behind the scenes, building the set for Three Penny Opera

Admission to BFA Production and Design

Step 1
Major-Specific Guidelines

To be considered for admission to the BFA Production and Design program, students must first submit an online application to Montclair State University, then follow the guidelines below:

  • Applicant should be an incoming freshman or sophomore; transfers please note that sequence of courses may necessitate additional semesters to graduate.
  • Students will have the opportunity to register online for an interview as part of the University application.  You will receive an email confirming your interview date and time once you have submitted your application.
      • The University application will request the documents below, which must submitted at least two weeks prior to the scheduled audition appointment:
        • Transcripts
        • Essay response: Please discuss why you wish to study your program of choice in the College of the Arts at Montclair State. Be sure to include highlights of your experience related to your chosen academic program and how those experiences have shaped your current career goals.
        • Resume of experience
        • Small recent school photo or headshot
        • Two letters of recommendation.  One must come from a teacher, director and/or other theater professional who can speak to your potential as a Theatre major. Letter should evaluate your self-discipline, attitude, motivation, creativity and potential for success in the performing arts.
        • Portfolio
        • $50 Audition fee (non-refundable)

    Prospective students interested in scheduling an interview for mid-year acceptance into the BFA Production and Design program should contact the Program Coordinator directly.  Professor Debra Otte can be reached at

  • Applicants should arrive early on the day of their scheduled appointment.
  • Unified Auditions– Prospective students may choose to interview at one of the “National Unified Auditions” as an alternative to coming to campus.

Following the portfolio interview, the Office of Admissions will notify candidates regarding their standing in the review process.

Please note that once enrolled in the Production/Design Program, students must participate in an annual review to continue in the program.

Prospective students are permitted to audition for more than one program. You must attend each audition separately, but you are able to register to audition/interview for more than one program on the same day. You must also provide separate copies of the requested documents for each program.

Step 2
Prepare Your Portfolio
  • Be selective in preparing your portfolio for presentation. Portfolios should include the best examples of your production work and design capabilities. The faculty will want to see your skills and abilities in production and design more than they want to see how well you can set up a nice portfolio. They look for quality and not quantity. The display is you! Since you are not present when the faculty views your portfolio, the display will determine the quality of your interview.
  • The portfolio should be well organized and neatly displayed. Practice set-up and organization of your table before you come to Montclair State University. Portfolio materials should be clean and presented to their best advantage e.g., matted, mounted, etc. when appropriate.
  • Your work should speak for itself, but be prepared to answer questions about your process and to explain your design ideas. If asked about a production, assume that the person is familiar with the plots of most classic and current drama. Outline the plot if you have designed an obscure or new play, but only explain as much as is necessary to understand your design idea and/or choices. Stage Managers prompt books should be clean and clearly organized.
  • Identify your work as a class project or realized production with the play title, producer (organization or class), and date.
  • Reflect your area of future concentration and interest (production, stage management, scene design, costume design, etc.) in the portfolio you present. If you have a produced design, show examples of your process and the development of the project to the finished product on-stage. Document the evolution of a complex technical project through a series of photographs.
  • Photo reproductions with accurate color development should be used. Select photos that are 3/8/08 not repetitive and show your work clearly. At least one full stage shot of a setting and full figure shots of characters in costume are expected.
  • You can take credit as “assistant” on your resume and provide applicable paperwork (drafting, lighting plot, etc.) if any.”
  • It is a good idea to have examples of non-theater work reflecting your taste and abilities e.g., graphic arts projects; life drawings; or examples of photography. It is not necessary to bring three-dimensional objects, but a well-built set model, costume, property or example of related craft work is acceptable. Photos of three-dimensional work may also be included.


  • If your portfolio includes sound that you would like the faculty to hear, please let us know of your need for an electrical outlet on your application. You must provide your own equipment, including playback deck, headphones and extension cords.
  • Prepare a five to seven minute cassette, CD or other media with brief examples of your best work. Place a vocal identifier at the beginning of each example stating the play title, the producer (organization or class), and date, or other appropriate information if the example is not from the sound score of a play.
  • When you set up your display, make sure to check that your audio is playing back thoroughly before leaving the room. (Please respect other applicants during this process).
Step 3
Portfolio Interview Guidelines


  • On the day of your interview, the candidate will be assigned a station at which to display his/her portfolio.
  • Arrive at Montclair State University and the designated location a few minutes early to check in. Do not be late.
  • Each station consists of an approximately 32″ x 4′ table (dimensions and style may vary slightly).
  • The entire display must be contained on the table and for something like a standing mannequin on the floor space immediately surrounding the table. There is no guarantee that the table will be against a wall.
  • Candidates may utilize their own free-standing display boards if desired, but candidate is responsible for set up and removal of all parts of display.
  • Candidate will have approximately 30 minutes to set up the display after which there will be a short presentation then they will be excused from the area.
  • Candidates will receive a tour of the facilities and be given instructions as to what time to return.


  • The faculty from the Production and Design division will review the portfolio presentations.
  • After viewing the portfolios, the faculty will invite the participants back into the presentation area.
  • Interview will be conducted by the faculty with all participants present in the room.
  • Interviews will be approximately ten minutes in length and take place at the candidate’s station.


  • Make absolutely certain that all contact information is correct and up-to-date on your resume. If you have an email address, please be sure to include it.
  • Because the faculty see many candidates, please make a small, passport or wallet-sized photo of yourself available, either as a printed part of your resume or stapled directly to your resume. This will help the faculty remember who you are when sorting through their notes.
  • Leave at least 3 copies of your resume and 3 photocopies of your academic transcripts on your table to pick up during the reviews. Yes, photocopies of your transcripts are perfectly acceptable.
Step 4
Appointment Dates

Refer to Department Admission – Appointments Calendar

Appointment Cancellations:

Please give as much advance notice as possible if an appointment must be canceled.  If a cancellation is necessary, you must send notice and confirm that the department acknowledges receipt of cancellation. A last-minute cancellation or failure to attend an appointment may make you ineligible to schedule a later audition.

Contact Kim Whittam for Program Admission
Contact Debra Otte Program Coordinator
Contact Zachary Brower for University Admission