Application Requirements

M.F.A. and Certificate

The Design application (costume, lighting, projection, set and sound) includes a required statement of purpose, résumé, one letter of recommendation, in addition to the name and address of two other references, and an academic transcript and the submission of a portfolio. If specified below, applicants should submit a digital portfolio through the online application. No video or other digital imagery will be accepted as part of a set design applicant's portfolio. All such materials will not be reviewed.

The portfolio is not an advertisement and should not be "dressed up" to "sell" oneself. Please avoid mats, acetate covers, superfluous graphics, and other forms of "eyewash." Binders are discouraged. Plots and paperwork should be printed full scale and folded if necessary.

Costume Design

The Admissions Committee prefers that a costume applicant submits a digital portfolio through the online application process. Qualified applicants are invited to interview after the Costume Design Admissions Committee reviews the applications and portfolios.

A costume design applicant, who is unable to submit a digital portfolio, should mail the portfolio to the Design program by February 1. (Design Program, David Geffen School of Drama, PO Box 208244, New Haven CT 06520)

The Committee prefers the submission of a digital portfolio through the online application process.  A costume designer’s portfolio should be mainly costume design, but it is essential that some work be included which shows the applicant understands the other areas of design. The portfolio should convey information about the applicant’s ability to express oneself visually and should include a broad spectrum of work from the last several years.  If in doubt about a particular item, include it, as an applicant often unwittingly leaves out valuable work.

Digital Portfolio:

  • Upload files: each no larger than 16MB in either jpeg, png, bmp, or tiff. Large groups of images can be combined into a PDF and submitted as one document.
  • Label each file with a title and a brief description of the work.
  • Include costume sketches, photographs of productions accompanied by original sketches (sketches should be swatched wherever possible) and production paperwork. The portfolio must include a costume design for one of the following: classical play, musical, opera, or ballet; The design can be a realized production or a theoretical project for submission.
  • The portfolio should also include, if possible, rough preliminary sketches (not computer generated) and sketchbooks, as they show an applicant's thought process and design journey. Also submit costume pattern drafting, photos of scene painting, props, masks or similar ideas the applicant may have built. include images of fine art or craft that the applicant has created to give the Committee a better sense of the applicant’s being a fully round artist.

Lighting Design

The Admissions Committee prefers that a lighting applicant submits a digital portfolio through the online application process. Qualified applicants are invited to interview after the Lighting Design Admissions Committee reviews the applications and portfolios.

A lighting design applicant who is unable to submit a digital portfolio should mail the portfolio to the Design department by February 1. (Design Program, David Geffen School of Drama, PO Box 208244, New Haven CT 06520)

No video or digital imagery will be looked at during the in-person interview.  Please bring hard copies of all materials you wish to have considered.

A portfolio should only be mailed to the Design department if the lighting design applicant cannot schedule an in-person interview in New Haven. The digital portfolio submitted online does not suffice by itself.  Every piece in the portfolio must be marked with the applicant's name, the name of the play, the date of creation, and whether it was realized in production. If the portfolio needs to be returned, a $20 handling fee must be included in the portfolio to cover the return shipping unless the applicant retrieves it in person. Portfolios are returned after the review process is completed.

The portfolio is not an advertisement and should not be "dressed up" to "sell" oneself. Please avoid mats, acetate covers, superfluous graphics, and other forms of "eyewash." Binders are discouraged. Plots and paperwork should be printed full scale and folded if necessary.

Although the Design department expects students to take courses in all visual design disciplines—set, costume, lighting, and projection—it is not expected that the applicant's portfolio will be balanced equally among them. A lighting designer's portfolio should be mainly lighting designs, but it is essential that some work be included which shows the applicant understands the other areas of design. Applicants to the lighting design program are encouraged to include sketches and drawings, especially figure drawing.

The lighting designer’s portfolio must contain four or five full light plots showing a range of experience. Half-inch scale is preferred. Each plot should be accompanied by a lighting section and all paperwork (except cue sheets): hook-up, instrument schedule, and magic sheet(s). Plots sent without hook-up and magic sheet are not considered. Photos of the set under full light are encouraged as are any documents that help convey the physical production (set ground plan and section). Photos of cues can be submitted as well. Remember that photographs say more about the photographer than the lighting design or lighting designer. Highly selective pictures often fail to give a sense of the overall approach.

Projection Design

We invite all applicants in the Projection Design program to schedule a conversation with the Projection Faculty, in person or online. Graduate school is a time for exploration within your field and to invest in your growth as designer. We recognize each student is unique in their lived experience, career ambitions, and pedagogical needs. We feel a conversation, as part of the application process, allows us to experience a greater understanding of the individual and their work, than the portfolio and personal statement alone. We encourage our applicants to research multiple Projection Design programs to find the best fit between the institution and individual as each program and faculty is unique in its personality and strengths.

Please schedule a conversation with the projection faculty by contacting the Design program at 203.432.1579 or kate.begley@yale.edu.

Although the projection design program includes courses in other design areas — scenography, lighting, and sound (with opportunity to take costume courses as electives) — it is not expected that your portfolio will have examples of theatrical design in these disciplines.

We look for portfolios that indicate a sense of curiosity about the world, an informed and interrogated point of view, and the ability express that point of view verbally and visually.

The portfolio should include a broad spectrum of your work from the last several years, with a focus on recent projects, and projects that best express your passion, excitement, and commitment to storytelling and expression through design. If you are unsure about a particular piece, please include it in your portfolio, and share your uncertainty with us. This provides an opportunity for the faculty to learn about your thought process, and how you approach, realize, and reflect on your work.

The portfolio submission interface, built into the online application, allows applicants to label each file with a title, a date of completion, the materials used, and a brief description of the work. Applicants may upload a total of 20 media files (with no more than a total of 15 minutes of video content) that represent their work in three portfolio projects/productions/examples.

When sharing theatrical projection work in your portfolio, our preference is to see the content in conversation with the other design elements, whether that is a digital rendering/pre-visualization or video clip of a performance, rather than a cleanly rendered file without its larger context.

Outside of three main portfolio pieces, the portfolio may also include non-theatrical work such as motion graphics, sketches, films, sculpture, paintings, etc.

Digital files must adhere strictly to the specifications outlined in the online application.

Please reach out to wendall.harrington@yale.edu and shawn.boyle@yale.edu with any questions regarding portfolio contents.

To conform to the viewing format, each still image file may be no larger than 16 MB.  Applicants should not format images in any presentation program (e.g., PowerPoint, Keynote), or include composite images (more than one work per file). Still image files may be sent in jpeg, png, bmp, or tiff format. File format for videos and moving images (videos) are accepted in QuickTime, AVI, FLV, MP4, or WMV format. Video files should be no longer than five minutes in length, and the size of video uploads is limited to 265 MB. Do not include titles or credits within the video files. Applicants may post the video to YouTube and provide the link in the portfolio section of the application. This will embed the video in the application for later review. If the video is removed from YouTube or marked as “private,” it will not be viewable by the admissions committee.

Set Design

NOTE: Set design applicants can submit a digital portfolio through the online application process. Set design applicants should should self-schedule an in-person interview and must bring their portfolio to the interview. Applications must be complete at the time of an in-person interview.

Set design applicants, who are unable to appear in-person for an interview, should upload their digital portfolio through the online application process or mail their portfolio to the Design department by March 1. (Design Department, Yale School of Drama, PO Box 208244, New Haven CT 06520)

Every piece in the portfolio must be marked with the applicant's name, the name of the play, the date of creation, and whether it was realized in production. If the portfolio needs to be returned, a $20 handling fee must be included in the portfolio to cover the return shipping unless the applicant retrieves it in person. Portfolios are returned after the review process is completed.

The portfolio is not an advertisement and should not be "dressed up" to "sell" oneself. Please avoid large mats, acetate covers, superfluous graphics, and other forms of "eyewash." Such dressing does not make up for weak drawing and design.

Although the Design program expects students to take courses in all visual design disciplines —costume, lighting, projection, and set — it is not expected that the applicant's portfolio will be balanced equally among them. A set designer's portfolio should be mainly set designs, but it is essential that some work be included which shows that the applicant understands the other areas of design. The applicant’s portfolio should convey information about the applicant's ability to express oneself visually, and how the applicant reacts to musical and dramatic materials. It should include a broad spectrum of work from the last several years. If in doubt about a particular item, include it, as an applicant often unwittingly leaves out valuable work. It should also include, if possible, rough preliminary sketches (not computer generated) and sketchbooks, as they show an applicant's thought process and design journey. Production photos must be accompanied by sketches (originals preferred). A limited amount of non-theatrical work such as graphics or painting (not oils) may be included. Photos of scene painting which the applicant has done, or props, masks, or similar items the applicant has built, may be included.

If possible, include a few examples of drafting. Ground plans should accompany each set sketch where possible. Technical (rear) views of scenery are not as useful.

Sound Design

There are many people who assume they are not ready to apply to Yale. The Sound Design faculty encourage applications to the Sound Design program, and venture to say, “Don’t be afraid to apply!” Please email mikaal.sulaiman@yale.edu to schedule a preliminary phone interview. An honest assessment of an individual’s readiness to apply for admission is provided. At the conclusion of a successful preliminary phone interview, qualified applicants will be invited for an on-site interview between January 5 and March 1.

Earlier on-site visits or interviews can be arranged on an as needed basis. Alternate arrangements, including internet video conferencing, can be made for international applicants, or for applicants who are unable to travel during the personal interview period. NOTE: A site visit is extremely valuable.

The on-site interview generally consists of an introductory meeting; a tour of the facilities; introductions to faculty, students, and staff; the portfolio review; a listening evaluation; an opportunity to see a play in rehearsal or performance; opportunities to sit in on classes; and a summary discussion. A two-day visit is recommended, but the process can be truncated to accommodate an applicant’s schedule.

An applicant is urged to submit their application as early as possible. No application is considered after February 15. The applicant provides a resumé, a statement of purpose, an official undergraduate transcript, three letters of recommendation, and a photograph (non-professional acceptable) that is used only to relate the applicant’s application to the portfolio. Professional associates, mentors, professors/teachers, or persons who can provide relevant character references may submit letters of recommendation. General references may be considered, but professional references are preferred. At the formal interview the applicant should be prepared to present their portfolio even though it was submitted digitally. No media is returned that is left after an interview.

Applicants to the Sound Design program submit their applications electronically. The portfolio should include any material that defines the applicant’s creative process. It can include excerpts from productions, projects, sound art, broadcasts, recording projects or any creative venture that honestly expresses what the applicant can do. Portfolio submissions may include any or all of the following: audio and video files, drafting, still images, text files, music notation (compositions/arrangements), spreadsheets and database reports from recent design work in dramatic theater, musical theater, performance art, radio, video or mixed media. For each production or project submitted, applicants should provide a written description of the work that provides some performance context to help the admissions committee understand the manner in which the work was designed/executed. Applicants submitting a reinforcement design for a musical should include any or all of the following documentation: full line drawings of the reinforcement system, a detailed equipment list, a microphone plot for the orchestra (or band), a radio frequency (RF) microphone schedule, cue sheets, photographs or other supporting paperwork or research. In general, presenting a comprehensive view of a complete production process (large or small) is of most value when evaluating an applicant. Showing range of experience is also important. Contact Mikaal Sulaiman mikaal.sulaiman@yale.edu; 203.432.8825) with any questions.

Applicants to Sound Design submit file format portfolios electronically through the online application. The portfolio submission interface allows applicants to label each file with a title, a date of completion, the materials used, and a brief description of the work. Digital files must adhere strictly to the specification outlined below.

Applicants may upload a total of 30 media files (in acceptable formats) that represent the work in three portfolio projects/productions/examples. Any balance or mix of media files is acceptable. Additionally, applicants may upload up to three digital media files that may not be a part of the three primary portfolio projects. A significant number of the files should represent work done with the last twelve–eighteen months.

To conform to the viewing format, each still image file may be no larger than 16 MB. Applicants should not format images in any presentation program (e.g., PowerPoint, Keynote), or include composite images (more than one work per file). Still image files may be sent in jpeg, png, bmp, or tiff format. File format for videos and moving images (videos) are accepted in QuickTime, AVI, FLV, MP4, or WMV format. Video files should be no longer than five minutes in length, and the size of video uploads is limited to 265 MB. Do not include titles or credits within the video files.