10 Best Costume Design Colleges 2023

Imagine a world where imagination knows no limits, the fabric becomes the canvas, and threads of creativity weave together to bring characters to life. Welcome to the enchanting realm of costume design!

Whether you aspire to craft regal gowns for period dramas, design futuristic attire for science fiction epics, or conjure up whimsical outfits for animated worlds, the journey starts with the right education.

This article lists the 10 best costume design colleges, where the halls echo with the hum of sewing machines and dreams take shape stitch by stitch. So, dust off your sketchbook, ignite your creative spark, and prepare to embark on a riveting exploration of the institutions that will nurture your talent and catapult you into a dazzling career in the world of costume design. Get ready to step behind the curtain and discover the magic that awaits you!

Why You Should Consider Studying Costume Design

Studying costume design offers a gateway to a world where creativity, storytelling, and artistry intertwine. It’s a path that allows you to bring characters to life, captivate audiences, and leave an indelible mark on visual storytelling.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider studying costume design:

1. Unleash Your Creative Spirit

Costume design is a realm where creativity knows no bounds. It’s a playground where you can let your imagination run wild, bringing characters and narratives to life through the art of clothing. From period dramas to futuristic dystopias, every project presents a unique opportunity to create stunning visual aesthetics and express your artistic vision. Studying costume design will help you harness your creativity, develop a keen eye for detail, and master translating ideas onto fabric.

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2. Blend Artistry and Technique

Costume design is not just about sketching beautiful outfits; it’s a harmonious blend of artistry and technical expertise. As a costume designer, you’ll learn how to marry your creative concepts with the practical aspects of costume construction, pattern-making, fabric selection, and fittings. Studying costume design will provide you with a solid foundation in both the artistic and technical aspects of the craft, equipping you with the skills to turn your visions into reality.

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3. Dive into the World of Visual Storytelling

Costumes are crucial in visual storytelling, as they communicate character traits, evoke emotions, and transport audiences to different worlds. By studying costume design, you’ll become a storyteller through clothing, learning how to analyze scripts, delving into character psychology, and creating costumes that enhance the narrative. You’ll have the power to shape the audience’s perception of characters, evoke specific moods, and contribute to the overall atmosphere of a production.

4. Collaborate and Connect

One of the most exciting aspects of costume design is the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse range of creative minds. From directors and actors to set designers and makeup artists, costume designers work closely with a team to bring a production to life.

Studying costume design will expose you to a vibrant network of fellow artists, providing invaluable opportunities for collaboration, inspiration, and mutual growth. These connections can become lifelong professional relationships that open doors to exciting projects in the future.

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5. Explore Diverse Career Paths

Studying costume design opens up a world of diverse career paths. From theater and film to television, opera, dance, theme parks, and even fashion, the demand for skilled costume designers spans various industries.

You could find yourself designing costumes for major Hollywood productions, creating immersive experiences in theme parks, or establishing your fashion label. The possibilities are vast, and studying costume design will equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to embark on a fulfilling career.

10 Best Costume Design Colleges 2023

Here’s a list of the 10 best costume design colleges:

  • Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
  • Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
  • London College of Fashion (LCF)
  • David Geffen School of Drama at Yale
  • Tisch School of the Arts, New York University (NYU)
  • California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)
  • Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)
  • Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA)
  • Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)
  • University of the Arts London (UAL)

1. Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Our first stop is the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, known for its comprehensive curriculum and multidisciplinary approach. Founded in 1877, RISD stands out among the world’s preeminent art and design colleges. We are a community of critical thinkers and makers who believe in the value of hands-on learning, experimentation, and an ever-evolving approach to studio education reinforced by liberal arts studies.

RISD offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program in Apparel Design, providing students with a solid foundation in fashion design, textiles, and costume construction.


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2. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

If you are looking for the best costume design colleges in the world, SCAD should be on your radar for a dynamic and immersive experience. With state-of-the-art facilities and a faculty of industry professionals, SCAD’s Costume Design program equips students with the skills to create stunning costumes for theater, film, and television.

SCAD prepares talented students for creative professions through engaged teaching and learning in a positively oriented university environment.


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3. London College of Fashion (LCF)

London College of Fashion, UAL, has been in the business of nurturing creative talent for over a century. They offer courses in all things fashion, from business to design and fashion curation. With over 60 undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and 165 short courses, students learn what it will take to reinvent the fashion industry for the next 100 years.

The school’s open and inclusive education philosophy encourages students to examine the past and question the present. To develop inventive, assertive ideas that challenge social and political agendas. And we give them the skills, opportunities – and above all, the freedom – to put those ideas into practice.

For those longing to study in the world’s fashion capital, LCF offers many costume-related courses. Whether you’re interested in historical costume, costume interpretation, or even the business side of costume design, LCF has you covered.


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4. David Geffen School of Drama at Yale

If an MFA at an Ivy League institution is one’s goal, look no further than the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale. First-year students begin with technical skills and costume history, followed by a second year of analytical thinking and collaborations with fellow students and directors, while students in the final year create costumes for a professional production.

David Geffen School of Drama Student Government (SDSG) strives to enhance the educational experience of each student by being a forum for students’ ideas and concerns, acting as a liaison between students and the faculty and administration, and promoting education and social activities that help foster a strong sense of community within the School of Drama.


5. Tisch School of the Arts, New York University (NYU)

NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts boasts a highly respected Drama Department specializing in Costume Design. With an emphasis on hands-on experience and collaboration with theater professionals, NYU ensures its students are well-prepared to step into the industry confidently.

At NYU, you can earn a BA, BFA, MA, MFA, MPS, or PhD in a wide range of disciplines uniquely integrated within one school. Acting, dance, cinema studies, collaborative arts, design for stage and film, dramatic writing, film and television, game design, interactive media arts, interactive telecommunications, musical theatre writing, performance studies, photography, public policy, and recorded music are among the disciplines that artists and academics from all over the world study.

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6. California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is a well-known private arts institution in Valencia, California, United States. It was established in 1961 by Walt Disney to provide interdisciplinary training in the arts. CalArts is highly regarded for its visual arts, dance, film/video, music, theater, and writing programs.

The institute offers undergraduate and graduate programs across various disciplines, including animation, graphic design, photography, character animation, experimental animation, dance, music performance, film directing, acting, playwriting, and more. CalArts strongly emphasizes experimentation, collaboration, and artistic innovation, aiming to nurture and develop creative individuals.

CalArts has a distinguished faculty of accomplished artists, performers, and scholars actively engaged in their respective fields. The institute also boasts a vibrant community of students passionate about exploring and pushing the boundaries of their art forms.


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7. Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)

FIT, located in the heart of Manhattan, is renowned for its cutting-edge fashion programs. Within its School of Art and Design, FIT offers a Costume Design program emphasizing costume creation’s technical and conceptual aspects. With access to industry connections and internship opportunities, FIT ensures its graduates have a head start in their careers.


8. Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA)

If your aspirations lie in the theater, RADA in London is an excellent choice. RADA’s Costume Design program combines rigorous technical training with a deep understanding of theatrical history and context. Students can work on real productions, collaborating with actors and directors to bring characters to life.

At RADA, students get vocational training for actors, stage managers, designers, and technical stagecraft specialists.

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9. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)

CMU’s School of Drama is renowned for its focus on collaboration and innovation. The Costume Design program at CMU embraces experimentation, allowing students to explore unconventional materials and techniques. With a strong emphasis on design and technical skills, CMU prepares graduates for various career opportunities.

The School is committed to enriching many art practices, championing interdisciplinary collaborations, and exploring new forms of creative expression.


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10. University of the Arts London (UAL)

UAL offers various costume-related programs, including the London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins. With its reputation for fostering creativity and nurturing talent, UAL provides a platform for students to develop their unique artistic voices while gaining practical industry skills.

University of the Arts London offers extensive art, design, fashion, communication, and performing arts courses. UAL is ranked second worldwide for Art and Design in the 2022 QS World University Rankings®.

The University comprises 6 renowned Colleges: Camberwell College of Arts, Central Saint Martins, Chelsea College of Arts, London College of Communication, London College of Fashion, and Wimbledon College of Arts.

How Much Does A Costume Designer Make?

According to Comparably, the average Costume designer in the US makes $55,967. Costume Designers make the most in San Francisco at $84,474, averaging total compensation 51% greater than the US average. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, and the years you have spent in your profession.

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How To Become A Costume Designer

Getting a bachelor’s degree in costume or fashion design is the first step toward becoming a costume designer. Additionally, some costume designers earn master’s degrees in theatre, the arts, fashion history, or film. In addition to earning a degree, costume designers must comprehend various cultural traditions and fashion trends to develop garments that complement the setting and occasion.

Let’s say you want to become a costume designer. In that situation, practical advice about the fashion business can be gained by working as a design intern for the theatrical department at your university or as a senior designer. Additionally, freelancing might increase your knowledge and result in job opportunities.

Successful costume designers may begin their careers working individually or as senior designers’ assistants on movies, stage productions, and with theatrical organizations.

What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Costume Designer?

A costume designer is a creative professional responsible for designing and creating costumes for various forms of visual media, including films, theater productions, television shows, and even commercials. Their role is crucial in bringing the characters to life and enhancing the overall visual aesthetic of the production.

The responsibilities of a costume designer can vary depending on the specific project and the scale of the production, but here are some typical roles and responsibilities:

1. Collaboration with the Director and Production Team

The costume designer works closely with the director, production designer, and other key production team members to understand the project’s overall vision and requirements. They collaborate to ensure the costumes align with the desired artistic direction and support the storytelling.

2. Research and Concept Development

The costume designer conducts extensive research to gain a deep understanding of the production’s period, culture, and context. They develop a visual concept and create sketches, mood boards, or storyboards to communicate their ideas effectively.

3. Costume Design

The costume designer creates detailed costume designs for each character based on research and concept development. They consider the character’s personality, age, social status, occupation, and relationships to craft costumes that reflect the character’s identity and contribute to their development.

4. Fabric and Material Selection

Costume designers choose appropriate fabrics, materials, and trims for each costume. They consider factors like texture, color, durability, and historical accuracy. They also consider the practicality of the costumes, considering factors like movement, weather conditions, and the needs of the actors.

5. Costume Construction and Fitting

Depending on the production scale, the costume designer may oversee a team of costume makers or work on constructing the costumes themselves. They ensure the costumes are tailored to fit each actor properly and coordinate fittings to make necessary adjustments.

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6. Costume Budgeting and Sourcing

Costume designers manage the budget for costumes, estimating materials, labor, and accessories costs. Depending on the requirements and resources available, they may source costumes and accessories from rental houses or purchase or create them from scratch.

7. Collaboration with Other Departments

The costume designer collaborates with other departments, such as hair and makeup, set design, and lighting, to ensure the overall visual style is cohesive and harmonious. They communicate and coordinate effectively to achieve a unified aesthetic.

8. Costume Maintenance and Alterations

During the production, the costume designer oversees the maintenance and care of the costumes. They may need to make alterations or repairs as necessary to accommodate the actor’s needs or changes in the production.

9. Continuity

Costume designers play a crucial role in maintaining continuity throughout production. They keep detailed records of each character’s costumes, including colors, fabrics, accessories, and hairstyles. This ensures consistency, especially in scenes shot out of order or over an extended period.

10. Collaboration with Actors

Costume designers work closely with actors, discussing their characters, comfort, and movement needs in the costumes. They provide guidance and support to help actors understand their characters through costumes.

FAQs On Costume Design Colleges

What is costume design?

Costume design is creating and conceptualizing costumes for theater, film, television, and other performance mediums. Costume designers work closely with directors, production teams, and actors to design and develop costumes that enhance a production’s visual and narrative aspects.

Do costume designers make enough money?

A Costume Designer can make nearly $55,967 in a given year, but the aforementioned factors could affect this figure, causing it to fluctuate yearly.

How long does it take to become a costume designer?

Becoming a costume designer usually takes 4-6 years of experience.

Do costume designers have to sew?

While not all costume designers have full proficiency in sewing or tailoring, all must have a basic knowledge of the technical process through which clothing is constructed.


Studying costume design offers a gateway to a world where creativity, storytelling, and artistry intertwine. It’s a path that allows you to bring characters to life, captivate audiences, and leave an indelible mark on the world of visual storytelling. So, if you’re ready to embark on a thrilling adventure where imagination knows no bounds, consider studying costume design and unlock the door to a world where fabric becomes the medium through which dreams come alive.


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