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Theatre and Performance Studies (THPF)   

Program Title and Classification

Theatre and Performance Studies

Graduate Degree Program

College: Arts and Humanities


The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies offers a Master of Arts in Theatre and Performance Studies and Doctor of Philosophy in Theatre and Performance Studies (THPF).  For more information visit the School website at  The School also offers graduate degrees in MFA in Theatre Design and MFA in Dance.

The M.A. program is designed to enhance and develop students’ practical, historical, and critical knowledge of theatre so that they may go on to graduate work in Ph.D. or M.F.A programs, or upgrade their skills for high-school teaching. The School’s application deadline for best consideration for the MA program and the PhD program is January 15. Applications fully submitted by February 1 may also receive consideration on a space available basis.

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. The program offers a rigorous exploration of both Theatre History and Performance Studies through the critical and theoretical analyses of historical archives, dramatic and performance texts, and cultural behavior as performance. 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.

Admissions Information

General Requirements:

Program-Specific Requirements:

  • Letters of Recommendation (3)
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  • CV/Resume
  • Writing Sample: A 10 – 15 page paper demonstrating ability to do university level research – uploaded to the Uploads Requirement section of the application.
  • Publications/Presentations (optional)

Applicants must have earned a 4-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 PhD must also have earned MA or MFA 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 PhD 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 applicants research interests might have a synergy with the work currently being done by our students, the intellectual diversity the applicant might bring to the program.

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 MFA program), 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?

For more admissions information or to apply to the program, please visit our Graduate School website: 

Application Deadlines

Type of Applicant Fall
Domestic Applicants:
US Citizens and Permanent Residents
7 Feb
International Applicants:
F (student) or J (exchange visitor) visas
A,E,G,H,I and L visas and immigrants.
7 Feb

Other Deadlines: Please visit the program website at

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Total CreditsCore Requirements

Thesis option: minimum of 36 credits 

Non-thesis option: minimum of 36 credits

Thesis option:

THET 600: Introduction to Graduate Research Methods (3 credits)

THET 799: Master's Thesis Research (6 credits)

All Teaching Assistants must take THET 606: Teaching Theatre (1 credit)

Non-thesis option:

THET 600: Introduction to Graduate Research Methods (3 credits)

Students are required to submit two article-length essays to the Non-thesis Examining Committee

All Teaching Assistants must take THET 606: Teaching Theatre (1 credit)

*Students should consult with their advisor to determine the remainder of their coursework.


The Department offers both the thesis and non- thesis options. All students undertaking the M.A. degree must pass a six-hour comprehensive examination on theatre history and criticism, performance and directing, and design and technical theatre. Please contact the Head of History/Theory to get more details.



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Core Requirements

Students are required to complete a set of core courses, electives, and dissertation research. In addition, students must fulfill the production/performance requirement and language requirement. All teaching assistants should complete one credit of THET 606: Teaching Theatre. 

Course requirements:

THET 700: Introduction to Doctoral Studies in Theatre (3 credits)

THET 711: Critical Theory (3 credits)

THET 712: Historical Research Methods and Historiography (3 credits)

THET 713: Performance Studies (3 credits)

THET 899: Doctoral Dissertation Research (12 credits)

Electives within the School of Theatre Dance and Performance Studies (12 credits)

Electives outside of the School of Theatre Dance and Performance Studies (6 credits) 

Comprehensive Exams:

1. History of Drama and Performance

2. Theory of Drama and Performance

3. Dissertation Prospectus


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.


Please contact the Head of History/Theory area, Esther Kim Lee,, directly for more information.


Facilities and Special Resources

The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies is housed in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at Maryland. This state-of-the-art facility includes the 650-seat Ina and Jack Kay Theatre, the 200-seat Robert and Arlene Kogod Theatre and the 100-seat Cafritz Theatre.

The campus is within a few miles of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Arena Stage, the National Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, The Shakespeare Theatre at the Lansburgh, and the Olney Theatre Center, which are among more than 80 professional area theatres. Two of the greatest libraries in the world, the Library of Congress and the Folger Shakespeare Library, are in close proximity to campus. Students also make regular use of the Smithsonian Institution, the Federal Theatre Project Archives, the National Archives, and more than 50 specialized libraries and institutions in the Washington metropolitan area.

Financial Assistance

The School nominates outstanding applicants for competitive University fellowships. Teaching assistantships are available to a limited number of students. The Graduate program head will discuss these with accepted students at the time of acceptance.



Professor Esther Kim Lee, TDPS Director of Graduate Studies

School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies

2823 Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

College Park MD, 20742

Telephone: 301-405-6692


Professor James Harding, Head of the MA / Ph.D. program

2810 Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

University of Maryland

College Park MD, 20742

Telephone: 301-405-6695


Crystal Gaston, Assistant to Director & Coordinator of Graduate Services

2809 Clarice Smith PAC

University of Maryland

College Park MD, 20742

Telephone: 301-405-6675


Associated Information





M.A.: Theatre and Performance Studies. Ph.D.: Theatre and Performance Studies.