Ph.D. Program


The Ph.D. program provides comprehensive training in theatre and performance scholarship, combining a wide definition of performance while maintaining rigorous training within a discipline core. The program partners seminars and tutorials by the doctoral theatre faculty, with a wide menu of performance based seminars offered through the Center for Performance Studies, a consortium of graduate programs from across disciplines whose interests reside in the culture of performance. The four year plan of study offers opportunities for a full range of Western and non-Western periods from the ancient to the contemporary, from the traditional to the avant garde.

Graduates of the program have been prepared to enter careers as university professors, arts administrators, dramaturgs, and critics. Most applicants have theatre degrees and production experience, but on-going production work is not an integral part of the doctoral program. The enrollment is small, and individual attention to scholarly projects - including private tutorials - shapes the student's experience throughout their course of study. Whatever their particular interests, Ph.D. students are expected to develop the broadest and deepest understanding of theatre and performance, theory and history.

PhD alumni

For admissions information, see Applying to the Ph.D. Program.

Program of Study

The four-year program consists of three years of coursework, including a sequence of 16 seminars, followed by a reading quarter, qualifying and comprehensive exams, and finally, the dissertation. The seminars are designed to provide thorough preparation in the major issues, periods, contemporary, critical and theoretic approaches in the field. Students are expected to enroll in the department seminars (five per year), and to select additional classes from outside the department's offerings.

There is also a foreign language component that requires each student to have a working knowledge of a second language. A working knowledge is defined as skills enough to allow one to conduct research in that language.

The sequence of drama seminars reflects the changing needs of the field and the developing research interests of the faculty. Topics in the history sequence have included Drama in the Industrial Age, Communism and Capitalism, and Sources and Antiquity. Seminars in criticism have included Reading, Interpretation and Performance, Mimesis and Theatrical Representation, The Semiotics of Theatre, and Globalization Theory. From the seminars, students are encouraged to develop original research and to present their work at professional conferences, leading to publication in academic journals.


The fourth year of the program is devoted to writing a dissertation under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Recent doctoral dissertations have explored semiotics, feminism, medieval traditions, American theatre history, contemporary English and German drama, ethnicity and performance theory.

The Center for Performance Studies

The doctoral program in the School of Drama is a founding member of the Center for Performance Studies, hosted by the School of Drama.

The Center is a consortium of graduate faculty from across the disciplines who all teach in the area of performance studies. Our constituent members range from more traditional departments, like Theatre, Dance, English, to Comparative Literature, Anthropology, Ethno-musicology, Germanics, Classics, History, Spanish-Portuguese, the Asian Center, Social Work, and others, who all offer seminars in the study of performance and performance culture. The Center is not a degree-granting institution, but rather a Commons that shares resources, seminars, guests, graduate students, and faculty. The Center also offers a series of its own seminars, independent of departmental offerings. These are team-taught, inter-disciplinary seminars themed around a common text, theory, or theme, taught by professors in disparate disciplines.

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