Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts

Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts

The Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers an MFA in Stage Design with emphases in; Scenic Design or Production, Lighting Design or Production, Technical Production, or Costume Design. This intensive three-year program focuses on guiding the student to hone their skills as a visionary artists and designers.

This exciting program is part of an innovative theatre and film school with an award-winning faculty who seeks to reshape how theatre is made in the 21st century. The Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film is a premier training program of theatre and film artists with an alumni network stretching from New York to L.A.

The Carson School was established, thanks to the philanthropic support from the late Johnny Carson, whose endowment to the School provides substantial support for technology, programs, and scholarships. In late 2015, the Johnny Carson Foundation announced another $20 million donation as part of an overall $57 million investment by the University to create the new Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts, an exciting new program that creatively fuses performative experiences across film; theatre and live stage performance; gaming, interactive media, broadcast and internet media; and augmented and virtual reality.

Lincoln Nebraska is ranked #1 Happiest and Healthiest City by Gallup –Healthways; #2 Best City for Creative Professionals by the SmartAsset personal finance website; and Top 10 downtowns by The Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film is part of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts that, through its endowment, further supports the theatre faculty and students by funding a professional film series, scholarships, student and faculty travel, and productions for the Nebraska Repertory Theatre, the professional wing of the School.

Core Concepts

  • Idea development/realization
  • Artistic communication
  • Critique and evaluation
  • Professional presentation
  • Principles of design


  • Realized Design/Production in Theatre, Dance, Opera
  • Assisting USA 829 Designers & Professional Technical Directors
  • Teaching
  • Leadership
  • Attend Professional Conferences – USITT, LDI
Focus Areas Sample Degree Plans


  • Scene Designer
  • Costume Designer
  • Lighting Designer
  • Technical Director

Application to this program

The MFA programs in Design recruit through the University/Resident Theatre Association's portfolio review and interview process in January and February annually. On campus portfolio presentations and interviews are conducted throughout the year.

Read more about application