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M.A. Theatre and Performance Studies

About the program

The two-year Master of Arts in theatre and performance studies program at the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) is a generalist's degree that emphasizes research and writing. The M.A. program is intended to serve as a preparatory course of study for students wishing to pursue a Ph.D. It is also suitable for teachers and artists who wish to strengthen their expertise in theatre and performance studies. 

Prospective students

Wednesday, January 19, 2022 is the school's deadline for best consideration for all M.A. and Ph.D. domestic and international applications. All applicants are automatically considered for a graduate/teaching assistantship. You can expect to be notified that you have been accepted or not accepted by mid-March. Offers of assistantships are generally made before April 1.


Visit us

If you would like to visit the University of Maryland to learn more about our program, please contact: 

Professor James Harding, Ph.D.
Head of the M.A. / Ph.D. Program 
Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies   

Apply to the program

Wednesday, January 19, 2022 is the school's deadline for best consideration for all domestic and international M.A. and Ph.D. applications. Wednesday, February 9, 2022 is the final deadline for all M.A. and Ph.D. applications. Please see the information below to prepare for the Fall 2022 application. For additional information, please contact:

  • Crystal Gaston, TDPS graduate services coordinator: OR 
  • James Harding, TDPS head of M.A./Ph.D. in theatre and performance studies: 

The University of Maryland’s Graduate School accepts applications through its online application system. Before completing the application, applicants are asked to check the Graduate School admissions requirements for specific instructions.

As required by the Graduate School, all application materials are to be submitted electronically:

The electronic submission of application materials helps expedite the review of an application. Completed applications are reviewed by an admissions committee in each graduate degree program. The recommendations of the committees are submitted to the dean of the Graduate School, who will make the final admission decision. Students seeking to complete graduate work at the University of Maryland for degree purposes must be formally admitted to the Graduate School by the dean. To ensure the integrity of the application process, the University of Maryland authenticates submitted materials through TurnItIn for admissions.


M.A. in theatre and performance studies application requirements:

  • You must have earned a four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally-accredited U.S. institution, or an equivalent degree earned at a non-U.S. institution with at least a 3.0 GPA.
  • All international students must show evidence of acceptable scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). See information on the International Educational Services website for specific admissions requirements, including minimum TOEFL score.
  • Our M.A. and Ph.D. programs also require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Scores must be less than five years old (use institutional score reporting code 5814).
    • We expect scores above the 80th percentile on the verbal reasoning and analytical writing portions of the exam. We do not consider the quantitative reasoning score in our admissions process.
      • Generally our successful applicants have GRE scores well above the 80th percentile but this is not always the case. In making determinations on admissions, our committees consider many other factors including, but not limited to, the quality and source of the letters of reference, success in previous programs as indicated by transcripts, the strength of the researched writing sample, the interest generated in the faculty by the statement of goals, how the applicant’s research interests might have a synergy with the work currently being done by our students and the intellectual diversity the applicant might bring to the program.

Please be sure to include the following in your application:

  • Three recommenders and their email addresses for the electronic recommendation forms to be sent to them.
  • Your statement of goals, research interests and experience. Please have this in a Word or PDF file that can be easily uploaded.
    • Please consider that we are a program of theatre and performance Studies and that our students study both areas, not one or the other. Include information on what attracts you to scholarship (as opposed to the professional training you might receive in an M.F.A. program), what attracts you to our program (which faculty member or members would you most want to work with, for example) and your primary research interests. Consider too that we are dedicated to developing scholar/artists, so indicate what practical areas your skills are in or how you hope to develop such skills while engaged in rigorous scholarly work. How might you use this degree in the future if it does not lead directly to a job in higher education?
  • A writing sample that shows your ability to conduct research.

Official transcripts from all universities attended will need to be sent to:

University of Maryland College Park
Enrollment Services Operation – Attn: Graduate Admissions
Room 0130 Mitchell Building
College Park, MD 20742

Be sure to indicate the concentration you are applying to. THPF is the program code for both the M.A. and Ph.D. programs in theatre and performance studies.

Information for international graduate students

The University of Maryland is dedicated to maintaining a vibrant international graduate student community. The office of International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) is a valuable source of information and assistance for prospective and current international students. International applicants are encouraged to explore the services they offer and contact them with related questions.

The University of Maryland Graduate School offers admission to international students based on academic information; it is not a guarantee of attendance. Admitted international students will then receive instructions about obtaining the appropriate visa to study at the University of Maryland which will require submission of additional documents. Please see the Graduate Admissions Process for International applicants for more information.

Financial assistance

The school is committed to fully funding all graduate students accepted into its programs and makes every effort to meet that goal. If you are unable to pursue your education without financial support, check the appropriate box on the application form and note this in your statement of goals, research interests and experience.

Opportunities for financial support are available to M.A. students in two forms: assistantships and loans. Research grants are also available to our graduate students.


Assistantships can provide full-time funding for up to two years for M.A. students. Full assistantships require 20 hrs/week of work and include:

  • Stipends of approximately $21,930 to $24,360 paid bi-weekly.
  • Tuition waivers (tuition remission) for 10 hours of course credit in the fall term; four hours of course credit in the January term, and 10 hours of course credit in the spring term.
  • A supplement of 80% on employee health insurance.

Half assistantships (10 hours of work per week) are also offered as supplements to other forms of funding.


Loans are arranged through the Office of Financial Aid and can be subsidized or unsubsidized. Please visit their website for criteria and deadlines.

The Graduate School encourages graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to seek funding for their work and research at the University of Maryland, College Park. Students may seek funding for a variety of needs including research, stipend support and travel to meetings or conferences. The Graduate School lists various funding sources for all disciplines.

Grants and awards

To find out about other funding opportunities, please visit the ARHU website page for fellowships, grants and awards.


For questions related to the admissions process, prospective students may contact the Graduate School.

If you have any questions about the M.A. in theatre and performance studies program or application, please contact the head of the program, professor James Harding, at

Requirements for degree completion

The M.A. in theatre and performance studies requires a minimum of 34 credit hours of courses numbered 400 and above. The program also requires 6 credit hours of thesis or non-thesis work, as described below.

Curriculum requirements


The M.A. in theatre and performance studies requires a minimum of 34 credit hours of coursework at the 400, 600 or 700 level.

View the one-page course description and credit requirements for the M.A. in theatre and performance studies program.
For details about coursework requirements, please see the M.A. in theatre and performance studies handbook

Thesis or non-thesis options

The M.A. in theatre and performance studies program has both a thesis and a non-thesis option. The thesis option is recommended for those who intend to go on for the Ph.D. or teach at the college level. The non-thesis option is recommended for those who intend to teach K-12 or to pursue a career outside of academia.

For both options, students should carefully review the Master's Degree Policies section of the Graduate Catalog located under the Policies tab on the left hand side of the front page menu.
Students should also familiarize themselves with the academic deadlines page on the Graduate School website.

Thesis Option:
For the thesis option, 6 credit hours must be in THET 799, "Master’s Thesis Research." The thesis should be completed during the fourth semester of the student's coursework. The thesis must be approved by the Thesis Examining Committee, which consists of three members of the graduate faculty. The chair of the committee should be the student’s thesis advisor.

Non-Thesis Option:
For the non-thesis option, a minimum of 6 credit hours must be from courses numbered 600 and above. Instead of a thesis, students should submit one article-length essay to the Non-Thesis Review Committee, which consists of three members of the graduate faculty. The chair of the committee should be the student’s advisor.

For details about thesis and non-thesis track requirements, please see the M.A. in theatre and performance studies handbook.


Completed theses

  • Marsten, Medha. "From You I Get the Story: Tracking Spirtuality through the Three Iterations of The Who’s Tommy." 2020. Chair: James Harding.
  • Brann, Olivia"From Über-Marionettes To Muppets: Finding Ancient Joy In The Modern-Day World." 2019. Chair: James Harding.
  • Ealey, Jordan. "Theorizing The Brave: Black Girlhood, Affect, and Performance in Kirsten Childs’s The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin." 2019. Chair: Faedra Chatard Carpenter.
  • Hammond, Jacqueline. "Poetic Defiance: Amiri Baraka’s 'Somebody Blew Up America”'and 'One Garvey: The Unifying Elements of the Garveyite Movement in Edgar Nkosi White’s 'I, Marcus Garvey.'" (Non-Thesis Option.) 2018. Chair: Faedra Chatard Carpenter.
  • Cyr, Renee. "Staging Sacred Space: a Ritual Performance History of the UMD Memorial
    Chapel." 2017. Chair: Laurie Frederik.
  • Ridley, Leticia. "I, Too, Am America: Hamilton, An American Musical." 2017. Chair: Faedra Chatard Carpenter.
  • Walker, Jonelle. "The Irreconcilable Volatility of Bloody Betty and the Internet Archive." 2017. Chair: James Harding.
  • Dilliplane, Daniel. "Interplay, Autonomy, and Social Movements." 2016. Chair: Laurie Frederik.
  • Selim, Samy.  Non-thesis option, research on Molière. 2016. Chair: Franklin J. Hildy.
  • Young, Patrick. "Looking for Dionysus: Hedwig Raabe and the Haunting of the Birth of Tragedy." 2016. Chair: James Harding.
  • Houshyar, Maryam. "De-Monopolizing Theatre: Formation Of A Space Of An Individual Expression In Iran." 2015. Chair: James Harding.
  • Barker, Andrew. "The Dramaturgy Of A Maritime Metaphor: Marcus Rediker’s Influence On Naomi Wallace’s One Flea Spare." 2013. Chair: Faedra Chatard Carpenter.
  • Warheit, Emily. "Theatre Production as Experiential Learning: Drama Programs at the Sitar Center for the Arts." 2011. Chair: Laurie Frederik.
  • Lin, Li-Min. "Bridging Two Cultures: Chinese Theatre Works and 'The Legend of Whitesnake.'" 2010. Chair: Faedra Chatard Carpenter.
  • Townsend, Emily Catherine. "The Brave New World of the American Shakespeare Center: Original Practices and the Actors’ Renaissance Season in Staunton, VA." 2010. Chair: Franklin J. Hildy.
  • Hanson, Sarah. "Marks of Identity: The Performance of Tattoos Among Women in Contemporary American Society." 2009. Chair: Laurie Frederik.
  • Thompson, Robert. "Entertaining Ghosts: Gettysburg Ghost Tours and the Performance of Belief." 2009. Chair: Laurie Frederik.
  • Steele, Erin Bone. "Murder and Melodrama: The Red Barn Story on Stage." 2008. Chair: Franklin J. Hildy.
  • Dawn, Karalee. "Searching for Home: The Establishment of the National Theatre of Scotland.. 2007. Chair: Franklin J. Hildy.
  • Granshaw, Michelle. “What do ye allow a baboon like that on the stage for?”: Protest, Irish-American Identity, and the works of Harrigan, Hart, and Braham." 2007. Chair: Heather Nathans.
  • Jones, Douglas. "Thinking, Scripting, and Performing: Constructing and Playing the Racial Synecdoche in the Antebellum North." 2007.
  • Tobiason, Aaron. Non-thesis option, research on antebellum theatre and politics. 2006. Chair: Heather Nathans.
  • Dail, Chrystyna. Non-thesis option. 2004.
  • Kaleba, Casey. "Violent Delights: A Cultural History Of Media Violence Debates." 2004.

M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies Handbook and Graduate Catalog

View the M.A. in theatre and performance studies handbook here.

For more general information about graduate requirements, fees, and registration, see UMD's Graduate Catalog​.

M.A./Ph.D. theatre and performance studies faculty

James Harding

Professor, Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies
Head of History/Theory; Head of MA/PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

2822 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-6695

Franklin J. Hildy

Professor, Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies
Associate director, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

2828 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-3157

Maura Keefe

Associate Professor, Dance Performance and Scholarship
Director of the School, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

2811 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-3187

Caitlin Marshall

Senior Lecturer, Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies

2810 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-2824

Van Tran Nguyen

Assistant Professor, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

2816 Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-6682