inside the SFA School of Theatre costume shop

SFA School of Theatre will soon offer a certification for specialized studies in clothing design and production as it relates to theatre, opera, film and television.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Thinking about a career in costume construction or design? Want to see your creations come to life on stage in theatre or opera performances? Looking for opportunities to design for the big screen? Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre has just what you are looking for.

Although SFA offers the traditional degree options that include a concentration in costume design, beginning in the fall of 2021, the School of Theatre will also offer a certification for specialized studies in clothing design and production as it relates to theatre, opera, film and television. The certification is designed for students who do not wish to complete a four-year degree. However, once a student gets started in the course and sees the exciting opportunities offered through a theatre degree path, he or she may likely choose to earn a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts after or during certificate completion, according to Angela Bacarisse, professor of theatre at SFA.

“Some students just don't want a full college degree, but they need the specific training that we offer in the profession,” Bacarisse said. “To rank up in the profession, you need a college degree or 10-plus years of experience. But if you just want to get your foot in the door and have these skills, this certification will allow you to better understand certain aspects of clothing design, like wedding dress alterations, tailoring alterations and specialty construction projects.”

Students pursuing the certificate will learn the necessary skills that will enable them to “jump into the market early,” according to Bacarisse, including skills used in bridal salons, dry cleaners and small clothing and fashion businesses.

“There is a scarcity of people who know how to sew; not just how to put on a button, but how to make a garment from an idea, like our grandmothers used to do,” she said. “There is a need for this special skill in bespoke clothing, which is not manufactured.

“Early in my career, I worked on gowns that cost more than I would make in three months, and I was paid very well at that job (triple minimum wage),” she added. “The market needs people with these skills, not just in theatre, but in clothing production, maintenance and design.”

Students will study script analysis, makeup for the stage, sewing and patterning. Laboratory courses will meet on campus, and some lecture courses will be available online. The certificate requires 30 credit hours to complete (two long semesters and a summer).

“Students with a degree in theatre follow a specific path,” Bacarisse said. “Those who are working on a B.F.A. with an emphasis on costumes will get closest to this certification, but will not need it as they will have the full college degree, which includes more skills in both general studies and theatre studies. Those working on a B.A. with an emphasis on costumes will also be near the completion of this certification.

“There is a place for the college degree, and there is a place for a technical program,” she said. “Sometimes they cross over with content. Yes, the full college degree will still be a ‘higher’ certification to achieve. But not everyone is cut out to achieve the B.A. or B.F.A. With this certification, SFA can assist those students in learning the skills they need to be contributing members in a field that is currently sorely lacking in adequately trained professionals.”

Additionally, the certificate can aid a high school theatre teacher who may have focused on acting while in college but needs more specialized training to better instruct students in this particular area of theatre. It’s also good for a returning student who may have followed a different path after high school and now wants to hone specific skills for employment advancement or to enhance an independent small business, Bacarisse said.

For more information about the certificate, contact Bacarisse at (936) 468-1126 or