Education

Best Costume Design Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Costume Design programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Costume design is the process of designing and creating costumes for theater, film, and television. Costume designers work with directors and producers to create the characters and style for a production. Costume designers also work with actors to create the perfect look for their character.

Costume design is a growing field, as more and more productions are being created for stage, screen, and television. Costume designers are in demand in a variety of settings, including theater, film, and television.

Costume design degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in costume design, including fashion design, theater design, and television design. Students in costume design degree programs learn about the different aspects of designing and creating costumes, and how to use those skills to create the perfect look for a character.

How to Choose the Right Costume Design Program

When it comes to choosing the right costume design program, there are a few key factors that prospective students need to keep in mind. These include the cost of the program, the location of the school, the length of the program, and the curriculum.

The cost of the program is an important consideration, as tuition rates can vary significantly from school to school. Prospective students should also research the financial aid opportunities available at each school, as well as the school’s policy on transfer credits.

The location of the school is also a key factor, as it can impact the ability to gain internship opportunities and network for jobs after graduation. Students should also consider the climate of the area, as they will need to be comfortable with the weather conditions when working on projects and attending classes.

The length of the program is another important consideration, as students will need to make sure they have the time to complete all of the required coursework. Prospective students should also research the graduation requirements, as they will need to make sure they are taking the right classes to meet their degree requirements.

The curriculum is also an important consideration, as students will need to make sure the program offers the courses they need to take to meet their career goals. Prospective students should research the available courses and the requirements for each course before enrolling in a program.

Best Bachelor’s in Costume Design Programs

The best programs for Costume Design ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Boston University
Boston, MA

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre, Costume Design degree from Boston University is a four-year program that stresses the development of a student as a theatre artist, focusing on collaboration, imagination, intellect, communication skills, and oral critique, as well as preparation for a professional career. During each year of the program, courses in design, production, graphic skills, management, and dramatic literature follow a carefully integrated sequence of class exercises and production opportunities. The program culminates in a capstone project in which students design and produce a full-scale production.

Rank 2
Seton Hill University
Greensburg, PA

The Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Design and Technology at Seton Hill University will help students learn how to design and build sets, create lighting and sound designs, and construct costumes. Students will also have the opportunity to stage manage productions. The program offers a choice of concentrations in scenic design, lighting design, sound design, costume design, stage management, or technical direction. Students will also develop a professional portfolio.

Rank 3
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
Raleigh, NC

The Bachelor of Science in Fashion and Textile Design degree from North Carolina State University at Raleigh is a 120-hour program that prepares students for careers in the textile and fashion industries. The program includes coursework in design, textile science, marketing, and entrepreneurship, and students have the opportunity to study abroad for one semester in their junior year. The program culminates with a senior studio course in which students design and produce a fashion collection.

Rank 4
Drexel University
Philadelphia, PA

The Drexel University Fashion Design program is a studio-based, boutique-style undergraduate program that trains the next generation of creative thinkers for the fashion industry. The culmination of the program is the Drexel Fashion Show, at which students showcase original garments and accessories for industry leaders.

Rank 5
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH

The University of Cincinnati’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Costume Design and Technology program is a four-year degree that prepares students for a career in costume design and technology. The program emphasizes the dual importance of design and technology, and provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in this collaborative field. Students in the program have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of theatrical experiences, including working as design assistants, first-hands, cutter/drapers, and wardrobe and maintenance personnel on productions. The program also provides students with the opportunity to seek summer employment at one of the many summer opera, musical theatre, or drama institutions across the country.

Rank 6
Columbia College Chicago
Chicago, IL

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Studies from Columbia College Chicago is a four-year program that is divided into two concentrations, Merchandising and Product Development, which students can choose from at the end of their first year. The program emphasizes hands-on learning opportunities, such as internships and a capstone project, to give students the skills and experience they need to be successful in the industry.

Rank 7
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design and Technology for Performance at University of New Mexico is a professional training program that prepares students for careers in costume, lighting, and scenic design. The program combines contemporary training with practical experience to give students the skills they need to succeed in the field.

Rank 8
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX

The Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Merchandising from Sam Houston State University features career-focused courses to prepare students for the fashion industry. The program is offered in the 7 ½ week course schedule (7A/7B) in the fall and spring semesters, and courses are also offered in the summer. This approach allows the program to reach a broader variety of students. The senior-level internship requirement is an excellent opportunity to experience the fashion industry and provides a transition into the job market following graduation.

Rank 9
Shenandoah University
Winchester, VA

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Costume Design from Shenandoah University is a pre-professional training program that prepares students for entry into the industry or to pursue a graduate degree. The program provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to work professionally in costume design and technology. Students learn how to design and construct costumes, as well as how to render their designs. The program also provides opportunities for students to work in the costume shop and to participate in professional theatre conferences.

Rank 10
Albright College
Reading, PA

The Bachelor of Arts in Fashion and Costume from Albright College is a great choice for students interested in a career in fashion. The coursework is very hands-on, and students will have the opportunity to work with experienced faculty and professionals in the industry. Students will also have the chance to customize your degree by adding a minor in communications, digital media, business, education, psychology, or political science.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Costume Design Program

Students in a bachelor’s in costume design program learn how to create, construct, and maintain costumes for live performances, such as theater, dance, and opera. The degree typically takes four years to complete and requires about 120 credits.

Most costume design programs include core coursework in design, construction, and history. Students also learn about fabric selection, draping, and millinery. In addition, many programs offer concentrations that allow students to focus on a specific area, such as makeup, wigs, or footwear.

Internships are often required as part of a costume design degree, and they provide students with the opportunity to gain real-world experience. Many programs also require a capstone project or thesis.

Prospective students should have some natural artistic ability and be able to work well with their hands. They should also be able to think creatively and have strong problem-solving skills.

Common Costume Design Courses

A costume designer is responsible for creating the clothing worn by characters in film, television, and theater. In addition to designing the clothing, the costume designer must also select the fabric, oversee the construction of the garments, and sometimes even style the hair and makeup of the actors. A bachelor’s degree in costume design can give students the skills and knowledge they need to pursue a career in this exciting field. The courses listed below are just a few of the classes typically taken by students in a costume design program.

Patternmaking

This course covers the basic skills of patternmaking for clothing construction. Students learn how to draft slopers, or basic templates, for different garment types, and how to alter them to create new styles. They also learn how to create patterns from scratch, using draping techniques. In addition, students learn how to grade patterns, or create different sizes from a base pattern. Upon completion, students should be able to draft slopers for basic garment types, alter patterns to create new styles, and create patterns from scratch using draping techniques. They should also be able to grade patterns to create different sizes from a base pattern.

Draping

This course covers the basic principles and techniques of draping fabric on the dress form to create original garment designs. Students learn how to work with a variety of fabrics, how to use darts, tucks, and pleats to manipulate fabric, and how to create three-dimensional design elements. Students also learn how to translate two-dimensional sketches into three-dimensional form. Upon completion, students should be able to drape a variety of fabrics on the dress form to create original garment designs.

Textiles

This course covers the study of fibers, yarns, and fabrics used in the construction of costumes. Emphasis is placed on the identification, selection, and care of various textile materials. Upon completion, students should be able to identify and describe the physical and visual characteristics of various textile materials, and select appropriate materials for specific design applications.

Sketching and Rendering

This course covers the basic skills of sketching and rendering for costume design. Students will learn to draw the human figure in various positions, using various mediums. They will also learn how to render fabric and clothing on the figure, using color and texture to create dimension and interest. Students will apply these skills by creating sketches and renderings of costumes for a variety of characters, from different time periods and genres. Upon completion, students should be able to sketch and render the human figure in various positions, using a variety of mediums, and render fabric and clothing on the figure, using color and texture to create dimension and interest.

Principles of Design

This course covers the basic principles and elements of design as they apply to the field of costume design. Students will learn about the use of line, shape, form, texture, color, and space in creating costumes for the stage. In addition, the course will cover the use of research, sketching, and other methods of visual communication in the costume design process. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of design to the creation of costume designs for the stage.

Career Options for Costume Design Graduates

Graduates of costume design programs work in a variety of industries, including film, television, theater, and fashion. They may also work in fields such as event planning and retail.

Costume Designer

Costume designers are responsible for creating the clothing and accessories worn by characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts productions. They work with directors and producers to determine the overall look and feel of a production and with actors to ensure that their costumes are comfortable and practical. Costume designers may also be responsible for maintaining and repairing costumes during a production. In some cases, they may also design and create props and other set pieces.

Fashion Designer

Fashion designers create clothing and accessories. They sketch designs, choose fabrics and patterns, and oversee the production of their garments. Some designers create a line of clothing that is sold to department stores, while others design for individual clients. Some designers also produce mass-market clothing.

Tailor

A tailor is a person who makes, mends, or alters clothing, usually to fit a particular person. In some cases, a tailor is someone who specializes in a certain type of clothing, such as suits, outerwear, or wedding dresses. Tailors typically work in clothing stores, alterations shops, dry cleaners, or in the garment industry. They may also be self-employed.

Costumer

Costumers are responsible for creating, acquiring, or renting the clothing worn by performers in theater, film, television, and other entertainment media. They work with directors and producers to ensure that the clothing is appropriate for the characters and the period or setting of the production, and they may also be responsible for maintaining the clothing and keeping it in good condition. Costumers typically have a background in fashion design, theater, or another creative field.

Visual Merchandiser

Visual merchandisers are responsible for creating attractive displays in store windows and elsewhere to promote a company’s products. They use color, lighting, and props to create a pleasing aesthetic that will make customers want to enter the store and buy what they see. Visual merchandisers also create displays for trade shows and other events, and they may work with digital marketing teams to create online displays as well.

Insights From a Costume Design Graduate

Rachel Galloway is a Costume Designer at NBC. She has a bachelor’s degree in costume design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Rachel has over 15 years of experience in costume design and wardrobe.

ClimbtheLadder: How did you make the most of your Costume Design degree program so that it prepared you for post-graduation jobs?

Rachel Galloway: I made the most of my Costume Design degree program by taking advantage of the resources my school offered. I took classes that taught me how to use industry-standard software, and I also participated in an internship program that allowed me to gain real-world experience.

ClimbtheLadder: What type of person is successful and thrives in a Costume Design career?

Rachel Galloway: A costume designer needs to be creative, organized, and have a good eye for detail. They need to be able to work well under pressure and be able to meet deadlines. A costume designer also needs to be able to work well with other people, as they will be working with a team of people to create the costumes for a production.

ClimbtheLadder: What was the most challenging course you took? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?

Rachel Galloway: The most challenging course I took was Draping. Draping is the art of manipulating fabric on a dress form to create a garment. It is a very hands-on course, and you are constantly working with fabric and a dress form.

My advice for students who are about to start this course is to be patient. It takes a lot of practice to get the hang of draping, but it is a very rewarding process.

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