Student working with the theatre set cutting sheet metal with an angle grinder, sparks are flying

Design Theatre/ Technology

Combine your passion for design with your passion for the theatre to evoke powerful emotions in any audience. With classes in theatrical rendering, lighting and costume design, you'll graduate with a broad understanding of every aspect of theatre.

Become A Problem Solver

Design and theatre technology is about thinking critically to solve problems in all parts of a production. As a design and theatre technology student at USD, you'll receive comprehensive training in all theatrical elements. By understanding the role of each member of the production process, you'll learn to creatively solve the unique challenges presented by each production. You will also gain a high level of analytical and communication skills, as well as an understanding of art and theatrical design history and the ability to communicate graphically. 

You will select an area of emphasis on which to focus your studies. These include:

  • Costume Design
  • Light and Sound Design
  • Scenic Design
  • Technical Direction

Prepare to anticipate and solve any problem with a graduate degree specializing in design and theatre technology at USD.

Degrees & Offerings

Theatre: Design Theatre/Technology (MFA)


As a theatre graduate student pursuing the design theatre/technology specialization, you will take upper level courses in design/technical theatre, contemporary drama, script analysis and dramaturgy, theatrical rendering, and scenic, costume and lighting design, which allows you to customize your program of study to match your career goals. 

Learn more about the theatre program

View Admissions Requirements

Program Details





Graduate Admissions

Known For Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.


As a graduate student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

Gain valuable real-world, professional experience while enjoying paid employment and discounted tuition rates as a graduate student at USD. The affordability you gain through graduate assistantships and fellowships will equip you with valuable, professional-level skills that will set you apart after graduation.

Teaching and research assistantships are awarded by individual departments. If you do not receive an assistantship within your department, you are eligible for an assistantship outside of your academic program or within support offices (non-academic units) at USD. Further inquiries should be directed to the graduate director of the department.

Graduate School Assistantships

Real Accomplishments through Hands-On Experience

You'll find the mentorship and facilities at USD that you need to develop your artistic talents. Take advantage of all we have to offer in the College of Fine Arts from a newly renovated theatre to a fully equipped dance studio. 

  • The Wayne S. Knutson Theatre is a 400-seat theatre that houses 30 line sets, full-length side tabs and state-of-the-art equipment.
  • The Arena Theatre is a flexible configuration space capable of seating up to 70 patrons and serves as our studio performance space, as well as our primary room for acting, directing and voice classes.
  • Fully equipped dance studio featuring a wall of curtained mirrors and a sprung, wooden dance floor. The space is home to our dance, movement dynamics, stage combat and mask classes and can accommodate up to 50 patrons for performances. 
  • Our theatre department also has a fully equipped scenic shop and costume studio for the design, construction, dyeing and cleaning of costumes and crafts. 

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Build Your Artistic Community

USD is home to more than 170 student organizations, including several that are housed in the Department of Theatre. Whether you are interested in developing management and leadership skills or entertaining at the local senior citizen center, USD has opportunities to get involved on campus and in the community.

Student Theatre Cooperative

The Student Theatre Cooperative (STC) is an independent organization that produces original and cutting-edge theatre that typically would not get produced in our main stage season. STC provides opportunities for students to develop leadership and management skills, while also refining their craft through theatre production.

At weekly meetings, students will:

  • Select a season of plays and musicals
  • Assign production teams and plan productions
  • Participate in a Spontaneous Combustion event, where student playwrights, directors and actors write and produce original 10-minute plays in a 24-hour period

STC also engages in service activities with a variety of local organizations like the food pantry, the senior citizen center and SESDAC, a center providing support for persons with disabilities. STC also hosts an annual awards party and dinner each spring.

STC meets weekly at 5:15 p.m. on Thursdays in the Arena Theatre. All students enrolled at USD, as well as faculty and staff, may attend. Email with questions.

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Graduate & Professional Student Association (GPSA)

Join your fellow graduate and professional students at USD. We aim to build a sense of community between graduate and professional students. Build your resume, network with others and gain experience and the unique opportunity to represent the interests of graduate students to the greater campus and community.

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Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education.
An overhead shot of main campus during the sunset.

Black Hills Playhouse

The Black Hills Playhouse, a division of the University of South Dakota College of Fine Arts, is a regional theatre located in Custer State Park. 

USD Theatre Production


Whether you are interested in a career in acting, musical theatre, design technology or a related field, the real-world experiences and connections you find in the Department of Theatre will help you get there.

Newly renovated interior seating of Wayne S. Knutson Theatre

State-of-the-art Facilities

The USD Department of Theatre is home to two performance spaces, the newly renovated Wayne S. Knutson Theatre and the Arena Theatre. The Knutson Theatre is a 400-seat theatre that houses 30 line sets, full-length side tabs and state-of-the-art equipment. The Arena Theatre is a flexible configuration space capable of seating up to 70 patrons and serves as our studio performance space, as well as our primary room for acting, directing and voice classes. The department is equipped with a studio space for dance, movement dynamics, stage combat and mask classes. Our theatre department also has fully equipped scenic, property and costume studios. 

Surprisingly Affordable

Whether you’ve recently completed your undergraduate degree, or you want to kick your career up a notch, graduate school is the next logical step. The good news is there is funding for both online and on-campus students to get you through your program. 

Graduate Tuition & Costs

Learn more about tuition and fees for undergraduate students and see how your out-of-pocket costs at USD compare to those at other colleges and universities. Visit the Graduate Tuition & Costs Detailed page for program specific costs and fees.

Financial Aid

Navigating options for how to pay for college can be challenging, but you are not alone. The Office of Financial Aid will work with you and your family to explore how you can make your college education even more affordable.

Graduate Assistantships

USD offers opportunities for grad students to earn a reduced tuition rate in exchange for their teaching, research and service efforts to the university.


alum success story

Photo of Lucas Granholm
I took courses in all aspects of theatre, in addition to my specialty in lighting design. Due to the holistic approach, I had an expanded portfolio with specialized training in my field of choice and was able to assist in all areas of theatre, from costume design to technical direction. USD's program gave me the tools I needed to be successful right away!

Lucas Granholm

MFA Design Theatre & Technology '14
Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota Morris
Arden Hills, Minnesota

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