Undergraduate Programs
Costume Design

The School of Drama Costume Design Option welcomes a diversity of innovative young artists and critical thinkers for the stage, television and film industries.

Students receive intensive instruction in courses that develop their aesthetic sensibilities, understanding of history, critical analysis, making skills and practical application in realized productions.

Mentorship is a fundamental component of the costume program and includes expert facility oversight. Five full-time staff members (studio manager, draper, tailor, wardrobe and stock manager) augment classroom training in the costume studio. Five full-time faculty (Mindy Eshelman, Hugh Hanson, Brian Russman, Narelle Sissons, Susan Tsu) are distinguished, working professionals who provide mentoring academically, on productions, and professionally for students' career development.


We value well-rounded citizens of the world, capable of bringing insightful interpretations of the human condition to the work they create.

Students learn and apply skills needed for a specialized career in the field. They matriculate from assisting to designing several productions throughout their program, including as many as three dance pieces, two subscription season productions and a possible internship production.

Essential to the School of Drama Costume Design program is our philosophical belief that Costume Production (making) be taught alongside Costume Design. Students not only gain important practical knowledge about how they can work with, and what they can expect from, their future production staffs, but also, they learn marketable skills for the profession.

Coursework and experiences follow SEVEN CURRICULAR STREAMS:
  • RENDERING: Drawing for the Theatrical Designer, Painting for the Theatrical Designer, Costume Rendering, Figure Drawing, courses available in the Art/Design/Architecture/ETC Departments
  • DESIGN: Basic Design, Design for the Stage, Intro to Costume Design, Fundamentals of Costume Design, Costume Design for Dance, Costume Design for the Classics, Costume Design with Music, Transforming Inspiration, Scenography, Digital Narratives
  • CRITICAL THINKING: Interpretation & Argument, Conservatory Hour, Foundations of Drama, Special Topics in Drama
  • HISTORY: Global History, History of Clothing, History of Architecture & Décor
  • MAKING: Stagecraft, Studiocraft, Make-up for Designers, Intro to Costume Construction, Millinery, Dying & Painting, Draping I, Understanding Textiles, Costume Crafts-assorted topics
  • REALIZED PRODUCTION: Year I: Run crew; Year II: Run crew, Assisting, Costume Design for Dance Light; Year III: Assisting & Designing, CD for Dance Light; Year IV: Designing, CD for Dance Light, possible Pittsburgh professional theatre assisting or designing
  • PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION: Professional Preparation, Production Forum, Production shopping in New York City, NY & LA Showcases
  • Opportunities

    With as many as 25 annual productions in the School of Drama—among them devised work, site specific theatre, traditional theater, musicals, opera, dance, television and film—costume students have ample opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom to realized production experiences and design in any of our four performance spaces.

    Non-classroom opportunities such as Dance/Light and the Playground Festival provide Costume Design students with myriad experiences to expand and hone their skills. Partnerships with professional theaters in Pittsburgh may include positions with The Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Quantum Theatre and City Theatre.

    International and national visiting artists present workshops and portfolio reviews throughout the year as a part of the School of Drama’s Visiting Artists Program. CMU’s acclaimed Alumni are devoted to current students and return to the school to share their expertise. Graduating students are invited to visit theaters, studios and shops in New York and Los Angeles.

    Unique Platforms

    All School of Drama students have to opportunities to participate in the following:

    Dance/Light is an annual performance opportunity for students across all disciplines to collaborate in the all-student creation of 22-25 original dance and movement pieces. Costume Design for Dance is a course prerequisite.

    A Festival of Independent Student Work: Playground is the annual, School of Drama, three-day performance festival showcasing independent, student-produced work across multiple disciplines. Work ranges from installations, game and escape rooms, and exhibitions, to short plays, musicals, devised works, and concerts.

    The Visiting Artists Program brings distinguished national and international guests to campus to work with students across all disciplines. Costume guest highlights include: Ruth Carter, Eduardo Castro, Constance Hoffman, Pamela Howard, NUMEN/For Use, Sally Ann Parsons, Ann Roth, and Paul Tazewell.

    The School of Drama Showcase presentations in New York and Los Angeles are designed to give all graduating students from all disciplines the opportunity to meet with and present work to leading arts and entertainment professionals. When conditions warrant, this Showcase may be augmented by virtual online networking events.

    Your Future

    Graduates from the School of Drama Costume Design program work in a range of professional capacities from Broadway to Hollywood-and in between- as designers, assistant designers, drapers, shoppers, craftspersons, professors and business owners.

    The acclaimed Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama Costume Design Program prepares students for careers from New York to Los Angeles in film and television, regional and commercial theater, opera, dance, devised, site specific and new forms of theater making.

    Costume Students from CMU have garnered important national awards in Design and Technology such as the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Internship- Claire Mildred,  a Fulbright Scholarship- Stefan Romero; the Princess Grace Foundation Award- Daniel Mathews- Pierre Cardin Award; a Costume Society Award- Albulena Borovci; and five USITT Zelma H. Weisfeld Costume Design and Technology Awards: Sophie Schneider, Albulena Borovci, Kimberly Lorentz O’Callaghan, Brandon McWilliams, and Zi Xie.

    Students and alumni have also been curated to exhibit award-winning designs at the prestigious Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space in 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2019.

    Intensive production mentoring is a focal point throughout the course of study and includes expert faculty oversight in the areas of costume design, costume production, history of clothing, tailoring, draping, painting and figure drawing.


    Undergraduate Costume Design Curriculum


    Claudia Brownlee

    Olivera Gajic

    Tiia Torchia Lager

    Mindy Eshelman

    Susan Tsu

    Brian Russman

    Hugh Hanson

    News & Alumni

    Notable Alumni

    Graduates from the School of Drama Costume Design program work in a range of professional capacities as designers, assistant designers, shoppers, milliners, dyer-painters, entrepreneurs and professors. Our students work on Broadway, Regional Theater, Film, Television, and on cutting edge innovative storytelling.

    Lalon Alexander: Embroidery House Owner: Elephantine Embellishments
    Jen Caprio: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Sesame Street ACD
    Eduardo Castro: Costumer's Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, Once Upon a Time, Ugly Betty, Their Eyes Were Watching God, 
    Alexis Carrie: Northlight Theatre, Coeurage Theatre Co., Childsplay, Inc., East West Players, Pittsburgh Playhouse, Raven Theater, Indiana Repertory Theatre
    Travis Chinick: Mac Haydn Theatre, La Mama Etc, Attic Theatre, Metropolitan Opera
    Lizzie Donelan: Film: Funny Face, Dream Years, Millie. Music Video: Not A Woman. Assistant Costume Designer to Suttirat Larlarb
    Mindy Eshelman: Office Space, Where the Heart Is, Dear Zoe, Adidas, Visa, VW
    Lydia Fine: Creative Director, Costume, Puppet and Production Designer, Pigpen 
    Becky Frey: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Conan O'Brien Show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Deanna Frieman: NY City Ballet
    Terry Gordon: Malibu Country, The Nanny, Reba
    Matthew Hemesath: Boomerang, Sesame Street, Mozart in the Jungle(ACD) Saturday Night Live, Today Show, Jersey Boys, Papermill Playhouse
    Michelle Li: Film Design: A Portrait of Frances, Enclosed. Shiva Baby. Production Design: Dating in New York. Costume Coordinator: Dr. Ride’s American Beach House
    Carolyn Mazuca: CD at South Coast Rep, Oregon Shakespeare Festival,  Asst. to Julie Weiss.
    Molly Maginess: Homecoming, Perpetual Grace, Sister Act, As Good as it Gets.
    Jennifer May Nickel: What Just Happened, Containment,Taylor Tomlinson: Quarter-Life Crisis
    Daniel Orlandi: Emmy award winner, Ford and Ferrari,The Normal Heart, Saving Mr. Banks
    Ryan Park: Asst to Cathy Zuber, Radio City Music Hall, Old Vic/BAM, Peter Pan Live, Sound of Music Live
    Jake Poser: Asst to Dede Aielt and An D’Huys, Designs: Stella Adler, New London Barn Playhouse, PA for Frozen
    Bob Perzola: renowned opera and ballet designer, MET, Opera Australia, American Ballet
    Katie Riley: Prodigal Son, The Loudest Voice, Mozart in the Jungle
    Ann Roth: Oscar and Tony award winner, Doubt, The English Patient, Cold Mountain
    Loren Shaw: Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Flea Theatre. Asolo Rep
    SusanTsu-  Curator- Innovative Costume of the 21st Century: The Next Generation, designs for Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Hairspray, Shakespeare in Love), Quantum Theatre (The Task, King Lear), City Theatre (Jekyll & Hyde, The Revolutionists) , Pittsburgh Playhouse(The Royal Family, Little Shop of Horrors)