I would recommend Georgetown, if you are interested in a program that is brand new, and are interested in a non directed program. we will offer a basic theatre major for the first time this coming fall. Georgetown is not a conservatory, and there is no graduate program yet, so you dont have to worry about grad students blocking you from classes, at the moment we hardly have enough students to fill them at all. There are no concentrations at this point, but you will leave with a great libral arts degree with hands on experience in the field as well as a good deal of classroom time. As a result you could (as a freshman) be doing full stage design in a 240 seat proscenium with the latest equipment (Strand lightpallete, Hog 3PC, S4 Revolutions, various scrollers and effects, DL2's) as well as a great basics program, with the intention of starting with basic designs and tracing historically through theatre technology up to present techniques and advancements. and all with direct support of a wonderful faculty, including many from the Chicago and New York circuits as well as visiting professors and playwrights from all over the world.
With 4 theatres on campus and 12-16 plays a year and numerous other dance and music performances there is always something to do.
We are also developing relationships with several professional theatres in the DC area, which is a dynamic community of professionals.
a bit of a plug, but we have a great program starting up, and there are great oportunities. It is never a boring day. Look into it if you want to be part of a burgoning program, and take part in its future development.
you know if you are ever interested in coming up to Canada, I go to Red Deer College. It is known to be the best technical theatre diploma program in western Canada, if not all the country. Here we have state of the art equipment, industry professionals. It's also a very tough screening process to get in so you know that it will be competitive once you're in too, which is good for personal development.
I am a North Carolina School of the Arts lighting design graduate and I feel that NCSA served me extremely well. I agree with an earlier post that emphasized that this is a personal decision. NCSA has no graduate program in lighting, so I was able to work frequently with scenery and costume designers who were grad students. However, the NCSA BFA program is very specialized, so if you're hoping for a more "general" technical theatre program that allows you to do some lighting, some scenery, maybe even some acting, NCSA is probably not the right fit.
I disagree with the assumption that you must have an MFA to work as a professional designer. Certainly there are many strong MFA programs that prepare you well for the professional world, NYU and Yale are among the top in faculty and name recognition. However, your success will also be closely tied to your hard work and the relationships you develop as a student or recent graduate. Who you know can be as valuable as what you know, so take advantage of any opportunity to demonstrate your dedication and willingness to learn new things. You'll be surprised at how small this industry is and how a few strong contacts can jump start your career, regardless of the degree on your wall.
Finally, technicians may benefit from studies in computer science, electronics, etc. I think that designers must expand their academic experience to include history, literature, fine art, political and social sciences. Your director may want to talk about the play in terms of a political or historical context, most don't care about the photometrics of a particular ellipsoidal. Having a well-rounded understanding and interest of historical and current events is critical to this collaboration.
Good luck, work hard, keep up those personal relationships.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record (or putting my foot in my mouth), I'm at Columbia College in Chicago. My major's audio, but from what I understand, there's a good lighting program for everything from architectural (sp?) lighting to theatrical lighting. 'Course I don't really know too much about those programs since I wasn't loooking for lighing. Beware if you go to the website to check it out, it's a royal PITA to use (and everyone up here thinks so too).
From what I understand, Webster University in St. Louis (up the street from me) has a good tech program. I believe Pie4Weebl here on CB goes there for it.
As far as I know, both will get you a BFA. Both have well connected faculty (trust me, that's important for finding work), and good performance spaces.
i believe University of Iowa does that, don't quote me, but i know plenty of theatre students who have also worked at Hancher and gotten paid for that work...somehow it works into tuition, but i'm not really sure on that whole situation...