For specific PhD requirements, see the TDPS PhD Handbook: Handbook-UPDATED 9-2-2016.pdf
For more general information about graduate requirements, fees, and registration, see UMD's Graduate Catalog:


Methods Courses

Ph.D. students will take four methods courses:

  • THET 700 Introduction to Doctoral Studies
  • THET 711 Critical Research Methods in Theatre
  • THET 712 Historiography
  • THET 713 Introduction to Performance Studies

All teaching assistants must take THET 606 (Teaching Theatre). Students may petition the Director of the History/Theory Area to waive or substitute one or more of the methods courses; for example, in consultation with their advisors, students whose research interests require alternative methods may take methods courses from, among others, English, Comparative Literature, History, and Women's Studies. The Area may also waive methods courses for students who have taken similar courses at doctoral granting institutions.

Elective Courses:

In consultation with an advisor, doctoral students will determine an individualized program of study (40 - 60 hours beyond the master's degree) appropriate to their area of concentration. Under normal circumstances, students will take a minimum of 6 electives (600 or 700 level); of these 6 electives, all students must take a minimum of three electives in the School and three from affiliated disciplines. Students may enroll in courses that are not on the approved list, but only one of the six required electives can be outside the recommended course of study. The students’ advisor must approve this course. Courses selected should prepare each student to take the comprehensive examination, write a dissertation, and enter the field as a teaching scholar. In addition to the methods requirements, all students will register for 12 hours of THET 899 (Dissertation).

Production/Performance Requirement:

Doctoral students are expected to enter the program with training and experience in the artistic and production areas of theatre. Persons without such training and experience should plan to obtain it before earning the degree by enrolling in appropriate classes or engaging in production activities appropriate to the student's skills and areas of interest (e.g. directing, dramaturgy, stage management, film, acting, video production, etc.).

Language Requirement

All students must have demonstrated reading knowledge of a foreign language. A student's knowledge may be demonstrated in a variety of ways.  The student should discuss completion of the language requirement with his or her advisor. The student's dissertation topic may require additional research languages. The language exam must be completed prior to taking the comprehensive exams.


Comprehensive Examinations

The doctoral comprehensive exam tests three areas:
1) History of Drama and Performance
2) Theory of Drama and Performance
3) The student's area of specialization.

Members of the student's comprehensive examination committee write the questions. Area questions are designed to interrogate both literary and performance issues. Selected by the student and her/his advisor, the examination committee consists of the advisor and at least two members of the core and/or affiliate faculty. Exams may be taken one of two ways: in-house or take home with an oral defense. The examinations are based on course work and reading lists. All students are responsible for a core reading list of approximately 15-20 books and articles. In addition to the core reading lists, each student will be responsible for developing a reading list of no less than 50 books and articles reflective of the student's dissertation topic and tailored to his/her interests as they relate to the examination areas. Students devise these lists in consultation with the members of her/his committee. Students have two opportunities to pass the comprehensive examinations. Please note that the examinations are only offered at specific times each semester and that students must plan to take the comprehensive exams during these times.


All doctoral students will engage in original research (in some cases, complemented by appropriate non-print documentation), the result of which is a book-length manuscript. In consultation with her/his advisor, the student selects a five-member dissertation committee. At least three committee members must be permanent members of the University of Maryland Graduate Faculty and each committee must have a chairperson who is a permanent member of the graduate faculty. Please note that the Dean's Representative on the committee may not be a member of the History/Theory Area, but must be from another department at the University of Maryland. In rare cases, students will need an expert in an area not represented by the History/Theory Faculty. Students are reminded that these members must be present at the defense and that the Department cannot guarantee to fund the travel of committee members from other universities.

Each doctoral student must defend her/his dissertation orally as a requirement in partial fulfillment of the doctoral degree. Dissertations must follow the guidelines established by the University. Please see the Graduate Student Handbook (available online through the Graduate School) for guidelines on committee selection and defense procedures.

Structure and Governance

The Ph.D. program relies upon the expertise of affiliate faculty from across the disciplines. In addition to offering appropriate courses and advising students, core affiliate faculty from participating disciplines may chair or serve as members of dissertation committees in theatre and Performance Studies.

Student Opportunities

Our graduate students enjoy a strong record of success in publishing and presenting their work, and in securing prestigious research fellowships. They have penned articles in The Journal of American Drama and Theatre, Theatre Symposium, and The New England Theatre Journal, and four of our current students have contributed chapters to forthcoming works published by Routledge and other significant scholarly presses. Our students regularly present their research at national conferences and have received awards from the Black Theatre Network and the American Theatre and Drama Society.   Maryland graduate students have also secured fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the Gilder Lehrman and Mellon Foundations, as well as the Maine Women's Writers Group, the Society of Early Americanists, and the American Society for Theatre Research.

Graduate Courses and Seminars

Although three categories of courses exist for the Ph.D. degree (courses with content that address 1) theatre and dramatic literature, 2) performance studies, and 3) historical context), courses are listed by department rather than category because overlap between categories frequently occurs.

A significant percentage of upper-level undergraduate courses and graduate seminars are repeatable (those with course numbers ending in 8 & 9). The list below includes only those repeatable courses and seminars that frequently include theatre, dramatic literature, and performance in the course content. An asterisk indicates those repeatable courses (courses with the same # but different content.)

  • THET 606, THET 607 Teaching Theatre, THET 608, Seminar, Theatre Theory, Performance Studies and Criticism (e.g. Aesthetics, Gender & Performance)*
  • THET 610, The American Theatre, THET 630, The Performing Arts: Contextual Approach, THET 698, Seminar, Theatre History (repeating topics include the history of directing & non-traditional theatre)*
  • THET 685, History of Theory before Modernism,
  • THET 686, History of Modern Theory, THET 687 Non-Traditional Theatre
  • THET 700, Introduction to Doctoral Studies in TheatreTHET 711, Critical Methods in TheatreTHET 712, Historiography
  • THET 713, Introduction to Performance Studies.

Several members of the core and affiliate faculty have also expressed interest in developing new courses for the program. For example: "Other Theatres/Theatre of the Other: Women’s, Asian, and Minority Drama & Poetics from Kalidasa to Maria Irene Fornes," "Renaissance Drama from the Perspective of Performance," "The History of Latin America Through Its Theatrical Performances & Popular Culture: Strategies of Rebellion," "Women in 'American' Theatre," "Oral Epic Poetry &Performance," "Performance Comedy (Vaudeville, Burlesque, Variety Theatres)," "The History, Theory and Practice of Musical Theatre," "Black Performance.

"The following are 400 level courses that pertain to theatre, performance studies and dramatic literature. Although the number of 400 level courses doctoral students can take is limited, this list suggests the breadth of available courses.

  • DANC 483, History of Dance II
  • ENGL 403 Shakespeare: The Early Works
  • ENGL 404 Shakespeare: The Later Works
  • ENGL 434, American Drama
  • ENGL 450 Early Tudor & Elizabethan Drama
  • ENGL 451, Jacobean & Caroline Drama,
  • ENGL 452 English Drama from 1660-1800
  • ENGL 454 Modern Drama
  • CMLT 488 Genres
  • CMLT 498 Selected Topics in Comparative Literature *
  • AMST 429 Perspectives on Popular Culture
  • ARTH 466 Feminist Perspectives on Women in Art
  • FREN 484 The Age of Anxiety:  Existentialism and the Absurd
  • FREN 480 French Cinema
  • CLAS 420/621 The Classical Tradition
  • CLAS 470 Advanced Greek & Roman Mythology
  • MUSC 432 Music in World Cultures I
  • MUSC 433 Music in World Cultures II
  • MUSC 438 Area Studies in Ethnomusicology
  • HIST 430 Tudor England
  • HIST 431 Stuart England
  • HIST 433 Changing Perceptions of Gender Identities in the U.S.
  • HIST 456 History of American Culture & Ideas to 1865
  • HIST 457 History of American Culture & Ideas Since 1865
  • HIST 461 Blacks in American Life: 1865 to Present.



Program News

University of Maryland (UMD) alumni John Ford ‘64 and Sandra Poster ‘64 met during their undergraduate years in the UMD Theatre program, then known as Speech & Dramatic Arts. They went on to build careers in speech and communications, and they are longtime patrons of the arts.

Congratulations to LaRonika Thomas, PhD candidate in TDPS, who has been accepted into the 2017 Northwestern University Summer Institute in Performance Studies.

Congratulations to Adam Nixon, PhD candidate in TDPS, who has been accepted into the 2017 Northwestern University Summer Institute in Performance Studies.