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Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
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B.F.A. in Theatre

Design your future.
Own the credits.
Behind any successful theatrical production or live performance event is a production team with the artistic drive to envision it and the technical skills to make it a reality. The B.F.A. program in Theatre Design, Technology and Management at Penn State offers students professional training and the skills to succeed in this fast-paced environment. Classes in Theatre Design, Technology and Management are taught by award winning faculty currently working in the industry and up to date with the latest technology and the best practices in the profession. During your time at Penn State you will have endless opportunities to explore every aspect of theatre production both in the classroom and on stage, and you will be given the tools and the training to meet your potential and excel as a professional in your chosen field.

Are you ready to design your future? We are here to help you succeed.

Theatre Design, Technology and Management students at Penn State have access to state-of-the-art facilities where they will gain hands-on experience in every aspect of theatre design and production.

Students can choose the Design & Technology option or the Stage Management option in this degree. Within the Design & Technology option, students may specialize in costume, lighting, scenic design, sound design or technical direction. Education in each area is led by world-class faculty with extensive experience in the industry and a deep understanding of evolving aspects of the profession.

Students in the Stage Management option will take a full range of classes in every area of production including acting, design, music fundamentals and directing, and through classwork and hands-on experiences become excellent collaborators, outstanding managers and effective leaders.

In addition to the exceptional Penn State general education curriculum, B.F.A. students in Theatre Design, Technology and Management will handle challenging production assignments and exciting design opportunities which are a fundamental component of their educational experience in our programs.

Is a B.F.A. in Theatre a good fit for you?

The Design, Technology and Management program at Penn State is a highly respected incubator for theatre design and technology professionals and stage managers with the skills to succeed in today’s job market.

Our program has one of the largest student chapters of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT). Students can attend the Institute’s annual conference, where industry leaders gather to shape the future of the field and where students can network with other professionals and a large network of successful Penn State School of Theatre alumni.

Students working toward a B.F.A. degree in Theatre Design, Technology and Management will benefit from small class sizes and specialized one-to-one training from our revered faculty. Our programs offer outstanding preparation, individualized mentorship, and foster interdisciplinary collaboration.

School of Theatre monster concept design on display.
Theatre student sitting behinds a technical control board in the Penn State TAPS facility.

Degree Options

The B.F.A. Program in Theatre Design, Technology and Management will prepare you to enter the professional world and shape the future of theatre production or live performance. We invite you to explore our two-degree options here:

– Theatre Design & Technology option
– The Stage Management option

Theatre Design & Technology

Costume Design

  • Exceptional education in costume design and costume technology through class- room and hands-on production work
  • Built on the design principles of text  and character analysis, with class projects exploring uses of color, texture, silhouette, and scale
  • Training in sewing techniques, draping, and flat pattern making, plus two semesters of fashion history
  • Accomplished undergraduate students are offered a realized costume design assignment in the School of Theatre season

Lighting Design

  • Intensive pre-professional program with all students gaining a wide range of design and technical experiences; the School of Theatre season is designed almost entirely  by undergraduate lighting design students
  • Extensive hands-on and classroom training and internship opportunities prepare students to pursue graduate study or enter the professional world right after graduation
  • In addition to working in our venues, lighting design students have 24-hour access to the School of Theatre Lighting Lab, which is one of the most advanced and well-equipped facilities of its kind

Scenic Design

  • Exceptional pre-professional training program with the mission of preparing students for a successful career in the live entertainment industry
  • Extensive design and production opportunities in the School of Theatre season
  • Students receive outstanding training in scenic art and props construction
  • Penn State scenic designers gain proficiency in contemporary digital media and traditional design presentation techniques

Sound Design

  • Coursework helps students develop the unique set of skills and talents required of sound designers
  • The sound design curriculum includes classes in the science of music, audio recording, live sound, and show control
  • Sound students design, engineer, load-in, and mix every show produced by the School of Theatre and have opportunities to work on productions for the wider University community
  • Penn State sound design alumni are currently mixing musicals on Broadway, touring nationally/internationally in music and theatre, writing music, and designing for theme parks

Technical Direction

  • Exceptional education in all aspects of scenic technology
  • Hands-on training in technical design, production management, wood working, metal working, rigging, automation, control systems, hydraulics, pneumatics, and stage machinery
  • Teaching facilities include12,000-square-foot shop and state-of-the-art rigging lab
  • Program prepares students for careers in a variety of entertainment-related fields, including theme parks, commercial scene shops, and regional theatres

Stage Management

  • One of the most established four-year stage management undergraduate degree programs in the country
  • Built on the principle of total immersion in the theatre
  • Coursework centers on the stage manager’s experience and training but also spans all of the design disciplines and craft classes in technical areas, as well as acting, directing, movement, and voice classes.
  • Penn State stage managers exit the program fully rounded in the theatrical experience and ready to join the profession

Considering the B.F.A. in Theatre at Penn State? Consider this.

Our alumni work in every area of theatre and live entertainment design, production, and management across the country.

  • Learn from world-class faculty with extensive industry experience.
  • From the start, you’ll get hands-on experience in state-of-the-art facilities.
  • Get involved in Penn State’s active student chapter of USITT.

Alumni Spotlight

Penn State provided the specialized training required to succeed in my field in the “real world,” as well as a strong network of alumni to guide me once I got there.
Penn State alumna and events professional Carolyn Quinn wearing headset.

Alumni Spotlight

Carolyn Quinn

B.F.A. in Theatre 2016

Carolyn Quinn is an events professional based in New York City. She is currently a production coordinator at Sequence Events, a Global Top 50 Events Agency. Prior to Sequence, Carolyn spent time at Baseline Theatrical and in the general management office of Hamilton: An American Musical, as well as freelancing for high-profile corporate and non-profit events, new
theatrical works, and television and film, including working on the production team for the 71st Annual Tony Awards.

An overhead shot of the 2018 Global Forum hosted in the Oculus World Trade Center. Carolyn Quinn production managed the event with Sequence for the Wharton School of Business.

News from A&A

College welcomes new faculty

The College of Arts and Architecture welcomes six new faculty members

The College of Arts and Architecture is pleased to announce six new faculty members for the 2020-2021 academic year. Kathryn Hylton, School of Music; Patricia Phillips, School of Theatre; Tyler


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Arts District facilities to go on 'red alert' Sept. 1

The School of Theatre will light the exterior of the Theatre Building in red on Sept. 1 to draw attention to the COVID-19 pandemic's effects on the live events industry.
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Theatre alumnus Nathan Brewer and professor emerita Helen Manfull have reunited for Brewer’s short film, 'No Loss Here,' about a family's journey through a mother's dementia.
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