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Ph.D. Theatre and Performance Studies

The doctoral program in theatre and performance studies is an interdisciplinary course of study that prepares students for careers as educators, professors in higher education, publishing scholars and cultural critics.

About the program

The doctoral program offers a rigorous exploration of both theatre history and performance studies through the critical analysis of archival histories, theoretical approaches and performance texts relevant to these interrelated fields.

Applicants who do not hold an undergraduate or graduate degree in theatre (or an equivalent field) may be required to take preparatory coursework prior to admission into the Ph.D. program.

Prospective students

Friday, January 17, 2020 is the school's deadline for best consideration for all M.A. and Ph.D. domestic and international applications. Friday, February 7, 2020 is the final deadline for all M.A. and Ph.D. domestic and international applications. 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
jharding@umd.edu

Prospective students

Apply to the program

The Ph.D. in theatre and performance studies program starts each year in the fall, with an application deadline in January or February. This year's deadline is Friday, January 17, 2020. Please see the information below to prepare for the Fall 2020 application. For additional information, please contact:

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

The University of Maryland’s Graduate School accepts applications through its ApplyYourself/Hobsons application system. Before completing the application, applicants are asked to check the Graduate School admissions requirements site 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.

Requirements

Ph.D. 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.
  • Applicants for the Ph.D. must also have earned an M.A. or M.F.A. 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 Ph.D. program also requires 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, what attracts you to our program (which faculty member or members would you most want to work with, for example) and what your primary research interests are. 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 do research.

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 graduate students in three forms: fellowships, assistantships and loans. Research grants are also available to our graduate students.

Fellowships

Some types of financial aid for outstanding students, such as the Flagship Fellowship program sponsored by the Graduate School, must be applied for by the school on your behalf. To be considered for these special awards, we recommend you complete the application process by December 15th.

Fellowships can provide full-time funding for up to two years and include:

  • Stipends of approximately $21,930 to $24,360 paid 50 percent at the start of fall and winter terms.
  • Tuition waivers (tuition remission) for 10 hours of course credit in fall term; 4 hours of course credit in January term and 10 hours course credit in spring term.
  • A supplement of 50 percent on student health insurance.

Half fellowships and summer research fellowships are also offered as supplements to other forms of funding.

Assistantships

Assistantships can provide full-time funding for up to four years for Ph.D. students. Full assistantships require 20 hours of work per week and include:

  • Stipends of approximately $21,930 to $24,360 paid bi-weekly.
  • Tuition waivers (tuition remission) for 10 hours of course credit in fall term; 4 hours of course credit in January term and 10 hours course credit in 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

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.

Contact

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

If you have any questions about the Ph.D. in theatre and performance studies program or application, please contact the head of the program, James Harding, at jharding@umd.edu.

Current Students

Requirements for degree completion

The Ph.D. program in theatre and performance studies is designed to be completed in four years of full-time study. If necessary, students will be assisted in applying for funding from other sources to cover additional years.

The program requires a minimum of 58 credit hours beyond an M.A. or M.F.A. degree, 40 hours of which must be taken on campus. Students are normally advanced to candidacy in their third year, at which point they are classified as ABD (“all but dissertation”). This timeline must be followed for students to be classified as “making satisfactory progress” towards their degrees. The Graduate School allows up to a total of five years to advance to candidacy. Failure to advance within five years will result in the student’s removal from the program. Students who must extend their time to advance to candidacy are advised to check the “Full-Time Status” section for the website of the Office of the Registrar to see the difference between course units and course credit hours to ensure they do not fall below full time status.

The Graduate School also requires that a Ph.D. be completed within nine years of entry into the program. After nine years, credits earned from coursework are invalidated and the student must start over. In certain circumstances, students may apply for a one-year extension, and may apply for this two times (thus allowing a maximum two-year extension). If two extensions are requested and granted, this could potentially allow up to 11 years to complete the degree.

For details about program requirements and timelines, please see the

Coursework

40 credit hours of the required minimum of 58 credit hours required for the Ph.D. are generally taken in the first two years at a rate of ten credit hours per semester (three 3-credit hour courses and one 1-credit hour course). Each student may also take up to four credit hours of coursework during the winter term, thereby reducing the load in later semesters or allowing a broadening of their education. Graduate-level courses in TDPS are not available in the summer. Students with graduate assistantships should never take more than 10 credit hours in any fall or spring semester or more than four credit hours in any winter term, and will be charged for any extra credit hours if they do so.

For details about coursework requirements, please see the Ph.D. in theatre and performance studies handbook

Comprehensive exams

Ph.D. comprehensive exams are intended to assess a student’s overall level of knowledge in the fields of theatre and performance studies. They go beyond the exams taken during coursework and are designed to test a student’s ability to integrate knowledge gathered across a range of courses. They survey the breadth of a student’s knowledge of theatre and performance studies in general, knowledge students are expected to acquire above and beyond what is covered during coursework.

For details about comprehensive exam requirements, please see the Ph.D. in theatre and performance studies handbook

Qualifying examination and advancement to candidacy

To advance to candidacy, students will form a dissertation committee, take the qualifying examination (consisting of two parts: a literature review and a dissertation prospectus) and defend the qualifying examination.

For details about qualifying exam (literature review and prospectus) requirements, please see the Ph.D. in theatre and performance studies handbook

Dissertation

Under the supervision of their advisor, the doctoral candidate conducts research and writes a dissertation. The candidate should follow the prospectus approved by the dissertation committee. While aspects of its scope and content may grow and evolve, any significant changes in the dissertation plan may require a new draft of the prospectus to be approved by the dissertation committee.

Once the dissertation has been completed, the candidate must defend the dissertation orally.

For details about dissertation requirements, please see the Ph.D. in theatre and performance studies handbook.

Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance Studies Handbook and Graduate Catalog

View the Ph.D. in theatre and performance studies handbook

For more general information about graduate requirements, fees and registration, see UMD's Graduate Catalog: ​http://apps.gradschool.umd.edu/catalog/.

History/Theory faculty

Melissa Blanco Borelli

Associate Professor, Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies

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

Faedra Chatard Carpenter

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

2815 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-6246

Laurie Frederik

Associate Professor, Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies

2816 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-6682

James Harding

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

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

Franklin J. Hildy

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

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

Caitlin Marshall

Visiting Assistant Professor, Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies

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

Dissertations in progress

  • Balasundram, Jeeta. “Recapturing the Essence of Shakespeare’s Plays through Original Practices: A Case Study on The New Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta, Georgia and the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia,” Chair: Laurie Frederik.
  • Chu, Po-Hsien. "The Experimental Aesthetics of Global Sinophone Theatre: The Present, the Absent, and the Avant-Garde." Chair: James M. Harding.
  • Crowley, Patrick. "The Life and Death of Living Stage: Towards a Rebirth of Radical Theatre in the United States." Chair: James M. Harding.
  • Demmy, Tara Noelle. “Morale-Boosting Comedy: The Writers’ War Board and the Soldier Sketch Writing Contest of WWII.” Chair: Franklin J. Hildy.
  • Fallica, Elisabeth. “Of Flesh and Feathers: A Study of Artistic Labor and the Politics of the Sensuous in New York Neo-Burlesque,” Chair: Laurie Frederik.
  • Gerdsen, Jenna. Huikaʻi Moʻo ʻōlelo: Theatre in Hawai‘i during the 21st Century.” Chair: Faedra Chatard Carpenter and Esther Kim Lee.
  • Grey, Les. "Moving Pain Home: Cultural Production and Performance Out of Black Trauma and Terror." Chair: James M. Harding.
  • Haeri, Q-Mars“In Search of the Popular: Erased Popular Theatre in Tehran’s Lalehzar Entertainment District of the 1950s and 60s.” Chair: Franklin J. Hildy.
  • Hedges, Allison. “A Historiography of Ancient Egyptian Theatre.” Chair: Franklin J. Hildy.
  • Holley, Kelley. "Experiencing Place: Dramaturgies of Site-specific Performance." Chair: Faedra Chatard Carpenter.
  • Kaleba, Casey. “The White Arm in the Smoke: The Meaning of Theatrical Violence on the Victorian Stage.”  Chair: Franklin J. Hildy.
  • Lockley, Gianina K. “Explicating the Detroit and Zimbabwe Jit: On Blackness, Being, and Performance.” Chair: Faedra Chatard Carpenter.
  • Mandracchia, Christen. “The Broadwayfication of Disney: A Production History of Beauty and the Beast from Film to Stage.” Chair: Franklin J. Hildy
  • Ridley, Leticia R. “Fleshy Matters: Fragmentary Performance and Hypervisible Renderings in Black Women's Popular Culture.” Chair: Faedra Chatard Carpenter.
  • Scrimer, Victoria. “Beyond Resistance: Performing Protest in a Postdramatic Age.” Chair: James M. Harding.
  • Stevens, Fraser"Cultural Camouflage/Suspicious Behaviour: Performing Identities in WWII Espionage."Chair: James M. Harding.
  • Thomas, LaRonika. "Civic Dramaturgy: Cultural Space, Artistic Labor, and Performances of Urban Planning in 21st Century Chicago." Chair: James M. Harding.
  • Walker, Jonelle. "Women in White: Performing White Femininity 1865-Present." Chair: James M. Harding.