Program Overview: Handbook
On admission to the Program, each student will be assigned a faculty person with an appointment at The Graduate Center to act as mentor. Faculty mentors advise students in course selection and approve their registration each semester, advise students in their progress toward becoming professionals in the field, answer questions about the Program's structure and the procedure through the degree, advise students on the timing of their First and Second Examinations as well as their language requirements, and consult on the selection of a Dissertation Chair and Committee. Students can petition the Executive Officer by memo to have their mentors changed at any time during their progress toward the degree. Once a student has selected a Dissertation Committee Chair, that faculty person serves as the student's primary mentor and advisor.
Leave of Absence Policies
Each student may petition to take a total of four semesters of leave of absence. Requests for leaves must be made in writing to and approved by the Executive Officer. During a leave of absence, the student is separated from the Program and may not record with the Registrar grades or other confirmations of progress (passing of language exams, level changes, etc.). Students on leave are not issued I.D. renewal stickers and may not use the Graduate Center library. Students on leave should not expect faculty to participate on examinations or in committee work during the period of the leave. However, students are allowed to make up incomplete grades during that time.
Students who apply for readmission after a substantial period of being withdrawn from the program must be interviewed by two faculty members selected by the Executive Officer. The faculty members will make a recommendation to the Admissions Committee. If readmitted, such students will be required to take at least one course, usually Theatre Theory or Theatre Historiography, as well as to meet all the current requirements of the program. If GREs are not on file, or are more than five years old, a student will be required to take the GRE and submit current scores.
Transfer of Credits
A maximum of thirty (30) acceptable graduate credits taken prior to admission to the doctoral program may be applied toward the Ph.D. degree, provided the courses were completed with the grade of B or higher. Only courses generally equivalent to work in the Ph.D. Program in Theatre will be eligible for transfer (courses in theatre history, dramatic literature, theory of the theatre, theatre criticism, and film studies), but up to 9 hours of graduate-level production courses may be transferred. During their enrollment at The Graduate Center, students who have not previously taken master's or doctoral-level courses in production, playwriting, or directing may be permitted to transfer a maximum of six credits from such courses taken at another university theatre department. Transfer of credits is not automatic but is arranged upon request to the Executive Officer at the time of matriculation, or later, if the student wishes.
Students are normally accepted as nonmatriculants only in unusual cases (i.e., as students already enrolled as matriculants in master's degree programs at any of the CUNY senior colleges, as part of the colloquial arrangement that the Theatre Program has established with NYU and Columbia, or as applicants with completed applications who have not gained an admissions decision for the semester for which they applied. In the last case, nonmatriculant status is granted at the discretion of the Executive Officer). Details for application can be found in a special form in the Program office. Students are restricted to a maximum of two nonmatriculant courses, regardless of their success in such courses.
A grade below B signals that work is not satisfactory and needs to be refined and improved in order to be brought up to satisfactory Program standards. Students are strongly encouraged to complete their course work on time each semester. If students receive permission to take incompletes it is incumbent upon them to finish their work and to have their grades changed as soon as possible. After two semesters outstanding, incompletes automatically revert to permanent incomplete grades on student transcripts and cannot be changed without the written approval of the Vice President for Student Affairs. Each semester the Office of the Registrar monitors student progress. In order to make satisfactory progress, students must:
1) not have more than two “open grades” on their transcripts (i.e., incompletes, or the “no grade recorded” designation),
2) maintain a 3.0 or above grade point average,
3) not have exceeded the time limit for completion of the degree.
If the Registrar determines that a student is failing to make satisfactory progress, he or she will inform the student, who must report to the Executive Officer a plan for bringing her/himself into compliance. If a student is finally judged not to be in compliance, the Registrar will withhold the student's next registration card, and the student may not continue in the Program (see the Student Handbook for appeals procedures).
New York City Doctoral Consortium
Students may cross register for appropriate courses at member institutions. See the Student Handbook for specific details of the procedures to be followed.
Students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of two appropriate foreign languages during the course of study at The Graduate Center. The first language requirement must be satisfied before or during the semester the student achieves 45 graduate credits. The second language requirement must be passed before students may declare their intent to take the Second Examination. The foreign language requirement may be satisfied in any of the following ways:
1) translating a passage of approximately 400 words dealing with theatre studies selected by the faculty. This is a two-hour, on-site exam, offered twice annually at the Program's discretion. Students may bring a dictionary or use on-line dictionaries.
2) taking a CUNY Graduate Center Language Institute course and passing the translation examination given at the end of the course. Theatre Program faculty will submit the passage to be translated and grade the exam. Students should be aware that the Theatre Program’s standard for passing the examination may be different from that of the Language Institute faculty and that taking the course is not a guarantee of passing the examination.
3) submitting a satisfactory translation of previously untranslated material. Each student will receive a prose passage of approximately 2,500 words, chosen by a faculty member, that is not easily available in translation, and accompanied by a signed statement from the student that the translation is her/his own, unassisted work. Examinees may use a dictionary, and the translation must be accomplished within one semester or over the summer. This option may not satisfy more than one language requirement. This option may not be used during the fall semester if the student plans to take the second exam in January or during the summer if the student plans to take the second exam in August.
4) passing an intermediate college-level language course with a grade of A, as part of either an undergraduate or a master’s program. (Note: a final passing grade in The Graduate Center's Language Reading Program translation course does not fulfill this requirement.)
5) submitting certification in a foreign language obtained as part of a previous M.A. program.
6) a non-native English speaker who completed high school or the equivalent in a school in which the language of instruction was not English will be considered to have fulfilled the language requirement for one of the two required languages.
Students must declare in writing to the Executive Officer, by sending an email to the Assistant Program Officer, the option and language they are choosing. If a student chooses options 1-3, the declaration must be received one month before the examination takes place or the translation is picked up. Also, in the case of options 1-3, if the Theatre Program Faculty member who grades the examination judges it to be a failure, then a second Theatre Program Faculty member will grade it as well. The Executive Officer, in consultation with the Deputy Executive Officer, will adjudicate discrepancies. If the student is deemed to have failed the exam, then that student may take it again at the next sitting. There is no limit to the number of times a student may take the exam.
En-route Master of Arts Degree
Students who do not already have an M.A. in Theatre can apply for the degree when they have met the following four criteria. (1) They must have completed, with a grade of B or better, 30 credits of approved Theatre courses at the Graduate Center, the CUNY constituent colleges, and consortium institutions. These credits must include the required courses THEA 70100, 70300, and 70600. Requests to count courses in disciplines other than Theatre will be evaluated by the Executive Officer or Deputy Executive Officer on a case-by-case basis. Credits from institutions outside the CUNY system and consortium cannot be used for this degree. (2) Applicants must have passed both the oral and written portions of the First Examination. (3) They must have passed one of the language requirements for the Ph.D. (4) They must have presented to a supervisory committee a capstone project or paper, approved by two faculty members, to serve as a thesis.
The paper must be approved by a committee appointed by the EO, after consultation with the student. The committee will consist of an appropriate supervisor and one other faculty member who agrees to participate. In the semester in which the student completes the paper, he or she must register for an Independent Study with the supervisor. The thesis project will normally consist of a substantial revision and development of a paper from a previous course. Suggested length is between 30 and 40 pages. The completed paper is due on the first Monday in November for a fall degree or on the first Monday in April for a spring degree. For procedure, see below.
It should be understood that the en-route M.A. is an option available only in exceptional circumstances. This decision will be made by the Program faculty.
Having met all requirements for the en-route MA except the capstone project or paper, the student will submit to the EO an approval to proceed form. After consulting with the EO and with relevant faculty in advance, the student will list on the form the proposed committee to supervise the capstone project and the topic of the proposed paper, along with an explanation of the extraordinary circumstances that are producing this request. For a spring degree, this form is due on the first Monday in November of the semester before the degree is sought. For a fall degree, this form is due on the first Monday in April for a fall degree of the semester before the degree is sought. The EO will bring the form to the attention of the core faculty for a yes/no vote, either in person or by email. If approved, the student will carry out the capstone project in the next semester, submitting it to the supervisory committee in final form by the first Monday in April for a spring degree or the first Monday in November for a fall degree.
U900 Progress Committee
After a student has completed sixty (60) credits and passed both language exams, he/she must take the Second Examination within the two subsequent semesters. In the first semester after advancement to candidacy, and in all semesters until graduation, the student must submit a report detailing progress, which will be requested by the U900 Progress Committee. Failure to demonstrate regular semester-by-semester progress toward the degree may result in a recommendation by the U900 Progress Committee of termination of a student's program. If there are disagreements between committees over the best course of action for a student to complete his or her dissertation, the U900 Committee and the Dissertation Committee will meet to negotiate the most appropriate plan.
The Examination Committee is comprised of three faculty members with Graduate Center appointments, or two Graduate Center faculty appointments and a doctoral faculty member from the constituent campuses. This standing committee will write and grade each examination and hold the oral examination. The Committee will ensure consistency between examinations regarding Program expectations, the content, concept, and rigor of the examinations and evaluation procedures.
The First Examination is taken after the student has completed thirty (30) course credits of work in the Program and before the completion of forty-five (45) credits. The Graduate Center requires that the student be officially registered both in the semester before he or she takes the exam and in the semester of the exam. Students will be asked to sign up for the First Exam during the semester before it is taken. Once a student has signed up, he or she cannot withdraw from the upcoming sitting of the Exam without a written justification that has been accepted by the Executive Officer in consultation with available members of the U900 Committee. The exam will be given at the start of each semester, with the aim of having results decided in time to benefit students’ registration and level changes. The exam will consist of written and oral components, as follows:
(1) Three essay questions to be written and graded by the Standing Examination Committee. The questions will overlap theory, history, and structure. The purpose of the written component is to test: a) students’ ability to organize knowledge; b) their preparation for advanced thinking; and c) their ability to choose illustrative examples. Samples of recent exams may be reviewed in the Program Office. The essays are to be answered in four hours and may be written on computers. There will be a break of 30 minutes after the first 2 hours. There will be no choice of questions. Primary sources (plays, theory) should be cited, and if a student knows relevant secondary materials, they should be cited, but are not required.
(2) A 90-minute comprehensive oral examination for each student, beginning from the essays and moving out into the field of theatre generally. This examination will be conducted by the Standing Examination Committee and will be scheduled as soon as convenient after the writtens (within two weeks, if the calendar permits).
Between the written and the oral components of the examination, students are able to correct any mistakes and qualify their statements. They may bring new examples of work they consider more relevant to the question into the oral exam. Each questioner in the exam will begin by asking the student to detail any such amendments.
Students can expect to be asked about theatre and/or performance in transnational, comparative, and/or global contexts and to apply appropriate scholarly reading practices to their analysis. The line of questioning in the oral exam will be guided by the issues, themes, and examples raised for discussion in the written exam. Students can expect to be asked about key terms, the content, and context of works mentioned and their connection to co-related themes, issues, and examples.
Students choose the order in which they wish to answer each question. The author of the question will in each instance take the lead on questioning. Other members of the committee will be given an opportunity to add further questions towards the end of the allocated time.
After the oral, the student will be excused for ten minutes, while the Standing Examination Committee confers. The student will then be invited to a twenty-minute diagnostic meeting, during which his or her strengths and weaknesses, as demonstrated by course work to date and by the exam, will be addressed. The results of the examination will be announced to the student at this meeting: high pass/pass/fail.
Both parts of the procedure must be judged passing for the student to pass the examination, and failing either part requires repetition of the entire exam. A student who fails must repeat the exam at the next sitting. A student who fails the first exam will be given written feedback within a one-week period in addition to verbal feedback at the examination meeting. Two failures of the First Examination will result in termination from the program. Termination decisions can be appealed (see Student Handbook).
Preparation for the Second Examination: Students who pass the First Examination will be encouraged to talk at the diagnostic discussion about how they plan to shape their further study. At separate meetings with the Executive Officer, held within a month of passing the First Examination, students should identify a mentor with whom they can then start planning their Second Examinations. This choice should be made carefully, since changing mentors may delay a student’s progress. The mentor must be a member of the Graduate Center Theatre faculty, based either at the Graduate Center or at one of the CUNY colleges. Working with the mentor, the student will shape a course of study with two objectives, preparation for the Second Exam and for writing a dissertation. Further courses should be chosen with these goals in mind.
Once the student and mentor have constituted the student's Second Exam Committee, the student will inform the Executive Officer in writing. The Second Exam Committee is composed of three faculty members, including the mentor. Each member will oversee one of the three Second Exam fields and work with the student to develop that field and book list. Two of these three members must be central appointments in Theatre. The third member may be another central appointment in Theatre, a member of the doctoral faculty from one of the CUNY colleges, or a central appointment in a different program at the Graduate Center. The option is available to include a fourth person from this program or elsewhere.
By the beginning of April if the First Exam is passed in January, and by the beginning of November if the First Exam is passed in August, the student will present to the Standing Examination Committee the fields in which he or she intends to prepare lists of books, along with a one paragraph rationale for each field. The purpose of this review is to ensure consistency and standards. The committee will either approve the fields or send them back for revision, if need be. By the beginning of November if the First Exam is passed in January, and by the beginning of April if the First Exam is passed in August, the student will present to the Standing Examination Committee the lists of books for the three fields in which he or she is to be examined. One of these will be the conceptual or historical field in which the student’s projected dissertation will be intervening. The other two may also be related to the dissertation field, but must be distinct from it. They may be either historical or conceptual. The presumption is that the student should be prepared to teach an upper-level undergraduate course in any of these fields.
The following list of fields is intended to be inspirational, not prescriptive. Sample conceptual fields: post-colonial theory, gender and sexuality, critical race theory, opera, popular entertainments, sociology of culture, Marxist theory, theories of visual culture, musical theatre; a national theatre. Sample fields in the history of theatre: ancient Greek and Roman; medieval European; Early Modern European (sixteenth to mid-seventeenth centuries); Europe, 1630-1790; Europe and America, 1790-1880; Europe and America, 1880-1945; Europe and America, 1945-present; Latin American; Japanese; Chinese; South Asian; African; Arabic. There is also the option, for a student getting the certificate in Film Studies, to write an examination in film on Silent Cinema, Modern European (sound cinema in Europe), American Cinema, or Third World Cinema.
For the purposes of the exam, the dissertation field will be defined by a reading list of approximately 30 major books and the other two fields by reading lists of approximately 25 major books each, along with a rationale for each field. Articles may be substituted for five of the books, at most, at the rate of approximately five articles to a book, with an explanation included in the rationale. Play scripts will not appear on these reading lists, but knowledge of relevant plays will be covered on the examination. To ensure consistency and standards, the reading lists will be reviewed by the Standing Examination Committee, which will approve them or send them back for revision, if need be. To allow for inclusion of newly published material, a student may make slight revisions in the reading list up to four months before taking the Second Exam. Approval of the lists and accompanying rationale completes the responsibility of the Standing Examination Committee for the Second Exam.
The Second Examination must be taken within one academic year after the completion of all course work (60 credits). The Graduate Center requires that the student be officially registered both in the semester before he or she takes the exam and in the semester of the exam. It will be given at the start of each semester, with the aim of having results decided in time to benefit students’ registration and level changes. Students will be asked to sign up for the Second Examination during the semester before it is taken.
The Second Examination will be written and graded by the student’s individual committee; it will consist of written and oral components, as follows:
(1) On each of three days, separated by at least one day, the student will answer a question about a chosen field. The questions may have subdivisions, but there will be no choice of question. To answer these questions, the student will draw upon and cite the books on his or her reading lists and will be expected to demonstrate a breadth and depth of knowledge within the confines of the reading lists.
(2) The student will then go on to a two-hour oral examination, to be scheduled as soon as convenient after the writtens (within two weeks, if the calendar permits). The oral will begin with discussion of the writtens, but will branch out to material not covered on the writtens, though within the parameters of the reading lists. The mentor, not the student, is responsible for confining discussion to the agreed-upon list. The results of the examination will be announced to the student at the end of this meeting: high pass/pass/fail.
Either part of the exam, or both parts, may be repeated once, if necessary. A student who fails must repeat the exam at the next sitting. Two failures will result in termination from the program
Advancement to Candidacy
A student will advance to candidacy upon
1) completion of coursework with at least a B average;
2) fulfillment of both language requirements; and
3) passing the Second Examination.
The Assistant Program Officer will submit an application for candidacy to the Office of the Registrar on the student's behalf. The student will provide to the Assistant Program Officer the name of a provisional Dissertation Chair as well as a provisional dissertation title.
Master of Philosophy Degree: When an application for Advancement to Candidacy is submitted to the Office of the Registrar, the Registrar's Office will forward to the successful candidate an announcement of candidacy and an offer to apply for the Master of Philosophy degree: this degree is conferred upon any candidate who responds to the Office of the Registrar using the form enclosed with the announcement of candidacy. The M.Phil. is an interim degree available to ABDs and is not required or necessary.
Dissertation Committees are comprised of at least three doctoral faculty members, one of whom must have a Graduate Center appointment in Theatre. Within a month of advancing to candidacy, the student should meet separately, first with the Executive Officer and then with the mentor, to discuss the possible chair for the Dissertation Committee, as well as possible committee members. The Executive Officer and mentor must approve the Dissertation Chair and the Committee before the student can go on to write the dissertation proposal.
The first step in the writing of a dissertation is gaining the Dissertation Committee's approval of a proposal. The 10-15 double-spaced pages should include a narrative description of the project, which refers in detail to scholarship bearing on the topic. The proposal should describe the methodologies the student intends to employ, research questions, a description of the topic's significance in the field, a consideration of the historical and critical context in which the topic will be investigated, chapter outlines that clearly articulate how the dissertation will be organized, and a selected bibliography. Because the Dissertation Chair and Committee members should be consulted regularly, both the preparation of the proposal and the writing of the dissertation will progress more smoothly if the student is in residence.
Dissertation proposals and dissertations in the Theatre Program are to be prepared according to the guidelines furnished by the Registrar's Office (available from the Theatre Program office). They should follow the style outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style. Since the dissertation proposal is an integral part of many fellowship applications, it should be written not only for the Dissertation Committee but also for the non-specialist reader. In addition, students should attach a research and writing plan to the proposal, outlining a schedule for their writing.
The dissertation proposal should be developed in consultation with the Committee Chair, which may take several exchanges. Once the Committee Chair approves the draft proposal, it should then go to the rest of the Committee Members, each of whom may ask for adjustments, major or minor. All members of the Committee must agree that the draft is satisfactory before a proposal defense can be scheduled. When the dissertation proposal has been deemed satisfactory by all members of the Committee, the student shall notify the Executive Officer and present the Executive Officer with a copy of the satisfactory draft proposal. The Executive Officer shall then direct the Assistant Program Officer to work with the student to schedule a meeting of the Dissertation Committee, the Executive Officer, and the student, at which the student shall present the proposal. The Committee and the Executive Officer, after meeting with the student, may approve the proposal, ask the student to revise and re-submit the proposal, or authorize the Chair to approve the requisite changes. If the Committee does not approve the revised proposal at its second meeting, the student must choose a new topic and may reconstitute the committee. Titles of approved proposals are registered for publication with “Dissertations in Progress” published each year in Theatre Journal.
Once the Committee Chair has approved chapter drafts, the student is advised to circulate them to all committee members who are willing to read them. When the completed version of the dissertation, including notes and bibliography, has been approved by the Committee Chair, it is distributed to other members of the Committee, and an oral examination or defense is scheduled.
To schedule the dissertation defense, the student must first approach the Committee Chair and other members of the Committee to find a mutually acceptable time, and then inform the Assistant Program Officer of the agreed date and time. The office will then arrange a location and send a written announcement of the appointed date, location, and time to the student and committee members. To read a completed dissertation draft, the Committee must have a minimum of three weeks before a defense, not including scheduled vacation time, unless other arrangements are made with the committee and approved in writing by the Committee Chair and Executive Officer. At the defense, the Committee may make one of four decisions: it may approve the dissertation as presented; it may ask for minor revisions which must be approved by the Committee Chair; it may ask for major revisions which must be approved by the entire Committee; or it may refuse to approve the dissertation.
A copy of the approved dissertation must be deposited in the Mina Rees Library (see the Dissertation Assistant well in advance for details), and the student must be registered during the semester in which the degree is granted.
Time Limit for Degree
All requirements must be completed no later than eight (8) years after matriculation, or seven (7) years after matriculation if the student has transferred thirty (30) hours of advanced standing graduate credits.
Doctoral Theatre Students Association (DTSA)
The purpose of this organization is to promote an atmosphere of community and sociability among students in the Theatre Program at The Graduate Center. The association therefore plans departmental activities throughout the academic year that are of professional, cultural, and social interest to its membership.
All doctoral students in Theatre who are currently matriculated at CUNY are voting members of the DTSA. Associate members include alumni and departmental faculty, as well as students on leave from the Program.
The DTSA is the official sponsor of the annual Edwin Booth Award, which is given each year to an individual or institution, selected by the membership, in recognition of significant contributions to American theatre. The award is given in a public ceremony in the spring semester.
Notice of Nondiscrimination
The Graduate School and University Center of The City University of New York is an equal opportunity and affirmative action institution. The Graduate Center does not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, sexual preference, alienage or citizenship, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, marital status, veteran status, or disability in its student admissions, employment, access to programs, and administration of educational policies.
The Graduate Center is committed to promoting pluralism and diversity and combating racism and bigotry. Concerns, questions, complaints, and suggestions about affirmative action and equal employment may be addressed to any member of the Graduate Center Affirmative Action Committee through the Affirmative Action Officer.
The City University of New York prohibits sexual harassment and has instituted policies, procedures, and educational programs to prevent and address sexual harassment. For more information, please contact the coordinator of the Sexual Harassment Panel and see the Graduate Center Student Handbook.
Chief Diversity Officer: Edith Rivera-Cancel, Room 7301.05; 212-817-7410.
504/ADA Coordinator: Vice President for Student Affairs Matthew Schoengood, Room 7301; 212 -817-7409.
Title IX Coordinator: Edith Rivera-Cancel, Room 7301.05; 212-817-7410.
Coordinator, Sexual Harassment Panel: Refer to the Graduate Student Handbook for related information.
Ombuds Officer: Professor Martin Gitterman, Room 7313; call for appointments at 212-817-7191. The Ombuds Officer offers complete confidence to any individual in the GSUC community in discussing informal as well as formal solutions to any problem.
Executive Director for Human Resources: Ella Kiselyuk, Room 8403.03; 212-817-7700.
Level I: Includes all students who have accumulated fewer than 45 hours and have yet to pass the First Examination.
Level II: Includes all students who have 45 hours or more and who have passed the First Examination.
Level III: Includes only those students who have fulfilled the requirements above and have completed course work, fulfilled both language requirements, and passed the Second Exam. These students are considered to have advanced to candidacy.