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Master's and Doctoral Degrees in Theatre Studies

  • Master of Fine Arts in Scenography
  • Master's and Doctoral Degrees in Theatre Studies
  • Theatre Performance
  • Theatre Design
  • Theatre, Culture and Society
  • Theatre Minor
  • Dance
  • Theatre Performance


Students in the Ph.D. program typically hold the M.A. or M.F.A. in theatre or a related field.  In some instances, students may be asked to take remedial courses.  This make-up work normally does not count toward the Ph.D.  In extraordinary circumstances, the faculty may award credit toward the Ph.D. for a limited amount of M.A. or Ph.D. course work completed elsewhere.

The Ph.D. requires 60 hours not including Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirements. All courses must be chosen in consultation with an adviser.

Core Requirements

12 hours of core courses in Theatre are required.

THR 800 is required in the first semester.

9 credit hours of graduate level courses selected in consultation with an advisor.  Students choose from departmental courses in theatre history, performance studies, dramatic literature, theory, and criticism.  Students must take only departmental courses their first semester of graduate study.

Elective Requirements

9 hours of electives are required. Elective courses focus on the academic study of theatre/performance history, theory, and related methodologies. Courses are selected with a graduate adviser to reflect the student’s special interest. Some courses may be taken outside theatre, for example in film and media studies, English, American studies, African and African-American studies, and history.

Secondary Field Requirements

Students choose 9 hours at the graduate level from outside the department to assist them in writing the dissertation. Courses are related to the student’s proposed specialization. (See examples under Elective Requirements.)

Production Courses

6 hours of production courses are required. To become competent artists as well as developing research scholars, students choose a sequence of graduate courses in either scenography or directing.

Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship

The Department Doctoral Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirements are met by fulfilling the following:

  1. THR 800 - Introduction to Graduate Study in Theatre (3 credit hours in 1st semester),
  2. 3 credit hours of THR 801 - Professional Development Seminar,
  3. THR 999 - Doctoral Dissertation,
  4. If required by faculty advisor for dissertation topic, reading ability in a foreign language or proficiency in an alternative language skill pertinent to the specialty (e.g., computer languages, American sign language). Reading ability or alternative-language proficiency can be demonstrated by:  (1) completing with a grade of B or better two college semesters of the language; or (2) completing with a B or better a course in reading comprehension (e.g. FREN 100 French for Reading Knowledge); or (3) submitting a letter from a qualified faculty member attesting to student’s language proficiency

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination (6 credit hours) is an essential element of the doctoral program, providing an opportunity for students to focus and consolidate the diverse strands of their graduate course work, to demonstrate competence for teaching in particular subject areas, and to establish a strong foundation for moving on to the dissertation. It consists of 3 parts:

  1. A written examination, which covers 4 or 5 areas of expertise. Ordinarily, each area corresponds to a member of the student’s committee.
  2. Submission of 1 publishable paper of article length (5,000 to 8,000 words) that demonstrate the student’s ability to research and write original scholarship at a level appropriate to the field. Publishable papers may be revised versions of papers submitted in KU courses. Publishable papers must be submitted on the first day of the written examination.
  3. Submission of a dissertation prospectus 2 weeks before the oral exam.
  4. An oral examination, given 2 to 4 weeks after the written examination. The oral examination lasts about 90 minutes and may revisit material covered in the written examination, the publishable papers, and/or other material as deemed appropriate by the committee. While preparing for the examination, students may enroll twice in THR 998 Investigation and Conference (for Doctoral Students).

Post-Comprehensive Enrollment

Doctoral candidates are required, after passing the comprehensive oral examination, to be continuously enrolled in one or more hours of dissertation or programmatically equivalent coursework that both moves the student towards degree completion and reflects, as accurately as possible, the candidate’s demands on faculty time and university facilities. During this time, until all requirements for the degree are completed (including the filing of the dissertation) or until 18 post-comprehensive hours have been completed (whichever comes first), the candidate must enroll for a minimum of 6 hours each Fall/Spring semester. 

The dissertation is expected to take the form of a book-length scholarly study that shows the results of original research and scholarly creativity. After its completion, an oral defense must be held no less than 4 weeks before the graduation deadline. The committee consists of 1 chair, 3 departmental members, and an outside member.

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