Curriculum Requirements

Please see the Theatre and Performance Ph.D. Program Handbook for further details on curriculum requirements.

Course Requirements

The Ph.D. Program in Theatre and Performance requires 60 credits of approved graduate work, including acceptable transfer credits.

At least 30 of these credits must be taken in residence at The Graduate Center.

Each student is further expected to spend at least one year in full-time resident study, which will consist of a schedule of no fewer than 12 credits or the equivalent in weighted instructional units for each of two consecutive semesters.

First-year doctoral courses may be taken at one or several of the senior colleges of the University; advanced doctoral seminars are offered at The Graduate Center and through an academic consortium with New York University and Columbia University.

Directed independent study and externships in theatre for credit are also available.

All students in the Ph.D. Program in Theatre and Performance are required to complete the four-course core sequence in theatre research and historiography, dramatic readings, and theory. These courses award 12 of the required 60 credits for graduation. 

Core courses are taught as seminars, focusing on methodologies with which to think about history, for example, and on pedagogy, so that students can gather ideas about how to teach theory and play structure.

All students in the Ph.D. Program in Theatre and Performance will complete the following core courses during the first year of study:

  • Theatre Research
  • Contextual and Intertextual Studies in Drama
  • History of Theatrical Theory

To help students prepare for the First Examination, each of the first three core courses has a final written and/or oral examination.

After successfully passing the First Exam, all students will be required to take Advanced Theatre Research as the final course in the core curriculum sequence.

See core curriculum course descriptions »

Doctoral courses in theory and criticism include such topics as dramatic genres, film study, theatre theory and criticism, and theatre and related performing arts. Doctoral courses in dramatic structure include seminars in individual playwrights, movements, themes, national traditions, and comparative drama.

Doctoral courses in history and production include seminars in theatre history and production of a given period and country, seminars in aspects of contemporary performance theory and technique, and seminars in varying aspects of theatre organization and development.

See current and previous course schedules.

Language Requirement

Students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of two appropriate languages other than English through one of the procedures described in the program’s student handbook. They are not required to retake examinations in languages that they have passed for the M.A. degree.


Examination Requirements

First Examination

The First Examination, a written and oral qualifying examination covering general knowledge of the field, is to be taken after students have completed 30 credits of graduate work and must be passed by the time they have completed 45 credits.

Second Examination

The Second Examination may be taken only after students have completed all other requirements except the dissertation. This examination will test in depth the student’s knowledge of three areas of advanced study.


Dissertation Requirement

Under the supervision of a faculty member, the student will complete a dissertation. The completed dissertation must be approved by the faculty director and two other faculty members appointed by the executive officer in consultation with the sponsor. Candidates must defend their dissertations before an examining committee consisting of members of the program's doctroal faculty, and other examiners as appropriate.