PhD in Theatre and Performance

Students in Practice.

UB’s PhD in Theatre and Performance is a 72-credit research-oriented program featuring an integration of scholarship and practice. By training students not only in a discipline, but also at the intersection of history, theory, and production, this program will equip students with the critical tools necessary to negotiate emerging fields and the scholarly rigor to produce high-level scholarship within the dynamic fields of theatre and performance studies. 

Applications for Fall 2024 Closed
Application Deadline for Fall 2025: December 15, 2024.

Full-funding and fellowship awards available. The UB College of Arts and Sciences is committed to recruiting the very best PhD students and preparing doctoral students for career success. 

Guided by a faculty of highly skilled and deeply experienced in innovative theatre, performance, and dance production and theory, aims to develop aesthetically skilled thinkers who can research, write about, and teach theatrical performance. Within a program designed to be both small and experimental, students will develop their artistic and scholarly skills through core coursework in the department, guided cognates in extra-departmental arts and humanities fields, and supervised studio projects designed to allow students to allow students to apply critical tools to the creation of performance projects in a lab setting. 

In the 21st century, the traditional boundaries of theatre and performance have become increasingly fluid. With this in mind, our program explores not only drama, musical theatre, and dance, but also new forms such as intermedia performance and collaborations with art, media study, and music. Students join us from a wide range of backgrounds, from performers to designers, engineers to educators, our Theatre and Performance program provides foundational skills applicable to all fields and interests in the performing arts. 

Course of Study

Before beginning the PhD, students must complete either coursework in the department’s MA program or the equivalent coursework within another accredited university’s MA or MFA program. Students may transfer up to 30 credits from MA/MFA level work, pending departmental review. The following is the approved normal course of study for students pursuing the PhD in Theatre and Performance. In all cases, a student's particular program should be determined in consultation with his/her academic advisor.  Students may also take cognate courses outside the Department of Theatre and Dance to augment their areas of interest. These must be planned in advance with the advisor.

Courses Credits
TH 610: Performance Research 3
TH 620: Performance Scholarship 3
TH 630: Performance Proseminar 3
Dramatic Literature, Theory, Criticism 3-6
Theatre Historiography 3-6
Advanced Study in Production 3-6
Cognates 6
Graduate Studio 6-9
Comprehensive Exam 0
Dissertation Guidance 12
Foreign Language Requirement 0
MA Transfer credits 24-30
Total 72

Core Seminars

To provide a consistent grounding in the methodologies of theatre literature, history, theory, and criticism, students are required to take 3 core seminars in the department: TH 610, TH 620, and TH 630. 

Theatre Seminars

To ensure that all students have read both broadly and deeply in the field, students are required to take 9-12 credit hours of graduate-level seminars focused in the field of theatre, drama, and performance. Courses should be chosen to reinforce an individual student’s interests and research agenda, as well as provide study in areas not previously covered in their education.


With the understanding that Theatre and Performance studies are inherently multidisciplinary, PhD students are required to take 6 graduate credits outside the department. These courses are selected to enhance and enrich a student’s perspective through the study of other fields’ methodologies, literature, and scholarship.  

Graduate Studio

PhD students are required to register for Graduate Studio every spring of their matriculation. This weekly studio course is designed to give all students a practical outlet for performance theory.

Comprehensive Exam

The purpose of the comprehensive examination is to ensure that students have read broadly and deeply in the discipline and are prepared to begin dissertation research. The comprehensive exam includes both a written and an oral examination with their exam committee. 

Dissertation Guidance

The completed dissertation must represent an original and publishable contribution to the knowledge in the candidate’s field of study. It is expected that the dissertation will not only demonstrate expertise in the student’s designated area, but also advance an original argument suitable for publication in the field. Following completion of the dissertation, an oral defense must be held. 

Foreign Language Requirement

All PhD students must demonstrate competency (reading knowledge) in one foreign language. If students enter the program without meeting this requirement, they may take additional courses in the language department to fulfill this requirement. Courses taken to fulfill this requirement do not count toward total credits required for the PhD. 

Transfer of MA Course Credit

Students accepted into the PhD from the Department of Theatre and Dance MA program will automatically transfer their 24 credits of coursework toward the total required PhD credits. Students applying to the program with MA or MFA coursework from another program may transfer up to 30 credits. 

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