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UMKC costume design program listed as one of best in country

UMKC’s costume design program has been listed as one of the best in the country by the Hollywood Reporter. (UMKC Theatre)

The Hollywood Reporter recently gave UMKC’s costume design program high praise and listed it as one of the best places to study the art and technology of costume design. 

In their article “The Top 10 Costume Design Schools in the U.S.,” the Hollywood Reporter listed UMKC among other prestigious universities such as California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), David Geffen School of Drama at Yale, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and the University of Southern California.

Lindsay W. Davis, a UMKC theatre professor of costume design, said that the majority of UMKC’s incoming grad students often think that only coastal universities offer significant training and careers.

However, UMKC refutes this stereotype and offers students a firm foundation of costume design training and experience.

This is also not the first time the Hollywood Reporter has recognized UMKC for its outstanding costume design program. For three years in a row, UMKC has been featured in their list of top 10 costume design schools around the U.S.

“Three times in a row validates our training program, because we already know that all our graduates work in the entertainment industry,” said Davis in a UMKC Today article.

UMKC Theater offers a single comprehensive Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) degree in both costume design and technology. Within the specific costume design program, students learn many design practices including drawing and sketching, painting, constructing garments, fabric manipulation, millinery, tailoring and pattern drafting.

“Talk about well-rounded résumés,” said Cathy Whitlock, author of the Hollywood Reporter article.

Along with specific design practices, graduates from this program are well versed in technical skills, idea development, research skills regarding dramatic history and mastering the business of the profession and career growth.

“The UMKC Conservatory Costume Department is led by extraordinary faculty who instill a standard of excellence and professionalism in our students and who nurture connections between students and professionals all around the world long after graduation,” said Carla Noack, a UMKC theater professor who specializes in acting.

UMKC also offers third-year costume designers the opportunity to create costumes for the Kansas City Repertory Theatre while working in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. Within this unique opportunity, students can spend up to five weeks gaining hands-on experience while designing, shopping and organizing for the show.

When asked what sets UMKC’s costume design program apart from other schools, Kenneth Martin, professor of theatre and chair of the theatre division at UMKC, simply said drawing.

“Our students spend 10 hours a week in the classroom drawing,” said Martin. “When our students graduate, their skills are among the best in the country.”

UMKC’s costume design department is also known for its millinery work. “Millinery” is a term in the fashion realm to define the manufacturing and crafting of hats and headwear.

“We are proud of the work of the entire program,” said Martin. “The costume program being recognized is a reflection on the work of those faculty members and the students that we are able to recruit.”

For more information about UMKC’s costume design program, visit

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