About program

ITMO’s international Master’s program “Lighting Design” (120 ECTS) was developed by leading specialists of the University’s Creative Lighting Department (CLD ITMO University). In just two years after its foundation in 2015, CLD ITMO University entered the top-5 shortlist of the Award for Education category of the prominent Professional Lighting Design Convention (PLDC 2017). Two years later, the international lighting design community has once again professed its interest in supporting the development of creative and student-centered educational projects offered by ITMO: the University made a compelling debut in the Art&Design subject ranking of the QS World University Ranking by Subject 2019, taking first place in Russia and 151st place globally. The program is taught in English.

All prospective students wishing to enroll into ITMO University Master’s degrees have to take the entrance examinations. International students can choose between participating in the portfolio contest and taking a traditional entrance exam, which can be held online – you’ll just need to pick this option when completing your application form. Make sure to mail your application documents to ITMO’s Admission Office first; it is only after the Office receives the documents that you’ll become eligible for taking the online exam. Several days before the exam you’ll be sent an email with specific instructions on how the exam will take place. A list of examination questions is available here. The program content you can find here.

The only one in Russia

The program is aimed at creative thinkers searching for new forms and tools of working with space both in theory and on practice. It is equally beneficial both for new graduates and practicing specialists interested in professional transformation in the field of lighting design and design of interactive and lighting technologies and architectural spaces. Transformation is the word that guides and defines our development and the projects that we work on together with our Master’s students, city, industry and international partner universities in St. Petersburg, Russia’s cultural capital. Transformation of approaches to modern education, transformation of urban environment, transformation of social life and social spaces: these are the three key fields of activity that form the focus of our research and solutions, which are people-centered and aim to solve the modern challenges of our societies.

Focus on the quality of design solutions

Our educational program in Lighting Design is intended to stimulate the generation of new ideas, the development of creative responsibility and leadership skills. The students learn to harness the power of visual thinking, master the problem-oriented approach to design and explore modern methods and tools of analytics and design forecasting. We teach our aspiring designers to comprehensively interact with real-life environments and give objective substantiation of their creative choices. In addition to the main curriculum, the students participate in lectures, conferences and workshops by leading Russian and international scientists, researchers and practitioners in lighting design and the adjacent professional fields of architecture, design, lighting and computer technologies. That allows them to expand their knowledge horizons and engage in networking, which is a crucial tool in the toolset of a modern lighting designer, ensuring successful work both in Russia and abroad, in freelance and as part of a company’s staff.

Work placements and internships

High-achieving students have the opportunity to take part in international summer schools and internships, as well as obtain valuable international experience as part of exchange programs at our partner universities, which are Aalborg University (Denmark), University of Oulu (Finland), Tallinn University (Estonia), and University of Wolverhampton (the UK). Moreover, ITMO University’s Creative Lighting Department is the organizer of the eminent Lighting Design conference, participation in which gives the students of the program the chance to meet the heads of top international companies and be invited to partake in internships there; this was how one of our graduates, a lighting designer Anastasia Davydchik, had the experience to work with the team of one of the industry’s biggest names, the company Licht Kunst Licht AG.

Employment prospects

Even as early as during their studies, the students can join Creative Lighting Department’s many industrial and art projects on the recommendation of the program’s lecturers. All of the students enjoy an open access to the Department’s state-of-the-art project and student laboratories. It is there that the aspiring specialists design and create their lighting solutions. Best works are referred for participation in national and international competitions. Taken as a whole, this comprehensive educational experience gives the students the opportunity to make their professional breakthrough and accumulate a high-quality portfolio to seek employment at top architecture and design bureaus, lighting companies and interactive media studios. Below is an example of a term project of the first semester (the course “Principles and Methods of Light Modelling”).


The Master’s program allows its students to obtain extensive knowledge and skills that can be applied in their future career, be it as lighting designers, creative producers or heads of solutions departments charged with development of smart solutions for the improvement of quality of lighting for urban spaces. To help the students explore different options for their professional development, the program offers two specializations: urban design and interactive environment design. The first specialization focuses on the design of urban spaces such as buildings, parks and streets. The second targets the design of exhibition, museum and scenic spaces. Students choose their specialization in the beginning of their first year of studies. Specialization-specific studies start from the third semester. Below is an example of a relevant term paper of the second semester (the course “Problem-Oriented Approach to Lightning Design Projects”).

Thesis research: Light as a solution of social issues

The class of 2018 has shown a record-breaking academic performance, with all of the students awarded top grade for their theses. The majority of the 2018 graduates have also been recommended for participation in the annual ITMO University theses contest. The examination board included Vitaly Smirnov, lead engineer at the state unitary enterprise “Lensvet”, the main provider of lighting solutions for the city of St. Petersburg. The company’s field of activity was especially reflected in the thesis “The impact of correlated color temperature on human emotional state”. It was presented by Roman Antonov, who demonstrated the potential of using a portable EEG device for researching humans’ psychoemotional state. Other projects, presented by the Master’s students Olga Gerasimova and Maria Ershova, explored the important social problematics of the development of creative thinking of preschool children. Aiming to contribute to the solution of issues encountered in the interpersonal communication between children, the students proposed concepts of appropriate interactive environments for children using lighting technologies.

Ensuring comfort and security of urban residents

The theses of Yulia Lyubakova and Daria Filatova reflected on topical problems of how natural forms influence the emotional state of urban residents and how urban lighting impacts road safety in cities. The comfort of urban residents was also at the center of the theses by Valeria Lukinskaya and Dmitry Chukhin, who used the knowledge and experience in the field of daylight illumination and parametric systems they obtained during an exchange at Aalborg University (Denmark) in their designs of innovative adaptive systems for Nordic countries and residential areas of the so-called “well courtyards” that are typical for St. Petersburg’s urban planning.

Using light to positively impact human emotions

Four 2018 graduates dedicated their works to the development of smart objects and spaces that have a positive impact on human mind. This group of presentations was opened by Svetlana Degtyareva, whose thesis “Using sensor technologies for the evaluation of humans’ emotional state” explored technologies-enabled recognition of basic human emotions with a special focus on sensory aspects. Another student, Valeria Molodovskaya, proposed the concept of energy-efficient jewelry, presenting an experimental prototype based on the energy-efficient material KBNNO developed by Dr. Yang Bai, an associate professor at the University of Oulu. The high level of research and effectiveness of the prototypes created allowed the young specialists to participate in the second round of The Challenge 2018/2019, a prestigious international competition of student reports organized by the international Professional Lighting Design Convention.

Light and media art

Master’s student Daria Chirimisina took on the mantle of the experimental genre of neurotheater originated by the famous St. Petersburg media artist Yuri Didevich. Daria’s own project Aether has already gained traction among the international professional community and took first place at the LIT Design Awards 2017, an eminent award in the field of innovative light design. The project also won the Russian national grant “Umnik”. Another project, presented by the student Kirill Shamritsky, explored the development of a stress-relief laser projection system based on the work of the international laser theater Lux Aeterna.

At the heart of St. Petersburg

In our activity we are inspired by the dynamism and beauty of our surroundings: CLD’s location at Grivtsova Lane 14-16 is right at the heart of St. Petersburg’s historic center, near the Sadovaya, Sennaya and Spasskaya metro stations and just a short stroll away from Nevsky Prospekt, the Manege Central Exhibition Hall, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, House of Architects and many other landmarks. ITMO’s Grivtsova Lane campus also houses the Faculty of Applied Optics and some of the departments of the University’s School of Photonics. Once a starting point on the road to the countryside seat of the Russian imperial family, Grivtsova Lane also played an important role in the University’s history, as it was there that the-then Petrograd Technical College for Mechanics, Optics and Watchmaking found the first home of its own, having been allocated a building by the local authorities in 1920. Rewind to the present, and Room 108 is now CLD’s project laboratory and lecturers’ lounge. Room 427 is the lecture hall. Room 100 is the student laboratory. Room 430 is the assembly hall. Room B1 is designers’ atelier. Please feel at home.