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Top Costume Design Courses in the US

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The USA has so many exciting options to study costume at college, which is why we’ve pulled together our top 10 to help to choose your perfect one.

The sheer number of costume courses available – both at an institution or online – can be a little intimidating, and narrowing down your checklist may seem impossible.

So to help you in your search for your dream course, we’ve done some research and pulled together a guide to some of the colleges and courses which came up with consistently good ratings (using universities.com’s rankings as well our own research.)

Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, LA

The course: Associate Degree in Film and TV Costume Design

This course is a fast and intense line of study, with just 9 months of study time, meaning you could be ready to search for your first costume job in a relatively short time frame.

The fact the college is situated in LA means there is the perfect opportunity for students to gain work experience in the city and to make those all important contacts.

This particular course specialises in costume for Film and TV rather than the stage, making this a great choice for those who want to specialise.

Shenandoah University, VA

The course – BA Theatre Design and Production

This option covers all aspects of theatre production to fully inform your work as a designer, but enables you to specialise in costume.

You will work through stages of the programme such as scenic design, lighting design, stage management and technical production.

This course encourages active involvement with stage shows and offers plenty of opportunities to have an active role in a theatre production.

Webster University, Missouri

The course – BA Costume Design

There is a lot of emphasis on drawing and the history of costume design – particularly for stage –  on this course.

As a mandatory part of the course, students will look at the history of theatre, as well as figure drawing, design concepts and 3D design.

Stephens College, Columbia, MO

The course – BA Theatrical Costume Design

With their theatre school ranked third in the country by the Princeton Review and 22nd in the world for its fashion program by the Business of Fashion, London, this college is worth exploring.

This course would suit someone who wishes to specialise in costume design for the stage and offers the chance to be involved in numerous productions across their three theatres.

Academy of Art University, San Francisco, CA

The Course – BA Costume Design

With a heavy emphasis on fashion, this course would suit someone with a strong interest in design outside of theatre and film, with a keen interest in trends.

Alongside elements of costume design, students can learn skills like fashion drawing, techniques for fashion business, styling, millinery or make-up and special effects.

California Institute of the Arts, CA

The Course – MFA Costume Design

Critical thinking and collaboration are to two key elements to this contemporary course which are really pulled into focus.

This course states it takes a ‘global approach’ to costume, intertwining inspiration and developing relations between media, art and science.

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

The course – Costume Design

One of the major aspects to this course is the emphasis on mentorship as an essential part of the study.

Aswell as the core elements of costume design, this college stages 25 productions a year and has excellent links to professionals and Pittsburgh theatres.

Tisch, New York University, NY

The course – BA Costume Design

Tisch offers a varied programme, combining design for both stage and screen with plenty of collaborative projects in both disciplines.

There’s also focus on design for opera, aswell as the chance to understand the wider context of theatre, with modules in playreading and stagecraft.

Boston University, Boston, MA

Most universities have an alumni house. We prefer a castle 🏰.

Posted by Boston University on Sunday, 3 March 2019

The Course – BA Theatre Design, Production and Stage Management

This is another course which starts off covering all aspects of theatre production and branches off into the different disciplines after the first year.

From the second year, the emphasis is on construction techniques and in the third and fourth years, students get to delve even further, with modules on dyeing, millinery and textiles.

University of Cincinnati, OH

Juliana Rucker draped and built this charming blue dress for Valencienne.

Posted by University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music – CCM on Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Course – Costume Design and Technology

Focus on technology and how that plays a key role at every stage of costume production and management is at the heart of this course.

A range of specific techniques are explored, including weaving, leatherwork and mask work, aswell as useful skills required for the workroom and costume maintenance are offered.

Remember to take your time when picking a course as you’re probably going to have to stick with it for upto five years! And if you’re thinking of studying abroad, check out our quick guide to costume courses in the UK.

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