universities to study at SU. All partner universities offer courses taught in English.
Fast-Track to Arts Management
4 + 1 PALM Option
The Master of Science in Performing Arts Leadership and Management is designed to provide future performing arts executives and artistic leaders with the industry skills required in the 21st century. The accelerated program in Performing Arts Leadership and Management is available for current Shenandoah Conservatory undergraduates who, upon completion of their undergraduate degree, wish to obtain a Master of Science in Performing Arts Leadership and Management in just one year. Students who are accepted into the accelerated program will begin to take arts leadership and management courses during their undergraduate studies and register for internship during the summer between senior year and their final year of graduate study.