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Theatre students do hands-on work to help build scenery.

Theatre (Design & Technology) BFA

A specialized degree plan for students committed to further graduate study and professional careers in design for theatre and entertainment industries.

Design Your World!

Students in the BFA degree in Theatre with an emphasis in Design and Technology are expected to develop as creative artists and specialized technologists. This course of study fosters and empowers student creativity with a focus on highly specialized skill sets in scenery, lighting and sound, or costuming.

Production is at the core of our program, and students engage with theatre production work every semester as designers, assistant designers, and technicians. Students have access to work on as many as 25 theatre productions over the course of their studies.

The Department of Theatre offers extensive coursework in a wide variety of design fields, and at every point students engage with technology laboratories for hands-on experience.


Students are accepted to the Department of Theatre as Pre-Theatre students. In their first two years of study, students learn how design and technology function as a storytelling process and an important aspect of the theatre event.

As students develop their interests as BFA designers, faculty advisors assist in advanced coursework tailored to their individual interests. Advanced coursework includes stagecraft, introduction to scenic lighting, scenic design, advanced scene design, stage lighting, advanced stage lighting, stage sound engineering, introduction to costume and makeup, intermediate makeup, costume design, costume design studio, and advanced theatrical makeup.

Degree Options

There is one Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree available.

More about this Major


Upon graduating from USM, BFA students are placed in entry-level positions in major theatres across the country. Many continue to develop as artists and designers through further graduate study.

Highly trained technicians are in demand, and our students often earn competitive positions at the country's finest theatres.

Over the past five years, BFA designers and technicians have enjoyed a 100% placement rate in industry positions upon graduation.
Theatre students advanced to the national competition of KCACTF (Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival) in every major area of theatre design, including scenery, costuming, and lighting design!

Courses You Might Take

THE 107: Introduction to Design for Theatre

This course teaches the foundational skills required by all designers, and emphasizes how to communicate visual ideas to theatre-makers, including color theory, research, collaboration, drafting, and model building.

THE 201: Introduction to Costuming

Students in this course realize how much effort, time and expertise goes into the creation and execution of this aspect of design. It is a real eye-opener for students, and the skills learned in this course make them better artists. For a lucky few, this class is where they realize that this is what they want to do with their life.

THE 212: Introduction to Technical Lighting and Sound

This course is an opportunity for students who are truly interested in lighting and sound design to start with the basics and develop a foundational vocabulary for communicating with collaborators. The reactions from the students are very rewarding.

THE 336L: Scene Painting Studio

Introduces students to organization of paint studio, tools, techniques and materials for scene painting; studio work involving execution of typical common surface treatments

THE 440: Costume Design

This course is project-oriented, emphasizes visual story-telling through costume design, and incorporates drawing, painting, research, textual analysis, fun with fabric, and a close look at our ingrained perceptual systems through cognitive theory. Students discover they are story-tellers and get a good introduction to a legitimate field of professional work and study.

THE 440L: Computer-Aided Drafting for Theatre

Introduces basic 2D and 3D AutoCad tools for designers; efficient drafting of ground plans, elevations and technical drawings for theatre

THE 441: Costume Technology Studio

Studio class focused on draping and pattern making of costumes, millinery and other costume related technologies such as mask making, fabric dying and painting

Meet Some of Your Professors

Craig Dettman

Associate Professor

Favorite Course: THE 212: Introduction to Lighting and Sound

Expertise: lighting and sound design

J. Theresa Bush

Assistant Professor

Favorite Course: THE 440: Costume Design

Expertise: costume design

Kelly James Penot

Supervisor of Costume and Makeup Production

Favorite Course: THE 201: Introduction to Costuming

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Southern Miss undergraduate degrees are available online, at the Hattiesburg campus, at the Gulf Park campus, and/or through a hybrid delivery that includes both online and on-campus courses.